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Home » Featured, Music

Some words from Thurogood Wordsmith

Submitted by Commandrea on May 10, 2011 – 3:10 pmNo Comment
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-Jack Daniel Betz

Lyrically-driven, Houston hip-hop artist, Thurogood Wordsmith is active once again after taking a short hiatus. Last week I sat down and asked him a few questions about his past, his present work, and what he has planned for the future.

You can download his first EP, “The Appetizer“, for free.

FPH: I heard about you from Mic Skills Mission Control Compilation, tell me what you’ve done since you’ve started?

TW: I started rappin’ in 2007 and I released some mixtapes and than some mix tap style songs after that. And it was unofficial and self-titled. It was about 12-15 songs and I released about 500 of those. I got some considerable attention off of that and it got me into the rap scene and into knowing other producers, promoters, and writers, things of that nature. So that was kind of my intro and then I just released- it’s been a long time since I released something- my EP in November 2010. So in between those times, I’ve released some songs but I did take a little hiatus and now I’m back and going strong again. I plan on releasing my followup. My EP was “The Appetizer” and that was basically a followup to “Brass Knuckle Sandwich”.

FPH: I’ve been looking through that EP and playing it online the past couple days and I’m definitely going to buy it-

TW: It’s actually free now. I wanted it to be more informal, like leave a tip if you want to leave a tip but through that band camp site more like ‘Oh, well I should buy it’ and I want people to download it and just have it on their computers and iPods and burn it onto discs. I thought it would be more a leave of a tip kind of deal and it wasn’t and that’s why it’s free now.

FPH: People would pay for it but I think more people will pass it around this way.

TW: Exactly. Right. And I’m still trying to build a buzz you know and you know how everything in the music industry as changed. You have to build a name for yourself and people are going to expect things for free, especially in hip hop.

FPH: I first heard about you on Mic Skills’ “Mission Control” Compilation with “Brass knuckle sandwich”. Tell me what you’re up to now.

TW: “Brass Knuckle Sandwich” the song, right? Because now I’m doing an album called “Brass Knuckle Sandwich”. That’s the idea was born, when I did that Mic Skills song but first I released “The Appetizer”. Now we’re moving onto the full course meal, if you will. It will be a full LP.

FPH: I’ve noticed that you and a lot of recent Houston hip-hop artists have been shying away from using a ridiculous amount of post-production and auto-tuning and stuff like that.

TW: I think that’s born out of my taste in music and the producers I work with. I gotta give a lot of credit to James Kelly and we started working together around the same time that “Mission Control” compilation came out. We recorded it and produced “Brass Knuckle Sandwich” out of his house. A few months ago he moved to the Heights into this state of the art studio. It is beautiful. It’s the best studio I’ve seen in Houston. I don’t think any other place in Houston can touch it right now.

You know, I thought it was cool when Roger and Zapp did it but it was more like talk box with like a tube in their mouth. Auto-tune is cool I guess. I remember when “I’m in love with stripper” came out I was like, I can see why this is catchy but I don’t like to follow trends, I like to be original. Whoever I’m inspired by, I don’t want to rip them off I just would rather be inspired and come up with something that can inspire someone else. That’s kind of why I stay away from lots of post-production effects, especially vocally. I’m also very lyrcially driven. One of my very favorite artists is Bob Dylan and I couldn’t image him with auto-tune on his voice.

FPH: [laughter] He might need it nowadays but-

TW: [laughter] Yeah, a lot of people might not agree with me but he’s such a great story teller and his words are always- bring out a lot of vivid imagery to me. That’s what I always like.

FPH: I agree and it’s really the same for your stuff. It’s really the lyrics that carry it.

TW: Right. And James was just getting into hip-hop at the time and him and I got together- I’ve helped him build a clientele and he’s done most of the work but he’s worked with a lot of other artists. Mixing and mastering for Hollywood Floss, for The Niceguys, Hashbrown. Actually James is doing the whole EP for The Niceguys comin’ up. It’s called the “The James Kelly EP” and it’s going to be all his production.

