Twenty-seven-year-old Prosper Muna, also known as P. Muna, is a rising artist from Albany, New York that currently resides in Harlem. You may recognize him from Season 4 of MTV’s Are You The One? He is gaining an abundance of attention in the music industry. His amazing story filled with positivity, perseverance, and passion can be seen as an inspiration to us all. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with him over FaceTime to get a better understanding of who he is as as person and an artist, as well as the amazing message he works everyday to communicate to the world.
Image courtesy of P. Muna
Asha: Who is P. Muna? How do you define yourself?
P. Muna: P. Muna started off as my alter ego. When I was in high school a lot of my homeboys gave me the name P. Muna so I used it as my confidence. I saw it as my alter identity and something like Batman and Bruce Wayne. So Prosper is like Bruce Wayne and P. Muna is like Batman in this cave just like scoping the city of Gotham trying to fight the evil.
A: How do you define yourself as an individual and an artist? Do you separate the two?
PM: I do separate the two to a certain extent. Like I said, P. Muna is like the music artist, the hip-hop artist, the one that’s about all the ladies, in the club with all the DJ’s…the one that’s doing the shows. He’s the one that’s just killin it. He has a little edge to him, a little chip on his shoulder. He’s rockin the shades, he’s ‘the man.’ Prosper is more ‘the nice guy.’ Prosper may sing to you, and P. Muna may talk that sh*t to you.
A: You were on a show on MTV, would you say you used that experience as a platform to launch your music? If so, how?
PM: Yeah, that was one of the biggest reasons I went on the show. Another reason was to just get my face out there. It was a great opportunity to show my music and I was able to promote myself as an artist. I had a lot of time before the show to figure out how to promote myself, so I had marketing strategies and I did some meet and greets. So I tried to do anything that was strategic and made sense to help promote my music, during the show. I was able to use it as a platform to get into certain events to get my name out there. The experience helped me learn the business side of being a star.
A: How long have you been creating music?
PM: I’ve been making music my whole life. For as long as I can remember, even if it wasn’t actually like rapping, but the first time I heard R&B music and hip hop I was just in love with it. I just new I was creative from that point. I really started rapping when I was like 6 or 7. I have a line in one of my songs in my album, it’s called “New Jack City,” the first line is “I learned to cook crack from my step pops, he introduced me to this R&B and hip hop.” You know being from the bottom, you know the rough neighborhoods, people may think “wait what? That’s crazy!” But in hip hop terminology and the music industry “that dope” means “that music”…those tunes that you would love. He basically taught me at a young age he would introduce me to dope artists and give me their CD’s. My mom did as well, so at a young age I learned the foundation of hip hop and R&B and I was always such a fan. I’m such a student of the game. So that’s what 1991 is about, showcasing all my influences and me as an artist.
A: What inspired you to get into the music industry?
PM: The music industry definitely started when I was in high school, even before that I knew I could sing. I always felt like I could rap, but I was very terrified and timid to sing. A lot of people don’t even believe I was shy, but certain parts of me are still like that. So I transferred to a private school my senior year in high school and it really just got me away from the public school social pressure of getting fly everyday. When I went to a new school I was away from everyone and everything, and no one could judge me. I ended up joining the chorus and really gained my confidence from my teacher. And then I did a musical, this one girl talked me into trying out for it and by default I was like the best singer there. So I’m like the captain of the football team, you know, macho Black dude at an all white school and I’m on stage dancing in tights in a play called “Into The Woods”…it just looked crazy. But at the same time, that’s when I really fell in love with performing. When I saw the crowd’s reaction to everything I was like, “yo, I wanna do this forever.”
At that point, I met a guy Lucas, he’s still my boy till this day. I started putting out mixtapes and selling them, and they were moving. I realized then that this is what I want to do. When I got into college, I put out my first official mixtape and I started promoting it online and then my first show ever in 2009 was with Mac Miller in Pittsburgh. I performed and gained a fan base from there and realized this is where I want to be. I want to be performing, I want to go on tour. I ended up doing like four more shows with mac Miller, and did like a mini tour. But yeah, from there, I realized this is what I want. I just want to make music.
A: What were some hardships you faced or face while being in this business?
PM: I guess a hardship, just being an artist, is getting people to listen. Trying to market yourself in a way that’s not annoying or spamming. It can be tough when you’re promoting yourself and putting yourself out there and you feel like nobody’s listening. The main thing was building the team aspect of everything, and right now it’s great because I’m slowly developing my team. So the main part is just marketing myself, trying to figure out what it is I need to break into the industry. I think another struggle was in the beginning I would care too much about what people thought about my music and it wasn’t fun. After, I just stopped giving a f**k, and decided I’m gonna make my music because I love it and it’s almost like my coping mechanism. I know if I keep doing that I’ll run into the right people or person or situation or post that could go viral and the rest is history.
A: Does your music have a common theme?
