Discovering the Relevance of Words
Wordsworth is a veteran of the underground hip hop scene. He hails from Brooklyn, New York, and is a graduate of State University of New York College at Old Westbury. He made a name for himself with the Lyricist Lounge Show, a hip hop sketch comedy show on MTV that featured mainstream rappers of the time. He was most known for his freestyle skills, which he featured at the end of every episode.
TPQ: What are your earliest memories as a reader? Were there books that you remember being read as a child?
Wordsworth: I don’t remember many books from my youth but when I got older I was really into the Donald Goines collection.
TPQ: Was there a favorite reading moment? Maybe a light bulb moment where you realized that you were reading a text that would define your life?
Wordsworth: Yeah when I was in college I had a text-book in Creative writing and it told me some keys to become a better artist and writer. I was sitting in my dorm suite to get some silence and it was possibly the only book I took interest to in college.
TPQ: Do you remember your first lyrics? How old were you when you started writing?
Wordsworth: Yeah, they were, “I’m the principal, my rhymes are sounding all sensible, my rhymes are edible, incredible, invincible.” You can tell i was just trying to use big words. I believe I was in 5th grade then.
TPQ: When did you begin to develop the style upon which you’d build your career?
Wordsworth: I didn’t really know until I gradually grew older, because at certain stages just bragging was cool. When I got older I knew issues involving life experience whether good or bad was more important. I would say high school transitioning to college years were most important.
TPQ: Who were the lyricists that most influenced you when you were starting out? What was it about their work that made them an influence?
Wordsworth: I was influenced by Big Daddy Kane, Krs-One, Masta Ace, Kool G Rap, L.L., Ice Cube, Busta Rhymes, Run-DMC, and A Tribe called Quest. Those are just a few that showed me and instilled in me diversity, because I felt represented by each in different moods and modes of my life.
TPQ: How has the culture of hip-hop changed over the now 20+ years you’ve been in the game? Is it a good change, or a bad change?
Wordsworth: It’s a good change because you don’t need to get a label meeting necessarily. You can build your own buzz and work from home and let the labels chase you. You can put music out tomorrow and not wait for it to be signed off on.
TPQ: Pigeon John told me that, to paraphrase, he feels as if 2chainz is the new Bob Dylan – the new voice of the people. How would you respond to that?
Wordsworth: I don’t know about that, but he is a voice that represents mutual thoughts of people. We all are in some way, the weirdest ideas you may have people or someone will agree with you.
TPQ: Would you consider rap lyrics to be the new Poetry? Why or why not?
Wordsworth: I wouldn’t consider it new poetry, just an extension of poetry. Because some poets can rap their poems on beat.
TPQ: As the media visibility of rappers continues to grow, how do you feel that has changed the approach to writing?
Wordsworth: Well, it allows you think about the video while writing the song because you know you have the accessibility to film. You can use your phone, camera, or whatever device you have.
TPQ: Do rappers need to write more mainstream lyrics because they are in the spotlight, or are they still able to write conscious hip-hop, and gain notice?
Wordsworth: No you don’t have too. You can write what you feel, it may be a longer grind but it pays off with longevity for your career.
TPQ: How do you see the hip-hop culture evolving over the next decade?
Wordsworth: More of an independent market, basically work from home and you run everything digitally.
TPQ: You’re known for your incredible ability as a freestyle artist. Can you explain the process of freestyling? How do you come up with your patterns, and thoughts? Do you find it easier than writing your raps?
Wordsworth: I just look at like a conversation, i already know the end of the sentence while I’m speaking so I just start thinking of words that rhyme while I talk. It’s easier than writing because its less pressure to have as powerful content.
TPQ: I’ve been listening to you since the days of Lyricist Lounge. What’s your favorite memory of that series?
Wordsworth: When doing the Snoop Dogg skit, and he was in awe at how good the writing was. Those were my favorite moments because when the artist complimented the rhymes you knew it wasn’t cheesy.
TPQ: Since we are The Poetry Question, I have to ask: What is Poetry?
Wordsworth: Poetry is your perspective of how you see things. It doesn’t have to rhyme, it doesn’t have a certain rhythm, it doesn’t have to be considered poetry by everyone. Poetry is an emotion evoked from anything. The way someone walks, talks, or dance can be poetry.
TPQ: And finally, if you could sit down for a drink with one emcee, artist, author, dead or alive, who would it be, why, and what would you drink?
Wordsworth: It would be Curtis Mayfield to talk about the soul in his music. We’d drink champagne to toast to great music.
Here’s the Snoop Dogg skit from Lyricist Lounge:
Here’s the closing Freestyle from Lyricist Lounge with Snoop: