Interview by Scott Bejda
I had the pleasure of meeting you during the “Bonzai” video shoot in Chinatown Chicago back in January. How have you been doing?
I have been real good. It was an honor to meet you also.
I know you are from Romania and you represent that to the fullest in your music, can you tell me about your Romanian heritage?
I am originally from Romania which is in Eastern Europe. I was born in the town of Oradea which is about 200 miles from the border of Hungary and has a population of about 225,000.
How old are you?
I am 26. I was born in 1985.
How old were you when you moved from Romania to St. Louis?
I stayed in Romania until I was 5 and a half.
Do you remember much about that early part of your life when you were living in Romania?
Absolutely! To by honest with you my brother my parents were common workers that were just getting by.
I imagine it was hard!
Economically Romania was not doing well because it was a communist country until 1989.
What do you remember about your childhood?
I remember that it was pretty normal. I was running around but I don’t recall having any schooling at that time. I recall my parents were working and we had lived in an apartment in Romania and my brain is just scattered because I only remember certain parts.
Well you were only 5 at the time.
Right, but I remember the economy being so bad but honestly my childhood was good because it was fun but as far as having things it was kind of hard. Don’t get me wrong my parents always did their best to put clothes on my back and they always kept me fed but through my eyes childhood was fairly great growing up but for my parents with the economy it was bad.
Is that why your parents moved to St. Louis?
You have to keep in mind that Romania was a communist country all the way until 1989 and hence that was the reason my Father wanted to come to the United States.
When you first came to America did you live anywhere else before St. Louis?
No St. Louis was the first place and the only place we lived in.
Was it just you and your Parents that came over to America?
It was my Mother, My Father, and my Sister and I. I am the youngest in my family.
Have you ever been to Romania to visit your friends and family?
Yeah, the last time I went was in 2007 and I would absolutely love to go back but the plane ticket is so expensive. It is like $2,000 round.
How was it for you to go to your original home?
I love going back because it brings me more in touch with my Eastern European side and I know much more about my culture.
I can tell that you are very proud to be from Romania!
I am a big patriot deep down. I am a very, very proud Romanian man. Our traditions are beautiful Scott. I always make sure to show the people with my music the background I have and where I am from. That is why I have a positive message and my upbringing is because of my roots and that is who I am.
I feel you. I am Czech but I have not yet had the pleasure to go back home!
Yeah, Bejda is definitely Czechoslovakian.
Your heritage comes out in a lot of your music. How important is it for you with your music to stay true to your heritage?
Man to stay true to my heritage is key for me. We moved over here in the States in September of ’91 and we came over with no help. The only Government assistance that we got was through a Catholic charity where they started my parents out with real low paying jobs. They were making only about $3.00 an hour at the time.
It sounds like it was rough in St. Louis too?
My parents were common workers. We started off living in an apartment and we stayed there for ten years until they were able to buy a house. My father did factory work and my mother was into nursing. My parents are my heroes and I am blessed to have them in my life. I am very appreciative to the man that they molded me in because a lot of my childhood acquaintances didn’t have both parents in their life.
That is a very strong bond. I know because I have been blessed with two wonderful parents as well.
Yes it is. They are everything to me and so is my heritage. It is very important to me Scott, because I can never let go of where I came from because I realize how fortunate I am to live in a society where we can create opportunity, and that is what I have been doing. Everything that I have earned musically I created myself. I went out here and stood out here in the cold and sold CDs at Gas Marts and I have been to places where people said you are not allowed to go.
It sounds like you defied the odds!
The first way that I defied the odds was mastering the English language. It is a real blessing for me to overcome the language barrier first and foremost. Second of all it is hard to believe for some people that I was born in another country and I speak English so fluently. The Romanian side of my heritage is a big part of my upbringing and it is one of the biggest parts of my music.
It definitely comes out strong in your music.
I am very proud to be the first Romanian born rap artist in the United States because it has never been done. There was nobody that I have heard or met that was from our region and from Romania that was rappin. That is why I call it “The 1st Romanian Campaign.”