PM: My music is very diverse in terms of concepts or sounds, but it all comes back to “the real.” I always try to rap or sing about the realist sh*t, something you can take something from. I always channel my inner soul, and that’s what helps me do that. I consider myself a conscious artist, but I’m versatile and always try to put out a message. Like the song “Pull Up,” it’s like a club song but the lyrics are real and about coming up…it’s like a celebration song.
A: A lot of your songs include discussion about poverty and issues within the Black community, what is your purpose about discussing such topics?
PM: I’m just a story teller, I’m a reporter so I just want to tell the story of “the real,” everything that’s going on. Especially nowadays, you know, everything that’s being put on the radio or promoted is drugs, sex, and materialism…and it is what it is but when it comes down to my content everything I see everyday and what I believe in, everything I wanna make a difference in is all for the people. I feel like I’m the people’s champ so I’m gonna tell you what’s going on in the streets of New York or around the U.S. with police brutality or how there’s real people out here starvin’. I know a lot of people that are in the position to help and they’re not and I’m just gonna talk about the people’s struggles cause that’s where I’m from. I’m just trying to show people that where I’m at right now you know I’m grindin, I’m in a better place, but at the same time it’s an everyday struggle for everybody no matter where you’re from. Even if you’re on and it may look good from the outside, people look at you like “damn,” but in reality everybody is battling or fighting with something so I always try to put that in my music because it’ll resonate with someone. I want to develop that “real” fan base where people can look and be like P. Muna is “that real, that inspiration.”
A: You just came out with a new album! What exactly is 1991’s main purpose?
PM: 1991’s main purpose is to just show anyone that you can do anything that you wanna do, but you gotta work hard for it and you gotta be careful of what’s going on in the world. Like for me as an artist and as a person, you know…I just turned 27 so like a lot of people my age and people I went to college with, people that work these 9-5 jobs just doing this normal norm sh*t, they sometimes get caught up. The 1991 album is just an art piece about a kid that was lost and finds purpose, and I feel like everybody has a purpose but it takes time for everybody to really go out and find it…you almost have to lose yourself to find it. 1991, one side is going out there and doing what you love. The other side is about my generation, the millennials, and my influences…how we know technology but we also have our morals that are traditional. I feel like the millennials are a unique generation, we relate to the older and newer generations, we are like the best of both worlds. I feel like it is our duty to keep the traditions alive.
A: What are some of your favorite songs from 1991?
PM: My favorite song to listen to is “Love Me Not,” it’s number 10 on the album. That song just wraps up what 1991 is about, it’s about my struggle with love…whether if it’s love with a woman or if it’s love with whatever I’m doing. In the end of the song it paints a picture and shows that I’m still hopeful. The song is about this imaginary woman/love that I long for. Every time I struggle or I’m going through a tough time with love or a relationship or I just need to feel good, I just put that song on because it just touches my soul.
A: You recently began a clothing line called 1991, what exactly does “1991” represent? Is this a movement?
PM: 1991 the clothing line represents the generation, the millennials, but also when I first started it…when I first started creating the album, I was like I want everything 1991. Headbands, jackets, everything is 1991 because that’s the year I was born, that’s where I’m from. I love our generation and I feel like we have so much to offer so I wanted to put that on something that people can wear to make it more like a movement and about being a leader, knowing that you stand for them. It means you know your purpose and if not you’re on your way to figuring it out.
P. Muna dons a dad hat from his 1991 clothing collection.
A: Why do you believe that Howard students would enjoy watching you perform?
PM: I feel like I just bring this relatable aspect, especially for a historically Black college. My musical content is very real for every Black kid, we have relatable experiences with everyday struggles. There’s so many relatable aspects that I feel like I could connect with the student audience at Howard University. I feel like I could leave something that they could take with them.
A: What message would you like to put out there for other young people of color that are striving to be successful in the music industry?
PM: Just know everything is about networking. I always understood, from where I came from, it was huge to really know how to talk to people. I feel like that was one of my ways out…knowing how to hold a conversation with someone. In the end you never know who’s who and who is willing to help you. Really, just being nice to people is what got me where I’m at today, and introducing yourself to people. Step out your comfort zone.
A: Who are some of your role models or inspiration?
PM: My mom, watching her from when I was a kid…taking care of six kids. She never had an excuse, just got everything done. That’s how I operate, I never slack, just get the job done and work hard. Other influences were like, Will Smith was a huge role model for me as a kid and like a father figure. Hip hop figures like Biggie and Nas were my role models growing up music wise. I would say hip hop artists in general, there’s so many, and even R&B.
So what’s next for P. Muna? HU homecoming? Summer Jam? The Grammy’s? Only time can tell, but as of now his future is looking pretty bright. Keep an eye on him, check out his brand new album, or even purchase some of that fire 1991 attire we discussed, all available at www.iampmuna.com
*This interview has been edited and condensed.*