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Willie Joe: For the Love of the Game

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The Hyphy movement has revitalized the

careers of E-40, Keak Da Sneak, and Too $hort. It has also continued to

add more concrete to the foundation that Lil’ Jon built in Georgia and

has managed to pull some of the attention away from the South.

But before the craze, there was Willie Joe.

The

22-year-old Vallejo native had been trying to cultivate a career in rap

since he was in High School. Having made mixtapes for friends and

classmates, Joe, who used money from a part-time job to fuel his

burgeoning career, made believers out of all them. As he grew older and

continued to cultivate a path, a life-altering moment occurred. A

shooting at a party woke the young emcee up and prompted his quick

relocation to Atlanta, Georgia. With no money, no place to stay, and a

burning pit in his stomach, Joe got a job working at the airport and,

as they say, the rest is history.

The California native, who has won a handful of showcases, is enjoying the success of“Get Em, Got Em”

as it burns all over Atlanta radio stations. The humble emcee talks

shop with AllHipHop.com as he talks about the inspiration behind his

move to Atlanta, why he really never left the Bay, and why the game is

bad.

AllHipHop: On the song, “Get Em, Got Em,”you spit, Name is Willie Joe, pimpin’ don’t get me confused with/Any other dude in the game who do music.

Yet, your sound is similar to Big Boi and has a little bit of Ray Cash

intonation. What is there about you that stood out compared to anyone

else in the business?

Willie

Joe: I think that the one obvious thing is that I’m Willie Joe, and

they’re not. The music that I make is pure Wata Boyz music. I’m from

the Bay and I don’t sound like anyone that is from there. But, if you

look at my swag and how I carry myself, it is reminiscent of the greats

from the Bay. I can sit here all day and explain why I’m different and

why people should notice me in the game. But really, all cats should do

is just be like Puffy and ‘press play’ to hear what I’m talking about.

AllHipHop:

But I think the masses are calling for something new. Not the same

materialistic, thug life mentality music that you hear all day on BET

or on the radio. So, as a relatively new artist in the game – how do

you think you’ll be able to counteract visiting the same content that

other’s have and deliver something fresh?

Willie

Joe: Something that I learn through doing this music is to get their

attention. It is one thing to have something and another thing to

actual deliver it. I believe that you have to, first, give them what

they want to get their attention and then give them what they need. You

have to understand, I’m still in my 20’s. I like to go to the club,

smoke weed, hang out with girls, and whatnot. But I am so passionate

about what I do that I can’t be denied and want to be up there like

some of the legends who represent where I’m from. I’m about putting my

city on the map. I can talk about how I sold crack to talking about how

a family member of mines ended up doing crack. I spit about

materialistic things, but I give you something to listen to, as well.

AllHipHop: Being from Vallejo, California, you have a song called “Get Hyphy,”yet you moved from the Bay Area to Atlanta. Why move when the Hyphy movement is tied into the Bay?

Willie

Joe: That’s something that people don’t know. When I moved, the Hyphy

movement wasn’t popping. No one in the Bay was getting any deals. It

wasn’t until I moved when the movement started poppin’ off. I feel like

I’m still a part of the movement. But I’m also in charge of my own

movement, as well. Take a look at things. E-40 hooked up with Lil’ Jon

and that propelled the Hyphy movement into the limelight. I feel like I

had to go somewhere to make my situation bigger. So, there were a lot

of people from the outside looking in think, “Why did I leave while the

Bay is poppin’?” I left before then.

AllHipHop:

But you don’t think that maybe your sound will resonate more thoroughly

because ATL is what’s hot right now? Plus, Don P. [Bay Area MC] is your

cousin. So, his knowledge of business in the ‘A’ is probably more

valuable there than in California, right?

Willie

Joe: Don P. is a legendary local artist from the Bay. He made a lot of

noise back in the day. He allowed me to get my voice out there. I

learned from him no matter what, believe in your self and believe in

God. He told me to don’t care about what people have to say, especially

if you’re doing something different. A lot of people from the Bay

thought that the South wasn’t going to feel a young guy from there. But

if you believe it in your heart, then you go at it a hundred miles and

running.

AllHipHop:

The South has been bubbling for the past few years now. Was the move to

Atlanta a more strategic move if anything to get more radio and video

play?

