Foreign Legion
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Foreign Legion

Oakland, California, United States | INDIE

Oakland, California, United States | INDIE
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"5 albums in five minutes"

Night Moves is not just a Bob Seger song about teenagers knockin boots, it’s also an album by Bay Area rap duo Foreign Legion that has some knockin beats. With Night Moves, Foreign Legion brings some of the funk and fun back to hip-hop. Just because you’ll be able to shake your ass to a lot of the music on the album, though, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the lyrics. Prozack Turner and Mark Stretch are both highly skilled emcees, and they both have a great time one the mic. The latter is evident in their rhymes and makes for a more enjoyable listening experience. Nobody likes to hear someone who isn’t having any fun, but when an artist is having a good time, and makes it obvious, it helps us have a good time as listeners. I can’t imagine anyone who loves hip-hop not finding something that they will love about Night Moves. - Adam's World


"What inspires Foreign Legion?"

"We are probably too stupid to quit" - The Bee Shine


"Foreign Legion interview"

How does a group go from penning an ode to a porn star to making the claim their the latest album is "from a Christian's point of view?" Was it a born again moment for the Foreign Legion duo of Prozack Turner (pictured on handlebars) and Mark Stretch, or an internet marketing ploy? We caught up with both men to find out. We also learned what you should never call their hometown of Oakland, why it's taken them three years to release something new, and what Mark Stretch has a license to do that most of us would get in trouble for.

Adam Bernard: It's been a minute since you guys have released a Foreign Legion project. What's been going on since the release of The Secret Knock EP in 2008?
Mark Stretch: I've been busy because I've been teaching hang gliding lessons and starting that company is really what's taken up all the time for me personally.

Prozack Turner: He hasn't even gotten off the ground yet. They're still tying to get a hang glider large enough.

MS: We did take the wing from a 747, but I couldn't quite get that fast enough.

AB: Wouldn't that be kind of heavy?

MS: I eat lunches that are heavier than that!

PT: You know what happened, I was living in LA and I moved back here (to Oakland) in late '08. I opened a bar up in downtown Oakland and it was like a full time gig. I was there seven days a week, 12 hours a day, for like a year and a half, so we got literally nothing done during that time. That ended in January so we have a lot more time.

AB: Did it end well, or did it end because you had to shoot a bunch of people.

PT: I can't legally tell you. {*laughs*} Nah, I'm happy and I think my business partner's happy, as well, and it's most important that everybody left and got what they wanted, so that's cool.

AB: On the Hunger Strike website you describe the new album, Night Moves, as "13 songs of struggle, survival and sexual intensity (from a Christian's point of view)." Could you explain the latter?

PT: I have never seen that. {*Turning to Mark Stretch*} Did you write that?

MS: Yeah, I wrote that. As a Muslim dude I had to go and look at the things that we'd written, because we really did put a lot of heart and time and emotion into the record and I thought that putting it "from a Christian's point of view" would let people would know that the album is a lot more safe for younger children than the previous ones.

AB: Than the one that had a door knocker covering a vagina on the cover.

MS: Yes!

PT: Yeah, I'd never seen that, Adam. I'm always on the Fader website. I don't really pay attention to ours, clearly.

AB: So you could get hacked and you wouldn't know about it for about a month.

PT: Yeah. I didn't even know we had a website, quite honestly, this is the first I've heard of it.

AB: Your Google hits are going to get really interesting from that album description.

MS: I hope so. That's the point.

PT: We're gonna all these gospel fans. We're gonna start touring the Bible belt now. We're like "why do all these people want to see us in Memphis?"

AB: Good luck opening for Creed.

MS: And EC Talk.

AB: For people who may not be as familiar with your work, describe Night Moves for them.

MS: The album is a real portrait of where we've been up until this point. It's standing back and looking at the music industry in general, as well as our place in it. Really looking at it and realizing that it's all kind of funny. It's nowhere near as dire, or as deep, as people try to make it out to be. It's just like make good music, have some fun, and every once in a while drink and hang out with your friends.

PT: Being an underground rapper nowadays is like being a pro wrestler if you took the business out of it and you were just doing pro wrestling for the love of it, for the love of the sunset flip off the top rope. We just like making music, so it's never that deep to us. There's not some big statement, or the bitterness, the bullshit, but there is that hint of reality that the music business is nonexistent these days.

AB: With the business aspect of it being nonexistent are you happy that this is something you can do on the side, and for enjoyment, or would you rather have it be a full time business?

PT: I would rather have it be a full time business, but I wish I could breathe underwater, too. We've done it for 12 years now and it has so many ups and downs and I want consistency in my life. I'm tired of the actual struggle, waiting for something to happen, because it is happening, it has happened, it's life and there is no plateau. You don't get to a place where it's like "I'm here, I made it." There are a lot of people out there who would look at a lot of the successes and experiences that we've had and think it's real successful. It's all about your definition of success and what you're happy with. People always want more. It's gross. Why do you always need more and more? These few thousand fans that we have worldwide, which isn't that much, but they want to hear it and that's such an awesome gift to even have that many people paying attention to your stupid art. Think of the guy hanging watercolors down at the local coffee shop and he can't even sell a painting. Nobody cares. There are so many artist that are struggling a lot more than I or Stretch have that I'm just happy to be putting out music and having people listen and book us for shows and enjoy our videos. It's a great time.

MS: The reality of it is hip-hop, from what I see, is probably the most volatile music genre of them all. It's the only one where you can be hot this month and next month you're on a milk carton. Going into that knowing that, that's fine. I'll take the longevity. We may never fill a coliseum. I don't know.

PT: We won't. We absolutely won't.

MS: But when we do a live celebrity death match I guarantee we'll fill a coliseum.

