KillerHipHop Exclusive: Willy Northpole Interview
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing DTP/Def Jam artist and Phoenix, Arizona native, Willy Northpole. Willy’s “Body Marked Up” and Tha Connect have managed to stay on my iTunes playlist for about 5 years (God knows I show no mercy when clicking delete), bottom line I’m a big fan so interviewing him was a no-brainer.
Northpole talks about how the DTP deal came about (upcoming artists take notes), recording his debut album Tha Connect, a possible DTP album, founding “tattoo music”, his top 5 rappers dead or alive, and much much more. Definitely a must read. Full interview after the break.
Quez: Who Is Willy Northpole?
Willy Northpole: Man, Willy Northpole, Phoenix, Arizona. I’m born and raised in south Phoenix. I’m a musical artists, obviosly you know a lot of people should already know that. I’m on DTP-Def Jam. A lot of work.
Quez: Where does the “Northpole” in Willy Northpole come from?
WNP: Well think of Arizona as a state, as a temperature what would you think?
Quez: It’s hot?
WNP: No, it’s cold [laughs] see what I mean. We grew up saying cold. Like that’s a cold girl or thats a cold car. So in the Northpole it’s cold. I always wanted to be the opposite of anything else that was going on. That’s why I rolled with that. I put the Northpole in there to describe who Willy is.
Quez: What inspired you to start rapping?
WNP: I’ve always been a fan of music. I had close family members that inspired me. My mother you know she was a big Too $hort fan, and I grew up listening to Hip Hop on vinyl and you know it transpired to me having talent shows, and things like that. I’ve always been musically influenced, and rap I couldn’t sing so my other option was rap [laughs] and that’s pretty much how I started off. And of course everybody was listening to Michael Jackson, just things like that. I’ve always been all about music. That’s pretty much what it is.
Quez: How did you meet Ludacris then end up signing to DTP?
WNP: Well, Disturbing Tha Peace that actually came… we were actually having a few meetings with different deals. We were sitting with different labels and things like that. You had a couple people kinda interested in me, and those guys over at DTP heard my music. My manager Tiffany J, she had a friend that was working inside of Disturbing Tha Peace, by the name of Courtney. And Courtney heard my music, and she was a big fan and she played it for the boss and he liked it then they played it for Luda. Thats pretty much how it came you know. It sounds easy but there was a lot of work prior to that. But, that’s how I landed a seat at DTP.
Quez: Rumor was that 50 Cent and G-Unit also wanted to sign you. Is that true?
WNP: G-Unit wasn’t really my situation. G-Unit was a friend of mines, by the name of Hot Rod. And, he signed to G-Unit, I was [just] a part of what [Hot] Rod was doing with his career. And when I went to the G-Unit situation, and was around those guys , I was affiliated, I was never signed with them. I learned a lot. I just took in what I learned there and made my own situation and made everybody around me [say] okay we have something to work with. My manager had something to play off on, and that’s how we went actually went into the whole DTP situation. And there was no bad blood with G-Unit, there was never an expectation. It was just a good experience to actually go in there and learn all that stuff and come out and make something on my own.
Quez: What was the recording process like for Tha Connect?
WNP: Tha Connect was so fun man. I got to work with producers that I wanted to work with. I had a lot of control over the situation, had a lot of control over the album. Now growing up I wish that there was a few other things. Because you know music changes with time. And at Tha Connect I was actually a good rapper and now I see what you do and what not to do, but overall for that time and what it was I’m honestly still going to go buy it. For me to put all that together, me and my manager felt like we basically put together a classic. And the recording process of that was fun. We traveled we worked with different people. We had a lot of songs that didn’t quite make the album, and overall I was happy. I was happy with the photography, I could still put it in the player and [play it] from beginning to end.
Quez: How was it like recording with B.o.B and Ne-Yo?
