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Interview: Roc-A-Fella Alum Kenny Burns & Singer PRIME Talk of N9N23 Movement

Updated: Oct 11, 2022

PRIME is an Atlanta-based singer with origins in Richmond, Virginia. His prior music background derives from rapping and producing but singing became the perfect medium to display his artistry. PRIME's talent caught the attention of The Lifestyle Specialist and former senior vice president of Roc-A-Fella records, Kenny Burns.

Kenny Burns is an entrepreneur, producer, and author with over twenty years of experience across the entertainment, music, fashion, radio, television, and marketing industries. His resume ranges far and wide from discovering fellow DC native Wale, signing Akon, working with the Grey Goose and Ciroc companies, and currently being an executive with the Uncle Nearest whiskey company. We here at TheMSQShop recently covered their documentary of the making of Girls & Drugs, scheduled to come out in the springtime. PRIME is releasing a Valentine's Day pack on Monday on Soundcloud and Audiomack to give a taste of his upcoming works.

Jay: Who are some of your influences in your sound?

P: Jay-Z and Nipsey Hussle. I'm an old-school R&B guy also, so I love the Jodeci albums. Those were my major influences for the most part.

KB: That's one of the reasons why I wanted to be in business with him. I was talking to LA Reid recently about his artist Aiyana-Lee. When we were listening to her music he said that he hadn't heard a vibe like that in a long and we were talking about the feelings her music brings. There has to be a unique and distinct sound that meshes a variety of nuances and cadences. How Reid feels about Aiyana-Lee, I feel that way about PRIME. His soul is prominent within his melodies. He's only twenty-six years old but you can tell his influences, which are on the high end of the music spectrum, are reflected and delivered in a unique way in his music. I hear some cadences similar to music from the seventies and early eighties.

Jay: You’re known as PRIME but your social media handle is N9N23. Can you give us insight into why you go by the numbers nine-two-three?

P: 9-2-3. That’s the movement. It has its influences from the term nine-to-five. The nine-to-three it’s where people become who they aspire to be whether it's done naturally in their intuition or plugging into The Matrix. The movement is a representation of everyone like Kenny Burns and Ricky Parker who came into this life and understood how to move in The Matrix.

Jay: Describe to us what The Matrix is. I would assume it’s how things such as relationships and life are much more digitized nowadays. It programs us to live in a certain algorithm.

KB: The matrix is initially the concept of an algorithm according to how to move in the world at this time. The inspiration comes from the 9-2-3 movement. Like the movie, it’s the world we live in the matrix is what you ultimately can be. This time is so defining of a generation right now. To paraphrase Dr. Dre recently said, "are you making music for "the now" or are you making art that will live past you?"

It's like what Fawn Weaver, the CEO of Uncle Nearest, and I would talk about: aiming to gain more territory from a business standpoint. Whether you're a creative or entrepreneur in the music business, it ultimately comes down to gaining more territory. PRIME is a genius musically because of the way his frequency is within his art, he's fully capable of expressing himself in many different ways rather than just going about it in one direction. He incorporates all of these metaphorical territories he built up over time and integrates them together to convey his message.

Jay: One of our writers recently covered the making of Girls & Drugs. Max said this about the video: “Words of wisdom, mind-feeding mantras, and melodic music carry through the course of the documentary, as discussions range from love as a drug, men & women in relationships, defying norms and expectations, and other inspirational content.” People who view the video will catch on to the comparisons of how Summer Walker speaks for the toxicity of women, PRIME does that for the relationships in Girls & Drugs.

From the snippets in the video, Girls & Drugs can be summarized as the struggle of choosing between a drug and a drug since there is a fine line between love and addiction. Has this project helped you discover more about yourself and if so, in what ways?

P: It helped me to evolve into a more mature person. It gave me the perspective of the double entendre that is Girls & Drugs. The project reflects how I feel about those two things and becoming more one with myself. It reflects the good and bad along with learning from the mistakes.

Jay: I noticed in the documentary that you were praised for going into the studio, not writing anything down, and just laying down vocals as it was very natural. How did working on the album help improve that?

P: It made me tap into deeper emotions. It improved my skill level and confidence. It's about leaning into who you are to build up more confidence in your experiences.

KB: To further speak about PRIME, his music represents the full spectrum of relationships as a whole. It explains the different perspectives and it's something that is legitimately for everyone as he doesn't pick a side in the situations of a relationship. His music verbally illustrates those various matters. In the project, he has a female artist that gives the woman's perspective.

When I lost my father on January 1st, I was finding some relation to love and disappointment in love. I felt disappointed in my relationship with my father and listening to PRIME's music helped me draw the connections between where things are now and where things aren't. That's the power of his music. Not only it's about the streets, it includes that double entendre of how relationships go and it's painted vividly with his incredible wordplay.

Jay: I have a series of poems called Ordinary Love Shit. On almost every installment, I start out each installment with a phrase: “Ordinary Love Shit. It involves affection, connection, trust, a bit of lust, robust pride, the will to not hide after an argument.” How would that quote correlate to the project Girls & Drugs?

P: It describes the attachment and details of the battle. The disconnect, the yin, and the yang. You're going to feel different emotions. It's how you react to them to make the sentiment and to understand the value of that sentiment. It’s a blessing to deal with that.

Jay: In your conversation with Ricky Parker, you describe frequency as what you connect to. When Ricky introduced you to PRIME, his music didn’t speak to you right away, but you placed an emphasis on sticking to what you know to be true. In this case, it was Ricky letting you know PRIME was different. What drew you into believing in PRIME?

Virginia Union University professor Ricky Parker hosting Kenny Burns at Virginia Union University on February 20th, 2020

KB: He honestly reminds me of me. By growing up in a certain way, you become familiar with certain surroundings and who you know that came up in a similar way. When he was rapping, I didn’t see it, but when he was singing, I saw that spark. I saw that drive. PRIME looks a lot like a trap rapper as he is from the streets but he’s the epitome of what’s going on right now. When you hear him sing, he takes you into his mind and you'll see that he's a motherfucking superhero. We have a similar frequency and connection. I understand his journey of "I was there but now I’m here." I can help him go beyond anything that I have done. PRIME has that alpha mentality.

I am notorious for putting people on. The chemistry of our frequencies was an organic thing and really feels like it was meant to be. PRIME is at a pinnacle point in life making grand decisions and he has that good in him to feel that desire of wanting to do better. That'll help him to go to the next level with it.

Jay: My follow-up question about frequency is this: with your successful career, how did you better sharpen your personal frequency to be successful in the different ventures you embarked on?

KB: Trial end error. I did not have a blueprint for becoming The Lifestyle Specialist. My superpower throughout it all was integrity. As long as your integrity is intact, you’ll always have a way out of whatever situation you find your way in. When you stop, whatever you do stops.

Not enough people take time to enjoy the journey. I really lived life for a living. My life is about living and speaking life into people and inspiring them. I’m very full of life but what definitely kept me going is that if I know better, I do better.

Jay: PRIME, do you have any additional words to the question?

P: Remember to stay pure and keep going. 923 the movement. Stay tuned. Girls & Drugs coming soon. This is only the beginning.

You can find PRIME and Kenny Burns on all social media @N9N23 and @KennyBurns

Written by: Jay Guevara. @justinhisprime on all social media.

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