PT: Yeah, but all the people will be made out of clay.

MS: That's beside the point. As long as we get the door. The bottom line is we enjoy making it and the fact that people care enough to say "hey will you come out to wherever and rock," that's a huge compliment and to me that feels kind of like success. I'd like it if success felt a little more like paying my rent on time every month, but that's something else. You make those sacrifices for what you love doing.

AB: That's just success for the landlord.

MS: Yeah.

AB: Prozack, you mentioned wanting consistency. I know you're consistent in one way because you're married, and have been for quite a while, so is it safe to say you're no longer writing ballads to Adriana Sage?

PT: Not necessarily.

MS: No.

PT: It's funny, that's how I knew my wife and I were gonna work out because she really respects the art aspect and she's a grown woman and has her own life and her own career. I've dated women in the past where you write a love song, and it's hip-hop so I might say something a little inappropriate about a one night stand, just being clever, or making a party anthem, you date some insecure girl and they get their feelings hurt, but it's like it's all just songs. We're writing songs, we're telling stories. James Taylor's wife probably doesn't yell at him if he writes a song about falling in love with some new girl. That's what I do, so no, not really, it hasn't stopped the pen stroke one bit.

AB: Other than you guys, what's going on in your neck of the woods?

PT: Our city's really blossoming quite nicely right now as far as the night life and investments in the city and new businesses opening and a lot of people moving over here from San Francisco. On that tip the city's a really great place to be right now.

AB: What are three things everyone needs to know about Oaktown? I still refer to it the way MC Hammer did.

MS: The first is you don't call it Oaktown. It's The Town.

PT: It's the second most diverse city in the United States next to Long Beach, CA. There's a lot of awesome food here. A lot of beautiful people here. And you can buy weed legally.

AB: Prozack, can we talk about the fact that on Facebook you list Three's Company as your favorite show? Are you rockin it Jack Tripper style?

PT: Yeah dude. Always. I'm a little bit country and a little bit rock n roll, but I'm also a little bit Joyce DeWitt as well as a little Suzanne Somers. Salt and pepper. It doesn't matter, I'll take either one of em. I used to like Veronica in the old Archie comics. I've always had a thing for the brunettes

AB: If each of you were to pretend to be gay in order to live with two women, who would those women be?

MS: That's a good fucking question. That might be the question of the year.

PT: At this point in my life, realistically I would probably like it to be maybe Kim Kardashian and Scarlett Johansson. Kind of a mix of a slutty girl with an undercover slutty girl. But in real life I would probably end up living with my wife and my mother.

MS: I would probably, somewhere between Annette Schwarz and Asa Akira. I would definitely go that route. I would probably end up living with my two dogs, though, which will both be females, and that will be as good as it gets.

AB: The good news is you can call them bitches cuz you'll be correct.

MS: I'll be correct and I'm six foot five and Black. It's expected. It's on the backside of my license next to the donor sticker, "allowed to call women bitches."
- Rapreviews.com


"Foreign Legion Fireside chat"

West Coast hip-hop legends Foreign Legion made a stir on the international hip-hop scene with Full Time B-Boy back in 1999. With the release of much-delayed third album Night Moves imminent and (allegedly) an accompanying movie of the same name (the content of which one blushes to think about given the band’s connections with porn queen Adriana Sage), monkeyboxing.com thought it was high time to offer emcee legionnaires Marc Stretch and Prozack Turner a chance to talk about their new long player. Consequently a few enquiries were sent through the ether to California. What came back puts one in mind of the time that the Fast Show’s ‘Suit You tailors’ were out-innuendo’d (“Watch out Kenneth, we’ve got a live one”) by a customer. Thus while the ‘Official Monkeyboxing Fireside Chat’ all starts out innocently enough it plummets with exponential speed into utter profanity and X-rated, degenerate filth. Which is pretty much how we roll here at Monkeyboxing Towers too. Genius. Check Part 2 HERE. - Monkey Boxing Empire


""Foreign Legion's Night Moves is dope""

“It’s been 13 years, five record labels, five managers, three dj’s, three lawyers (both entertainment and criminal), countless producers, court dates and versions of that CSI program later, and Foreign Legion are ready to release their third studio album, Night Moves.” — Quality Control

Going through all that, how do you not root for them?! To top it off Foreign Legion’s Night Moves is dope. Please, don’t sleep on this duo that’s bringing classic tracks to your ears. From the beginning it gives off good vibes, and it’s sad when it ends. Night Moves is one to check out. Good thing for repeat. I can’t pick out one track to talk about because I would take this to a party and knock over anyone trying to change it. Piano Banger will get the crowd moving on the dance floor for for sure. Night Moves is down right feel good party music. Buy Foreign Legion – Night Moves on iTunes. Keep your eyes and ears open for these cats. I’m sure they will be bringing more bangers. BIG thanks to Karim at Quality Control for keeping me up on the Bay. - Beats And Crates


"HipHopDX Premieres Foreign Legion's "Son Of A Gun" Video"

If you’re a creative type, you know that inspiration can strike at any time and at any place. Luckily for Foreign Legion, inspiration struck their video director, Behn Fannin, a few hundred feet in the air.