WNP: B.o.B was cool. Working with Ne-Yo was cool, actually ran into Ne-Yo a couple of times before then; he’s real good friends with the label, and we used to have bowling tournaments and things, so him getting on the album was no problem. I was a big fan of Ne-Yo before the whole record deal situation. I used to listen to Ne-Yo’s [In My Own Words] in the morning. As far as B.o.B, he was talented you know, he sent the record, I [got] on it. We shot the video, he flew all the way down. He actually stopped what he was doing to fly all the way down to my neighborhood. We shot the video at my grandmothers house, and we used real footage of real people, and just working with him and to see how his career has blossomed within the last couple of years is inspiration to keep going. I was just happy to get a chance to work with him, I’m definitely looking forward to working with him again.
Quez: Is it true that you found the beat for Body Marked Up On MySpace?
WNP: I didn’t find it on MySpace, well actually you can kinda say that. A little kid, I’m not going to say little kid, he’s probably grown now. At that time I’ll say he was about 14 or 15 years old. He did send the beat through MySpace, so technically I did find him on MySpace but the way the beat just landed in my hands; I think that it was meant to happen [laughs]. When he sent it over it was a classic, when I heard the beat. He sent it with the hook already done. And this kid was from Canada, a lil’ young dude from Canada made the beat and he just sent it over to me. When he sent it I put it in the big speakers and I heard it, I just knew it was. Producer by the name of Wonka, I haven’t talked to him in a while but I’m always going to be thankful that he did that because that definitely helped my career. To get a record deal you have to have good music and to have a 15 year old be the cause of what what was going on is just crazy. [laughs]
Quez: It was a hot record.
WNP: Thank you brother, I got a lot more of those coming.
Quez: So when is William coming?
WNP: The William album, right now Im’ [currently] working on it. Again, I have a lot of control over this album. I’m in the studio everyday. I’m working with different people as far as writers and producers. I got a producer that’s coming up underneath me, by the name of Stevie Keyzz, who’s crazy. That’s who I’ve been doing a lot of my production through, and a couple of other guys thats out there. I’m putting it all together, once we have a couple of singles to choose from, we’ll narrow it down to that one we’re going to go ahead and start the meetings. Let’s start the process of putting the William album out. So I’d probably be expecting something in 2012.
Quez: What kind of features can we see on William? Ludacris?
WNP: Of course, theirs probably going to be Ludacris. People I want to work with, it depends, it’s all label budget, I don’t think of nothing [laughs]. So whoever I can work with I’m going to definitely try. I would like to get a record with Kanye [West], he’s one of my favorites right now. Yea, I want to do something with Kanye, I don’t know how far fetched this but, Jay-Z. But I’d definitely love to do something with Jay. There’s a couple of new cats out there I’d love to work with too. But right now I’m really focusing on getting the basics down on the album, which is the songs. I don’t have one feature because I haven’t decided who I want on what songs. When I make songs I make them for me, then I say, who’s the best that’s going to fit on this song. That’s how I did [it]on my last album.
Quez: What kind of music can we expect? Party music?
WNP: You know what man, Tha Connect was a little bit, Tha Connect was the beginning. And Tha Connect set me up for William. That’s why I want to call it William because I found myself. I found my prime. I’m honestly going to make the best music I’ve ever made. I have a whole new sound, I’m current on what’s going on right now. But, I’m not falling into that same train everybody else is falling in, trying to make a certain type of sound. But, at the same time I do have to stay relevant. So I’m stepping out the box a little bit, I’m listening but I’m William. And everything I do on there, I’m still going to remain William. Everything I’m making, I just want it to where as soon as you press play, it’s going to blow your ears off. [So], Pop music, Hip Hop, club, at home playing this, streets can ride to it, the women goin’ definitely love it. It’s kinda like a Guns N’ Roses image I’m trying to put up. I want to definitely stay with the ladies, stay dedicated to them. But, I don’t want to lose myself in what I’m doing, and the guys that’s been supporting me from day 1. But, all I have to say is that the ladies are going to love it what we’re putting together, and the fellas are going to have to love it.
Quez: Are you going to do any political songs, such as Back 2 Mexico?
