Talking with Spencer Pratt is like encountering a mythical beast -- you've heard about it, maybe even seen it in pictures, but you still can't quite believe it exists.
Oh, but it does. And it wants to tell you all about its Machiavellian genius.
Pratt's knack for self-promotion will come as no surprise to fans of the MTV reality show The Hills, currently in production on its fifth season and co-starring his wife, Heidi Montag. Most recently, the newlyweds -- a.k.a., Speidi -- were seen fleeing NBC's I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here because the Costa Rican jungle wasn't up to their "5-Star everything" standards.
And now, as if the haters didn't have enough ammunition, Pratt is getting into the rap game. His first single, "I'm a Celebrity," produced by sometime Lil Wayne collaborator Steve Morales, is out. An album, tentatively titled Info Wars, is due later this year.
Speaking on the phone from his home in L.A., Pratt tells SPIN.com how money motivated his foray into music, why he thinks he's more famous than President Obama, and how America will go crazy for his Chicken Wing dance.
You've been warned.
Why on earth would Spencer Pratt make a rap album?
To be honest, my whole life I've always been listening to rap music or reggae. But I never heard of rappers making billions of dollars, so being a rapper wasn't really in my crystal ball. It took people like 50 Cent to come along and, you know, he's on the Forbes list making $500 million, so I'm like, 'Wow, there can be a lot of money in this.'
So you're in it for the money.
This is what I say to people: I'm not in the music industry. I'm in show business. So when people are like, "What are you doing coming into the rap game?" That's the wrong question. I'm already in the game I'm in, and that's pop culture and entertainment. I'm not coming in saying, "Oh, I'm the truth, I'm the biggest lyricist ever to walk on the Earth." I'm not trying to make music that changes history. No one is doing that anymore. Music has become disposable. You're lucky if your song lasts a month. That's the state of the music industry right now.
Saying that you'll be making disposable rap doesn't make me want to run out and buy your music.
Let me be clear: I'm making phenomenally great music. "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" is one of the catchiest songs in years. I plan on making hit music, but I just don't believe that it's like when Eminem first came out with "Lose Yourself." I'm not trying to make an inspiring song right now. I'm just making what the market wants right now. Ringtone rap.
I read an interview where you referred to yourself as the "White Jay-Z." Seriously?
I have more street cred than any new dudes: I manage a professional fighter, King Kevin Casey -- who is also a hip-hop superstar -- and every single day I do MMA training with him where I have a 195-pound black belt in Brazilian Ju Jitsu try to punch me in the face. I know for a fact that Jay-Z in his whole life has never been for one hour in the situations I put myself in with my professional fighter.
I thought you were a lover, not a fighter.
I'll challenge pretty much anyone to a fight, if that's what is needed to prove my street cred. If it's about toughness, I'm tough. If it's about how many guns you have, nobody has more guns that me. If it's about ammo, nobody has more ammo than me. So when I say I'm the white Jay-Z, I'm just like, "So all this guy does is talk about all the expensive things he buys?" Well I buy expensive things and I'm 30 years younger. I was never a fan of Jay-Z. The only rapper I really was into was Tupac.
How good of a rapper are you?
Incredible. I have the biggest mouth on earth, so why wouldn't I be the best rapper -- you know what I mean?
Can you freestyle right now?
I mean, everybody keeps on asking me to freestyle. But I always say, "Please, I don't do freestyle, my goal out here is to get paid."The word "free" does not exist in Spencer Pratt's vocabulary.
Is it true that your rap nickname is going to be Great White?
I'm going with Great White. Once you get Great White in the game, he's growing each day and is gonna start eating people. That's why I love rap. You can come up with so many different names. This is what people need to realize: Since the 9th grade, I was referred to by my teachers and classmates as "Pratt Daddy." Then it became P. Diddy. I was there first. I have a thousand witnesses saying for years I was known as P. Diddy. Diddy has taken that and done his thing with that.CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 >>
What songs are you working on now?
I'm working on a mix tape with DJ Whoo Kid that I'm thinking of calling The Info Wars. The first single is gonna be called "Patriot Act," and that's just going to be all about how Americans have given up so many rights that we're not even aware of. That's the problem with me: I have so many real, raw, emotional things that affect me so much about what's going on in politics that I wanna rap about -- yet I also want to rap about the fun things that I love about life. I'm really stuck in the middle as an artist.
That must be hard for you.
If I came at you with how I really felt; like if you really heard a Spencer Pratt record, people would be like arresting me, it would be so controversial.I'm nervous as an artist to really go where my heart's telling me I need to go.
Where's your heart telling you to go?
I wanna talk about the climate bill getting passed in the senate without people even reading it, and scientists saying global warming is a myth and all this stuff. Then there's the one trillion dollars that Al Gore is trying to get everyone to spend so that it will maybe offset his supposed global warming by like 1 percent. As a taxpayer, I'm just like, "Yo, you guys are making up things." Like for Bush it was oil, and now Obama it's energy. It makes me sick.
Um, when will the album come out?
I'm assuming I'll probably launch it near The Hills premiere date which is 9/21. Maybe I'll get real controversial and drop it on 9/11 and go do one of my songs about how 9/11 was an inside job. My whole thing is that I want you to understand how crazy I am. People can't handle it.
Be honest: how much of what you say do you actually believe?
I have a book coming out in September called How to Be Famous. There's a chapter in it called "Everything You Need to Do to Become a Tabloid Fixture." So you would think that everything I do has an ulterior motive.
Have you lost the ability to have a genuine, non-manipulative interaction with a stranger?
Since I was born, I've been calculating. That's my version of being genuine. Life is like chess. I'm always moving pawns around. So you used the word "genuine" -- of course it's always genuine. But I'm still the best chess player in the media game right now.
Help me understand your behavior on a practical level. If someone comes up to you at a bar, are you immediately thinking about how to manipulate that person towards some goal of yours?
That would depend if the cameras were rolling or not. If they were, then yes, 100 percent I'm manipulating you. I got a 180 I.Q. So I'm definitely not just talking out my you know what. But A) I'm definitely not in a bar, and B) I'm not talking to you unless you're my close friend or a family member, so I probably wouldn't have struck up a conversation with anyone.
So what comes after rap?
My therapist said that with my ADHD -- which is obviously a made-up thing by the government -- I'm always chasing the next high. I agree. I'm never satisfied. I'm never happy with just executive producing reality shows or just writing a book or working on my album or being on a TV show or maybe being a politician. So obviously I want to continue chasing the biggest thing. Right now hip-hop music is the biggest thing in our culture, so of course I'm going to dive headfirst in the deep end on that. We'll see in five years where America is. I'll be wherever the new hottest thing is.
But aren't the people we remember the ones who made a great film or recorded a great album and not the people chasing the next media fad?
I'm definitely thinking about that. But unfortunately, the reality of where we're at is that people don't care who made the greatest stuff. To the average middle-American person, the new best movie is Transformers. How are you gonna compare that to a Braveheart? You can't. That's why Spencer Pratt is such a pioneer in the future on planet Earth because I'm more famous than president Barack Obama. I'll say that to President Obama's face. My portrait is higher than his on the wall at Wolfgang Puck's Cut restaurant. That's such a statement. Spencer Pratt is above the President of the United States in fame. No matter what I say or do from here on out, I've imprinted myself on the culture. Ask somebody why I'm famous, they'll say I'm annoying or have a big mouth, but there's no tangible thing.
A rap album is a tangible thing. If that album fails, won't it tarnish your brand?
I see what you're saying, but our world is so Twittered out. People care about something for ten seconds. I'm okay if someone cares about me for ten seconds. That's tangible. If I'm in your mouth, that's tangible.
[Pratt asks his wife Heidi when they're going out for lunch]
Where are you going for lunch?
Probably Café Vida. That's something America doesn't know about me. I've eaten two chicken burritos every day for lunch for the last three years. Nobody even knows that Spencer Pratt lives off chicken burritos. Think about how many more fans I'll have when people find that out.
You obviously know that people expect you to be outlandish and say extreme things. Does that ever bother you? Isn't it a bit "Dance-Monkey-Dance."