“He also has a day job, which is window washing,” Prozack Turner explained. “So evidently, he was washing windows 20 floors up on a hi rise residential building in downtown L.A. while listening to [‘Son Of A Gun’] over and over. As he was listening, looking into all these different windows, he noticed an old lady sitting in her apartment changing the channels relentlessly for about 30 minutes straight, never stopping on a channel more than two seconds. As he was washing the windows and bumping the track, the lady incoherently was changing the channels perfectly on beat with the song in his headphones. Right there, the concept hit him and he began writing the treatment on his phone, on a platform several hundred feet above the city.”
- Hip Hop DX


"A More Enterprising Foreign Legion"

Emcees Prozack Turner and Rick "Marc Stretch" Govan don't really need a mythology to make themselves interesting, but they've tried it anyway. In past biographies, they met in space camp. Or the first Gulf War — Turner was a chopper pilot, and Stretch was the gunner. Sometimes they say the war was Vietnam. (In which case, an interviewer would have to accept that both rappers are very young-looking geriatrics.) Other times, they say they met while deep-sea diving. "We were looking for the same buried treasure," Prozack likes to say.

Thus, the real story of their duo, Foreign Legion, is hard to pin down. And it's a little more prosaic than what you usually find in the group's press materials. Prozack and Stretch met at a bar in 1997 and hit it off. Physically, they're opposites: The fact that Zack is small and white, while Stretch is tall and black, has always made the group look slightly, well, gimmicky. But fans take endless pleasure in noting that they have uncannily similar personalities. Both are fast, clever, aggressive, flinty, and sarcastic, with an acid sense of humor. They're self-employed rappers who could easily survive in other industries. Until January, Prozack co-owned the Layover bar in downtown Oakland, while Stretch worked at a graphic design company. It's little surprise that when they first met, Prozack was selling shoes at Nordstrom.

But only recently have the two made their real lives the cornerstone of an artistic project, namely with the movie that accompanies their new album, Night Moves. Originally planned as a TV series, it's a sitcom about two struggling rappers who have just inked their first major-label deal, and are trying, against all odds, not to screw it up. Prozack and Stretch play exaggerated versions of themselves. In the opening scene, Zack tries to negotiate with a CEO from Interscope Records, who is bogarting the master copies of Foreign Legion's new album. In this case, the master copies serve as collateral, since Stretch broke some equipment at Interscope. Thus, the emcees have to cook up a crazy scheme to pay off the debt and get their masters back. It involves a hooker named Donna, who winds up being the group's unlikely co-conspirator.

Okay, so that doesn't exactly qualify as real life. But it does have historical underpinning. Sort of. Prozack did, indeed, sign to a major label in 2005 — DreamWorks, which was distributed by Interscope — but he never saw the official release of his solo debut because the label folded that year. In fact, DreamWorks held Prozack's master copies hostage, so to speak, in a way that seems almost as diabolically absurd as it does in the Night Moves movie plot. After that, he decided to be DIY for good. Then the other major labels started toppling, and the point became moot.

"At this point, it would be hard to put an album into someone else's hands, because I know how to do everything," Prozack said. And he's right. Prozack produced seven of the thirteen tracks on Night Moves, mostly for economic reasons, he said. He also wrote and directed the movie. At this point, the two rappers are handling everything themselves, from management to the recording process. And they seem to do better that way.


Foreign Legion is that rare hip-hop group that managed to attain real longevity in the underground, partly because of a rigorously channeled imagination, but mostly because the two emcees are savvy enough to handle their own business operations. That was true from the jump. When they began collaborating in 1997, Stretch had only recently discovered backpacker hip-hop. "I was living in Vallejo," he explained.

The two actually met through their mutual friend DJ Design (aka Keith Griego), who used to be a bona fide member of the group. Prozack and Stretch were both capable rappers with sharp senses of humor; it seemed like a perfect match. Their principles aligned, but their intonation was different enough to give the sense of two distinct voices. And they suited each other for logistical reasons. "I figured, hey, I could cut my songwriting in half," Prozack said. "Plus add some color to the group," Stretch interjected. After a few promising freestyle sessions, the two emcees started splitting their writing duties. They began performing around town in costume, dressed as Star Wars or Flintstones characters. The two released their first album, Kidnapper Van, in 2000, and established themselves as resolute indie flag wavers. The album's single, "Full Time B-Boy," is a celebration of self-employment, autonomy, and full creative control. It remains one of their most memorable songs.

Since then, they released a party album called Playtight (the single from that one was called "Happy Drunk"), along with a few side projects — including Prozack's two solo affairs. Prozack got married and opened a bar. Stretch expatriated to Hayward, but moved back to Oakland after the statute of limitations expired on his parking tickets. In short, they grew up.

It shows in their sartorial choices. Sitting at a table in Heinold's First and Last Chance bar, the two emcees looked more handsome and world-weary than in previous years. They wore matching fedora hats and chunky sunglasses — Stretch said his were made from the same polymer as Wonder Woman's airplane. Prozack wore a pea coat and three rings. Stretch sported a Wu-Tang shirt and a big, coiled gold chain that he called "a dookie rope." ("Old-school terminology," he explained.) An artist at a nearby table began sketching Prozack in his notepad.

Their new album is grown up, too. "Fast and Loose" is a celebration of carefree lifestyles, but it's also a reality check — Prozack starts off with a reference to parking tickets; Stretch raps about rolling with the punches. "Angel" is a love ballad in which Prozack yearns for functional marriage and domestic tranquility (something he's apparently found in real life). "Fresh Air" is a fake interview with Terry Gross.

The beats on Night Moves are elastic and brisk. They have all the sample-driven glitchiness of old Foreign Legion, but more musical depth. "Piano Banger," for instance, is a busy patchwork of keyboard and organ sounds, anchored by a simple backbeat. Other songs borrow liberally from Seventies funk, blending horn samples, tambourine fills, rubber-band bass lines, a not-so-subtle theft from Smokey Robinson, and the occasional live instrument.

The single "Travel Lite" is about movement. It has the self-aggrandizing, fantasy aspect of traditional hip-hop — in the video, Prozack and Stretch pretend to be airline pilots — but it's still moored by common-man humor. They have trouble getting off the ground, at first, because Prozack lost his keys. - East Bay Express


"Foreign Legion featuring Oh No! Urb magazine free download!"

