Write it RIGHT

April 12, 2017
4 mins read

Every MC has a niche. Some spit hot, fast fire. Some focus on political awareness or hyper-real storytelling. Some know how to leverage social media to build their careers. Some concentrate on looking good, embracing the chase of life’s finer things. Since hip-hop is a constantly evolving beast of global proportions—according to Spotify’s complicated algorithms, it’s the most listened-to genre in the world—it’s impossible to say with any surety that this thing or that thing “is” hip-hop.

But if you’re a fan of Golden Age hip-hop—jazz- and soul-inspired samples, intelligent lyricism and the New York school of hard knocks that finds transcendence in life’s drudgery—you’ll probably love Wordsworth. A Brooklyn native who’s been living in Southwest Florida for the last 11 years, Wordsworth came up in the battle-rap scene, earning his keep the old-fashioned way. But he knows the importance of diversification, working with everyone from Prince Paul (of De La Soul) to Q-Tip (of A Tribe Called Quest), serving as a crucial member of underground supergroup eMC, writing for television and even expanding into education.

Folio Weekly spoke with Wordsworth while he was on line at a flooring store near his home in Ft. Myers.

Folio Weekly: So you live in Florida, Wordsworth, but you don’t tour much in Florida, right?
Wordsworth: Right. I’ve been down in Ft. Myers for 11 years, but I typically tour overseas. If I do a show here, it’s usually in Orlando or Miami. I’ve actually never been to Jacksonville, so I’m eager to see what the city is like.

What brought you to our fair state, and how does it compare to Brooklyn, where you grew up?
My wife’s parents bought a home here, and after we had a kid, she got homesick, missing them and wanting to have that help. I was skeptical at first—not living in a major city has a different energy. Fortunately, the Internet has become so huge that I can do my thing here and it still feels like I’m in New York.

You’ve been in the hip-hop game for years, working in nearly every aspect of the industry. Where does your current focus lie?
I’m just trying to be more prolific with the art I put out. I released three albums in the past two years—an eMC album, a solo record called New Beginning, and a collaborative album with JSOUL called Blame it on the Music. Right now, I’m finishing a record with another producer named Sam Brown, out of North Carolina.

So what you’re saying is, you never rest.
I had to be realistic with myself about my career and what I was trying to accomplish. I make money from doing the music, which is why I’ve become more prolific. But I’ve also transformed my career to more of the writing aspect. I’ve written for TV and cartoons, and I’ve also gotten into education. I’ve found other ways to be valued, instead of just a rapper—and that transformation has helped me as a rapper. You have to be attuned to where you are and what you’re ultimately trying to get out of it.

As a father, a husband, a teacher and a rapper, what’s your writing process like?
I get up early, usually 6 or 7 a.m., and I work on specific songs—everybody is still asleep, so I don’t have to worry about any noise. Then, during family time at night, I’ll have my laptop right there with one earbud in. Say we’re watching a TV show—when the commercials come on, I’ll play the beat real quick. I’m always looking for those little pockets. They are random—it’s not a serene atmosphere. But sometimes you don’t have your choice of atmosphere. You have to be comfortable writing, regardless of the circumstances. A lot of that discipline comes from going to school. If you have a paper due on Friday, there’s no room for writer’s block. If I have a song due and I don’t turn it in on time, I don’t get paid. You have to set deadlines. Those constraints force you to learn how to trigger your talent.

Given all your experience and different perspectives, what does hip-hop mean to you in 2017?
Today, kids see the music as a more recreational thing. What’s the new dance? What’s the popular hook? Lyricism isn’t as important as it used to be. A lot of kids’ favorite rappers aren’t great wordsmiths—the wordplay isn’t there anymore. People can’t differentiate between, say, Nas or Jay-Z and The Migos. They don’t see the time that goes into the craft—actually writing with skill and technique. That’s something that I miss and that I hope to change with my kids and with my students.

Folio is your guide to entertainment and culture around and near Jacksonville, Florida. We cover events, concerts, restaurants, theatre, sports, art, happenings, and all things about living and visiting Jax. Folio serves more than two million readers across Jacksonville and Northeast Florida, including St. Augustine, The Beaches, and Fernandina.

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