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.
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
AllHipHop: On the song, “Get Em, Got Em,”you spit, Name is Willie Joe, pimpin dont 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?
Joe: I think that the one obvious thing is that Im Willie Joe, and
theyre not. The music that I make is pure Wata Boyz music. Im from
the Bay and I dont 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 Im 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 Im talking about.
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 youll be able to counteract visiting the same content that
others have and deliver something fresh?
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, Im still in my 20s. 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 cant be denied and want to be up there like
some of the legends who represent where Im from. Im 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?
Joe: Thats something that people dont know. When I moved, the Hyphy
movement wasnt popping. No one in the Bay was getting any deals. It
wasnt until I moved when the movement started poppin off. I feel like
Im still a part of the movement. But Im 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.
But you dont think that maybe your sound will resonate more thoroughly
because ATL is whats 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?
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 dont care about what people have to say, especially
if youre doing something different. A lot of people from the Bay
thought that the South wasnt 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
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
Joe: Yeah, it was. But at the same time it was a strategic move for me
personally. Ive 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 didnt 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 mans?
Joe: Hes alright. Hes a part of the movement now. Right now, the Wata
Boyz are on deck and theyre 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 were 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?
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. Im 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, were in negotiations with Warner Brothers. “The
Free Agent” is my newest mixtape, that Im about to put out. Im 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. Thats 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?
Joe: In the Bay Area that is one of the things that were known for.
Theres that and we have the independent grind. Thats why no matter
what people know that Im from the Bay. From the slang that we spit to
the way that I grind my s###, I am not trying to fade into the
background. Yadda means you know what I mean.
This past December, you won Atlantas 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?
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. Its rare that you find someone who is doing it for the love. I
have the love for the game. Its natural for me. I didnt have to learn
how to rap.
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?
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
peoples ears telling them how they should present themselves. The more
that I find out about the E-40s, T.I.s and Kanyés I see that theyre
successful from being themselves. If everyone else were to do that,
then wed 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?
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 FYEs 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. Ill definitely be at the Bay Awards and the BET Hip-Hop Awards
here in Atlanta. Were [Wata Boyz] just keeping it moving. I have my
own company and working on the artists that are coming out. Were
trying to make moves. The artists that we have coming out are fire.
With the DVD that comes out with the album, Im trying to position
myself as the new dude in the Bay. Theyre not showing us enough love.
A lot of people dont really understand the Bay, if they didnt grow up
with there. I have the same swag, I grew up in the Bay, but Im doing
it in a different way. We bring the same culture from The Bay, but we
put a twist on it itll be special.
Visit Willie Joe at www.willie joe.com
Myspace page www.myspace.com/williejoe