Free song download - www.urb.net


"Bangathon! Review"

PROZACK TURNER
"Bangathon!" Hunger Strike)-4 Stars!!
A salty rapper with a sweet sound
Prozack Turner approaches the rap-braggadocio thing with his tongue firmly in cheek. The MC fronts like a baller but also makes fun of himself for being that short, funky redneck who can beat his hip-hop forebears at their own game. With self-deprecating torch songs and an intentionally cheesy love ballad for an Internet porn star, Bangathon sets Prozack's cheeky personality against chopped-up symphonic licks, soul-diva hooks and studio effects (mostly cobbled together by Oh No and Quincy Tones). The raps may be rough and salty, but the music is tasteful and clean.
— Rachel Swan
- Remix Magazine


"Bangathon! Review"

Prozack Turner - Bangathon
'Zack overcomes industry nonsense with an eclectic project.
by Jim Durig
April 6, 2006 - Many an emceeclaims to know the nastiness of the music industry first hand, but few have a better claim than Prozack Turner. The Foreign Legion front man was set to release a star-packed disc when the label backing him closed its doors, leaving Zack in debt and without an album to lean on. A later trip to Ireland and a steady diet of Guinness rejuvenated him, however, and the results are collectively titled Bangathon.

Though the title might be most appropriate for a modern, club-heavy dance record, Zack's sound is distinctly and purposefully old-fashioned, full of soul-wrapped rhythms and pieces of rap's classic boom bap prototype. This comes through on the jazzy "Summertime in the Town", a feel-good jam ripped straight from the bouncy late 80s tradition. Zack dips back even further for "Ballad of Adriana Sage", an updated 70s love song with all its corniness and sap still intact. On the more contemporary tip, the self-produced "Hungry" outlines some of Zack's aforementioned industry headaches, and Rhymesayers emcee Brother Ali comes through solidly on "World's an Uproar" - an anthem to the common man's resiliency - spitting "I would never think of starting for the door till the stars don't burn no more".

Zack clearly thrives when plying his eclectic ear, however he noticeably stumbles when trying to bend his style to more accessibly mainstream fare. "Club Girls" isn't exactly a typical dance cut, but it still feels altogether out of place when stacked next to the rest of the album. Fortunately these lulls are few and far between, allowing Zack's creativity to take center stage.
- IGN


"Prozack Turner in XLR8R"

Prozack Turner in XLR8R
TEXT Max Herman

When Prozack Turner (of Bay Area hip-hop act Foreign Legion) left the States last year for a six-week retreat in Ireland, he wasn't exactly on a quest for rest and relaxation. He headed overseas with his rhyme book in hand, on a mission to record his new solo effort, Bangathon. "When not in the pubs, I was in the studio or on double-decker buses writing the album," recalls Prozack in his Bay Area twang. "So it was definitely a great place to get away and put things into perspective."

Prozack rightfully had a lot to contemplate. Following two independently released albums with Foreign Legion, this animated MC got signed by DreamWorks to record his solo debut. They even gave him a budget big enough to get first-class beatsmiths like The Alchemist, Pete Rock, and the late J Dilla in the studio. But not long after the completion of Death, Taxes and Prozack, DreamWorks got bought out, leaving the album stuck in the vaults.

Prozack never received the other 50 percent of the money he was owed, and wound up losing most of what he bought with his advance check-including his prized Cadillac Seville. "I never really gave a damn about money, just as long as my cell phone's on," says Prozack. "I did enjoy the splendors and I didn't work for a couple years and that was cool, but I could care less about the money. I would have done the record for free. Just the opportunity to get my thoughts out there and share it with the world is what being an artist is all about."

If there's one thing the DreamWorks situation taught this MC, it's that when it comes to business, you can't rely on anyone but yourself. Once Prozack returned from Ireland, he was so eager to get his new album out that he launched his own record label, Hungerstrike, to do so. "After going through being on a major label for a while and previously being on independent labels, it's like I have a college education in the music industry," Prozack explains. "It's like, 'Why don't I just do this all myself?' It's a lot of work, but it's very satisfying at the end of the day when you know that everything is getting done."

Prozack may no longer have the budget to record with hip-hop greats, but on Bangathon, he proves that the people he works with aren't nearly as important as the story he has to tell. Fellow independent artists will relish the story of his struggle within the record industry and his ultimate perseverance on the track "Hungry." Meanwhile, everyday guys will relate to Prozack's frustration with club-going women and their shifty behavior on "Club Girls." He may not have one target audience, but Prozack rarely fails to entertain with his vivid and brutally honest raps. "There's no bullshit in there," he says of his new album, but he could just as easily be describing himself.

- XLR8R Magazine


"Death,Taxes and Prozack Review"

Prozack Turner has charisma and he knows it! - Hiphopsite.com


"Prefix Magazine"

Earnestness can be a tricky thing. At times an emcee can so believe in his private mission that it makes the listener struggle and feel perhaps unworthy of the rapper's strident efforts (e.g. some of Blackalicious's strenuous idealism). Other times, that earnestness and devotion to hip-hop can lead to indie rappers who complain about how real they are and how other cats aren't true to hip-hop (there are too many damn examples to list).



Rarer yet, we can present the case of the rapper who neatly hits just the right tone, keeping it true to the promise of fun in hip-hop, but whose penchant for glibness undermines things on too many spots. Prozack Turner can be described as the lighter emcee of the Bay Area group Foreign Legion, in both skin color and weight -- rhyming partner Marc Stretch has on occasion carried Prozack on his back in a sack onstage. If anyone has the right to complain about industry politics, he could; His debut, with production from J. Dilla, Pete Rock and Madlib, took a dirt nap when Dreamworks was put to sleep. So when Prozack jetted to Ireland to record Bangathon, you might expect a bitter collection of shots at the industry.



