A lot of people know D Wiz from his battle involvement. Hosting, participating and generally being the face of Real Talk. After releasing his Baked not Fried EP 4 years back he has been steadily pushing away in the lab working on his debut LP Art Intimidates Life. After such a long period, he was relieved to get it out there and we caught up with him to see how it is all travelling.
So the full length Art Intimidates Life has been out for a little bit now, how you feeling about its reception?
Yeah bro been out a month now. It’s been good man, been receiving plenty of positive feedback. Few texts from people that I’m honoured have taken the time to check it. I was surprised at the amount of interstate peeps checkin for it to be honest, I expected to get a lot of orders from Brissy n maybe a few from elsewhere but Melb n Adl heads have been supporting it strongly too. Can’t complain.
One would think that you would have no trouble getting distro for this album, being well known and having a solid release. Why did you decide to do it full indy?
Man, my impatience will be my downfall. I am the most impatient man on the planet, especially with this release. I felt like I needed to get it out. It had been 4 years since my EP Baked Not Fried had dropped which I already felt wasn’t a reflection of the MC I am by the time it dropped. I actually had Obese distro on the table from speaking to them since I won that Obesecity 2 comp, but was simply in too much of a rush to push it out. By the time Obese were ready to move on the distro I’d already started pre-orders and as a result they couldn’t take it on. My bad, I’m kickin’ myself for it now. Lesson learned haha.
It seemed like a big relief to you to have this out. Is it something you have been working on for a long time and you were happy for it to get out there?
Massive relief man, as I said it had been 4 years since my EP had dropped, I’d been talking about the album for so long. In fact there were vids on youtube from 2012 where I was sayin “album due out mid-late 2012”. During the process though we had to break down and rebuild my bro Strooths studio a few times, relocate a couple times, rerecord every track 56 times haha. Few tracks got cut last minute, couple got added last second, it was a process man, almost a nightmare but we got through it. I can’t stress enough how much Strooth helped me make the album happen. Without him and Gil Goon it definitely still wouldn’t be out.
The album has a lot of personal tales scattered throughout which I think is where it stands out as a progression from Baked Not Fried and I thought it was refreshing to see that side from someone who may have been better known for battle style and punches. Was this a conscious effort to make sure people heard more than just a battle rapper?
Yea bro, I call it my audio-biography. I wanted to use the album as a way to let people know that this is what I’m about, where I’ve come from etc. Forget whatever else ya thought about me. I’m not a battle rapper at all, or at least don’t see myself as that. I’m an MC that also battles. I kinda fell into the role of battle host, I was makin’ tracks years before I ever battled. Came up at that time where ya had to prove ya could freestyle and hold ya own to get respect. I’ll go into it a little more on one of the other Q’s, haha. But nah it wasn’t a conscious effort to do anything really, these are just the type of tracks I like to make, tracks that reflect who I am.
Is this a concept album of sorts, or at least an album of movement from point A to point B? If you get what I mean, haha.
It wasn’t consciously meant to be, but it sorta turned out that way. It’s just the way the album flowed. We kept extending the deadline waiting for a few things to fall into place but eventually came to a point I wasn’t prepared to extend it again so we took the tracks we had at that time n I just came up with the order that felt right to me. I wanted to start the album basically reintroducing myself, then to make my statement in the first few tracks Take What’s Mine, Art Intimidates Life, Style etc then show a bit of diversity with the rest of the album. I definitely wanted the album to feel “complete”. Not just a one dimensional “listen to how good I can rap” type of album.
The flow of the album from track to track is almost a progression in itself. Moving from tale to tale with the odd lyrical flex thrown in. Did you have a solid album layout and idea and write tracks to it or is this how it just turned out?
I didn’t have a solid layout as such, but I knew what I wanted to do with the album. I wanted to cover all my bases. And not in a typical; A weed track, a drinking track, a track about a girl, a track about Brisbane kind of way. But in a way that listeners could get to the end of the album n feel like they knew me a bit better than they did before they’d heard it. That was my goal and I think we covered it pretty well. I’m really not much of a planner hey, I don’t think about rhyme schemes, or structures, or hook first then verses to suit or none of that. I just write and see what comes of it.
I once said that you reminded me of Chris L from Art Of War a bit in your delivery, mainly from In My shoes and Take What’s Mine. Who are your influences and how have they affected your style?
Shit I duno man. I’m not one of these peeps who knows every dope rapper ever or has a deep as fuck understanding of lyricists from every era hey. I was introduced to hip hop from my sister playing Pac, Snoop n shit. Used to listen to a Lot of Eminem as a kid too. When I was 14 or15 I first heard Australian hip hop thanks to Evil Eddie of Butterfingers, who dubbed me a tape with LC, Hilltop, BnE, Hyjak n Torcha, Bias, Muph n Pluto etc on it and I never looked back from that moment. As soon as I heard Trem say “Me n my mate Brad Strut – straight up bombers fans” it was a wrap for me, changed my life for real. I played that tape to death. So I guess LC were a huge influence, I listened to Bias, Drapht and Pegz a lot, Lazy Grey too. Listened to Big L and Big Pun daily around that time too. Pretty much anyone that has a unique flow are the guys that stand out and capture my attention the most. I never tried to emulate anybody particularly but those are some of the blokes I listened to a lot when developing my style, which I think is still developing.
The beats chosen for the project have a real melancholy feel to some of them. They are bangers and to me, you crafted the sound really well to go with the vibe and flow through the album. What do you look for in production and how did you go about gathering beats for this project?
