With his clever wordplay and impressive ability to spontaneously kick a freestyle verse better than most rappers could after days spent dawdling with a pen and a pad, Flatbush bred Wordsworth has long been considered one of underground Hip-Hop’s best emcees. But oddly enough it’s been nearly a decade, with no album, since he made a name for himself with partner Punchline after showcasing their talents on The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito radio show. Besides his skills earning him countless featuring credits, Words also parlayed his talents into TV writing gigs (The Lyricist Lounge Show), acting (Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme), and various other activities to legally hustle a check.
Opportunity knocks but so often and Words is finally set to drop his long anticipated solo outing, Mirror Music, in September. AllHipHop.com caught up with Words to in turn help y’all play catch up.
AllHipHop.com: How long you been working on Mirror Music?
Wordsworth: Over a year, man. A year and half (of) just trying figure out where I wanted to go with the music [and] getting my song writing abilities top notch to bring people into my world.
AllHipHop.com: I can’t front, I thought it would be a lot of freestyle type rhymes but you have a lot of substance in there.
Wordsworth: Yeah, I've been doing that for a minute. If you follow what I do, I've done a lot of story rhyming on a lot of these underground singles that came out. I might tell a humorous narrative. I try to give a perspective that people ain't necessarily get from the other rappers that I rhyme with. I've done stories on Disposable Arts with [Masta] Ace and different joints. If you follow what I'm going, it ain't too new to you.
AllHipHop.com: Right, like that “Backstage” song on the 7 Heads R Better Than 1 joint. Weren’t you affiliated with 7 Heads for a minute?
Wordsworth: I was actually seeking management at one point and they had me on tour with J-Live. So I was rolling with J-Live on tour for mad shows. I was about to sign with them and at that moment things didn't go down that way and we just kind of went separate ways. But I still support things that they need me to support with them and vice versa.
AllHipHop.com: So you signed with Halftooth Records instead?
Wordsworth: Right, I actually met Halftooth inside the 7 Heads office. I was just sitting in their chillin'. Dave Schrager came in the office fixing a correction for Oddisee's name. And I was like, “Yo, you signing cats?” He was like “Yeah.” I was like “I'm Wordsworth, I want play you some music.” I played some music like a week or two later and next thing you know, we was in negotiations.
AllHipHop.com: I remember hearing y’all on the Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito’s radio show back in the day, was that the first time you got any serious light?
Words: That was it. Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito. It was me, Punch and Red Hot Lover Tone. That right there definitely helped set up a lot of things. People heard those tapes and was like, “Yo, you gotta hear these kids” and the tapes circulated and that actually helped spawn the Lyricist Lounge exposure and getting on the album and just a lot of notoriety. Stretch & Bob was the place to go at that certain time if you wanted to be known anywhere.
AllHipHop.com: How did y’all get onto the radio show?
Words: It was Red Hot Lover Tone's time to go up there to promote his album and he brought me and Punch. We was rockin' with Tone and Poke, Trackmasters, working on some music at the time and it was Tone's night to go up there and rock it. So he just was like “Roll with me up there” and the rests is history.
AllHipHop.com: He’s on your album (“Not Fair”) so is it safe to say you and Punch are still cool?
Words: Yeah, that's basically what that's about. I wanted to establish that we still was cool. Plus I just felt it was mandatory. It wouldn't have been a great first album for me without son on it. Cause everybody would have been expecting that and wanting that one record.
AllHipHop: I got word that Masta Ace is trying to get Punch & Words on M3 Records, true?
Words: Yeah. It might happen, brother. I know we're thinking about doing maybe a group together, all of us.
AllHipHop.com: A group as you two and Ace?
Words: Me, Ace, Punch and Strick. That's something we been talking about so ya know, that's more coming into play actually. That's where we at right now.
AllHipHop.com: Now the A Tribe Called Quest joint “Rock Rock Y’all” from The Love Movement, how did that happen?
