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If you’re not familiar with Chicago emcee Alex Wiley, now might be the time to start. Just today passing the ribbon on his 21st birthday, the Hyde Park native has also just unveiled the follow-up to last year’s Club Wiley – dubbed Village Party. From the moment the opening chords of the new album wash over the listener, it becomes clear that the young rapper has a distinct vision for the future of hip-hop. HYPETRAK has an exclusive interview with Wiley, where the artist insightfully discusses his approach to bar structure, managing expectations, and even Chance The Rapper. Enjoy key excerpts below, then be sure to listen to Village Party afterwards.
Talk to us about your growth as an artist since Club Wiley.
I think I refined my sound a little more, but the main growth happened content wise. I’ve just gotten better with writing and have developed a better command over the language now. I feel like I can say what I’m trying to say a lot easier now. It’s not really like I’ve changed as a person since then, though I’ve gotten to see and to more shit, but I’m really able to say what I want the way that I want now. It used to be that I came up with my flows first, and would fill in the words into the flows. Sonically it was working for me, but the lyrics became kind of an afterthought. I still come of my flows first a lot of times, but I’ve gotten a lot better with saying what I needs to say in those rhyme schemes without comprising anything.
Would you say that came from you being able to do it everyday for a couple years now?
Yeah, it came from rapping a lot. Also, really figuring out what I wanted to say, how I wanted to come across and deciding what my whole point of making music even was. It all kind of clicked for me all at once, and I made like seven songs in three days and they’re all on the project.
Yeah, it seems like you’ve found your sound in Village Party. Even though songs like “Ova,” “Vibrations” and Own Man,” all have varying vibes, there’s definitely a unified, unique sonic approach.
Yeah, and I still have a hard time describing it. It’s more of a feeling and confidence with how I feel about things. I’ll hear something and if I don’t like it, and if I don’t like it I won’t do it. I trust myself a lot more. When I was making Club Wiley it was my first project and there was a lot of iffyness. There was so much thinking about how certain people would react. Not even necessarily fans, more so blogs and labels. The fact the people received the project well gave me that confidence to do what I really want to do. I also don’t care about as many things as I did when I was making Club Wiley. It was almost like I was trying to accomplish too much on certain points of Club Wiley, trying to appeal to too many people. I think I did a good job with it, but there’s records like “K Swiss” which is right after “Nothing To Me,” and those two are polar opposites. I’m glad I did it that way, but I’d never do it like that again.
Now I’m trying to treat each project that I make as its own singular thing, and have them be way more cohesive. I want the next project to feel nothing like Village Party, from start to finish I want it to be a whole different thing.