WNP: Yea you know what I was thinking that. A lot of people [were] kinda impressed by my political views. Which I was surprised. I listen to politics but I’ve never spoken on it through my music, but at the same time I do have a lot to say and I have opinions on a lot of things. A lot of people out there say…you know, like Lupe [Fiasco], with the whole Barack [Obama] is a terrorist, and all. There’s things on my mind that I would like to say that I’ll let out on this album also because like I said, if I’m going to be William, I [have] to be him. I would definitely say you’ll probably get 1 or 2 of those on the album.
Quez: Would you say Hip Hop activism is dead?
WNP: No, it’s still there. They just have their fan base. You still have your Talib Kweli, your Dead Prez, still have Mos Def, still have Common. You still have people out there that [are] still on that. But at the same time, I wouldn’t say it’s a fan favorite. [But], I mean the media and the politicians are definitely scared of that movement. I don’t ever expect it to get as big as a Young Money, you know what I mean. So as far as that, I don’t think it’s ever going to die. I think it has it’s [fan]base set and it’s not going anywhere no matter what. You may consider it underground but they have their fans and listeners. So if you want that I would suggest to definitely go down that lane.
Quez: Could we see a DTP Album or Mixtape in the future?
WNP: I would love [that]. I have a meeting with the label coming up, and I have a whole list of the [same] questions that you’re asking me, I would definitely bring up to them. We still have a lot of talent on that label. And we’ve actually worked on a DTP album in the past, we did the whole album at the Hit Factory in Miami. And you know politics, a couple of things went wrong and we had great songs produced out of that those 2 weeks recorded, that [we] recorded that whole album. Hopefully when they hear my new music when we go down there and things like that. The label is really lenient on the ideas of the artist, and I would like to present that to them. I’d like to say okay let’s get together, and I think we should do a whole DTP compilation album. Because, people would definitely like to listen to that. They haven’t heard nothing like that [out of DTP] in a long time.
Quez: Any info on Ludacris’ upcoming album Ludaversal?
WNP: Right now, I’m anticipating [it] more than you are. I’m going to put him on call and ask him “yo man you gotta give me this album”, and see what he says. [laughs] I’m just playing, but seriously, I’m looking forward to it. So I don’t really know the dates or anything like that. Chris has to get his whole set up right, and once he gets going. [But], that’s not really my concern right now. I just hope he puts out a hot album, [then] put out my hot album, together we actually colllab and do stuff together.
Quez: Would you take credit for starting “tattoo music” in Hip Hop?
WNP: Oh yea I did that. I don’t care what nobody say. A lot of artist man, when they feel they’re ahead of you a little bit, man; a couple artists that did it were already out and you had a couple of new cats out there. But as far as the whole inspiration, nobody can say they didn’t hear that record at one point, and get inspired by it. The whole video, the whole set up, the way I made Phoenix, Arizona look involving the Chicanos and the Blacks, and the Whites all in one video. Black & white video, rugged, all based off tattoos. A whole song about tattoos, nobodies done that. And I would definitely say I’m the founder of that. If anybody say different then they can get the f*ck out of here, you know. But, yea I definitely did that, I take all the credit.
Quez: Now last question, Top 5 rappers of all time, dead or alive?
WNP: Ooh, top 5 rappers dead or alive. I would sound cliché if I say the people that everybody names. These guys are my favorites. You gotta understand Hip Hop. Hip Hop is very influential and when somebody is making good music, you’re the best.Number 5……. Hmmm [laughs] you should’ve told me about this question before. I’m not going to [say] it in any particular order. I’ll just tell you who my number 1 is. I really like [Young] Jeezy, I really like Kanye, Lil Wayne what he’s doing now. Definitely Tupac. I can’t have six? I’m going to have to take Lil Wayne off. I’m going to toss Lil Wayne out. Wayne I love you, you hot my brother but you’ll get it next round. I’m going to put Biggie up there, and my number 1 is Hov, Jay Z. That was my number 1 growing up.
This concludes my interview with Willy Northpole. It was an absolute honor interviewing him. He’s a real cool Northpole dude. Stay tuned for his upcoming album William, and if you haven’t already bought Tha Connect do so here; it’s a hot album throughout. Make sure to follow him on twitter as well @WillyNorthpole. While you’re at it follow @KillerHipHop and @QuezKHH too.