Interview: Wize Crack, on the Bellwether Boyz
The last time that I had an interview with New Jersey-based rapper Wize Crack, was back in 2009. We discussed everything from his alias, his music influences, his stance on signing to a label, his The Photo Album LP that he released, and more.
He’s done a lot since then, but most recently, he put out a pretty cool collabo EP, with producer The Deep Notes. Together, they formed the Bellwether Boyz and dropped an 8-track project, titled The Island of Misfit Toys. It’s boom bap hip hop meets psychedelic music, from a production stand point, as well as the lyrical content. To give you more insight about the Boyz and the album, read my interview with Wize Crack below.
Tiffology: Other than being “the coolest motherfuckers to ever breathe life,” who are The Bellwether Boyz, and how did you guys come together for this album? What is the relationship like?
Wize Crack: the Bellwether Boyz are myself and The Deep Notes. By the way, The Deep Notes is one person, not a group. He’s just a crazy motherfucker that I met on a thing called Myspace. You ever heard of that? Lol. He produced “Deliver The Message” and “The Perfect Weekend”, off The Photo Album. The craziest thing is we never met each other. We communicate through text and email. Hopefully, we will meet up one day. We both said we need to do a project together, and came up with the EP. By the way, “the” is lower case–I just wanted to do something different.
With you in the states and The Deep Notes in Canada, how long did this album take to create?
I would say within 8 months, right after I completed recording my last album, Fly Standards Of A Conceited Bastard. Staying up late, finding samples, writing, and texting The Deep Notes. It’s crazy, ’cause it’s a 3-hour time difference between us, so I lost a lot of sleep, but it was worth it.
I know “The Island Of Misfit Toys” is a reference to Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer, but why did you choose it for the EP title? Do you guys consider yourselves misfits?
I was watching The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, and she said “The Island Of Misfit Toys”. I was like, “That’s a hot title,” so it is the rejected toys that nobody wanted. I feel like since I come from Jerz–which is always talked bad about–and he’s from Vancouver, we’re the rejects. We could say we are misfits from being different and being an outcast. The Bellwether Boyz are the ones that lead. The bell was placed around a ram leading the flock of sheep.
What inspired this EP?
We dropped the EP on December 1, 2014, which was my birthday, without any earlier promotion. The EP has a psychedelic/boom bap sound. So basically it was inspired by 60s psych music. Bringing those together worked perfectly.
The title track is the first to have a music video. Tell me about the visual concept, and who directed it. I’d also like to know the relevance of the various “stoner girls” scrolling across the screen?
The video was shot in a hotel, in Brooklyn. It had a few colorful shots, like the elevator was purple and the pillows on the couch had crazy designs on it. There [weren’t] any scripts written, everything just fell into place. It was directed by my cousin, Karim Jamal for BLD Films. I just wanted to captivate different psychedelic shit, so I had different girls send me videos of them getting stoned… plus, who doesn’t like stoner chicks? Lol!
“The Goblins Are Coming” is the second track, and it’s short with only one verse and a hook (“blast off for a minute // (blast off, blast off… yeaaaah) // The goblings are coming”). Over a head-nodding, boom bap beat, with an eerie undertone, you go from talking loosely about oral sex, getting money and women, going on a notorious Kanye rant if you don’t reach number one, and coming for what’s yours. That said, at what point in your rap career will you feel that you’ve really made it–what needs to happen for you to feel successful?
Yeah, shout out to DJ King Shameek, from the group Twin Hype, who gave me the idea to flip a Rob Base verse in the beginning. I’ll feel like I really made it when I’m on stage, and grandmothers are throwing their panties at me, ’cause they heard my music. Being a household name will make me feel successful, [and] when my name is mentioned with the greats.
The grungy guitar, vocal hollering, and uptempo energy reminds me of a 70’s action chase scene, or something of similar nature, on the beat for “Rejection”. Actually, in combination with that, your flow on this one reminds me of Ghostface. I dig it. