Junior Moses Small never imagined he was going to be a rapper. Until his freshman year, he had only made music with his violin and drums—never with his own words or lyrics. Since his freshman year, Small has rapped professionally and goes by the stage name Prophet.
Small started exploring rap after his roommate, junior Jordan Aucella, introduced it to him during their freshman year. Small said he ultimately decided to start rapping as Prophet because of his appreciation for the genre and his stubbornness to prove to his friends that he could rap.
On March 30, Small will perform at The Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub for the second time at a talent showcase hosted by New England Mixtapez, a music tour, in Cambridge.
Small first performed at The Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub in October 2017 and again at Wonder Bar in Allston in February. Small will also perform at two upcoming house parties.
Small said he saw someone promoting the showcase at Middle East on Instagram in early February and asked to perform.
He said he chose “Prophet” as his stage name because of the Biblical prophet Moses—a reference to Small’s first name and his father’s middle name.
“I didn’t want to be like Lil’ shotgun or Lil’ laundry detergent,” Small said. “I really wasn’t trying to do that. [Prophet] was an easy way to still be me while being [a rapper.]”
Aucella, who raps under stage name JO, said he also introduced Small to the idea of performing in front of an audience. Aucella performs at venues and streams his music online on Spotify. He convinced Small that he could become a rapper, Aucella said.
“Freshman year, I was freestyling in the room, rapping, and showing him my music,” Aucella said.
Small released his first music video for his song “R.U.N.” in February after raising nearly $1,600 through crowdfunding on the website Indiegogo. Sophomore Jonah Kaplan directed the video, which has 2,200 views on Youtube as of March 13. As incentives for donations, Small gave out stickers and signed posters.
“For the first two days, we got like $800 to $900,” Small said. “[The music video] was definitely something people were looking forward to, that they were excited for.”
Small said Kaplan’s fall internship with Vagrants, a film production company in Boston, provided the gear they needed for the music video. The music video, which took three months to produce from start to finish, was inspired by the movie Pulp Fiction, its main villain Marsellus Wallace, and his superpower of invincibility.
“I am portraying a young Marsellus Wallace, finding that briefcase and putting my soul into so I can have that crazy superpower,” Small said.
At the beginning of his career, Small free-styled and made music using jazz rap—a fusion of hip-hop vocals and jazz instrumentals—with Aucella. After experimenting with jazz rap, Small began to lean toward traditional hip-hop, Aucella said.
“Now, he finds himself a very cool, atmospheric hip-hop fusion,” Aucella said. “It’s such a unique sound, and that’s the goal of any artist—to create their own sound.”
Senior Ryan Bartlett, a friend of Small, said “R.U.N.” is his favorite song because of its clean production and the music video.
In the video, Small arrives at a liquor store and portrays a hero fighting villains. He rushes inside and finds men guarding his briefcase. They attack him, but he quickly defeats them. He grabs the briefcase and keeps running.
“I think ‘R.U.N.’ sticks out to me the most because of the clean production and the [song] as a whole,” Bartlett said.
Small’s first album, Ether, was released in April 2018. The album consisted of six songs. Small said that he defines “ether” as energy and that he chose the name for the album because people with different energies fascinate him.
Small said he feels inspired by songs with good rhythm and a fun atmosphere, but does not focus on specific songs or artists. He said it is difficult to make a good song that has complexity and a catchy rhythm.
Small values wordplay in his music and believes it sets him apart from other rappers.
“I think wordplay is any way you can use language to sneak-attack people with meaning,” Small said. “You can use language to sneak-attack people with meaning they didn’t expect but they can relate to.”
Aucella said his favorite song from Small was “Lastyear,” a song off of Ether, because of the song’s melodic beat, lyrical flow, and momentum.
“Every album has a hit song and a hidden gem,” Aucella said. “And, I feel like ‘Lastyear’ is the hidden gem that’s full of great rhythm and melody.”
Bartlett said Small’s performance at Middle East in March will be different from last year because Small changed his rapping style and will perform solo.
“I’m excited to see the difference when he performs, whether it is a character approach or a more laid-back approach,” Bartlett said.
Prophet buys tickets from New England Mixtapez to the showcase for $7.50 and sells the tickets for $10 to make a profit of $2.50 for each ticket he sells. The event starts at 7 p.m., is open to all ages, and costs $15 for advanced tickets and $20 at the door.