Richard Williams (born September 16, 1988), better known by his stage name Prince Ea, is a controversial American spoken word artist and motivational speaker. After graduating from the University of Missouri–St. Louis with a degree in anthropology, he initially pursued a career as a hip hop artist. Inspired by artists like Immortal Technique and Canibus, he initiated the "Make S.M.A.R.T Cool" movement to promote values like intelligence, free thinking, unity, and creativity in hip-hop music and culture.
In 2014, Prince Ea shifted his focus from music to creating motivational and inspirational spoken word films and content. His YouTube videos have received over 290 million views and over 5 million subscribers. These types of videos include topics such as environmentalism, race, work–life balance and spirituality. He credits his shift in perspective to the inspiration of ancient wisdom texts such as the Tao Te Ching and Bhagavad Gita.
Prince Ea has also gone through some controversies such as being criticized several times on YouTube by internet personalities such as Nerd City, Boyinaband, Leafyishere, and H3H3productions.
The youngest of three children, Prince Ea was born as Richard Williams on September 16, 1988 in St. Louis, Missouri, and has resided there for much of his life. He first started working under the stage name "Prince Ea" when he graduated in Anthropology from the University of Missouri–St. Louis. "Prince Ea" is derived from Sumerian mythology meaning "The Prince of the Earth".
Prince Ea has been criticized on YouTube by internet personalities such as Nerd City, Boyinaband, Leafyishere,h3h3Productions, BluesDank, and Leon Lush. He tried out an unsuccessful rap career before his motivational videos in which he behaved in a way that goes against the principles he's now trying to convey, including but not limited to promoting violence, killings and homophobia. There is some hypocrisy in his "quit your job and follow your dreams", as his music career was initially unsuccessful prior to his career as a motivational speaker; and him telling people to spend less time on the internet despite posting 10-20 times per day on his social media accounts. He has also been criticized for putting his name on other people's quotes and posting them to his Instagram page as his own. Leon Lush called Prince Ea's "Life School" as a scam, as he was charged but never received what he paid for with zero response from him.
On October 8, 2016, Ea was called out by rapper and YouTuber Boyinaband for spreading misinformation about technology and mental health in his videos, fearmongering, not citing his sources to the research he claims to exist and posting articles on his social media that were clickbait for advertisements. Boyinaband's video was wrongfully copyright striked by Prince Ea's network, Base 79, but has been restored on the site as it goes under fair use. Prince Ea responded in his now-deleted video, A Response to My Haters, accusing Boyinaband of being jealous of him and stated that Boyinaband was using him to get views and clicks on his video for profit. His response video was publicly ridiculed by YouTubers who called out Prince Ea for being a hypocrite.
h3h3Productions made a video indirectly parodying and ridiculing his inspirational-style videos.
In 2011, Prince Ea was rapping for his own entertainment and developed a few videos. These often ended up on WorldStarHipHop. In late 2008, Prince Ea released the mixtape "The Adolescence" on the internet for free download. A few days after the release, he recorded an amateur video of himself rapping and entered it into a Vibe magazine contest dubbed "VIBE Verses". Subsequently, Ea was declared the VIBE Verses grand champion and was awarded $5000 in music recording equipment along with a full page article in Vibe magazine, which held a total value of $50,000. In 2009, he won a Funk Volume competition, stemming from success on YouTube, which allowed him to become the first hip-hop artist to have a feature in Discover magazine. Ea has also been awarded the grand prize of a competition run by Trojan condoms entitled "Magnum's Live Large Project II" hosted by rapper Ludacris in which he was flown out to Miami to perform with the platinum recording artist. In 2011 he won the Riverfront Times "Best hip-hop artist in St. Louis". In February 2011, Prince Ea independently released The Compilation Mixtape, a free digital compilation mixtape with selections from DJ Techne.
"Make 'SMART' Cool" movement
In 2009, Prince Ea, upset at the present state of the music industry, decided to form a movement named "Make 'SMART' Cool". The "Make 'SMART' Cool" movement (SMART is an acronym for "Sophisticating Minds And Revolutionizing Thought") attempts to "promote intelligence to everyone, everywhere and integrate it with hip-hop. To create and nurture, without discrimination or preference, a community of free-thinking individuals under the singular purpose of promoting the ideals of education, intelligence, unity and creativity throughout the world at large."
A successful underground clothing line for the movement, which includes T-shirts and sweaters, was released and has gained support from artists such as newly signed So So Def producer Mike Kalombo. Artists supporting the movement include Traphik, Sha Stimuli, August Rigo.
- Vibe's Vibe Verses Contest (won).
- Funk Volume's "Don't F**k Up Our Beats" Contest (won).
- Discover magazine feature
- Magnum Trojan Live Large Contest (won).
- Riverfront Times contest - Best Hip Hop artist.
- Juicy J underground search contest (won).
- Jae Millz Contest (won).