Mr. Pope - 10 Questions Interview
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
I began writing music to express my thoughts as a kid. I listened to a lot of 90s rappers like Twista, Do or Die, and Crucial Conflict. The melodic rap sound that infused R&B made me want to create sounds like that. However, I've always written with the intent to inspire. Being raised in the church, and my mother being a reverend in the AME church, I began writing gospel raps and albums and performing all over the Midwest. The catalyst for my current writing style was the death of a student where I teach.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
I have yet to experience a crazy moment in my music career.
What has been the high point of your music path?
I believe I am currently at a high point of my music path. I say that because I have created a project that listeners are connecting with on an emotional level. There are people who are listening to my music as a way to soothe and reflect, and that is magical to me.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
It depends. There are times when I decide that a song needs a strong message and less word play because sometimes too much word play can diminish the emotional connection to a song. But then there are times when I want to display my craftiness as an artist. Nonetheless, I am always thinking about how can I speak hope, love, truth, encouragement, happiness, and lessons of life. I want listeners to reflect on who they are and how they interaction with the world. Additionally, as a reading teacher, I always consider different types of figurative language besides the typical simile and metaphor. Recently, I've been thinking about different types of organizational patterns that we teach to students and that has been working well.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
The opportunities to license music could be more available to us. I wish there were announcements to participate in those spaces. Radio is also a big challenge as is the opportunity to perform in large music festivals.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
I don't have an artist that I would share the stage with. I would share the stage with anyone who embodies what I embody. But if I have to choose, I will choose Busta Rhymes because his energy is always at the highest level and his performances are always exciting. He knows how to command the crowd.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
I go through a series of questions for each song. I ask myself, what does my body look like during words and phrases. I think about which songs I want to stand still for to create a different emotional connection and which songs I want to get the crowd involved. I also think about the dialogue I'll have with the crowd and I go over my songs several days before the performance.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
A couple of years ago, I wrote a song called Unbroken that narrates three different stories of bullying. We still haven't released it. Writing Unbroken was difficult because the instrumentation was outside of my sound and I was writing it for someone who wanted to tell a story in a specific way. He wanted the song to be visual and direct. This was difficult for me because I was transitioning from this writing style to a writing style that incorporated different techniques. Basically, I didn't want to go back.
What's coming up in the future?
I intend on releasing a single and video quarterly, and campaign around that single. I also want to start performing more this summer so I purchased a PA system. I intend on asking local businesses if I could offer free performances to their patrons.
Tell us where fans can access your music?
About Mr. Pope
Mr. Pope, born Bryan Pope, is Chicago’s voice of hope. Growing up in Chicago, Pope was forced to work hard to beat the odds. The streets of Chicago, despite its traditions of taking the lives of Black men, was where Mr. Pope knew he’d share his gift of music. He grew up with a drug-addicted father and a faith-driven mother who became a reverend. Pope was raised and inspired by the church. His participation in the choir resulted in him ministering all over the country.
In 2001, Mr. Pope entered the music scene at 16 as a Christain rapper, Prophet Child. His first LP was a self-released project that professed his love for Jesus Christ. Prophet Child’s second music project was a collaborative project with his brother, Brandon Pope, and the brothers attempted to depict the struggles they were immersed in. In 2008, Prophet Child and B Anointed released an LP, Street Gospel. Street Gospel was unlike anything they’d ever written. It was indeed, the street’s gospel rap music. The music was infused with “street” rap instrumentals and personal conflicting emotions (e.g., disappointment and contentment with the Church, disappointment, and contentment with life).
Despite his life as a God-fearing and church-involved young man, Mr. Pope was still into mainstream hip-hop and rap. Growing up with lyrical geniuses like Twista and Tupac made music could heal his communities, and his lyrics and messages could remain positive. In 2013, after being asked to write an anti-bully song to perform at schools throughout the Chicagoland area, Mr. Pope replaced the emcee name Prophet Child. Shortly after, Mr. Pope enrolled in a teaching program and received his Master’s degree in teaching.