The spoken word artist with over 1 billion views on Facebook and YouTube spoke about how rap and books changed his life, at a Sharjah International Book Fair 2020 online session
Prince Ea – the stage avatar of American rapper, spoken word artist and civil rights activist Richard Williams – prefers to be known as a ‘digital optometrist’. “I open people’s eyes to who they really are beyond their limiting beliefs, beyond concepts and ideas they are constricted by,” he told entrepreneur Spencer Lodge at a Sharjah International Book Fair 2020 session held yesterday on the ‘Sharjah Reads’ virtual platform.
Despite having 30 million followers across many platforms, working with celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Richard Branson, Prince Ea prefers to call himself ‘a constant learner and student of life’.
Emphasising his passion for continuous learning, he told his audience: “I am a big reader and that is the reason why I am speaking to you right now”, adding, “Books are the reason why I am where I am today, and I have probably invested more in books than in any other asset!”
Williams spoke about how his love affair with words began when he started listening to rap music. “I didn’t care about education or reading till in high school a kid named Corey made me listen to a rap number. It saved my life. The rapper talked of everything from science to religion to geopolitics and that got me hooked.”
“Rap is the voice of the voiceless. You can use it to speak about social issues, ideas, everything. It changed my life,” he added.
He went on to acquire a degree in anthropology, but it also expanded his horizons through reading. “The songs I listened to talked of Karl Marx and David Hume, and this made me read up on them. The poetry in rap made me a better human being.”
The musical genre also shaped his career. “My whole career is structured the way rap is – taking interesting ideas and ‘entertainifying’ them through music to convey them to the masses. Something like putting the aspirin in apple sauce, so to say.”
Prince Ea is now in the process of writing his first book, untitled as yet, “life mastery, putting in everything about what I have learnt to give people the formula of how to become the best version of themselves.”
He had two important messages for youth: “You are exactly where you are supposed to be right now. The universe does not make mistakes. They say, in life you are going to face a list of ordained choices brilliantly disguised as opportunities or challenges. We just have to look at them from a different perspective. We must shift our negative, limited thinking from a ‘things don’t happen to us’ to a ‘things happen for us’ philosophy. Everything is an opportunity to grow. There are no mistakes, only experiments.”
“The second message is what the SIBF is about, just read. It can totally shift your mind and life. When Bill Gates was once asked what super power he would like to be granted, he said he would like to read faster. Read as much as you can about whatever you love. It will take you exactly where you need to go,” Prince Ea concluded.
Organised by Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), SIBF 2020 concludes on November 14. Being held under the theme, ‘The World Reads from Sharjah’, the 39th edition has adopted a fully digital format to host its cultural programme of 64 unique events, which are being streamed on SBA’s virtual platform over the 11 days of the fair. Register for upcoming discussions at sharjahreads.com.