Classic Williams Interview
Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: Interviews, Music, Nashville.
Having just recently dropped his #SMH mixtape last month, Nashville’s Classic Williams is now inching his way closer to the release of his full length debut, Epic Win. Serving as an introduction to the MC, #SMH includes a wide range of genres reaching all the way from club-focused dance to no fuss hip hop. It’s a mixed bag of tracks, and it’d be disingenuous to suggest that they all come strong, but there are some cuts that are genuinely tight enough to stand behind as singles. Keeping that in mind, Williams himself calls the tracks on “throwaways,” insisting that #SMH won’t hold a candle to what’s yet to come. Recently speaking with the MC via email he explained his focus with the release, his perspective on the Nashville rap scene, and his fascination with Japanese anime. Until Epic Win drops, #SMH is available as a free download via Classic’s Bandcamp page.
Off the top, what does #SMH stand for?
Classic Williams: #SMH stands for “Shake My Head,” usually on Twitter people commonly use the expression #SMH as a way of looking down on other people or when someone or even themselves says something outlandish. I wanted to call my mixtape this because for one: music obviously makes you shake your head, for two: I wanted to use the power of the phrase trending to gain listeners. Also I felt like I was personally shaking my head at my many naysayers, haters, and perpetuates of negativity, because some people truly don’t know who I am, what my role and purpose to the Nashville hip hop scene is. But that will soon change.
You get things going strong on the mix real early on with “Who’s Doin’ That?” and “Sorority Girls” leading the way. The latter toys around with some hyper synth, a club-happy beat & Sebastian Garcia brings the track over the top in its club appeal with his vocals. What’s your connection to Garcia & how did you come to collaborating on the track?
Classic Williams: Sebastian Garcia was a classmate of mine at MTSU. We are both in the Recording Industry program. I heard that he did tracks so I told him about my music and the people that I knew. We knew some of the same people around Murfreesboro who did music, namely Jeff Cyrus, who I collaborate with heavily. I told him about this song that I had already done two versions of called “Sorority Girls.” Sooner or later me, him, and his producer/roommate Louis Magnotti came together to make the track. They own a production company called LIV Productions.
As far as the sound is concerned, that track sounds nothing like anything else on #SMH. Will we hear more of that sort of thing on Epic Win and how’s work coming along on the album? Also, will that be your official debut?
Classic Williams: As far as sound is concerned #SMH doesn’t have a particular sound. It’s got a little bit of everything, it’s like a grab bag of whatever you can think of from rock elements to R&B elements to even techno and pop. All of these records are, just to put it simply, “throwaways” just to show people I’m out here working. “Sorority Girls” sounds different from everything else because I’m going to be using that song to gain listeners in other areas. It’s basically just a really powerful hit I have under my notch I plan on taking advantage of, but that’s not where you get the full scope of what “Classic Williams” does. I Love Sorority Girls is up now and will fully launch later on in the spring and will have a whole plan for that song. The Soul of N*gger Charlie is my next project which will be helmed by Klassix Jones… billboard producer (“Walk with a Dip” by Louisiana Cash). It’s going to tell the story of my life. Then Epic Win, my official debut, which is already recorded; I’m just holding it back until it’s time. Expect it to completely blow your fucking face off, that’s all I’ll say (lol).
“Sorority Girls” is sandwiched between “Darlin’,” which utilizes a tender hook, and “Who’s Doing That?,” which is more of bass-heavy banger. Do you go through stages where you write certain types of songs or do you tend to mix it up along the way?
Classic Williams: However I feel at the time is what I write about. Sometimes it can be influenced by a situation that happened to me, other times it could be an extension of how the music makes me feel. I can go into the beat with somewhat of an idea, but what I did with a lot of the songs on #SMH was just get extremely intoxicated and zone the fuck out and freestyle it. That’s what I did with “Azzhole.” Matic threw on the beat and I was just like okay here it go “People always ask me… why you such an asshole” and I just built it up from there. Everything I write or freestyle about are real situations that have happened. “Darlin’” is about my ex-girlfriends—one in particular—I freestyled all the singing on that song. One of the reasons it varies so much is because, like I said before, #SMH really is a grab bag of songs. Some of those songs I’ve had under my belt for a long time I just never released like “Blue Magic.” It’s kind of a great metaphor for my life though, there’s so much going on and all you can really do is shake your head at it.
“Azzhole” is one of the stronger tracks on #SMH; what can you tell me about Matic Lee? Who worked production on that song and how did you bring it all together?
Classic Williams: Matic Lee is cool with my neighbor Anais Briggs who is a singer/songwriter. Matic has done a lot of production for Strange Music and Tech N9ne. He made the beat to “Azzhole” and spit a verse on it as well. He has a studio at his house and I went over there after work one night and bam! Studio magic.
Tell me a bit about what “#Hateraid Tweetsyle” is.
Classic Williams: The “Hateraide Tweetstyle” kind of makes up the guts of the project. It was basically just like a big fuck you. People have so many opinions about my place in the “Nashville Rap Scene” and n*ggas really don’t know my magnitude. I made a song for my friend’s fraternity my freshman year of college that still gets views from all over the world. People from Poland, the Netherlands, the west and east coast of the US, and all over the south, have heard the name Classic Williams. People try to compete with me when we aren’t even geographically close to being competition. So lines like “fans all over the world and I ain’t even on yet,” these are all real statements. N*ggas try to compete with the rapper next door. I’m competing with my favorite rappers in my head. I ultimately outshine them in the end.
On the Twitter front: is there a story behind your Twitter handle?
Classic Williams: AstroBoyClassic is my Twitter name because I’m a huge Otaku (Japanese anime nerd douchebag) and AstroBoy is this anime about this boy robot. I like the “AstroBoy” handle because frankly I’m fucking crazy and out of this world so it just fits. My other nickname is Otaku Steez Ichigo… which basically means I’m like the #1 nerd douchebag with swag, so to speak. I might go watch Fullmetal Alchemist or DragonBall Z or something really childish like that, turn around, get your bitch really high and fuck the shit out of her. Who’s doing that?
Stepping away from the album a bit, on your site you say “The same artists that a few years ago were championed as ‘the next big thing’ are still being championed.” What was the thought you had when you first wrote that? Was it aimed at anyone in particular?
Classic Williams: It wasn’t necessarily aimed at anyone in particular. The Nashville hip hop scene is all flash but the camera doesn’t have any film in it. N*ggas just use the whole music thing as a hustle to make money and be that n*gga in the club and fuck girls who want to be famous. The same people in Nashville rapping have been doing it for years and haven’t gotten anywhere other than Nashville besides Young Buck. N*ggas either getting fucked deals, or just disappear over time. It’s time for something different! I’m tired of people lying about their lives and mainly I’m sick and tired of Nashville being called the “Music City” but they only cater to one genre of music: country. There are so many talented individuals in the city and it’s NOT JUST COUNTRY MUSIC. We have more studios than any place else in the world, every major record company, every major publishing company, every performance rights organization within a two mile radius. It’s ridiculous! They tried to rewrite our history… when urban or black music is just as much apart of Nashville than ANY other genre. Google the Fisk Jubilee Singers.
What is the Klowd Krowd and who’s all involved in that?
Classic Williams: Kloud Krowd was an idea my friend Brandon Clark thought of. Him and my cousin DJ Rawtune formed a blog. It’s kind of like our version of Taylor Gang, very much inspired by the Taylors, but it’s really just like our clique name, and the name of my fanbase. We’re trying to expand it into a full fledge brand with clothes, etc. Every good rapper needs a movement. My grandfather always told me never to follow the crowd. So instead we created our own. Now the crowd follows us. Anyone can rep Kloud Krowd. It’s about embracing your uniqueness and doing your own thing and not giving a fuck what anyone thinks about it. Praising God and looking towards to the sky, following your dreams.
[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]