Prozack drops a few bars on the album mentioning label woes, but more typically he drops amusing gems such as the "Ballad of Adriana Sage." His lyrical paean to a porn queen recalls the perverse loopiness of a vintage Kool Keith song, but one that's less interested in sexual contortions than in her inner girl next door. The subtle disco funk of "Summertime in the Town" and a flute loop the Beatnuts would make love to on "Y'all ain't Fussin' With Us" both benefit from the extra presence of Mark Stretch. Prozack has an effortless if not exactly forcible sort of flow, enough to carry an album, with a casual B-boy spirit that's accessible to all and with a few treats for Bay Area fans (describing one woman, for instance, as having a "walk colder than Candlestick").



The solid production on most tracks only highlights the questionable risks on a few. Although the cheese feels just right on "Adriana Sage," the jacked disco breakbeat on "Something in the Air" may come with indie irony but recalls Puffy at his larcenous worst. The title track does a disservice to everyone's favorite SNL cowbell moment, coming with a metal banger that recalls Styles of Beyond's Megadef, except for the quality of execution. The falsetto of "Alicia" may suggest a low-rent Funkadelic monologue, but the pitch-shifted vocal sample straight off a Cam'Ron track ruin any sublime goofiness the track might have intended.



Prozack's humility and humor dominates the album, though. Oh No shows the chops that comes from being Madlib's brother, putting in solid production work, especially on the driving "Stand Up" and the elegiac "I Wanna Go Home." Chopping up harps and somehow making fuzzy synths sound organic under the track, Oh No matches up to some of Prozack's best lyricism on the album. Sure, you've heard every rapper complain about life on the road, but somehow Prozack complaining about a security-guard pat-down by explaining that all he wants "to blow up is live shows" makes you feel for the guy. And as he talks about his fidelity to his girl back home, missing his mom's meatloaf and cornbread, and sneaking in a couple jabs at the president, it's hard not to take this as a normal guy rapping to you through the headphones. Cynicism never felt so unwarranted.
- Eric Solomon


"Flo Pro"

Flow Pro

San Jose rapper Prozack Turner contemplates the music business, his next move and why eating cats isn't racist

By Todd Inoue

THE DOMINANT image on the cover of Prozack Turner's solo debut, Death, Taxes & Prozack, is a baseball cap emblazoned with a San Jose logo. Flip the CD over and scan the production credits: Pete Rock, Alchemist, Supa Dave West, Organized Noize, Jake One, Madlib, DJ Design, Jay Dilla. In the corner, a tiny, out-of-focus insignia that resembles the DreamWorks logo teases the eye.

From the packaging, one can infer that Prozack Turner is a San Jose emcee who recorded an album with DreamWorks and hooked up with hotshot producers. That's half the story. The reality? Zack "Prozack" Turner is from San Jose. He was in the local hip-hop group Foreign Legion (with DJ Design and Marc Stretch) that released the excellent Kidnapper Van and Play Tight full-lengths. Prozack was courted by Virgin and Grand Royal but signed to DreamWorks for a four-record deal.

In 2003, he assembled his dream production unit and recorded Death, Taxes & Prozack, with a $450,000 budget. In October of 2003, UMG bought out DreamWorks' music division. Turner's record, due to drop five months ago, was shelved. He got out of his contract, bootlegged Death, Taxes & Prozack and is selling it independently. If you look closer at the DreamWorks logo on the CD, it's jacked up to say, "Out of Work."

"It's totally illegal the way I'm putting it out," Turner admits. "They're like, 'We own this album.' But I created this! It came out of my brain. Technically, on paper, they own the rights, but I held up my end of the bargain. I recorded the record thinking they were going to put it out."

The major-label experience, piled onto many others, soured him on the music industry. To say that Prozack is going through a transition is an understatement.

"Every independent label [Foreign Legion] ever messed with has stole from us," he says. "Every person who had been my manager has fucked me over. I got sued for 10 grand by some manager. It's such a dirty business. I'm a real honest guy. It's a hard, hard business to be in, especially when you get so close to succeeding. I'm having meetings talking about Spike Jonze directing my music video. Six months later, I'm looking for a bartending job.

"I feel a little jaded. Even on my album, I put all my homies on, breaded everybody up. People got paid more than they ever did in their career. Man, I don't know if I want to be around this any more. It's destroying relationships, too. It's like the music business is a girlfriend I'm in love with, but I know we're not right for each other, and it doesn't work out, and we're fighting and treating each other awful."

It's a shame because Death, Taxes & Prozack is one of the tightest-sounding rap albums ever to emerge from the 408. His flair for bragging and his metaphors ("Wonderful Life," "Feelin My Steelo") have all the subtlety of a steel-toed boot. It's a supremely entertaining record with Prozack using skills, not anger, as his prime motivational tool. And with producer royalty like Pete Rock, Organized Noize and the Alchemist, Turner is sitting on a potential gold mine.

"I'm in New York, standing in the glass booth, and Pete Rock is on the other side about to record me," he remembers. "Even if the album never comes out, I made it. All the people who told me not to do it--'You're not going to make it; you're white; you're from San Jose, the suburbs'--here I am with one of the illest cats. That was an emotional moment in my career."

Along with the label and legal drama, he and Foreign Legion recently parted ways. Just last week, Turner contemplated quitting music altogether and getting a straight job to pay his bills. Then he got a check from one of his Death, Taxes & Prozack distributors for a thousand bucks. And then he got an order from Japan for 400 CDs--an extra 3 grand. The record is also selling in Germany and Australia. This boost, plus working with San Jose production team the Buckle Brothers on new tracks, improved morale and given him incentive to make music.

