Prophet is an underground funk musician from the San Francisco Bay Area, who, until this year, had only put his name to one record: an obscure private-press LP called Right On Time (1984, Treasure Records). Full of mind-blowing no-BS boogie, it now has a dedicated cult following, with original copies are still changing hands. Now he has a new album, his first in 34 years, and it still sounds ’84: Wanna Be Your Man, produced primarily with Mndsgn.
Prophet is the first to point out that his journey has been longer than most artists. After Right On Time, he says, “Nobody really gave me a shot. Imagine if someone came up to you and said: ‘It’s not going to break for you for another 30 years.’ I had to stay focused and stay on the path.”
But there were some fans who kept the flame of that first album alive. Stones Throw founder Peanut Butter Wolf came across Right On Time at San Francisco’s Groove Merchant shop in the early 2000s and was instantly intrigued. “It was just the kind of music I grew up on, with Prince and The Time vibes, but a rare, lo-fi bedroom version,” he remembers. “Having said that, it doesn’t necessarily sound like anything else from the time period.”
Wolf played the record in DJ sets for years, knowing nothing about the enigma who created it, until Prophet introduced himself at a record fair. Wolf invited Prophet to make his return to live performance, opening for Snoop Dogg & Dam-Funk in 2013, and introduced him to Mndsgn. Together, Prophet and Mndsgn began cooking up the music that would become Wanna Be Your Man.
“The wild flair. The in-your-face kinda thang. That’s always been me, man.”
Mndsgn was a big fan of Prophet’s early work. “It’s classic 80s, untapped funk,” says Mndsgn. “What he does is very much in line with the lineage of Stones Throw which is always from the left field.”
He cuts an impressive figure, with his own style. Most of his outfits include a flash of yellow, he has a habit of eating raw lemons, and he creates his own artwork – the Wanna Be Your Man album cover, and a series of yellow memes that read like meditations from the funk world.
“Coming from that era, that’s just me!” he says. “The wild flair. The in-your-face kinda thang. That’s always been me, man.” Now after over three decades of silence, with Wanna Be Your Man Prophet can finally take up his rightful place in musical history.