Willy The Poet is a 23-year old Dutch rapper from Middelburg, a small town in the South of The Netherlands. Since he was 8 years old he had a love for hiphop and the English language, which made him learn English very quickly and quite easily. In his mid teens he started having a preference towards artists like Common, Talib Kweli, Lupe Fiasco, amongst others that were known for their conscious approach towards hiphop. This inspired him to write similar types of lyrics. In the Dutch rap scene, Willy The Poet is kind of a rare commodity, there aren’t very much English rapping MCs that also focus on being lyrical and telling a story in their raps as well that are getting attention, even on a regional level. In 2014 he put out his first mixtape called ‘Food For Thought: All You Can Eat’, with a lot of different styles and a lot of different beatmakers. A video was released for the song ‘I Swear To God’, a bass heavy motivational song. After that Willy The Poet started performing more, and working on really making a signature sound for himself and spreading a message of peace and positivity to the people. This resulted in his new EP ‘Soul Searching’, a soul based 5 songs produced by I75 Beatz and Cash Money Records producing team The Avengerz. A video has been shot for ‘Diamond Mind’ which features Brazilian singer Marina Ramalho and has been produced by I75 Beatz. A video is also soon to be released for the happy summer anthem ‘Gonna Be Alright’ produced by The Avengerz. A new project is already in the making, a new mixtape, by the name ‘The Slim Reaper’ is scheduled to be released in December 2015.
1. So what’s good Willy? How did you come up with your name?
I’m doing great thanks, Willy The Poet wasn’t my initial name, I called myself Big Will since I’m standing about 6’10’’, but that name was too connected with Will Smith in my opinion, so I had to change it, I dabbled with some different names, but one time I thought to myself, what would best describe me to an outsider that hasn’t heard of me or my music, and that came out of it.
2. Wow you’re tall! If music doesn’t work out try out for the Knicks (laughs). We have heard of a lot of artists from Europe, but none of them ever really branded The Netherlands yet. So for those of us that don’t know how would you describe your city and the hiphop scene out there?
Well, the whole country of The Netherlands is in total about the size of Rhode Island, so it’s a small country, I live in a province called Zeeland in the southwest in the capital of the province. We have some rappers here, most of them are ‘hometown heroes’ so to speak, not very much known outside the province. The guys that flourish usually rap in Dutch or make a little bit more crossover since people here overall prefer other genres of music, as rapper at a gig here you’re directly an underdog. We have a small underground scene with some intelligent English raps as well, if you’re curious look up Melph & Mr. Morbid or Ill Proceeja, both are from my hometown of Middelburg, and of course look my shit up hahaha.
3. We know from your influences that you love those songs that mean something, that have that substance. Your “I Swear To God” video and song was dope. It had a nice airy beat that you really vented on. Being that was the first video from your mixtape, “Food For Thought: All You Can Eat”, we take it that was the visual you wanted people to see for the first time. What was it about that record that you felt was the most important to be your debut?
Well, I got the opportunity to record that video some time ago, and to me it was, with what song can I grab the attention of the people, and show my lyrical ability, show that I’m different than most rappers where I’m from. I’ve been performing that song for a while, and at the shows it always got love, even from people that usually weren’t that into hip hop. Sometimes I perform an alternative version with me and my man Marley on an acoustic guitar, makes it a whole different song.
4. Your sound fuses a Blues type of feel and HipHop together. What is it about meshing the two that brings your artistry to life?
I’ve got a laid back delivery, which fits quite well together with those type of beats. I also think that’s kind of my father’s influence, he used to be in a band that made blues rock type music, and that kind of music I got raised on, so I think that’s the biggest reason why. Also there’s the fact that I like to tell stories in my songs, and blues type songs are tailor made for that type of writing in my eyes, combined with my type of flow, makes it sound like how I like my music to sound.
Check out WTP here- https://soundcloud.com/willythepoet/sets/soul-searching
5. We know you have a new mixtape called “The Slim Reaper” on the way. From the title we take it this project might show a darker side of WTP? If not, please let us know what’s next from you.
