William Speakz gave me the pleasure of sitting down with him to discuss his music and Hip Hop all around. I got to conduct the interview based on his recently released project ‘Beneath The Surface’ which is available on all major streaming platforms for your access.
-Let’s kick it off, where are you from and what sort of things were going on there that got you into Hip Hop?
I’m originally from South Carolina, it’s a real small town. Basically an ‘everybody knows everybody’ kind of feel. My grandad was the deacon of the church we went to, I lived right up the street from his house. My pops and uncle were in the military, I never knew my mom cause she died the day after I was born. My stepmom and I were pretty close, I basically consider her my mom at this point. I lived with my grandma until I was like 9 or 10. After my mom died they had split me and my younger sister between the two families. My grandma used to listen to old R&B music and like old Raggae and spanish music cause she’s half Puerto Rican. When I got around my dad is when I started listening to actual rap music. I started listening to like Cam’ron, 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, you know like G-Unit back then. When Curren$y came out I was really fucking with him. Wiz, J Cole, man, I had a lot of newer school influences like people who are super popping right now. Nowadays, the people I listen to are a lot different than who I was influenced by. I pull life influence from like whatever I was experiencing at the time and I try to experiment with what I hear, I don’t like making the same shit. I’m all about the vibes, a lot of times I’ll hear the beat before I start writing and I’m like “it reminds of something” and I’ll start it off with that premise in mind but I’ll switch it up to cater to me and how I’m feeling in that moment.
-So, I know you started of with poetry. What prompted you to get into writing originally?
It was around the time that my daughter was born, just the people that I had around me, they all knew I was a poet and that I did slam poetry back in South Carolina but I started ghost writing when I came to AZ, you know, sending things to homies. I have this friend who goes by Anti, basically my brother-in-law, and he was always telling I need to rap and I was spit with him and the homie Cameron. We had a group of friends that was constantly hanging out in a musical environment, always freestyling and writing until we had a falling out and parted ways. Going through that was me actually going through my lowest and that’s what actually made me start processing my emotions and put it into music.
-What are some topics you like to touch on in your music?
‘Carolina Kid’ was a song that I made when I went back to visit my family and realize how deep my roots were there, shout out to Tru Barz on the beat. I have a song called ‘Sex, Money, Drugs’ and that is probably my favorite song on the album because it reminded me of ‘Just What I Am’ by Kid Cudi at first. It was around the time when rappers and other people started dying from drugs, money related issues, people getting robbed and stuff. I basically said it at the end of the song, you know, you don’t need drugs, you don’t need money, you don’t need those pleasures in life to be happy but they are exciting because you feel that thrill in the moment you are taking those pleasures from life but they can also be your downfall so it’s kind of a trade off in a sense.
-What was the first rap that really inspired you to say, “Hip Hop is a part of me.”?
Kendrick has this song called ‘Heart of a Lion’ on an unreleased album that you can find just about anywhere. Kendrick is always crazy with metaphors, you know, it’s a 3 or 4 minute song and he just goes in the entire time with no hook on a dope boom bap beat. He starts sort of calm and then, you know Kendrick, he gets all gassed up by the end. If I’m not mistaken I wrote “Why You Fuckin With Me” like a week after that cause I went into the studio and met Legion of Doom the day after that. I moved in with Legion for about a year and we were making music like all the time.
-As far as new artists, who is really sticking out to you in the game and why?
I gotta say two cause they the only ones I’ve been listening to for about 4 months now, J.I.D. and Denzel Curry. Denzel Curry’s new album ‘Taboo’ is fucking fire and I didn’t hear of him until I heard ‘U.L.P’ for the first time and then I went and listened to the whole ‘Imperial’ album and then ‘Taboo’ just came out not too long ago. I just bought tickets for a show he’s having around here soon actually. J.I.D. became a part of Dreamville a little over a year ago, hella underrated, one of the very few dudes who earned his spot on XXL this year. He’s got bars and tells a good story that helps me open my mind when I get that writers block every now and again.
-What made you decide on ‘Beneath The Surface’ as your project title?
I had like 30 songs to pick from when I started conceptualizing the idea for the album. It was meant to be a therapy sessions of getting back in to the depths of my life and things that I’ve been through, why I am the way I am. I made it the length I did so people would want to listen to the entire thing. It talks about me growing up in South Carolina, all the morals I was around. It goes in depth with songs like ‘Therapy’ where I talk about the relationship with my dad and his divorce with my step mom. Some of it is very metaphorical but if you know the person behind the music you can make out what I’m saying. On the front cover you can see me standing on the top of that ice berg, you only see the reflection and what’s against the water though but when you flip to the back cover the ice berg underneath is a symbol of what inside. Atari Maro did the cover art, he does all of our cover art including his own. I’m proud of it.
-What do you think about the Hip Hop scene in Phoenix right now?
I think, personally, that a lot of the people who are complaining about the scene and aren’t seeing the profit from it are the ones who aren’t out there doing anything for it or aren’t doing it as they should. It’s not hard to sell tickets if you’re okay with going out to talk and network with people. I can be anti social at times, I admit, sometimes I don’t want to be around and do all the extras just to get the tickets out but you’re making money from it, you’re getting your name out there more, you’re meeting new people in the process. That’s just you building and fan base and a network. Your network is your net worth, that’s a big thing to remember. Essentially, help each other out. You can’t expect someone to know everything if they don’t have anyone to learn from, we need more unity and I feel like people need to stop trying to get ahead of each other all the time. Not everybody wants their connection to be someone else’s connection, some people are just selfish like that. I want people to make money and good music together, get those visions out and do whatever they gotta do to make it happen. Everybody want to get on the map and be that one person everyone is looking at but nobody wants to work together to get on the map.
-Are there any last minute shout outs you would like throw out there? Shout out Underground Samurai, shout out Godlike Music, shout out Golden Genius Entertainment, shout
out SC 843, 813, 803, Truminatti, Eddie Wells, I.D. Salty Brazi, Lamar Crushin, shout out Dre Tru doing big things, shout big homie Jay, Legion of Doom Beats now known as 1200 RunWay, shout out Mirror Men, shout out the whole AZ scene, Respect The Underground, Regenerate, Bag of Tricks Cat, Mega Ran, Tommy Will, if you out here making music keep it up cause we gonna get there!