Gee Watts Interview
Published in Blog Archive, Mills Record Co.. Tags: Interviews, Kansas City, Music.
“A certain sense of believable honesty combs through Gee’s lyrics,” writes The Smoking Section’s J. Tinsley, in his review of Gee Watts’ new Watts Up mixtape. “As does depth.” Gee Watts has two more things going for him that most rappers never achieve: he has patience, and he actually knows what he wants. A year ago at SXSW he teased working with one of his favorite MCs, but he waited until late last month to drop his “Watts R.I.O.T.” collaboration with Kendrick Lamar. (The KC Star has more on how that came together.) Instead of aimlessly releasing the track though (one guaranteeing him attention), he positioned himself to make the most of the opportunity. On the heels of “R.I.O.T.” he dropped both a download and music video for “Quiet Place,” then another track titled “Premature Hate,” before releasing his fully-fleshed out Watts Up mixtape this past Sunday. And people are listening.
He’s making the most of his moment, but the Kansas City MC is not an empty opportunist: the sounds beneath him on Watts Up range from dense to energetic, allowing him to showcase the numerous aspects of what makes him who he is. And in his music that voice tends to reflect a lot of anger and violence, with themes often projecting a core outlook of general distrust. In this Q&A we talk a little bit about that, but beyond those themes is someone who would seem emotionally removed from that darkness. Listen to the tape’s title track or follow his interaction on Twitter: While his history has certainly helped shape who he is, Gee Watts knows when not to take himself too seriously, too.
You’ve been openly critical of your early material, calling it “bullshit” in an old FlyTimes interview. Talking to Chris at Demencha a few years back you said that you took down six or seven albums because you felt they didn’t reflect your evolving voice. When did you first start to gain confidence in the flow you were projecting?
I’ve always been A1 on stage, but only recording for a year and half at the time. I hadn’t found my voice on the mic. I never rapped out loud, it was always something I wrote down and rapped back in my head. I also knew K.Dot, Kanye, would blow before they did, and I’ve only listened/liked good shit. So I knew when I could listen to my shit and like it (cuz the bars was always there… just delivery) I’d be ready. That time is now.
Do you ever revisit those early songs? What sort of thoughts come to mind when you see an early video like this?
Bars, dummy bars, max bars, like level four. BUT, my voice wasn’t my voice. Now my voice is it’s own. My stage presence wasn’t up to par, but that was my second or third show ever. God has brought me a long way. I’m grateful for being able to open for a nigga I listened to as a youth.
In that same Demencha interview you said “I want to introduce the world to Kansas City.” Who are the voices in KC right now who inspire you?
Ron Ron, Rich The Factor, Greg Enemy, Abnormal (abby niggy normal), and even Tech. I respect anybody who has made a lane for themselves out of the city. Not just music, but life. Aldon Smith, Alec Burks, eybody.
One of the themes that runs throughout Watts Up is one of trust and honesty, something you’ve said in interviews means a lot to you in MCs. How much of the violence projected throughout the mixtape comes from first-hand experience? Do you feel rappers have to be honest about their personal experiences when telling stories through their music?
Yea, on my next project I have a song called “Flat Line” where I said “At 9 I saw my big homie fall at 14, his body laid lifeless as blood covered his jeans, Timbs on his feet, bumble bee tape markin’ the scene. Still to this very day I hear his mama screams. Growin’ up this way imagine the drama it brings…” I don’t glorify because there was no glory in being 9 seeing somebody you looked up to, dyin’. But it happens, so I rap it and in the most honest way.
It’s been a joke on your Twitter, but a few comments across the web have pointed out the Freemason symbolism of your cover. The cover’s design had to be intentional, but what was the statement you were trying to make with it?
I am Gee, what’s in the middle of the FM sign…? Chea, New World Order is here… and it begins in KC… the town. We all comin’ my nig haha… blessings to you.
[This article first appeared at Mills Record Company.]