UK rapper Professor Green, or Stephen, as he is known to his mum, has had an incredible year: two top five singles, a gold-selling album, a recent MOBO award, a sell-out tour and a blossoming romance with an up-and-coming soap star. But life hasn’t always been good to Green. From weed-dealing drama to family tragedy, our Hackney-born star has certainly had his up and downs. He tells us how he has finally managed to cast aside the shadows in his search for happiness.
Reset Moment: I’ve really had three reset moments. The first was just before I signed my first record deal with Mike Skinner’s The Beats label and I got arrested. I was done for false imprisonment and possession and it involved Scotland Yard and SO19 [an armed response unit so it must have been serious - Ed].
It was the first time I had been arrested and it was pretty serious. I had been pretty naughty and there were a lot of people arrested at the same time. I ended up getting no further action – I got very, very lucky.
That was a real shock to the system. I was on the backend of everything that I had been going through and I just thought this can’t go on. I was about to sign my first label deal and I would have lost everything before it had even started.
The second moment was after my dad died. I had a very turbulent relationship with him. He was always in and out of my life and that affected me as a kid, but he was always the one I looked up to.
I last saw him alive when I was 18, and I last spoke to him on the phone the Christmas prior [to him committing suicide] when I was 22. It was me that reached out to him. I spoke to him about being a son. He said ‘[my step mum] Jackie and the kids would like to see you’. I said, ‘It’s not about playing happy families, it’s about talking about me and you’.
In the end I said ‘Fuck you, if I every see you I’m going to knock you out.’ It was said out of pure anger. In the past we had never argued. I would always give him the benefit of the doubt.
I later got to learn some of what he had been through and having understood a little bit about him I was scared. That was only going to break me along with him, or turn my life around. So I was able to bury the resentment I had with him. It would have been much nicer to have had a conversation, but there was no way I could do that, unfortunately.
After that I was out of a record deal [when The Beats label folded before releasing any of Pro Green’s music] and I got back into stuff that I shouldn’t. I saw there were a lot of faults in my character – in particular I found it hard to trust people. But I decided I didn’t want to end up going down the same road he did or being a bitter person. I wanted to find happiness.
After I was stabbed [in London club Cargo in May 2009. The attacker was jailed last month] I phoned my mum and my Nan to say goodbye because the neck is a pretty bad place to be stabbed. The bottle went through behind my jawbone and there was blood everywhere.
Initially I was angry and I still have a bit of that. But now when I find myself in a place where I feel angry or vulnerable, I physically take myself out of it. I know what it’s like. If I feel uncomfortable I leave. I won’t give it the chance to escalate.
The other side is that I’m much more appreciative. I know how lucky I am, and I have worked god damn hard since then. I’ve also opened up as a person and I’m much calmer and more together now.
I wasn’t helped to do that. I saw myself hurting people around me. I didn’t find relationships easy. I didn’t want anyone getting inside me. But once you hurt enough people you realise you want to make some changes.
If I’ve got any advice for other people, then it’s to learn to be able to look at yourself and take into account what other people are telling you. In my case some of those people were friends and family, but sometimes the ones you can listen to most and talk to about things are not necessarily the people you are closest to.
Also, sometimes it’s important to avoid things that are right in front of you. And depending on what you want, then you have to work out what you need to do to get it. The main thing for me was just not wanting to be unhappy.
Hero: It’s really my family. My great grandmother lived ’til she was 90. She had been through a hell of a lot including two world wars. She taught me things like ‘manners don’t cost a thing’ and ‘treat people like you want to be treated’ and I learnt a lot from her.
My Nan has also been a big inspiration. When she was bringing me up she was working three jobs at once. And then there’s one of my uncles, Paul, who had a harder start than I did and who’s now foreman of his own building company. He really broke the cycle.
Obsession: When I’m not working the way I like to relax is to catch up with people that I don’t get to see while I’m on the road. I like to chill with my girl [Hollyoaks Later actress Candy McCulloch], and I go out and walk the dog. He’s a three-year old Staff. He’s a little shit but I do miss him when I’m away. He’s not been snipped so he’s very full of energy – not shagging people’s legs and all of that, just full of life.