I just look for beats I like, haha. I always seem to get blokes saying “I can hear you smashin this track”, listen to the beat and not that keen on em. For me if it gets my head noddin’ and makes me wanna start freeing to it as soon as I hear it I know I wanna smash that. On this album I did want beats that would capture the emotion/stories I wanted to tell though. I’d say next album I might get my flex on a little bit more, although I’m also finding it easier to be more honest about myself in my writing these days so who knows man. Like I say I’m not much of a planner haha.
Last Of Me which rounds up the album is almost a completely different sound to the whole album. From hook to the beat. Is this a taste of the direction you are heading?
I knew I wanted to end the album on a “big” note. Them big horn sounds, big drums, as soon as I got that beat from Seany B I knew that was gunna be the last song on the album. He re tweaked it a few times and made it bigger every time he did. Once I had one verse recorded I sent it to my bro eMCYTe from Schoolfight and he nailed the hook. I wouldn’t say it’s a direction I’m heading in so much, but I’d say it’s a sound ya can expect to hear more of.
You have done a few shows lately around the east coast. How has the reception been and what’s been the highlights for you?
I always try stay busy with shows, it’s been good to start getting offers for spots outside of Brissy. My album launch in Bris was sick, hometown is always good to me. But to have my first ever Melbourne show, supporting Brad Strut, and for it to be my album launch AND for Bias to join me on stage for a track was really fuckin dope. A real honour. Wasn’t sure how the receptionwould be but a couple tracks into the set the crowd were getting involved and showin love so it was good. Got another Melbourne show to be announced very shortly which I expect will take the cake though, I can’t announce anything but by the time this comes out it’ll probably have been announced haha.
We have to talk a little about battles or people will sook, haha. Real Talk is kicking along with events still which is good to see. What are future plans and your involvement?
My relationship with battle rap is very much love hate. What some people don’t realise is RT was only started because some peeps started entering our local freestyle battles with obviously pre prepared material, so I said fuck it let’s make it a level playing field for everyone then. This was before I had ever heard of any other leagues anywhere. But I do love the format when done well, the problem is it has become very watered down and corny. More about gimmicks, image and shit than it is about skills. I’ve planned to walk away from it a few times but can’t seem to break away haha. I’m certainly not as passionate about it as I once was, but still really enjoy the events we hold.
Greeley just put up a video about the state of the battle scene. What do you feel about it all at the moment?
I think it’s easy to say all the right things when the camera’s turned on. Greeley’s cool, I respect what 1Outs do. But claiming to want to create “unity’ but wanting to control and dictate every aspect of when, where and how the unity is created is a bit of a contradiction to me. If we can set the wanting to uphold images aside, I think it’s something that can be done. But everyone has to truly be on the same page. I’ve said before Real Talk has always been open to anybody that wants to come up for a battle. Where other leagues have said to “their” emcees if they battle anywhere else they’ll never get another battle in their “home league” again, does that sound like creating unity to you? It’s good to hear they’re changing the way they go about things though.
Do you think it is harder for a “battle rapper” to get people to buy their CD’s? It is no secret there have been a heap of dudes who drop massive let downs as albums but can still battle with the best of them.
Probably is, I try not to get pigeon holed as a battle rapper tho. If anybody has me cast in that mould, listen to the album. It should change perspective a little. I think a lot of the problem is battle rappers write the same way they do for battles for songs, hence the songs end up mad repetitive and stale. I like to think I don’t have that problem, I could be wrong though.
469 Underworld are a pretty strong team. You guys do a multitude of things from shows, production to design to rapping. What are the plans for the crew? A release, more solos? Stand Up 2014 is in the works yeah?
Yeah bro we got myself, Strooth, Exit Strategy and Flowz on the mics. All the ES boys make dope beats too, Insideus is especially ridiculous on production, he produced Micology 101 for my album and the whole Exit Strategy EP. DJ Immaculate makes some heaters too. Gil Goon handles most of our graphic design stuff. Gil and Emjay work together as Mindkill to produce every clip I’ve done so far. Me and Gil make our gigs incl Stand Up and Real Talk events happen so we all chip in n do our part. We got a few projects on the go, Me and Strooth are workin with Flowz to get his EP and mixtape completed, that is gunna open some eyes. His music gives me goose bumps. I’m workin on an EP with Audacity from ES, and a little project with Immaculate and also already have a couple joints tucked away for another solo project . ES are already working on their next album, Immaculate has other shit going on outside the camp too with his bro and Triple3 crew so we stay busy! Haha.
Brisbane seems to have had a resurgence as of late with yourself, naturally 750 and KK as always but also a new breed of guys like Def Men Walking, Verbill, Seven and Mr Hill, the later featuring on your album. Is there a good community up there and is there a pride in what you guys are doing collectively?
Maybe you blokes are just starting to take notice, haha. Nah we definitely getting busy up here, there’s plenty more too. KK and Verbill getting active again is a good thing for the city. Defmen are active as fuck, AussieOzborn is makin beats for everybody at the moment. Seven and Hilly (Mr Hill) have created almost their own lane, the whole Born Fresh squad handle their business. It’s good times man!
So what’s up next for you?
Hunting for beats!! Producers get at me, haha. Makin music n giggin man. Like I said I’m not much of a planning type of guy. I’ll just stay busy and see what comes of it. When the album dropped I signed one to myself sayin “Congrats, the hard work starts now”, I’m more determined than ever to keep the ball rolling and make sure the next release doesn’t take 4 years to drop!
Art Intimidates Life is out now – go get that!