Words: We were doing a Lyricist Lounge event. Actually that night Q-Tip hosted because I think Biz Markie didn't show up. Me and Punch did our thing and Q-Tip called the next day like, “Who was those kids? I want to work with them.” We were actually supposed to be the beginning of part of the crew with me, Punch, Jane Doe, Mos Def and Consequence, all of us. All of us was supposed to be the crew to set off that record label he was supposed to have on Dreamworks. That was going to lead to it and that' s how it all came about. It was definitely a plan to it [but it never worked out].
AllHipHop.com: Looking back at all the records you have appeared on what are some of your favorites?
Words: Definitely gotta say “Twice Inna Lifetime” (Mos Def & Talib Kweli Black Star), that's one of my most memorable verses. The song I did with Q-Tip, "Making It Blend," and "Rock Rock Y'all". Those right there stand out to me because of the Q-Tip thing. It was dope working in the studio with him, ‘cause every time. I've been around people that I've also learned from, some of the people that are veterans.
AllHipHop.com: What's next on your plate?
Words: I got this ESPN commercial I just did today. It's got some humor to it. I'm trying to get into the acting thing, but I don't want people to think I bolted on them from the music because that's what got me everything else. I'm trying to work on this screenplay that I got based on my college experience. And also just try to get on some tours and just promote more and work on Wordwide, work on my label situation.
AllHipHop.com: So how did you get your name?
Words: I got it from watching “Heathcliff.” I used to be that cat that always used to have a Walkman on in High School; walking and I was rhyming. I wouldn't even say, “What's up.” I'd give you the head nod and even in college I'd do the same thing. Walk, get the head nod, what up, keep rhyming. I was like Yo, that's me right there and it had some meaning too. When I got to college all the professors thought I got it from the poet. A lot of people still think that but nah, it's cartoons.
AllHipHop.com: What college did you get your degree in English Language & Literature from?
Words: I went to SUNY-Old Westbury in Long Island, NY. I was there from ‘95 to ‘98.
AllHipHop.com: Was it tough going to school full time and rhyming full time as well?
Words: Nah, cause in college I wrote my papers in rhyme.
AllHipHop.com: Did you hold down any 9 to 5’s as well?
Words: The last job I had was in 2000 in the World Trade Center. I couldn’t handle doing studio and doing the job so I had to give up the job thing.
AllHipHop.com: What were you doing?
Words: I was writing for HBO. I did a pilot with Rosie Perez, she was going to have her own talk show, sort of like Chris Rock; I was the writer for that. I did the Prince Paul Dexter's Laboratory: The Hip-hop Experiment CD. Last year, I was working on a production team with Claude Brooks and the RZA for a show for Viacom. I learned so much other things that I didn't have to force putting out records.
AllHipHop.com: Was the Lyricist Lounge television show always going to be a sketch comedy show?
Words: It started as a cypher. I was in a room rhyming with emcees and it got caught on tape. I'm in the camera teaching dudes how to write rhymes at home and dudes in the room start raising their hands, so I started answering them in rhyme. From me answering them in rhyme, it was supposed to be a show based off of that type of thing, back and forth doing different types of sketches rhyming. We didn't think it was going to be some regular sketch comedy with regular sketches in their about random stuff. We was thinking it was going to be all Rap based.
AllHipHop.com: You’ve been in the game realistically for close to ten years, it’s hard to believe this will be your first album.
Words: Yeah man, and a lot of people go, “Yo, why ain't you come out after the Lyricist Lounge Show?” But if I'da came out after that I don't know if I'd be here right now. I think I had to do a lot of learning after doing the show. I didn't want to follow the hype and wave of it just cause I was in the show I could get in the game and make money, put out an album and all of that. I think I had to grow mentally and be more mature with what I was talking about musically. I might have cheated the audience if I came out then cause I was known. But this time around I took my time. I felt like I took time to make something with quality.
AllHipHop.com: What’s going to make Mirror Music a success?
Words: I figure it's going to do well sales-wise. But I also think it's something people are going to catch on to late. It might be a thing where brothers be like "You ain't never hear this?" Cause sometimes people don't get on to you until the second album. People are definitely going to be able to say this dude can rhyme, make some joints and I feel what he's talking about. We shot a video and everything so I'm thinking the video's going to help a lot. But umm… it depends if the album is in stores the day that it's supposed to be, and it's everywhere, and that people know.