Photography by A Garcia
With his ‘Evil In The Mirror’ album out now via Brick Records, we checked in with Boston-based producer and emcee Will C to talk about Melle Mel, the Boston public transportation system, and why you should ditch any comparisons with Edan…
How long has it taken to put the album together? Most of the tracks seem pretty intricately produced…
“I definitely took my time with ‘Evil In The Mirror’. I’m the type of person who will keep rearranging ideas over and over, just to keep them sounding new to me. Changing lyrics, replacing aspects of the drum programming… It can be sort of irrational when the basis for me changing something is that I get bored with it, especially when nobody else has even heard it.
“I like to make use of all the available tracks on a mixing board. I guess that’s why the production winds up sounding intricate, which I appreciate you pointing out. There’s sounds on tracks embedded so deep in the mix, I’m pretty sure only I can hear them. Is that subliminal message stuff legal?”
On ‘It Ain’t The ’80s’ there’s the line, “Too bad my heroes were basking in angel dust.” Do you think too often people like to look back on certain eras of hip-hop through rose-tinted glasses?
“Absolutely. “Melle Mel said Macs would make slaves of us/Too bad my heroes were basking in angel dust.” I wasn’t saying it in a negative way though, it’s just reality. Usually history isn’t reality, but more often factual information sprinkled with the way we’d prefer to remember things. I read an interview where Mel was being asked what inspired his groundbreaking lyricism around 1984, and his one-word answer was ‘Cocaine’.
“‘It Ain’t The 80s’ isn’t a cookie-cutter reminiscing song, it’s an observation of the good, bad, and perplexing events of that time period, particularly the ones that have lasting effects and carry over to the present.”
What are the last three albums you bought?
“1. Thin Lizzy ‘Johnny The Fox’. The title track was ‘Ultimate Breaks & Beats’-worthy, and I’m digging the LP as a whole. Phil Lynott’s got the dope voice.
“2. Dave Van Ronk ‘Two Sides Of Dave Van Ronk’. I first heard it on vacation in Colorado earlier this year – blew me away.
“3. Fleet Foxes ‘Fleet Foxes’. ‘White Winter Hymnal’ is my jam for the week. I know I’m late on it. Is it just me or is that track about someone’s head falling off? Kind of like that In A Dark, Dark Room, ‘The Green Ribbon Story’.
On the track ‘Trainspotting’ you reference various subway lines. What’s the most annoying thing other passengers do on the subway? And what’s the craziest/most disgusting thing you’ve ever seen happen on the subway?
“‘Trainspotting’ is all about riding the ‘T’, Boston’s public transportation system. More often than not, it’s a circus. It’s far from a rarity to see some cuckoo dudes all drugged up getting their perv’ on… sometimes fully aroused, with Dorito crumbs on their shirt, the whole nine. That’s annoying, but I’m sure it’s a lot more disturbing for women.
“You want to talk creeps on the train? Try me while I was recording ‘Trainspotting’. You hear trains approaching and all sorts of automated T announcements on that cut. I had written the lyrics, incorporating some of the robot-esque dialogue you hear spew from the subway cars, like ‘Next stop… Copley!’ or ‘Doors will open on the right.’ My original vocal takes had me saying those lines, but I always really wanted to retrieve the genuine sound effects, and there was only one way to do that… I had to ride the T with one of those voice recorders journalists use during interviews, capturing the bits and pieces I needed. I was getting all sorts of concerned looks when I was lifting a recorder up to the train’s ceiling speakers. I will say that I’m very grateful I didn’t bump into anybody I knew on the train that day; sometimes, you just gotta be the anonymous creep.”
The watermarked version of the album has a plea to stop downloading. Do you think it’s still possible to make money from selling hip-hop music in 2009?
“It’s certainly more difficult, but far from impossible. With the type of music I make, I feel you have to respect the listeners and offer the world a project worth talking about. If you do that, there will always be decent people who recognize the respect, returning the favor by purchasing what you put a great deal of energy into. If my hooks start getting a little more questionable, you’ll know I’ve ditched this belief system…”
Does the ‘C’ in Will C really stand for ‘Curly’?
“We’ll see… It stands for Careful With That Axe. No, you got me… it’s the initial for my last name, Curley. In sixth grade, the ‘first name, last initial’ rap moniker was the best idea I could come up with. DJ Goldfingers was bogus. I’ve never even said that name to a single soul up until now, but I’m positive I decided it was my name for about a week a decade ago.”
Finally, what are the top three reasons why people should not compare the new Will C album to something Edan would make…
“1. Serious answer: I’m friendly with Edan. As artists though, we are entirely different people, with our own perspectives on life and music. Listen to what I’m saying and doing on my record. Don’t try to pigeonhole me. In other words, Beauty is only skin deep.
“2. Facetious answer: got a haircut after my album cover shoot.
“3. Asshole answer: What’s an Edan?”
Check it: Will C’s ‘It Ain’t The ’80s’
(Click here to read about Will C’s hunt for Real Roxanne posters in HHC Digital 004.)