It is indeed a lot darker than both ‘Soul Searching’ and ‘Food For Thought: All You Can Eat’. I’m always pushing the message of love and positivity, but I do know that’s not always what’s really happening, for the upcoming project I really got introspective and got in touch with my dark side a little, it’s also going to be a lot more raw than the first two projects. It will still have a message as always, I can’t NOT do that, even if I try.
6. Outside of music what is a typical day like for Willy The Poet?
Well I’m in college, so that takes up a pretty big chunk, also like I said before I’m 6’10’’ so I like to play basketball, not in college but for fun. I also have a weekend job to finance my study. Outside of music that’s everything, I really am a hiphop nerd, I love digging in the crates at stores that are similar to what Americans call pawn shops, and got a nice vinyl collection going, next to that I spend every minute I can on music and improving my craft both in recording as learning new ways to entertain the audience on stage. I also study the game right now and even if I don’t like the artist I just observe what they do that got them popping and learn from that?
7. On “Diamond Mine” you went pretty deep man. You spit “My mind wins the battle of the heart/ because when my heart makes decisions pain is not far”. What type of real life events happened that made your lyrics an open book into Willy The Poet??
I’ve been bullied from since I was a little kid until I was a junior in high school, and there have been so many times I’ve put my love and trust into the wrong people, people that betrayed me and stabbed me in the back just for the approval of other people. I also mean to say by that line that I am very calculated when it comes to approaching and trusting people, which can work in my disadvantage some times, but to me that’s the only way I know that I can trust you, like they say, keep your circle small.
8. Aghhhh we saw you grow the beard out. New look for Willy The Poet?
Haha, no, I’ve got a new video coming out in not very long for ‘Gonna Be Alright’, and if you’ll watch that, or look on my social media you can see I have shaved it off, I was kind of going for that Action Bronson type beard, but it started bothering me a bit, with eating in particular.
9. Who are your top 5 favorite rappers of all time?
Wow, that’s tough, they’re not in chronological order, but to me it’s Rakim due to his complexity flow wise, Nas because he was the first hip hop artist I listened to. Common because of his lyrical content and his vision. Eminem for slamming the door open for white people to rap and also show that we can contribute something to this genre. And a guy named Extince, who is basically the godfather of the Dutch rap, and was the first Dutch rapper to get a song on national radio.
10. After listening to you for a while we heard a lot of deep lyrics. Does the modern day hiphop bother you as of late? If so, what do you feel is lacking?
Not as much hip hop as a whole, as much as the mainstream, I like Kendrick Lamar for being able to achieve this much success while actually trying to tell and teach us something, but to me hiphop isn’t bad, you just got to know where to look. Mainstream hiphop nowadays is horrible, it mostly exists out of singers that can’t really sing that are trying to sing even though they can’t, people like Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, Fetty Wap that kind of BS. I can’t really blame the rappers for that though, I blame the audience for letting that shit shine, if lyrics would matter then people like Talib Kweli, Aesop Rock or Blueprint would win the Grammys every year. I’d love it if we get more music that motivates people to do something with their lives to shine instead of wanting to turn up every night and destroy a billion brain cells while listening to ‘Trap Queen’.
11. When listening to your debut mixtape we noticed a lot of passion in it and a lot of substance. By the way “Be Mine” is dope too! How would you describe your mixtape “Food For Thought: All You Can Eat” to our readers who never heard it yet?
Thank you, I’d say it’s a diverse collection of lyrical songs with a message in it, there are blues type songs in there, some love songs, some songs with that 808 on a level that you can bounce to it in your car while still having some good content in there as well. I got some features on there from other Dutch MCs that rap in English, check them out too. If you like it don’t forget to check out ‘Soul Searching’ as well, I’ve improved since then so check that out as well. You want lyrical music that will help you through your day, I got that for you!
12. It was great chopping it up with you. The floor is yours. Feel free to leave any shout outs, links to your music, etc.
Aight, thank you very much, I’d like to give a shout out to Wouter van Hees, who’s been mixing and recording me since day one, thanks homie, my family for supporting what I dreamed off no matter what, and my father (R.I.P.) for musically raising me. Also to my friends and fans, thank you for supporting me, be on the look out for the ‘Slim Reaper’ mixtape coming out around new year. Like me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/willytpmusic, follow me on soundcloud: soundcloud.com/willythepoet, and last but not least thanks to Tha Advocate for making this possible.