"I don't know if I'd do another major-label deal again, because I'm pretty bitter," he says. "Things get shelved all the time: Rass Kass, Planet Asia. The music business is in disarray. I'm not mad because they were trying to market me to alternative radio. I know they wouldn't have done that if I were black. I didn't do a rock rap album. It wasn't an angry album. I don't know what they were looking for. But a lot had to do with race."

Race is something Prozack's been examining within the past two weeks, he says. Prozack, who is white, feels labels have a set feeling about him before hearing him rap. "I've been oblivious to [race issues] my whole life. I'm good enough; I'm cool; I do my thing. Every now and then, you get people who hate. I never got that much of it. I listen to my album--it's good. I think if I weren't white, people would take it more seriously. I honestly do. People automatically compare it to Eminem because I'm white, and I don't think it sounds anything like it."

While on the topic of race, I bring up a line in "My Favorite Song": "I'm not Vietnamese, but dog, I be eating cats." When I mention that it might offend people, he says he understands that people might get mad, but he defends his right to mix metaphors.

"It's a play on words," he says. "'I battled this cat.' What culture eats cats? Vietnam eats cats. There's nothing negative about what I said. It's a complete play on words. I have another line where I say, 'I get more pussy than a cat box,' too. But it's a play on words; I don't get any pussy--I got a girlfriend."

He laughs hard at the line. Don't dismiss the fight in this dog, even if he's eating cats.

"I believe in good, and I believe I deserve to win," he says. "If they shut the door, I'm going in the window. If they shut the window, I'll go in the basement. I'm getting in. I'm not going to stop. I'm just as good as a lot of cats."



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Prozack Turner's 'Death, Taxes & Prozack' is available at local independent record stores now. For more info: www.prozackturner.com.
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From the April 14-20, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.
Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.



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- San Jose Metro


"Interview with Prozack Turner by Adam B"

Ever since man put lyrics to music there have been songs inspired by women. From "Bette Davis Eyes" to "Roxanne" to "Come On Eileen" women have long been the muses of contemporary musicians. Then you have Prozack Turner and his contribution to this list, "The Ballad Of Adriana Sage." Sting's "Roxanne" may have been about a fictional prostitute, but Prozack's ditty is about a very real adult film star.

The infatuation with Ms. Sage started while he as recording with his group, Foreign Legion. The trio of Prozack Turner, DJ Design and Marc Stretch were working on a song titled "Nasty Lady" when DJ Design mentioned her name in a rhyme. Prozack remembers "I was like, who the hell is that? Then one day I was smoking a joint and I looked her up on the web and I dunno it was just more human to me, I kinda saw the human aspect of it." With over-thinking things being his natural reaction to being high Prozack decided to write a love song. "I don't mention having sex with her or anything on the song, it was more a thing like you don't have to live this life and it was really kind of hard to pen it because I didn't want to insult her because we ended up mailing the Foreign Legion record ("Nasty Lady") to her and she really liked it. She emailed me and we ended up talking via email and it wad never like I was trying to holler at her or anything like that, but it was just like chatting with her and I was like this girl is actually like a normal cool person, so I was lookin at her website and I was like man, that's so crazy, the dichotomy of a porn star being a real human being."

It was the human aspect that intrigued Prozac. "I started thinking about her family and her parents. I'm like, I wonder if she's cool with her parents. I was high. I was like, where does she go for Christmas? You sit around the dinner table and Uncle Johnny's like ‘hey so what are you up to?' Is it a secret. I don't know, I never got super personal with her, but she was always real kind when I would speak to her and it was just weird so I wrote a song. It was a fantasy like I'll take you away from all that. It was a total high song."

While the song may have been at least partially a result of some THC enhanced thoughts, Prozack still mailed her the song. "She's heard it and she dug it," he says happily. "I just didn't wan to offend her so I'm like God I hope I didn't hurt her feelings, that's why there's a lyric in the song ‘I'm not judging you / but aren't you sick of having dudes all up in you?' I wasn't really judging her, but I was just like man it was more of a curious situation because I've got a girlfriend that I'm happy with, it was never really a literal thing like hey, let's run away, it was more of a figurative thing." He describes the finished product as "kind of a creepy stalker song. I had to do it, and there's humor injected into it, as well."

Porn stars aren't the sole topic matter of Prozack's album, Bangathon!, nor are they his sole inspiration. Hip-Hop, however, is one of he few things that no longer inspires him, which some might find odd being that Prozack is an MC. "I don't get inspired by Hip-Hop the way I did when I was a teenager," he explains, "when you're a kid and you've never done it and you've never recorded and stuff you listen to these rappers and the beats and everything and it's the most amazing thing and ‘how do they do it?' Then after you've been doing it for a while you don't hear a lot of stuff that inspires you anymore. I don't hear a lot of guys who I'm like oh I couldn't do that, or I don't hear as many great ideas as I used to as a kid so now I look for my inspiration elsewhere."

Musically, Prozack prefers a special breed of artist. "I like people that are loose and take risks and you can actually feel what they're feeling." He continued, adding "I really love Stevie Wonder, he's on of my all-time favorites. James Brown, Parliament." The connecting feature of all the artists he likes is "it's all about being human and expressing yourself. I think that's your job as an artist, to get your point across. If you have something to say you should definitely say it and share your stories and your point of view and not be afraid of the criticism of your point of view and stand by it." Prozack also notes, "I read a lot of biographies of legendary people that I really respect and that's how I get my main inspiration."

