An Interview with Professor Elemental

by Luke McKinney

The Man Cave is now a hangar for rocket-powered zeppelins, and our faithful butler is fighting a gorilla by the drinks cabinet. At least, we think they’re fighting. Either way there’s a lot of empty bottles and noise and we’d rather not interfere. This can only mean a visit from the extraordinary Professor Elemental.

We closed our eyes, grabbed a bottle of gin, and retired to the pipe-smoking chamber to ask a few questions.

Good day, Professor. First off: millions of people have no bloody idea who you are. Why should they read any further?

Oh goodness, well there is no obligation, they can click away now. Still, those poor fellows will never know the answers to the key questions- What is Steampunk Hip Hop? What are ‘fighting trousers’? Just why is that ape wearing a suit? All of which could prove embarrassing when the subjects come up at their next social function or encounter with the fairer sex.

Your latest video raps about the joys of being British. But for those tragically born elsewhere, how can they improve themselves?

Without a doubt, the finest thing a fellow can aspire to is that of the idle life! Being a gentleman of leisure is first and foremost. Throw off the shackles of work and settle down in a deck chair with a nice gin on a sunny afternoon, and you can call yourself a gentleman. Or an unemployed alcoholic. But I prefer the former.

On the topic of sipping, you first became famous with your Cup of Brown Joy, a hip-hop ode to tea. But what do you drink when your upper lip needs something a little stiffer?

Gin, sweet gin. I find that it makes me suitably giddy.

You’re often associated with steampunk. How much overlap do you think there is between you and that field?

The more time I spend in Steampunk, the more people I see who didn’t quite fit with other tribes; happy Goths, drunken Live action role players, eccentric comic artists and pith helmeted rappers. I love that about it, and it gives the whole scene a camaraderie. It’s like one big game that we all approach from different angles. I love the aesthetic too, who wouldn’t?

This internet thing has been very kind to you, but then, steampunks do often like people on big things made out of series of tubes. What’s your advice for anyone else using the internet to follow their dreams?

That email from Nigeria might be promising to deposit four million dollars into your account, but you might want to sleep on it before handing over your account details. Other than that, just embrace it. Find the bits of the net you like and get them to work for you.. there are so many nice people out there to work with- and it’s easier than ever to hook up with them.

The freedom of internet work.

The freedom of working with the internet. (courtesy Prof. Elemental)

You went full-time Elemental back in April. How has that affected your average day?

Well, I never wanted to be a full time emcee so much as I just wanted to find a way not to work in an office any more. That was always such a huge motivation. I don’t think I will ever get tired of watching people go on their morning commute on a rainy Tuesday from my window. It brings me joy. But then, those people are safely tucked up in bed while I am performing a poorly promoted show at a sports club in Whitby at 2am on a cold winters night. So it’s swings and roundabouts I suppose.

You’ve often stressed the importance of rapping about new things. We agree. Thinking all rap is about crime is like thinking all acoustic guitar is whiny love songs: ridiculous. And crap. What other non-standard rappers and hip-hop artists do you recommend?

Tons and tons. Here’s some off the top of my noggin: Homeboy Sandman, Dizraeli and the small gods, Torae, Dr Syntax, Longusto, O.C, Mega Ran, Masta Ace and everything on

fatherofinvention An Interview with Professor Elemental

(courtesy Prof. Elemental)

Your latest album is Father of InventionIf you could invent anything, what would it be?

My pal Jon Clark [and I] asked each other that same question. It’s probably best explained if I answer in song and enclose it here as a free download.

Ta muchly! You’re already piloting a rocket-boosted airship, but we’ve heard rumors of something even more exciting – a TV show. Which will let you you crash into more homes simultaneously. When can we see that?

Christmas Eve, the first episode of the web series burst onto YouTube like an exploding cake, with more episodes to follow in the new year. It’s like Dr. Who, if Dr. Who wasn’t very good at his job.

In fact, you can watch it right now!

There are a few more exciting things in the pipeline, but I shall be announcing them next year…

Father of Invention ends with a To Be Continued teaser of a new album based on time-traveling trousers. Is this a reference to the aborted time-travelling rap album which gave rise to the Professor? How does that look on the horizon, or do you have other projects coming up first?

I have the time travel album all planned out in my head, but I know it’s going to take a while to come together- it involves a lot of other emcees, which is like herding cats. In the meantime I am working on getting issue 2 of the comic out to an unsuspecting populace and am planning to fill 2013 with shows, adventure and an ape in a smart suit…

bonusround2 An Interview with Professor Elemental
Here's to adventuring!

Here’s to adventuring!

Luke has also sipped gin with The Adventurists, people who take on the face of the Earth with nothing but balls.

directfeatured21 An Interview with Professor Elemental

These dames got moxie!

When he’s not making Inception looking like goddamn amateurs by exploring the minds of explorers, Luke is saving the holidays by showing how Die Hard is the Greatest Christmas movie Ever.

kwayzar An Interview with Professor Elemental

He wants you to know he can still do it, and better than you.

For more from another era, read our interview with 83-year-old rapper Kwayzer the Seer, or dig the gams on The Apple Sisters, 1943’s Sauciest Comediennes.

More from Luke McKinney

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