By most accounts, the world was put onto DC area rap and culture in the late 2000's by Wale's impressive mixtape run that included 100 Miles & Running, Hate Is the New Love, and The Mixtape About Nothing. It was through him that the region's accent, love for Nike Foamposites, and roots in Go-Go music were broadcasted to the rest of the country, creating an incentive for outsiders to take an interest in what the DMV had to offer. But, growing up in Maryland's Montgomery County and producing a brand of rap that most would consider backpack, Wale could not speak to the everyday experience of living in inner city DC. Still, his rise gave way to The District's first wave of nationally-recognized street music, producing MMG signee Fat Trel, the eccentric Yung Gleesh and current torchbearer, Shy Glizzy. One of the area's newest rising stars, is WillThaRapper, a Southeast DC-born, Capitol Heights, Maryland-based street artist with a buzz that's been steadily growing over the past three years.
A 20-year-old born William Kent, WillThaRapper's ascension started back in 2013 with his freestlye to Chicago rapper RondoNumbaNine's "Hang Wit Me." The video, which now has over 30,000 views sparked an interest across The DMV. His music is head-banging and builds off of the drill sound popularized by Chicago teenagers like Rondo earlier in the decade. Will's voice is a deep monotone drawl, adding contrast to his pounding production. Earlier this year, his video for song "We Might" went over the 100k views mark and he found himself to be one the faces for New Balance's special DMV990 shoe campaign--a staple shoe in The DMV area. Today, we're premiering WillThaRapper's new video "Pull Up Hop Out," which is a tour through DC and PG County Maryland. The video shows Will around town with friends, showing love to people in the community and circling around The White House. To get more insight into his inspiration for the video and how life's been different since his recent success, we spoke with him:
Noisey: How did the concept for "Pull Up Hop Out" come together? Was it inspired by a particular event?
WillThaRapper:Nah, no particular event. We was just having fun in the studio and I just started freestyling in the booth, joking around and that's what came out.
The White House was shown a few times in the video. How does it feel to be from an area where people who make decisions that affect our everyday lives move around freely, yet there are still people struggling to get by with limited resources just a couple miles away?
Politicians are a few blocks away everyday. They don't care about what's going on in the streets as long as their side of the city looks good for y'all to see. They ain't worried about anywhere else outside of downtown DC.
Fat Trel and Shy Glizzy put the world on notice when it comes to street life in DC. Living just outside of The District, what about Maryland can you shed light on that hasn't been seen before on a national scale?
I'm from Southeast DC but now I live in Maryland. There are hoods everywhere that ain't different from the city. The DC line is only four minutes away. It might be worse in Maryland because niggas act like they have a point to prove so they go harder than niggas in the city. Maryland hoods got fake people, real people, murderers, and people that struggle. The struggle is the same struggle just like every other hood.
You've been building a steady buzz in the DMV region over the past couple years. Earlier in the year, your video "We Might" eclipsed 100k views and you were a part of New Balance's special DMV990 campaign. How's life changed for you this year with more eyes on you?
Lately it's been a positive change. People used to look down on me. It's a blessing. Now people get to look at me and show me love and haters get to look at me and hate. It's a blessing for a little bad ass street kid that nobody believed in.
What can we expect from WillThaRapper moving forward?
More music. More shows. I'm about to hit the road. I'm trying to lock in a tour in November and pop out in every city I can.
Photo courtesy of D1 Entertainment
Lawrence Burney is a Staff Writer at Noisey. Follow him on Twitter