The Evolution Of PROF: How Rhymesayers Split Was Best Thing For His Career


Gampo has grown up. The alter ego of rapper/singer PROF, Gampo was described early on as the Minneapolis native’s “comedic, dirty-mouthed” rap persona. And it kind of became his signature.

In 2011, the Twin Cities Daily Planet called his fourth studio album, King Gampo, “an asinine, narcissistic self-indulgence run completely riot, without a shred of redeeming artistry.” While that was undeniably harsh, PROF will be the first to admit his ego did run wild for awhile. 

“I thought I was the best undiscovered talent in America back when I was s##### and awful,” he says with a laugh. “I’ll hear that music and I’ll be like, ‘Oh this is horrible,’ but I guess that’s the confidence and delusion you need to do something like this.”

The talented artist, who has always used his off-color sense of humor and iron-clad confidence to craft often hilarious and thought-provoking bars, has grown since then. It’s evident on his 2023 single “HORSE” and its accompanying video, which begins with PROF being admitted into a fictional place called “Selfless Pastures: Ego Rehab.” 

“I’ve evolved,” he says with certainty. “I’ve been having these thoughts for a long time and just haven’t really put it on wax. I’m a grown ass man. When I said I wanted to be fame and money, I honestly can say I don’t want fame anymore. I would prefer not to have it.” 

He also has the patience of a saint. An interview plagued by schedule conflicts, technical difficulties, numerous stop-starts and the potential for a somewhat confrontational conversation didn’t deter him from knocking it out. After all, there were some important questions to ask, questions that weren’t exactly comfortable to ask or (presumably) even answer.

In 2020, PROF was almost a victim of cancel culture—almost. Caught up in a scandal that cost him his contract with Rhymesayers Entertainment—home to artists like Atmosphere, Dilated Peoples and Aesop Rock—PROF was forced to pivot. And he’s happy he did. 

“It was the best thing that’s ever happened in my career,” he says. “Five months later I was on the Billboard chart.” 

Curiously, PROF was never really at the center of it—it was a DJ he worked with between 2009 and 2016, who’d been accused of sexual misconduct. But it ballooned into something much more after internet sleuths dug up some old tweets from PROF that appeared to “prove” he was character with questionable morals. 

“There never was an allegation or anything to begin with, but lies spread around the world before the truth has time to put on their tennis shoes,” he explains. “There was just tweets of saying I was running around raping people. It got so bad, and then people are sifting through stuff online and it was just impossible to get ahead of.” 

PROF apologized for the series of “disgusting” tweets he put out in 2012, some Valentine’s Day cards from 2014 and a song released in 2017 that uses language and imagery he dubbed “embarrassing and ignorant.” 

“A lot of what really canceled me was tweets from 10 years prior to that,” he says. “So like 15, 20 years ago when I was watching a comedy special—and this is when no one really knew what Twitter was—I’m tweeting all these jokes. They weren’t even my jokes.”

But the damage was seemingly done. Rhymesayers released a statement explaining their decision, saying, “The reports of abuse that have come to light this past week are not things that we’ve ever tacitly condoned or were previously aware of. We have taken the last few days to process these reports because we felt it was important to allow survivors the opportunity to speak and for us to listen, discuss and reflect before adding our voice to the discussion.”

Rhymesayers immediately ended its relationship with PROF and his label, Stophouse Music Group, and shelved the Powderhorn Suites album. 

“We failed to not only vet the signing of Prof but also calling into question the intentions behind his music, messaging and content more strongly,” the statement continued. “We, like many others, separated the music from potential behavior. Thus, we were complicit in promoting and marketing music that perpetuates misogyny.”

The statement arrived in the wee hours of the morning during what had been one of the most challenging periods of PROF’s life. 

“My neighborhood had burned down,” he remembers. “We were going through a lot. My house was right next to the precinct that got pulled into all that George Floyd s### in 2020. I lived right there, so my backyard filled with ash. I had to leave my house in the middle of the night because we thought it was going to start on fire. So all these protests I’m involved with people everywhere and there was a Blackhawk helicopter above my house for four months straight and it ain’t no normal helicopter—it shakes everything. 

“Meanwhile, I’m doing work, thinking about what it is to be a white man, born and raised in Minneapolis. What are my Black friends doing? How are they, have I made any mistakes in my life? I’m analyzing my race, accountability for who I am as a white man and where I was born and I’m just going through a lot of s###, not sleeping. And then boom, just weeks later, I’m getting canceled. I had such a hard time getting press, but when I was getting canceled, that s### was all over.”

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PROF says he was shocked by how it was handled by some of the people he considered friends, adding, “A lot of people jumped ship on me and just left my relationships and everything without calling me or saying, ‘What’s going on?’ Everyone was so scared of what was happening. The wave was so ferocious and so violent. It was crazy.” 

In hindsight, PROF admits he wishes he would’ve handled the situation differently. As he explains, “I was trying to like take accountability and that was one time I can look back and be like, ‘Damn I took too much accountability.’ I should have stood up for myself a little bit more rather than try to do what’s right because it swung so far. No one had time to just sit down and think.

“No one was calling anybody. I was calling Rhymesayers for three or four days straight and they went totally dark on us. So I’m thinking, “Oh, they’re going to try and make me the poster boy of this s###.” I saw something coming. I didn’t think it would be how it was like in the middle of the night, but they tweeted it out at two in the morning.” 

Ironically, the same album Rhymesayers declined to put out, Powerhorn Suites, became PROF’s most successful, peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard chart. It showed him he didn’t need the help of a label and, instead, could focus on building his own empire.

Currently on an expansive headlining tour, PROF just sold out The Vogue in Indianapolis on Saturday (May 11) and continues to pack venues across the United States. He’ll perform alongside Yelawolf on July 12 at The Mission Ballroom in Denver, which is already sold out. He also recently dropped a new single called “Feed The Dogs,” his first since “HORSE.” 

While it may have taken a lot of reflection to get to where he is now, there was a moment during the chaos of 2020 when he realized all he had to do was unplug. 

“I just went up north,” he says. “I went to a beautiful place and went off grid. I realized it was all on my phone. If I would have just dropped my phone, I wouldn’t even know that s###. Is it really that real? I was famous at that time in Minneapolis and no one was coming over up to me and spitting in my face. No one would ever f###### do that s###, so it was just delete your apps and f###### live your life, man.”