Welcome to Who’s Up Next, where I put you onto the dopest creatives on the Internet. In the first ever segment of Who’s Up Next, I had a super dope convo with the 20-year-old rapper, spoken word artist, and all-around creative Will Tha Artist.
Keep reading to learn more about the uber-talented Toronto native:
Q: What do you love the most about Toronto, and how do you believe the city influences your art?
A: I love it because it’s home. There’s so much talent and greatness that some people may say is hidden, but I’d rather say it’s overlooked. Toronto is a good but difficult place to thrive in creatively. There’s so much going in the music world, but a lot of people believe the only way to climb to the top is using other people as steps, which is simply not true.
With all that being said, I’d say Toronto influences my art and mindset with an almost underdog kind of mentality and hunger. I’m immediately stereotyped since I’m coming from a world that America knows nothing about. It’s like I’m fighting to get my truth across. Toronto is great, but it ain’t pretty. It’s definitely filled with a lot of violence, human trafficking, and people in low-income communities being mistreated. Not many people from those places have a voice, and those that do may not be able to articulate their story in a way that I can. I speak out for them.
Q: What album/song/etc. made you fall in love with hip hop and why?
A: I’ve grown up with songs on the radio like Kanye’s Gold Digger, Stronger, and Heartless but I think the first time I really listened to rap was with Eminem. I was just a kid filled with emotion and anger I never understood and it just felt like his words connected with what I felt. I was also into Hopsin in junior high school, so you could say I was into that type of emo rap.
I fell in love with rap through the YouTube rap community. People like TimDeLaGhetto, Prince Ea, Dyme-a-Duzin, Pryde, and Dumbfoundead were all dope. Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, maad city was my first album though. I was obsessed with it, playing it nearly every day in my freshman year of high school. J. Cole’s Born Sinner, Nas’ Illmatic and It Was Written, Lupe’s first two albums, Kanye’s college trilogy, so many. Those were what formed my love for Hip-Hop. My era was the whole Beast Coast movement and Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap, along with Childish Gambino. Those all had a hand in forming the artist I am now, and that I’m continuing to grow as.
Q: I know you’re deeply involved with spoken word, as well as rapping. Are there any differences between the two types of art? Do you like one more than the other, if so why?
A: I love this question! Spoken Word and Rap are so similar but differ in that Rap is normally restrictive. You’re confined to the rhythm in the music, whereas in Spoken Word, your voice is the rhythm. Rap also has you stuck to a rhyme scheme, but in Spoken Word you can have no rhyme and still sound dope.
The restrictions of rhythm and rhyme can push some rappers to have concepts that aren’t fully expanded. In Spoken Word, you can break free of it and really explore your other poetic devices. The downside of that is that you can get lost in the sauce and have so many devices that you lose the message of the piece. Rap is good for getting straight to the point; Spoken Word is good for taking you on a journey. I’d also say that as much as rap progressed, it is still hyper-masculine in its roots. There are certain topics and emotions that would raise some eyebrows in the Hip-Hop community amongst men that would not in the Poetry community. I love both equally, Hip-Hop is my first love but they both fall under my love of writing.
There’s a lot to learn from both, and it allows me to have raps that sound poetic and poetry that sounds like raps…which would probably just be raps lmfao.
Q: In what environment do you thrive the most as an artist?
A: I thrive around creatives. At school, that group is Art N’ Soul. A collective of creatives that have been on campus since 1993. As for home, that group is UrbanArts. An organization that allows youth around the inner city to have a place to express themselves creatively. Both groups have people that push me and really care for my growth as an artist. That’s the family always. Nuff love.
I also gotta give a shoutout to @TRLDotTV (Twitter Rap League). I’ve learned a lot through that as well when it comes to writing for competition as well as coming up with creative angles. Battle rappers can have some of the most creative bars, also some of the most played out. Sometimes I like to create by myself, but I always run ideas by people. It’s never a bad thing to receive feedback, critiques, and suggestions. It helps a lot actually, but at the end of the day it’s my art and I do with it as I see fit. Prayer ain’t bad for creating either. God is the one that blessed me with the gift, and there is no better creator than Him. I was once told that having a close relationship with God is key. He’ll never let you run out of ideas.
Q: So, according to your fantastic Instagram, your video for “Before I Die” is coming out soon. How was the process of filming that video?
A: It was so much fun! The concept of the visual was done by my boy EK, and shot by my boy Shock. I’m not exactly used to having a camera in my face, so sometimes I laughed and we had to run it back but it was a great process. I’d say the biggest challenge was to loosen up. I’m known for being stiff in my movements, so I really had to just relax and vibe out. Definitely be on the lookout for more music videos!
Q: What’s next for you?
A: Well, I’m planning an EP. I’m not gonna give too many details until everything is finalized but be on the lookout for that. It’s a running joke among my friends that I’m the Jay Electronica of our squad when it comes to releasing music. I’ve been on a podcast called Chop It Up Podcast, you can find that on YouTube.
There’ll be more episodes of that. Hopefully, I’ll also have some performances lined up for the summer. You’ll just have to watch my social media for more info, but there’s always gonna be content coming. Always.
Who do you think should be on the next rendition of Who’s Up Next? Be sure to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to clue me in on who you think should be interviewed next with the email subject: Suggestion – Who’s Up Next?