Interview With AWKWORD (@AWKWORDrap) !

Q. What came first act­iv­ism or rap? How import­ant is it for you to voice world injustices in your music?

Act­iv­ism, as my mom instilled that in me from the earli­est age. I joined her since before I can remem­ber in demon­stra­tions, protests, marches, etc., for peace, women’s rights and envir­on­ment­al issues. But the music was a close second. Before I ever heard Hip Hop, I was listen­ing to Bob Dylan and Motown with my mom and dad. And then my babysit­ter brought me Run DMC and Pub­lic Enemy, and it was a wrap. Some­thing hit me. And when I real­ized I was a writer who could make money with my words, I just put it all togeth­er and took my writ­ing to the micro­phone and the stage. I have ALWAYS been AWK­WORD, I just decided to change my name a little late.

Q. How import­ant is it for you to work on pro­jects and social issues bey­ond the music?

For me Hip Hop and social issues go hand in hand. Not every song I make has an expli­citly polit­ic­al pur­pose or theme, and not every song is even ser­i­ous. It’s OK, healthy, import­ant to have fun. But for me I would nev­er be sat­is­fied with who I was if I was ONLY mak­ing rap songs and not doing some­thing to give back and make change.

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Q. You have been recog­nized by the likes of  Chuck D from Pub­lic Enemy  who said you make “qual­ity music that deserves to be heard”. That is a big state­ment from one of Hip Hop’s greats. How did he hear your music?

Yeah, get­ting the recog­ni­tion from the crit­ics is amaz­ing, but there is noth­ing like hear­ing it from one of your idols and peers. Chuck D helped me be the man and the emcee I am, and he has now co-signed two of my songs and said some amaz­ing things about my music, my forth­com­ing album World View and me.

In terms of how he heard the music, that’s just how the game works. Someone got it in his hands. And for­tu­nately he fuxed with it.

Q. How do you think the music industry has changed over the years? Are things easi­er for inde­pend­ent artists?

I have no idea. Sure, it seems like the indie artist CAN get big­ger now, as we’ve seen with Tech N9ne. (No, Macklemore does not count. Do your research.) But that’s one artist. All the oth­er major acts are cor­por­ate, with the fin­an­cial back­ing and behind-the-scenes muscle required to be heard or seen. And what about all those artists that were buzz­ing, only to be shelved by the majors and nev­er heard from again.

Per­son­ally, I’ve nev­er done any­thing with any help. It’s always been DIY for me, and I just won’t sign because there’s no reas­on to trust.

Q. What’s the most influ­en­tial piece of advice that you have been given and have applied to your life?

Make the best of it. My mom told me that.

Q. Tell us about your latest track ‘Go!’ ?

As writ­ten by Dharm­ic X, which premiered the song 11/19/13:

AWK­WORD has released a new song today called “Go!” The song is a high-powered under­ground hip-hop col­lab­or­a­tion with AWK­WORD trad­ing rhymes with Brooklyn’s Joell Ort­iz and Slug from Atmo­sphere. AWK­WORD starts the song off with him talk­ing about over­com­ing obstacles, intern­al and extern­al. Slug takes the second verse, and ush­ers in a spir­it of optim­ism, while Joell closes the song off by talk­ing about the suc­cess he is destined to have thanks to his undy­ing work eth­ic. Mean­while, the song’s hook comes cour­tesy of vocal­ist Maya Azu­cena.

“Go!,” pro­duced by Domin­go, is slated to be released on AWKWORD’s upcom­ing album, World View. Pro­ceeds from the pro­ject will be going to the non-profit organ­iz­a­tion Guns 4 Cam­er­as, which looks to “erad­ic­ate street viol­ence through the Hip Hop-inspired edu­ca­tion and empower­ment of our at-risk youth.”

The single can be pur­chased here.

 Q. What artists are you cur­rent feel­ing?

Pusha T.

Q. Where do you think the future of Hip Hop is going?

Even more eclectic and ‘out-there’, and as long as we hold on to our roots, I think it’s for the bet­ter that we pro­gress and expand our glob­al dom­in­a­tion. Lord Jamar needs to shut up.

Q.  What have you got com­ing up for us to look out for?

In the next couple months, I will be releas­ing WORLD VIEW, the first-ever 100% for-char­ity glob­al Hip Hop pro­ject, sponsored by DJBooth and The Mor­gan Stan­ley Found­a­tion. It fea­tures pro­duc­tion from likes of Harry Fraud, Numon­ics, ATG and Steel Tipped Dove, and emcee appear­ances from Joell Ort­iz, Sean Price, Slug (Atmo­sphere), Chino XL, ILL BILL, The Kid Daytona, REKS, Chaun­don, Shabaam Sah­deeq, Jasiri X, Viro the Vir­us and many more. All pro­ceeds go to Guns 4 Cam­er­as, a 501c3 non­profit that goes bey­ond the gun exchange, work­ing to edu­cate and empower at-risk youth in our com­munit­ies.

Geor­gina Wal­ters

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