Willie The Kid: Rap’s New Royalty

Aphilliates Music Group’s flagship artist, Willie The Kid is far from another run of the mill artist that is rapping as an alternative to say a street hustle or deflated hoop dreams. Since the first grade Willie has been exercising his penchant for writing and rhyming, performing at school talent shows and writing movie scripts. After gaining acceptance to Clark-Atlanta University, he departed from his crime-laden hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, known by most residents as “Gun Rule”. At Clark he linked with DJ Don Cannon and DJ Drama and accelerated the relentless pursuit of his lifelong goal—becoming “the future” of the rap game. Soon after, he appeared on all of Don Cannon’s mixtapes, as well as DJ Drama’s, and continues to make appearances on all of the acclaimed duo’s releases. But for those who’ve developed the misconception that the Picasso painting MC got a free ride under the armpits of Cannon and Drama, they’re sadly mistaken. Although it’s taken a little time to reach the top of the ladder, including a minor setback caused by a F.B.I. raid of the AMG offices in January 2007, the “Crown Prince” remains extremely content about building his castle using one grain of sand at a time. Dropping Absolute Greatness on September 30, pay attention now.AllHipHop.com: What’s been good with you Willie?Willie The Kid: As you know I'm signed with DJs Drama, Cannon and Sense's label Aphilliates Music Group (AMG) which my brother LA The Darkman is President of. Since Dram released Gangsta Grillz in November, we've hit everywhere from Connecticut, Hawaii, Jamaica, Toronto, Amsterdam, Tokyo and everywhere in between. I'm dropping a mixtape September 30, on Asylum Records as a pre-album. I'm really excited about it. It's called Absolute Greatness. We're gonna be shooting the video for the first single called "Love For Money" towards the end of September. The single features Trey Songz, La The Darkman, Gucci Mane, Yung Joc and Bun B. Right now, I'm trying to be the best artist I can be. AllHipHop.com: What’s been going on besides the music?Willie The Kid: I’m trying to focus beyond all of the cliché rapper s**t in the bag. I’ve been writing movie scripts since I was a little kid. I got about three of those done right now. We have a clothing line, some reality show offers, but I don’t think about that. That’s what all the rappers do. We’ve been doing all of that. I took fashion design in high school. I’ve been drawing and designing.

Thang Back - Willie The KidAllHipHop.com: You’ve been referring to yourself as the Crown Prince for a while now. How did that moniker come about?Willie The Kid: I’ve always been like royalty, with my family in Atlanta, my family in The Ru [Grand Rapids, Michigan]. Everywhere I go, that’s the role I always play. I’ve always been more like a prince, and not at all a court jester. A lot n***as screaming that prince s**t now, so I’m about to let it go though. They can have it. AllHipHop.com: What’s the difference between living in Grand Rapids and Atlanta?Willie The Kid: I love The Rule. It’s home, but it’s totally different. In The Rule there aren’t that many opportunities there. You can be rapping all you want and it doesn’t really mean anything. The exposure to the mainstream is far and few in between. When I came to Atlanta it was becoming a hub for music. If I was still at home I’d be the nicest n***a in the hood. It’s like being an “And 1” n***a. I would just be a hood celebrity. I’m gonna be that regardless.

Driven - Willie The KidAllHipHop.com: A lot of industry notables have been referring to you in extremely high regard. Late last year I interviewed another Grand Rapids, Michigan Native, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., for Allhiphop.com. He said that if he had to name one of the nicest rappers in the game that it had to be you. How do you feel about that?Willie The Kid: Floyd is my cousin through marriage. His family and mine have been linked together since I was a baby. I knew Floyd knew about my music, but I didn’t expect him to go to the mainstream and talk about it. That was a good look! Actually, I didn’t expect a co-sign from him. It feels good when somebody of his status does that. I don’t think he’s saying it because he’s family. I believe he’s honestly paying homage to what’s obvious. AllHipHop.com: What role did your brother LA The Darkman play in your career? Willie The Kid: He’s been my manager for life, even beyond music. He started working on his album, Heist Of The Century, in ’96 and released it in ‘98. He sold nearly 300,000 copies independently. He was rolling with Wu-Tang. I was observing and consuming the inner-workings of all of that stuff back then. My s**t goes back further than the Gangsta Grillz mixtapes. It’s similar to being raised in the dojo, so don’t be surprised if I got a black belt.

“We used to rap in [Don Cannon's] closet and [Drama’s] bathroom. We used a sock as a mic filter and had a [Boss] BR-8 4-track board—no Pro Tools. I used carry the crates for Cannon and Dram because I was underage and I needed to get in the club early to avoid getting hassled.”

AllHipHop.com: What was your experience like at Clark-Atlanta University?Willie The Kid: I got a degree in Mass Communications. I did most of my pre-courses in high school, so by the time I got to college I was almost done. I only had to do two years. The people I met there made it more valuable than anything. Had I not been there I wouldn’t have met Don Cannon and Drama. That’s who I came into the game with. We used to rap in Don’s closet and Dram’s bathroom. We used a sock as a mic filter and had a [Boss] BR-8 4-track board—no Pro Tools. I used carry the crates for Cannon and Dram because I was underage and I needed to get in the club early to avoid getting hassled at the door. As you can see we’ve been grinding together for a minute!DJ Drama ft. Nelly, T.I., Diddy, Yung Joc, Willie the Kid, Young Jeezy & Twista "5000 Ones" Video

AllHipHop.com: Not too long ago, there was a little back and forth on wax between you and Lil Wayne. What’s that really about?Willie The Kid: That s**t ain’t nothing! It has to do with the situation that happened when Dram got raided. There was a lot of tension in the air. I ain’t the type of n***a that feels like he has to go the beef route to make a name for his self. I ain’t on it like that. I was in the studio making my record and I said what I said, and I meant what I said. That wasn’t a plan for me to market myself or create an on-going beef with Lil Wayne. I see them n***as all the time—no real beef! If it is real beef, holla at me when you see me--and that’s just that.

“I’m building my s**t thoroughly from the ground up. I don’t want to make one big Hip-Hop cross over song and be here today and gone tomorrow.”

AllHipHop.com: Speaking of the raid, did that have anything to do with your album getting pushed back? Willie The Kid: The raid happened January 16, ’07. My album wasn’t supposed to come out in until after Dram’s album dropped. They took my album in the raid; they took the hard drive with all of the masters. They tore this whole studio and made holes in the walls and ceilings. They were looking for guns and drugs, so they went extra hard. They set us back, shredded our s**t to shambles. But we rebuilt everything, new furniture, TV, equipment, new cars, new money—everything is new. We put my album back together, put Dram’s album back together, and we’re working on LA’s album. We’re stronger than ever. AllHipHop.com: How do you feel about the approach that you guys are taking in getting you out there? Willie The Kid: I’ll tell you one thing, and I’m proud of this--I’m building my s**t thoroughly from the ground up. I don’t want to make one big Hip-Hop cross over song and be here today and gone tomorrow. People are fickle. They love you today and hate you tomorrow, forget about who you were the next day. It may take longer, but it’ll be much stronger. Like the story with the twigs, the sticks and the bricks. When the n***a came to blow the cribs down,the n***a with the bricks didn’t get touched and he was still standing. Anybody who said they heard Willie The Kid and La The Darkman loves us. We’re happy that we’re taking the careful, strategic route.