As rap aliases go, it’s hard to look past a scholarly title when deciding on your very own.
After all, much like the PHD-flaunting Dr Dre, it’s not done Professor Green any harm - what with the best-selling UK singer/songwriter continuing to find success with both urban and mainstream audiences in equal measure.
And like Dre, Green now has his own Beats projects going on. Make Beats Not War, namely - a musical collaboration for Lynx which has seen the star lend his vocals for a new track alongside Laura Mvula and Naughty Boy.
So to better understand the rapper's relationship with music, we asked Green to give us his Ultimate Playlist, laying down and explaining his most important influences to date. And, take it from us, it's rather good...
FAVOURITE SAD SONG
"I quite like melancholic. The Drugs Don’t Work by The Verve, is a masterclass in melancholy. What a lot of people don’t know is that this song is about Richard Ashcroft's dad. That’s why I hate explanation when it comes to music – a song should be many things for many people. Regardless, this one is about his dad who was dying - it was as simple as that, the drugs just did not work anymore. Sometimes you hear a song and you’re just touched by it despite not knowing the real meaning. Another one like this is Something In The Way by Nirvana, and I don’t have a fucking clue what they’re on about, but it's affecting."
FAVOURITE CLUB ANTHEM
"As a kid, whenever I got out of my nan’s house, where I'd have to put up with Kylie Minogue and Engelbert Humperdinck, I got to discover real music. Jungle was really big in East London at the time. Older guys on the estate would play it in their cars, stolen or otherwise, giving me a real love for it. And now with the genre's resurgence it's not rare that you'll hear great tunes like The Chopper by Ray Keith, the Shy FX remix, played in some clubs today, reminding me of those younger days. I still enjoying going to Dubstep nights and what not - it can get heavy sometimes in a club so I pick and choose where I go. It's a good way to kick back and have a good time."
FAVOURITE MOVIE SOUNDTRACK SONG
"The main song from Clint Mansell’s score on Requiem For A Dream, Lux Aeterna, is epic. I always found the film weird enough - it starts to warp for me where that woman starts going mad - but I looked up what 'Lux Aeterna' means and apparently it translates to 'eternal light' - ironically, it's anything but, it's very, very dark, especially in the sound of this score. The arrangement and the power of it all makes me think of war, or Sky Sports News, sadly. It’s also been used in a couple more films, but none quite like this. I also love Noon by Eric Serra in the film Leon. Again, it’s a dark and tense, like Luc Besson and Natalie Portman’s relationship in the film. I enjoy how uncomfortable he is around the girl, but how he takes to her, because she’s quite awkward."
FAVOURITE WEDDING SONG
"Well, I got married last September, and our first dance was At Last by Etta James, so that's now my favourite wedding song. The funny thing is, neither of us could dance in that way, meaning there was not much movement involved. Fortunately, everyone joined us fairly quickly, to my relief. I was more nervous about the first dance than I was the bloody speech. Small numbers, it’s always scary, everything’s a lot more visible. Anyhow, that song is beautiful. It was the missus who suggested it."
FAVOURITE CURRENT SONG
"I’ve had to write a verse for a song recently that I can’t get out of my head. It’s a remix of an original song by Naughty Boy called Pardon Me, and he asked me to lay down some lines as part of a Make Beats Not War campaign for Lynx. Which is cool, because when brand get involved with music I tend to get scared - not here. Lynx have been great and given us free rein. The song is about a woman who’s quite upset – I’m not usually great in those situations, at breaking up with the opposite sex. My response is normally quite pragmatic, so this isn't soppy, put it that way." [Listen to the process of the track so far here]
FAVOURITE SONG FROM YOUR CHILDHOOD
"I had Bad on vinyl, which came with pictures on the inside cover of all the dance moves, and I definitely didn’t try and replicate them! The other early song I remember owning is Timmy Mallet’s Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, tragically. So let’s go with Bad. Rap music followed soon after. In Hackney, there was stuff you’d listen to that would make you a grunger, and I definitely wasn’t a grunger, but because I used to skate meant I used to listen to lots of stuff. It broadened my musical horizons."
FAVOURITE LYRIC FROM A SONG
"There’s a Fink song called This Is the Thing - you might have heard it on the MasterCard advert. There’s a line that goes, ‘the things that keep us apart keep me alive, and the things that keep me alive keep me alone’. I used to find relationships quite difficult. I don’t know if that was because of boundaries I set or what they set. After a bad relationships you become a bit jaded so expect the worst of it, so you don’t get too involved, you know what I mean? So that’s what I get from it. I was working in the studio with Fink last year, and he played me a song off his new album called Shakespeare, which is frightening. It’s all about the words and the melody. He’s incredibly quick in the studio, very chilled, it's a quality record. Listen out for it."
FAVOURITE ONE HIT WONDER
"Ring My Bell – Anita Ward. It’s just a big party track isn’t it? And we didn’t hear much else from her after. It’s simple, just listen to that lyric, but it works. Simple."
FAVOURITE SONG FROM YOUR OWN MUSIC
"Astronaut from my second album. That was the song that actually got me on Jools Holland. We’d submitted a few tracks before we released them to their booker. It was always the song that should have been released as a single but wasn’t on account of being down tempo and a bit of a sad song, written by me, Naughty Boy and Emile [Sandé]. On first listen, if you don’t pay too much attention, it’s quite chirpy; listen again and it’s a lot darker, about heroin addiction that would ultimately take someone’s life. It’s not directly influenced by anyone but I enjoy storytelling as I write songs. And to play it on Jools? To walk that line between commercial and credible on such a scale? Amazing. I had Chris Martin stood next to me with Coldplay, telling me he loved my first album and how I kept saying ‘Swear down’. Things like that, those moments where you go ‘what the fuck’ - they don’t get boring, man."
Professor Green is one of the faces of ‘Make Beats Not War’, a unique music project to celebrate the launch of the Lynx Peace range.