Augusta hip-hop artist Da Professor attributes much of his success to the Shadow man he has in his corner - the welterweight champion of the world, Augusta native Vernon Forrest.
Da Professor, who released his album Abnormal Psychology on Mr. Forrest's Shadow Records label in April, is on tour with Usher and Nas. Later in the summer, he joins the Radio One tour featuring DMX, Mystikal and Ja Rule. Da Professor said the sudden nature of his success has been surprising.
"I knew I was going to be where I'm at, sooner or later," he said in a recent telephone interview. "But I didn't know it was going to be this soon. I kind of woke up one morning and it slapped me in the face."
Da Professor, who previously performed as Chamber, said his high-energy blend of rapid-fire rap and layered beats is the result of several years of musical experimentation that resulted in his name change.
"I released an album as Chamber in 1999, but I've grown so much since then," he said. "I've grown so much, I felt like I needed to change my name. Da Professor came from thinking what I'm really about, and that's producing music that's always changing. I want to be the artist people listen to and think can do anything."
Abnormal Psychology comes with a well-earned parental advisory. Da Professor said that, although his music is liberally peppered with profanity, the message is ultimately positive.
"Sure, there are explicit lyrics, but there is also positive stuff," he said. "I want people to enjoy the music and recognize that. I want them to dance and cry, because that's what happens when music comes from the heart."
Da Professor said he and Mr. Forrest share similar goals, an essential ingredient in their successful partnership. Both men are interested in putting Augusta on the map, be it for boxing or music, and both feel the other has the talent to do so.
"That's been wonderful," Da Professor said. "When I hooked with Vernon, we just clicked. We're like brothers now. He tells me when I rap, it's like a magic trick. At the same time, when he's in the ring, it's magic to me. It's great to have a champion like Vernon in your corner."
WHO: Usher, Nas and Da Professor
WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday, July 14
WHERE: HiFi Buys Amphitheatre, Atlanta
TICKETS: $24.50-$53.50, available at Ticketmaster locations or by calling 828-7700
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.