Richard William, or Prince Ea—as he’s known from over half a billion views on YouTube and Facebook—is a rapper, spoken word artist, and passionate environmentalist. His videos focus on the power of individual growth and the importance of sustainable lifestyles. In 2008, he won Vibe Magazine’s Vibe Versus contest; in 2011, he performed on stage with Ludacris, and earlier this year he was featured in one of Oprah’s “Soulful Sunday” posts. Point being: Dude is blowing up.
In a video released yesterday, Prince Ea announced his involvement in the Pre-order the Future campaign, a collaboration with Neste that’s set to go live this Spring. The campaign has been in the works for over a year, with the goal of exploring new ways to use renewable, raw materials to create future-forward sustainable products and services. The campaign will kick-off by asking people to submit their ideas—at every level of conception—for creating a better world through the use of renewable resources.
I caught up with Prince Ea earlier this week to talk about the Pre-Order the Future campaign, how small ideas can change the world, and what the word “hustle” really means.
Can you tell me more about the Pre-order the Future campaign? What is it exactly that this campaign is setting out to do?
The Pre-order the Future campaign is a project that I’m very excited to be apart of, alongside a company called Neste—a very forward thinking company, actually. They are the world’s leading provider of renewable diesel. We met in London at a sustainable brands event and started talking. We aligned greatly in wanting to help the world, in wanting to fight climate change, so we said “hey, let’s come up with an idea to change the world.” So we came up with Pre-order the Future Campaign…we want to give people—even you—a chance to reach into the depths of your brain and find an idea, an innovation, that can change the world and make it a better place.
So we want to create a product, not only a successful product, but something that is beneficial and helpful for the world and the environment. We allow the public to submit ideas and engage, to vote for what ideas they want to see created. It is something that I don’t think has ever been done before and I’m really happy and excited to help create something that will be beneficial for future generations.
What kind of prototypes and inventions do you think could come from the Pre-order the Future Campaign?
We have different categories that go from entertainment to education to travel, so it’s a wide spectrum of categories. All you have to do is go to the website and submit those ideas.
And we vote and we do it together, we build this product from the ground up. I don’t know which category will be “the one,” but I’m excited for whichever one comes up.
The campaign focuses on areas like lifestyle, entertainment, travel, and learning. Are you primarily focused on change from a technological standpoint, or a systemic standpoint, or is it even broader, as in overarching public perception?
We want to create technologies that can help—and not hurt—the planet…So it’s very broad, it’s very open, from the very small ideas to the very grand ideas. We are very open to see what emerges.
How did you get involved in all of this?
I was in London speaking at a sustainable brand event, and a representative from Neste started talking with me and we immediately connected…months after that, I went Finland, where it’s freezing, but the warmth of this organization and what they’re doing lit a fire under me and I’m very excited to collaborate on this world changing project.
I actually had time to look on the site, and I saw that you’re listed as a Futurologist. What does that mean, exactly?
You know we thought we invented the world, but it’s actually a real world already. [The word means] the study of the future, so what I’m going to do is a lot of research and investigation into the project, and be very hands on. I’ll be interviewing candidates and developing these ideas…in order to create something for the future, to better the future for our children and grandchildren.
When you’re looking at these ideas, you’ll be thinking about the threats that they could eliminate or the problems they could solve. What are the biggest threats to the world right now? To the future?
I think the biggest problem is the delaying of action. If we want to change the future, we have to do it now. We never get to the future, right? We live every day through the now, through the present. So I think that’s the biggest threat, to continue to delay and kick the can down the road and not do things now because—truthfully—so many people have gifts and ideas that they are delaying. They think “let me get this right and then I’ll work on that,” but this project gives us the opportunity to do it now.
If we can do things now, we can create a more beautiful future.
I read a quote from you where you said “The only way to change the world is to change the individual.” Can you elaborate on that a bit more? What does that mean for this project?
I say it all the time. There is one Earth, but there are 7 billion worlds. Every person is living in a different world. So the external is where all of these problems that we have are, that we see, and they didn’t just appear out of the ether spontaneously. They are human born problems, we created them.
And so since we created them, we have a responsibility to fix them and our responsibility to fix them will occur once we fix ourselves. You don’t cure disease by focusing on the symptoms. I believe you cure it by focusing on the problem and the root, the cause, which is the human. I create art, and everything I do is really to show people the power that they have within themselves, within the individual, because a lot of the problems come from hopelessness and uncertainty and a lack of connection.
I bring it all to the one. It starts with the person. You know, Ghandi said “be the change you want to see in the world.” That’s how we change the world, we change ourselves. Because the external world is born from the internal. So this project gives the individual the opportunity to submit their ideas and to come together with everybody and evoke and create something that can really change the planet for the better
It sounds like you’re talking about hustle, in a sense. What does hustle mean? Do you think that hustle can change the world?
I think hustle is desire, right? But I think when you’re living your calling, you are fueled, you are fueled and your hustle comes naturally. I think when we can live, when we are self actualized, when we find the reason why we are here, our gifts—which are either loving, serving, or giving in some capacity—then hustle comes naturally.
The hard work is really hard play, it’s really more of a dance. I think that, for me, in my own personal life, I always say “I don’t know what I do, I do what I am.” The things I create, they aren’t work, it’s just me being who I am. People say “you work so hard,” but I think it’s play, you know? I don’t really work so hard. I’m a lazy person (laughs), but it’s me, just doing what I was born to do which is to create and to love.
So for people stuck in a job, in a nine to five grind, how can they find their hustle? How can they get involved with the Pre-order the Future campaign?
Conceptualize your idea, go to the website, and submit your idea. The cream rises to the top, so if it’s a great idea, it will flourish. That’s the way that anyone can do it, is to go to the website and engage.