“Brass Knuckle Sandwich” is going to be that much better because it’s going to be on par- you know what I’m saying? The production’s just as good as the lyrics and vice versa. But I think what’s wrong with hip-hop- not what’s wrong with it I guess, just some of the trends I don’t like are that it’s become so over-produced and popular rap has just become a money-making machine because it’s like I can just picture some cheesy record executive in a leather jacket with some huge production staff. Like a Lou Pearlman kind of guy saying, “Yeah, that’s it! We just need to get a fresh-faced kid on it.”

FPH: You’re lyrics are normally front and center as opposed to the lyrics and at of your lyrics have the narrative aspect to it. All my favorite hip-hop includes story-telling. Some of it lately has become so repetitive that it’s like bad house music- and I like some house too but you can’t just trade the story telling in for something else.

TW: Yeah, hip-hop has become so different than what it was been born out of and I try to keep my music as authentic as when hip-hop first came out. I want it to be narritive, a representation of an independent person and artist that’s really driven by their music. I’m inspired by making music so I don’t want it to sound like a house song that’s just a flash-in-the-pan. Like the song “Dream Chaser” off “The Appetizer” that song is probably my biggest story-telling style song. That song is about this chick that used to live next to me in my apartment complex and she was a party girl. She was on some reality show- I think it was “Paris Hilton is my new BFF” and I was kind of like- she was always cool and an attractive young woman. We’d have some drinks and kick it and she’d always have these sugar daddies all over the place and I wouldn’t judge her about it. But I always thought I should tell her to be careful even though I never did. But I was coming home one day and there was an ambulance and she was being carried off on a stretcher and I wrote that song right there and it was really about her. I always think of her on that stretcher when I hear that song. But unlike “Dream Chaser” she did end up living through that but when I wrote that I didn’t know what was going to happen to her so- you know. I just wrote her off like a soap opera character.

“A.M.” gets the most play off of the stuff on my “Appetizer” EP and I’m gonna shoot a video for it this month so that’s probably my freshest song and has the most appeal but I think “Dream Chaser” cuts a little bit deeper. And I think that a lot of hip-hop albums today are missing missing those deep cut tracks and that are just being promoted all the time and are album tracks. They don’t need videos necessarily and are the glue that holds the album together.

FPH: Right. It’s definitely something that every other genre is experiencing right now as the record industry gets more and more aggressive. There’s kind of less of an emphasis on album oriented anything anymore whether it’s rock, hip-hop, or even country.

TW: Yeah. These records execs want to sell ringtones instead of albums really.

FPH: What’s it like as a white guy doing this? Do you think it’s any different?

TW: Um, you know I would know what it’s like to be a black guy doing this so- [laughter]

It’s fun for me. I think nowadays it’s overlooked. I don’t think people focus on “Oh, it’s a white guy.” People notice it of course but a lot people who haven’t seen me live are like, “Oh, you’re white?” and I’m like, “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” [laughter] But for me it’s fun and it helps me in some ways and it hurts me in some ways. People are always gonna draw the comparison to Eminem and I think that’s just what people do when they don’t have much knowledge about it. They hear my lyrics and they’re like, “Oh! He’s lyrical like Eminem,” but you know-

FPH: Which is ridiculous. There’s nothing about you that reminds me of Eminem.

TW: when I hear that- I used to hear that a lot more, like I said I started in 07 and now I get way more love. I know I’m better artist now but that’s just because of time. I have a good friend, she’s an African American female MC and she spits and she’s real talented but she kind of faces some of the same stuff that I do. People might look at you and underestimate you but in that underestimation is actually an advantage because you have the element of surprise. They don’t expect much so I always win people over. At live shows, it definitely helps.

FPH: Maybe it’s not that they’re expecting less, but-

TW: I mean there’re some whack white rappers and- I mean there’s a stigma to a white rapper, like Malibu’s Most Wanted. People look at that and some stereotypes exist for a reason.

FPH: Yeah, I know what you mean. Somewhere along the line someone affirmed that stereotype, whether or not it’s actually representative.

TW: But there’s a lot of dope white MC’s nowadays, especially here in Houston. It’s always going to be an element to be discussed. I’ll never be that guy, the white guy with a chip on my shoulder. Like, “What are you sayin’ man?!” I never thought I’d be a rapper. I would have laughed if you told me I was going to be a rapper.

FPH: I just figured I’d ask because I’m sure that enters into it somewhere even though it’s obviously irrelevant now.

TW: Yeah. It’s a fair question and it’s probably be something I’ll be answering for my whole career.

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