I'll say this: I love that I'm the first person your editor wants you to go to when they want publicity. They know that Spencer Pratt will give the readers what they want. The realness. The rawness. I say what's in my heart at that time. If you ask me about Michael Jackson right now, I'll tell you that he was one of the greatest performers of all time. But focusing on his death -- and that's part of life, death is part of life -- it was shocking and everything, but what's even more shocking to me is the death of our political system. A 1300-page climate bill can get passed when senators are begging you to read it because it's a pile of shit. North Korea's saying they're gonna throw a big nuclear missile at Iran and everyone's talking about moonwalking?
What's the difference between someone paying attention to Michael Jackson's death and paying attention to you?
Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. I do feel like I'm part of what's wrong. We're on the exact same page. I apologize to America for being part of the media distraction. My goal now is to talk about things people are afraid to talk about. That's why my album will be called Info Wars. I want to bring things to the water cooler that wouldn't be brought in unless I did it. "I'm a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here" was pre-Spencer Pratt enlightenment. "I'm a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here" is what's wrong with America. It should really be, "I'm a Christian, Get me in Here to Save the Day."CONTINUED ON PAGE 3 >>
Give me some news about the album that no one else has.
My next single is gonna be produced by Junior Reid and it's called "Medicine Man." I'm gonna go shoot the video in Jamaica. The song is all about legalizing marijuana for medical issues. It really does help these patients with AIDS and cancer. It's gonna be very controversial. The reality is that once the government figures out how to tax marijuana, they'll legalize it.
Can you give me a line from the song?
I haven't written my verses yet.
Okay, give me more exclusive news then.
I'm filming a reality show about people who work at a cannabis café here in California. We haven't found a distributor yet, but it's gonna be crazy. It'll go deep in the life of these people. The working title is Cannabis Club.
Do you smoke weed?
I haven't really decided my political response to that question yet. I know that people will do things based on what I say, so I have to think about how I'm going to approach that question.
If the answer was no, wouldn't you just say no?
Nah, David. Everything I do has levels.
More news, please.
SPIN exclusive: I'm working with a little kid right now named Elijah Harris on a track called "Ain't No Thing but a Chicken Wing." We're gonna do a video where I dance the Chicken Wing with him. You think Soulja Boy's Superman song is big? Wait till people see me doing the Chicken Dance. Everyone between the ages of 10 and 17 is going to love it.
Break some news about the new season of the Hills.
Kristen Cavalleri is the news, my friend. People don't get how wild this girl is getting on camera. Okay, no news. We haven't started filming. There's nothing I can say that won't get me sued.
Why'd you and Heidi quit I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here?
I'm going to watch my words here. I didn't make myself aware enough, nor did my wife, about what the show actually consisted of. We were under the impression that, yeah, we hung out in the jungle during the day or whatever, but were sleeping in hotels during the night. We didn't really realize that for 27 days NBC expected Speidi to sleep on a cot in the middle of a Costa Rican jungle. I've never been camping in my whole life. I'm not even trying to sound like a snob, but "camping" to me is getting stuck with the garden view instead of the ocean view at the Four Seasons.
I was like a real deal loony tune. After the show was over, Heidi and I stayed in Costa Rica for an extra two weeks and I pretty much never left our hotel room because I was just trying to calm down. It was probably like a little, little version of the energy people have coming back from war or coming out of a battlefield. I just felt like there were 380 people against me just surrounding me in the jungle. I mean I'd never been on a 24-hour type reality show. That was really difficult, worrying about being watched every time you were peeing, or showering, or sleeping. On The Hills we shoot a few days a week here and there. It took a couple weeks for that feeling of being watched to go away.
Do you believe that it's necessary for a Jew or a Muslim toaccept Jesus Christ as their savior if they want to get to heaven?
That's what it says in the Bible. But it's not on me to tell people what to do. People have to figure that out with God, and choose which God they chose. But Jesus came into my life and is gonna stay in my life. My best friends since Kindergarten are Jewish. I've been to like eighty Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.
How much money are you worth?
That's the problem with me. I spend so much money. But if you're asking how much money I've made?
That's not what I asked. How much are you worth? Assets.
Oh, man. I wouldn't want to go on record with that. It'll make people hate me more. Let's just say with this economy I'm dead broke and very relatable to all of you. Everything I have is rented. Fake it till you make it. That's my thing.