Others may, in fact, be inspired by Prozack's own life story. Though he may not be an old timer he's already been through his fair share of pitfalls and interesting situations. Starting out as one third of Foreign Legion Prozack was associated with ABB records, which released the group's first album. He remembers, "we did a couple albums as a group and then we were gonna get signed at Grand Royal. Mike D was gonna sign Foreign Legion way back in the day." It never happened, but Prozack marched on. "I had a really good work ethic so I just kept recording songs and I ended up recording more songs on my own than I was with the group, just a little bit more introspective type stuff, more personal things that you wouldn't write about in a group. Grand Royal got a hold of those songs and were like ‘hey, we want to sign you as a solo artist.'" Before they could get the contacts signed Grand Royal went under.

The Grand Royal relationship still continued, however, as Prozack explains "one of the guys there ended up getting an A&R job at Dreamworks and he called me a few months later and wanted to hear what I was up to and he ended up signing me." Dreamworks, much like Grand Royal, would fold before Prozack could release anything. Prozack was back at square one.

Being on his own, however, provides Prozack with a freedom he enjoys. "I just kinda got tired on depending on other people to put out my music cuz it never seemed to get done right, or even get out. It was like God I have too many songs that I'm really proud of that haven't seen the light of day, so finally I was like I'm gonna start my own label and that way nothing's gonna stop it from going on." The label he started was Hunger Strike and Bangathon! is his first release on it.

Now that he's running the show Prozack looks back at his days at major labels and realizes how bad things were for him. "I had a radio department lady tell me she didn't know how to sell my record and I needed to be more ignorant in what I write," he remembers, "I'm like, I'm pretty ignorant, one of my lines is ‘I get more pussy than the cat box.'" While Prozack admits ignorance is an important thing to have in his music he also believes in moderation, he like to keep things both moderately ignorant and moderately intelligent. "I think you need to sprinkle your views a little bit in your music because you can scare people away if you're too preachy or try to bang stuff down people's throats because the youth doesn't want to listen to that stuff. Hip-Hop is the music of the youth and the youth want to rebel so if you're like don't smoke, don't eat meat, that's boring man, you want to have a little bit of ignorance in there, at least I do."

With ignorance and intelligence in tact Prozack feels that a release the major labels would have been happy with might have killed him as an artist. "As an artist you get this pressure to sell records, but your fans aren't stupid, you can't just switch it up. I had people like Mad Lib and Jay Dee and Pete Rock on my album because I though they were great, but I had the budget, I could have gotten Timbaland and The Neptunes, as well. And I like that kind of music to listen to, but that's not the kind of music I make. I'm sure when I was on a the major they would have been real happy had I gone that route, but they still would have folded and I'd be sitting here looking like a sucker because all my fans from back in the day would be like, well dude you tried to switch it up. So at least I have my dignity in tact."

Dignity, and in Bangathon! Prozack Turner also has the exact album he's always wanted to make, porn star balled included.



- Rapreviews.com


"Critics Choice!"

Legend has it that when 50 Cent heard a few snippets from Prozack Turner's 2003 record Death, Taxes, and Prozack, he called up the A&R at the now-defunct Dreamworks label and said he wanted the scrappy Oakland emcee to open for 50's upcoming "Rock the Mic" tour with Jay-Z. Had that single gig not fallen through, Prozack could be sitting in a Jacuzzi right now, peeling back huge bank notes and fanning himself with a copy of Cigar Aficionado -- " - Oakland East Bay Experss


"Foreign Legion succeeds"

"While most outfits equate artistic success with either the street mantra "keepin' it real" or its cerebral counterpart "dropping science," Foreign Legion succeeds by balancing the equation. "- San Francisco Weekly - San Francisco Weekly


"" strong affinity for the b-boy experience of the late '80s/early '90s but does so without sounding dated""

ARTIST: Prozack Turner
TITLE: Bang a Thon
RELEASE DATE: z
AMG RATING:

When the late journalist Hunter S. Thompson made his famous comment about the music industry being a place where "good men die like dogs," he struck a chord with a long list of musicians who had every reason to be resentful over how frustrating the industry can be at times. There are many sad stories on the music industry's boulevard of broken dreams -- the aging R&B songwriter who winds up working for an HMO because he isn't getting the royalty checks he should be getting, the folksinger who thought she had it made until her label hired a new A&R person who didn't share the previous A&R person's enthusiasm for her work. But thankfully, many talented artists keep plugging away despite major setbacks. For example, California rapper Prozack Turner (of Foreign Legion fame) was dealt an unkind blow when, in 2003, the Universal Music Group acquired the music division of DreamWorks (which he was signed to at the time) and his solo album, Death, Taxes, and Prozack, was shelved (although bootleg copies were circulated in hip-hop's underground). Despite being understandably soured on the music business, Turner went on to record another solo project, Bang a Thon, and released it on his own label, Hunger Strike Records, in 2006 -- and it's a good thing that he did because this is a solid hardcore rap/alternative rap outing that shows a strong affinity for the b-boy experience of the late '80s/early '90s but does so without sounding dated (by 2006 standards). Turner has been quoted as saying, "I like to write songs rather than just rhymes," which is an accurate statement because instead of simply flowing aimlessly, the West Coast MC usually tells some type of story whether he is rapping about the challenges of touring (I Wanna Go Home), social problems (World's an Uproar) or adult film star Adriana Sage (The Ballad of Adriana Sage). The latter isn't raunchy; instead, Turner's ode to Sage is surprisingly thoughtful and finds him wondering what she is like as a person off-camera. Actually, the tune's thoughtfulness is not out of character for Turner, whose healthy balance of fun and intelligence serves him well on this memorable solo disc. ~ Alex Henderson, All Music Guide

