H.W. might be a relatively new name to many of you readers out there. We posted his album A Year’s Worth of Worry for free download when it dropped a few months back. Since then, H.W. has been making some noise around the New England scene, but the truth is, he is a true underground veteran. Sure there are some bigger names around, but what is hip-hop culture without its hidden underground culture?
Though he may not be the most optimistic emcee around, H.W. has some interesting insights and perspectives on hip-hop that are not always shared. Hit the skip to check out H.W.’s thoughts on the New England hip-hop scene, being depressed, and leaving college to become a rapper.
PIMB: Take a second to introduce yourself. How did you get into making hip-hop?
H.W.: It’s a funny story actually. I used to be really into 2Pac, Ice-T – all that West Coast stuff – also KRS-One and a lot of punk rock. My dad had built a studio out of the garage, but the garage started decaying so he stopped using it. I went in and started messing around with the KORG keyboard. I made my first beat, which was awful, called “Dying Whale Beat.” I recorded raps over the beat with some friends, but back then it wasn’t serious – it was just rhyming for the fun of rhyming. By 2004 I’d made enough songs to start doing shows. For my first show, I rented a hall and a sound system in Fall River (MA), and a riot broke out after a mosh pit got out of hand.
PIMB: Is there a certain angle with which you approach your music?
H.W.: I never took a specific approach. I just write from what I feel, and I see where my thoughts take me. I have multiple books full of rhymes, and I think they’re really quite good. I’ve always been a sad person. There have been lots of girlfriend problems throughout life; they always broke up or cheated, and I grew narcissistic. As a result my rhymes are all personal. I try to write from my life experiences with a moralistic angle. I don’t advocate random sex with strangers, smoking or drinking. Haha.
PIMB: You recently released your solo album, A Year’s Worth of Worry for free. Tell me a little about that album and the process behind it.
H.W.: That was recorded during the worst year of my life, but in some ways it was the best. I was in and out of relationships, and always busy touring. In fact, it seems like summer is the worst time of year, because whomever I’m with at the time always breaks up with me. The girl I had planned on marrying had cheated on me, so it was rough. There are lots of rhymes about girls on the album, but I was trying to expand my lyrics and experiment with new sounds. A Year’s Worth of Worry was important for me because I was able to release my depression through writing. I feel like I wrote some of my best rhymes on this album.
PIMB: So you think that A Year’s Worth of Worry had your best writing. Do you have a favorite track off of it?
H.W.: “End of the Line” is short, but strong and troubling. It’s not about me, but it’s based on me. “My Happy Song” took me two years to write, but it’s probably my favorite track. I was so miserable at the time, and finally one day a friend of mine just told me to be happy. Somehow it worked, and I was able to finish this song. It makes me smile when I perform it, and fans seem to respond well to it also.
PIMB: What do you think of the New England hip-hop scene?
H.W.: It’s very similar to other local scenes. There are lots of rappers who only care about themselves. I’ve spent most of my time in Boston and Providence, and I like Boston a bit better, but overall there are just so many people who seem to not care [about hip-hop]. I saw promise with [Boston’s] Unit 11 shows, but those are gone now. I don’t see how the scene can progress when people aren’t genuinely supporting one another. It’s stagnant.
PIMB: What’s life been like since becoming a rapper?
H.W.: I threw away everything to be a rapper. It’s hurt more than it’s helped. Well, it’s helped me cope with my own life and emotions, which is why I love it. But I dropped out of college for this. I love hip-hop and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else this seriously, but it is by no means a glamorous life.
PIMB: You mentioned that you’ve got a bunch of projects under your belt. Tip us off to some of the things you’re working on.
H.W.: I just finished up a new solo album titled Wallpaper Exit Wounds, which will be out in late 2010. My group, The Scribblenauts, has its first album coming out soon, although we’re still working on a title. That album will be a lot different than my solo music – it’s not depressing and [producer] Redlist brings a much harder edge. There’s not a song on it that I don’t like, which is rare because I usually hate most of my music.
PIMB: What other projects are you sitting on?
H.W.: Let’s see. I’ve also got an EP with DJ Emoh Betta, and then another EP with Recaall titled When In Rome, Burn The City. Then I’ve got another solo album that is supposed to be put out through Leedz, and that’s got production from Falside, Matty Trump and others. Then I’m also working on a few tracks with Virtue from partyboobytrap on the side.
PIMB: What artists are you currently listening to?
H.W.: A lot of them. Blu, Sene, Shad, Circa Survive, Flying Lotus – I love the new album – Witness, Unsung, Eyedea’s prodigy Kristoff Krane, Ceschi, Sole, Themselves, Fashawn, Skyzoo, B. Dolan, Minus the Bear, and of course Slug – but he’s an all-time classic.
PIMB: Thanks for taking the time to chop it up with us. Do you have any final words for the readers?
H.W.: I’ll be touring the Midwest and Canada this summer with Brzowski and Jesse Dangerously, so be on the lookout! My car might not make it, but we will. Canada shows are crazy; I love it up there. I might also be doing Europe next year. Stay tuned. Peace!