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.


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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