Willie

Joe: Yeah, it was. But at the same time it was a strategic move for me

personally. I’ve been in the Bay my entire life. I had a lot of friends

where negative things tend to happen. A friend of one my homies had got

into a fight with a dude inside of a house party. He came out and

greeted us as if nothing had happened. But what happened was the dude

who he was fighting with, came out with a piece and started spraying

out. It was just a case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

A bullet hit my leg and my man was hit in the back. After that the next

day, I was in Atlanta, GA. I didn’t know anybody. I had no money, so I

got a job at the airport, used the money to press up the mixtape and

kept grinding consistently.

AllHipHop: How is your man’s?

Willie

Joe: He’s alright. He’s a part of the movement now. Right now, the Wata

Boyz are on deck and they’re in the Bay. It was an alarm for me and the

whole squad. It made us stronger and we learned more about business to

apply it to the company and our foundation as a whole. I really want

people to know that we’re the new guys out.

AllHipHop: On the song, “Watch Out,” you say, No industry connections, no friends in the game/Just a hot click, a dream, with a third degree flame. Could you talk about how you got your exposure?

Willie

Joe: Ah, I see you doing your research. I had won a contest that really

propelled me out into the front. It was the same spot where Yung Joc

got discovered at. I won the showcase twice. I’m the only one to do it,

ever. The prize was to get a song on the radio station. It was a on HOT

107.9 in Atlanta. Other personalities started playing it and it really

took off. Right now, we’re in negotiations with Warner Brothers. “The

Free Agent” is my newest mixtape, that I’m about to put out. I’m not

signed to them, so I feel like, “Let the bidding war begin!” This

mixtape is going to put a lot of people on blast about me. Personally,

I want people to follow me on my journey. I want people to know where I

came from. I want to be different and show a work ethic, instead of

just poppin’ up and have everything. That’s why I named the album The Come-Up. I want people to get motivated to do whatever they want and grind hard for it. The album is like a reality series on audio.

AllHipHop: E-40 is known as the originator of most of the slang that is in Hip-Hop. So, what was does “yadda” mean?

Willie

Joe: In the Bay Area that is one of the things that we’re known for.

There’s that and we have the independent grind. That’s why no matter

what… people know that I’m from the Bay. From the slang that we spit to

the way that I grind my shit, I am not trying to fade into the

background. Yadda means – ‘you know what I mean’.

AllHipHop:

This past December, you won Atlanta’s renowned “Almost Famous”

showcase. In front of veteran music industry professionals, you came

out on top. What do you think they saw in you that the rest of the

mainstream public has yet to find out?

Willie

Joe: That was a big showcase where all the up-and-coming artists get

judged. All the people there were on the grind. I came on stage and

just did me with no hype man and won. I think they saw, not only the

confidence, but I believe that they saw the passion. Right now, the

game is so crazy because the people are doing it because other people

are doing it. Also, you have a majority of people doing it for the

money. It’s rare that you find someone who is doing it for the love. I

have the love for the game. It’s natural for me. I didn’t have to learn

how to rap.

AllHipHop:

With opinions about the state of Hip-Hop music more or less negative –

in your opinion, does the game need salvaging? What can we do to

collectively change it?

Willie

Joe: I think that it is bad right now. But, how we should go about

creating change is by everyone doing them. A lot of people are in

people’s ears telling them how they should present themselves. The more

that I find out about the E-40’s, T.I.’s and Kanyé’s I see that they’re

successful from being themselves. If everyone else were to do that,

then we’d be on the step to taking it back to the old days when

originality was key.

AllHipHop: Aside from getting ready to release the album and the mixtape – what do you have in the works?

Willie

Joe: I just came off of a tour with FYE and Face to Face [company]. I

toured the whole Florida area. I did in-stores at all of the FYE’s in

Florida. This coming Saturday, I have this big show in Florida with

Jibbs, Rick Ross, Dre [from Cool & Dre], DJ Khaled, and some

others. I’ll definitely be at the Bay Awards and the BET Hip-Hop Awards

here in Atlanta. We’re [Wata Boyz] just keeping it moving. I have my

own company and working on the artists that are coming out. We’re

trying to make moves. The artists that we have coming out are fire.

With the DVD that comes out with the album, I’m trying to position

myself as the new dude in the Bay. They’re not showing us enough love.

A lot of people don’t really understand the Bay, if they didn’t grow up

with there. I have the same swag, I grew up in the Bay, but I’m doing

it in a different way. We bring the same culture from The Bay, but we

put a twist on it… it’ll be special.

Visit Willie Joe at www.willie joe.com

Myspace page www.myspace.com/williejoe

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