You did master the English language very well because your rhymes are incredible. You spit so fat like a Tech N9ne or Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. How did you develop that delivery?
To be honest with you my brother the first rapper that I have ever heard was Kid Frost. I know Kid Frost was a Chicano rapper which is style was way different, but I came up in an era where I loved 90’s music. 90’s music was my favorite. The ones who really had the biggest influence on the way I flow is my favorite rap group from Cleveland Ohio, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. I first picked up their tape back in ’94 which was “Creepin’ On Ah Come Up: Ep” which ahd “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” on there. I use to listen to Bone back and forth and would sit there and I knew their lyrics as good as they knew their lyrics. By me playing around and rappin fast stretching .y words out was unreal because I know people who have been here longer than I have and still have a heavier ascent. A lot of people don’t even pick up on my ascent so I would say it has to do with the love of rap. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony really molded my style along with people like Tech N9ne, Crucial Conflict and the speed rappers. I listed to Busta Rhymes and stuff like that. I loved the fast rhythm but yet the clarity was still there.
I have listened to music from St. Louis over the years and the sniper rapid flow is not a typical style for St. Louis. It is for other areas in the Mid-West, especially Chicago. I must say that it is kind of unique to hear that coming out of St. Louis.
Absolutely and I feel that it is very important because we are a melting pot. We are the melting pot of all cultures, backgrounds, and ethnicities put together. You are right Scott, St. Louis does have a certain sound with the “Urrrs”, the “Thurrrs”, the “Do-wops” and all that certain stuff and I am really different from the rest. That is why I have always stood out everywhere I go and they do say “you know what, we see something in you!” That is why I have baptized myself “The Golden Child!’ It is love out here everywhere I go and it is unreal. As an artist I always though to myself “What makes me different fro everybody else? What is going to make my name ring in their ears differently from any other artist?” And I realized it is not just about rapping because many people can rap fast but then again they are not as clear and the clarity is not there. Fast rappin is not for everybody. I keep God in my life first and foremost because I know I was given a gift and I know there is a higher power because not everybody has the gift that I have. I just learned to master it as I got older and I just developed it. That is how I made a buzz around my city and my region and everybody is like “Man, there is this Romanian kids who is a fast spitter and a tongue twister.”
When did you first step in the studio and record something?
I recorded my first song at the age of 15. I cut my first audio tape back when I was 15. Another guy who was a real big influence on me is my homeboy who is incarcerated right now and his name is “Codak.” Codak and Trefoez gave me my first shot to record in the studio. That is when things started really popping off in my life. At the age of 15 is when I cut my first real solo song and ever since then Scott, it has been on like Donkey Kong. I was 15 then and now I am 26 so I have been at it for a good 10 ½ years plus.
When I heard your music I already knew you were not a rookie. You have mad talent which even landed you on Tech N9ne’s last album “The Gates Mixed Plate.” How long have you been knowing Tech?
I teamed up with a buddy of mine by the name of Oshea who is the head of a street team out here in St. Louis and everywhere I would always do a lot of promo for Tech. Everywhere I go I love to put people on talented artists because I feel that Tech N9ne is someone that people should not over look.
I have been the same way. Ever since I reviewed “Anghellic” I was pumping Tech to anyone and everyone who would listen!
That is what I do as well. He sets precedence for all these artists out here. He is a walking and talking machine but his heart is massive.
When did you first meet Tech?
I first met him at the age of 16 and I rapped a 16 bar verse to him.
What was his reaction to this young Romanian kids spitting like that?
It put a smile on his face like a kid in a candy shop. He was smiling from ear to ear and him and Travis both gave me his card. Ever since then they would come to St. Louis and do shows about twice a year and I would make it my duty to walk up to him and introduce myself and he would remember me. He would say “Preach, what’s up man?” I was on the bus with him a couple of times and I played him my music and he thought I was phenomenal. He absolutely told me “Preach, you are shittin’ on shit!” Ever since then it has been on. From helping him with the street team around here and seeing him on occasion he always remembered me. It was something about me. He honestly said “Preach out of all the guys in St. Louis you have some of the most talent I have seen. You just have to keep sticking at it!”
After all these years knowing Tech how did the collaboration for the “Gates Mixed Plate” go down?
In 2010 he happened to call me which happened to be in the month of March while he was on tour in Canada. He said “Preach, I got this bomb ass song I want you on and it is called Far Out and I am sitting on the back of the bus writing too it and I need you to come through. I summon you brother and I want you to write a verse to it and we are gonna throw it on my brand new album.”
That must have made your day!
It was a dream come true for me and I am forever in debt. I can’t express the gratitude that I have ion my heart. Any other person could have charged 5,000 bucks but the fact that he extended his arm like a gladiator means the world to me. That is how it came about my brother. I just kept in contact and just built a relationship.
That album was buzzing heavy in the industry last year. Strange really made some major noise. That was definitely a great album to have been a guest on.
Definitely! Plus he is like a mentor to me. Tech N9ne will always be in my top 5. Tech N9ne and bone are my favorites. I admire Tech N9ne as a solo artist more than anybody. Rest in Peace to I really feel that Tech is about to take over as the President of Hip Hop, I really do.
I did want to go back and ask you what do you parents think about your rap career?
My parents are real supportive but they are more old fashioned and they believe in education. I am finishing up my schooling right now which I will be done in May with my Degree.
What will you have a degree in?
It is a degree in Fine Arts. I got less than a month.
They must be proud of you homie!
Oh yeah, My parents are very supportive. With rap they are a little old fashioned.
Tell me what you mean by old fashioned.
Well they always ask about 1,000 questions and it is hard to make believers out of old fashioned folks until they see it with their own eyes, but they have definitely witnessed my success throughout the years. My main thing is that they don’t want to see me hurt because they know that St. Louis is a gutter ball city that we live in. They know I am always out here doing shows and taking risks and they just don’t want to see anything happen to me which I absolutely admire them for that because any good parent doesn’t want to see anything bad happen to their child. Overall my family is real supportive of me.
Tell me about your previous album and what you have coming up in the future!
The first one was called “Expect the Unexpected” was my first one and “Dark Religion: Chronicles of the Nocturnal” was my second release which was a collaboration between artist and producer with me being the artist and my homeboy Senad Sadovic being the producer. It was kind of like a joint venture. Now my second professional solo release but my third overall release is called “ESL” which stands for “English as a Second Language” which I am hoping to release by the end of the year.
If people want to get your albums where can they go?
They can pick them up at I-Tunes, CDbaby, Napster, Zoon, Rapsody, Verizon, and Amazon. All they have to do is type in Preach with the dots which is P.R.E.A.C.H.
Does P.R.E.A.C.H. stand for anything?
I’m glad you asked that yes it does. I got the name because they say I am a humble spirit and I always sound like a preacher when I am talking. I kind of have that wise old soul in my. It is an acronym for “Peacefully Respect Everyone Amongst Continuous Hate.” It is basically me inside out man because music is my sanity and my heart equals the man in me. I am a peaceful dude and I respect all people in this struggle that we live in because we all come from a struggle. My main thing that people love about me is my integrity not only with my music but outside of my music and that is why I have had the success that I have had. They see I am a real person behind the paint because you could be the best artist in the world but you could be a piece of crap as a person.
I met you in the flesh and you are a humble dude with no arrogance or any of that bullshit and I think that combined with your talent will get you far in this game. You are right homie!
Thank you Scott that means a lot to me my brother! I know you are putting together a compilation and I am honored and humbled to be on that and can’t wait for it to come out.
Thank you bro. You are definitely in the circle and I am honored to be able to have you down on my compilation. We now know how to get your music but where can the fans go to keep up with the latest on P.R.E.A.C.H.?
We are having a website which is about to launch in about two months. The website is gonna be www.unxpectedmusic.net There is no “e” at the beginning of Unexpected is Unxpected. For now if my fans want to check out my music they can go to www.facebook.com/preachwg and www.myspace.com/preachwg If they want to see some youtube footage all they have to do is type in Preachstl.