Picture, if you will, the evolution of the MC. An artist who was born to do it, to revolutionize the Hip-Hop movement. Part of the first generation of Hip-Hop, Willie the Kid is that artist. Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, his is not the typical “rapper’s tale,” though it bears many similarities. Two hours West and East of Detroit and Chicago respectively, West Michigan didn’t have much to offer in the early 1980s. With no outlets for the youth, the drug game started to look like the only alternative.
Yet rather than fall prey to the streets, Willie The Kid uses the bleak landscape of his childhood stomping grounds as inspiration for his lyrics and motivation for his career. The son of a DJ who was down with the culture from its onset, Willie grew up in a home where Hip-Hop was the ideology of choice. “We never got in trouble for throwing footballs in the house, we got in trouble for scratching records, or playing a rap record and saying the cuss words.” Around the age of 12, as his brother, La The Darkman, got his industry break through a deal with Wu Tang, Willie the Kid got his first notebook and truly started writing. This happened during the late 1980s, early 1990s, to which he refers as the “Golden Age” of Hip-Hop, a time during which the music was at its purest form. Willie the Kid is a true writer, a story teller who’s vivid descriptions put his listeners in a zone, walking with him through the experiences of his life.
Now a graduate of Clark Atlanta University, Willie the Kid has undergone the second phase of the artist’s evolution: understanding the music industry. He sees this as the time to set the music industry on its ear. “Hip-Hop is a beverage of choice for a thirsty people,” says the young street prophet. The status quo, as he sees it, offers to quench that thirst with no more than tap water. Willie the Kid heralds a return to quality, something which he believes begins with allowing artists to express their own voices. With the support of his Atlanta-based Aphilliates Crew, Willie the Kid currently bypasses several of the “outside forces” that try to stifle the creativity of artists by releasing his music independently, something which he has done since his college days with fellow Aphilliates member DJ Don Cannon. He continues to flood the streets with heat on mixtapes across the country.
In addition to reclaiming artistic rights, Willie the Kid feels now is the time for Hip-Hop culture to return to the communities. This comes from a belief that artists, and the Hip-Hop culture at large, must now accept the responsibility long left vacant by the civil rights leaders and revolutionaries of the 1960s and ‘70s. “With all the attention you get, all the stardom, all the influence and power you have as an artist,” he says, “you’re being selfish not to turn it around and make something for your people. Even if it’s just something small.” Cuz they definitely looking at rappers and people on TV right now, the same way they looked at Marcus Garvey and Malcom X. It’s the same responsibility; it’s just a shift in who it goes to.” The revolution is here: Pay Attention!