Battle rapping doesn't get you record deals in South Florida, nor do fans that aren't rappers themselves. Just ask Protoman (born Timothy Neal McClure). After years spent in street-format battles and organized events, Protoman was burnt out from the runaround-induced catch-22 cycle of Florida's redundant Hip-Hop scene. Intent on winning, he focused on writing and began homing his craft and recording techniques in the studio.
Coming from a Texan family of music lovers and basement hobbyists, he developed a love and fascination for performers and musicians. Growing up in front the TV beside episodes of 'Head Bangers Ball' and 'Yo! MTV Raps', it wasn't long before he was practicing air guitar, or rapping in the mirror habitually before dinner.
After relocating from Texas at the age of four, he and his parents began discovering a strange, new, and weird culture-clashed land called South Florida. Growing up in the Sunshine State was, and will always be, the main drive belt for the content and originality of his music. Picking his rap name from the notorious and loved robot villain of his favorite childhood video game, ‘Mega Man’, he felt it was a perfect fit that gave him a masked identity and displayed a mysterious, nearly secret quality. Being brought up by older friends on classic Hip-Hop material and Golden Era gems, Proto was often found bumping ‘Gangstarr’ instead of ‘Hot Boyz’ in middle school, and felt alienated but secure with his love for Hip-Hop culture.
Years later he would eventually meet other people who shared his love and gratitude towards the elements of local open mics and cipher spots. Protoman always wanted to be a part of Hip-Hop, and he practiced every element, until the art of rapping became cemented into his quick style, like a perfect man made, free flowing storm.
After years of earning his stripes free styling, recording demos, and enduring sometimes manic stretches of writing and honing his craft, Protoman was ready to launch his first full length album.
His first official release, ‘Analog’, was a huge-impact to the “Hip-Hop is Dead” notion that seemed to dominate the mainstream. Released in 2006 at the age of 21, on the now defunct Audio Thrift Shop label, the record was a tribute, not a funeral, reminiscent of a time when rap music was in a state of vigor, freshness and larger than of life. For a record with no promotional budget, video, or any famous guest appearances, it swept through the underground Hip-Hop websites and radio-stations, gained momentum, and catapulted a new face among the tight-knit genre. A snowball effect of hardcore boom-bap beats, distorted electronics, record scratching, and intelligent rhymes broadcasted with a Miami Vice mentality, ‘Analog’ quickly became noted as original and "something here to stay". Now with a LP to promote, Proto hit the fans directly and found a new response to his songs: the stage. His live show is nothing short of memorable. Carefully enunciating inter-woven rhyme patterns, clever timed punch lines, and an infinite delivery of shape-shifting flows, his live performance is a staple of how rap should be in real-time. With the mentality he carried from the battle-circuit days, the mic is his chosen tool, and a powerful one. Use it wrongly, and you can lose in just one second what it took a lifetime to create.
It only took a year of continuous shows and word-of-mouth mention for ‘Analog’ to gain attention of industry alike's.
In 2007, Rawkus Records, a label Protoman grew up religiously following, approached with a new campaign involving the ‘The 50 Next Important Hip-Hop Artists’. The Rawkus project was a landmark undertaking in the music business. In an industry plagued with low physical album sales, and digital music becoming more and more the norm in society, record labels have been trying various strategies to adjust to the new landscape. After consideration, Protoman agreed to release his next record ‘'Grey Area' with the label and embark on his next journey. After a hugely successful single, ‘Wake Up’, featuring DJ Immortal, and a popular video to provide the clashing visuals, Protoman showed no signs of slowing down. As ''Grey Area' was critically themed around the space being between what is underground or mainstream music, Proto derailed all labeling circumstances of content, and made the music he felt was right for the LP. From stories of deranged drug-addicted runaway teens, obsessive love driven to kill, and childhood hardships of growing up poor, Proto broke away from the constraints of "battle-party" rhymes, toward a more realistic view of his time spent living in Florida. The making of the record was an eye opener of how much in life can be put in words, and how much people can relate to the songs that you make.
After the record was released, Proto hit the road again, perfecting a set full of energy, sweat, and sore shoulders from chants of "Put your hands in the air" to huge attendance. Following two years of continuous promotion and recording guest spots, Proto took a break from recording and performing to focus on the birth of his daughter.
In 2010, at age 24, he embarked on an EP collaborated with LA producer Sebino. Recorded in both LA & Miami, 86′d fuses the feel of both cities using Protoman’s skillful lyrics and Sebino’s 808 kicks and synth-heavy bass lines. Used as a term for being banned, 86′d captures an untold and taboo world of drug abuse, women, post-war psychoticism and pop culture. The 86’d EP features the iTunes exclusive remix of ‘Movie Star’, produced by Speruption out of Finland. The remix was chosen out of dozens of submissions as part of the official ‘Movie Star’ Remix Contest that was promoted online along with the contest’s sponsors. As the pieces are setting in, and many more stories still left to tell, Protoman feels at home where ever he is. Nothing ever dies, it just evolves, and Protoman’s music illustrates that truth. As each season passes, it feels as if it's another light year, but we stay on beat with a forever changing tempo… looking back, we come to realize how far it has taken us.