Roosh Williams: No College Rapper, Just Wicked Smart
Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All hail That Purple Bastard Cole.
Photos via Roosh Williams on Facebook
In September, TPBC hosted the hip-hopperific FlyFest; by all means, we should be done talking about this already. But it still continues to bear fruit. Witness Roosh Williams.
When we saw Roosh, he was serving in hypeman capacity for Artist of the Week alumni Kyle Hubbard. Typically, the hypeman role consists of someone standing there shouting, "Yeah, yeah, yeah" over and over again. But Hubbard, silly country boy that he is, let Williams perform an entire song.
Perhaps it was because Hubbard, a genuinely enjoyable live performer, had already won the crowd over, but Williams came across like a champ. (This is referred to as the Young Jeezy corollary.)
So we sat tight until recently, then reached out to him for an interview when we realized that his appeal wasn't entirely due to Hubbard's own likeability.
Rocks Off: So here's what I've been thinking about lately: Lots of rappers - at least more than before - are going the rapper/college-kid route. How does this play out? I mean, the archetypal rapper image isn't a college-educated man, you know?
Roosh Williams: Music, like so many other things, is an industry that a lot of people depend on to feed their families. Simply being talented doesn't always work, and so a lot of artists focus on their image and try to present themselves in attractive (and potentially profitable) ways.
So how does the "college rapper" route play out? Probably not for the best. Asher Roth is a talented rapper; he's not great but he's pretty good. However, he will, whether it's deserved or not, always be remembered as the guy who made "I Love College" (kind of like a rap version of Jon Heder acting in Napoleon Dynamite).
You can scheme and try to ascend in this game via whatever image you project, but at the end of the day if your music doesn't have substance then you won't gain respect and you won't last. Kids like Sam Adams target their music specifically for a college audience - he has a mixtape called Party Records and a song called "Frat Music" - that's the lane they choose and, essentially, it's how they 'brand' themselves. It may sell and make money, but by no means does that equate to being a respected rapper/lyricist whose career will endure longevity.
Personally, I always like to refer to the phrase "real recognize real". It's easy to distinguish between the artist who is catering songs to a specific audience just to try and sell records, and the artist whose image (in this case - being a college rapper) is simply a part of their overall character and approach to music.
For example, Jay-Z's newest artist, J. Cole, graduated with honors from St. John's University in New York, but he doesn't rap about beer pong and kegstands and all that stuff. He keeps it extremely real and raps about a variety of things he's experienced in his life - and college is merely one of those experiences.
RO: Has a situation come up where you've passed on a music opportunity because you thought it might hinder your professional career in the future, like perhaps securing a guest feature from someone incendiary or recording a song called "Fuck You You Fucking White Collar Bitches"?
R: No. Luckily I haven't found myself in a position where I've had to compromise my artistic integrity for a prospective professional career. Even if I did, I simply don't believe in doing so.
We've had presidents of this country get caught cheating to win a presidential election, cheating on their wives, doing excessive amounts of hard drugs in their college days, etc., and you're trying to devalue my intellectual capability (and overall value to a prospective graduate program or employer) not because I'm a bad person, but because I rap?
Get outta here. I'm about to graduate from the University of Texas with a 3.8 GPA, can (and possibly will) attend law school, and I can rap circles around you and your children. Embrace it, why hate?