- All Music Guide


Discography

Foreign Legion-"Overnight Success/Full Time B Boy" 12'inch 1999 ABB Records

Foreign Legion-"Kidnapper Van" album 2000 Insidious Urban Records

Foreign Legion-"Nowhere To Hide "12' inch Insidious Urban Records

Foreign Legion-"Happy Drunk" 12' inch Look Records 2002

Foreign Legion'"Playtight" album 2002
Look Records

Foreign Legion-"Voodoo Star" 12' inch Look Records 2002

Foreign Legion -"Roommate Joint" 12' inch Look Records 2002

Prozack Turner-Restaurant Quality Lemonade Promo EP Dreamworks Records

Prozack Turner-"Death,Taxes and Prozack" album 2004 (Originally Recorded for Dreamworks Records)
Prozack Turner "Fifty Pound Radio" 12' inch

Prozack Turner-"Bangathon!" album 2006 Hungerstrike Records

Foreign Legion- "The Secret Knock" Ep 2008
Hungerstrike Records

The Red Eye Flight Mixtape
2/2011
free download

Foreign Legion- "Night Moves" album 4/12/11
Hungerstrike Records

Photos

Bio

Bay area hip hop legends Foreign Legion, consisting of super emcees Prozack Turner and Marc Stretch, have been busy. Touring Australia twice and Europe over ten times! They have made a solid name since the year 2000 with their now classic debut,"Kidnapper Van: Beats To Rock While Bike Stealing", the critically acclaimed follow up album, "Playtight" in 2002 (both produced by Dj Design) and two solo albums by Prozack Turner featurning world class production by Pete Rock,Madlib,Jay Dilla,Oh No and featuring Brother Ali.

Relentless worldwide touring, recording, and collaborating have made Foreign Legion one of the most respected hip hop crews in the underground. They have played, not only in the United States, but in Australia, England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Romania, Poland, Croatia, Denmark, and Austria! Doing shows with the likes of Dilated Peoples,Hieroglyphics, Tha Liks, The Beatnuts,Zion I, Jurassic Five, Parliament, Gangstarr and KRS ONE have helped craft a high powered stage show. Foreign Legion are known for "A list" production and lyrical prowess, combined with tales of all night parties, life, pain, love, loss and a passion for making music, have all contributed to the success of Foreign Legion.

Infuences- Run Dmc,Epmd,Beastie Boys, Wu Tang Clan, Tha Liks, The Beatnuts,Charles Bukowski and Bruce Lee.

Shows are high energy,west coast party hip hop and include large crowd participation, call and response combined with classic showmanship and amazing onstage charisma. Foreign Legion have been know to jump in the crowds, hang upside down while rhyming and improvise constantly in the live show! At a famous Foreign Legion show, Prozack rhymed while in a large backpack worn by Marc Stretch!!

ALTERNATE BIO: Truth is stranger than fiction. Prozack Turner and Marc Stretch are caught between a world of full of cynical underground hip hop heads constantly complaining of the genre’s state, and the over saturated pop charts, full of sub par rappers with auto tuned vocals. There are only a handful of artists in either genre that are not simply cookie cut from the bland, left over dough of idiot pie. Foreign Legion aren’t your typical Oakland California rappers from the street, they’re actually both formally educated…sort of. Marc Stretch won a full ride to Barbizon for his natural gift of “sideways hat modeling” and Prozack Turner graduated from a court appointed drunk driver awareness class in 1996. The two met at a Kid and Play film festival in the south of France in 1997 and began making music history within weeks.
Foreign Legion dropped out of what seemed like nowhere (Oakland, Ca.) in 1999 on a now classic Abb Records(Dilated Peoples, Little Brother) single titled, “Over Night Success” and went on to sell 20,000 copies of their initial ‘12 inch release. The full length “Kidnapper Van” lp and world tour followed, as well as sharing the stage with everyone from Brother Ali, Gangstarr, Krs One, Zion I, Del The Funky Homosapien, The Beatnuts, DITC, Zion I and Tha Liks!
Enough of the name-dropping let’s talk about Foreign Legion. They have worked in the studio with the greatest minds in hip hop music, namely, Madlib, Jay Dilla, Pete Rock, Freeway, Jake One, Dj Design, G Koop, Organized Noize, (Outkast) and The Alchemist, not to mention that Foreign Legion emcee Marc Stretch once sat next to Judith Light(“Who’s The Boss”) at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
Their highly entertaining stage shows were complete with now famous costumes and the the giant of a man, Marc Stretch (6’10, 375 lbs) carrying the elvin boy wonder, Prozack Turner (4’10, 77 lbs.) in a backpack during their set! Their electrifying star power soon grabbed the attention of Mike D of The Beastie Boys, who courted them for possible signing with his then label, Grand Royal Records. The crew relocated to Los Angeles but the deal fell apart shortly after when Marc Stretch “borrowed” Mike D’s car without asking and was found sleeping in a Golf Land parking lot, passed out in the front seat with his head resting in an empty tray of what looked like 7-11 Nachos, a twenty sack of Grand Daddy Purple, a copy of Cat Fancy (the Christmas In Kitty Land issue) and an empty bottle of Royal Gate vodka. The group disbanded over the incident. The charges were dropped and Stretch returned to Oakland to continue looking for his real father. DreamWorks records signed Prozack Turner to a solo deal shortly after but they decided to shelf the album and quit the music business altogether, due to a combination of declining cd sales and Turner’s declining hairline. Three years later, Turner returned to Oakland and randomly ran into Stretch and reconnected in an internet chat room for music business related suicide prevention. Fast forward to 2011.

It’s been 13 years, five record labels, five managers, three dj’s, three lawyers (both entertainment and criminal), countless producer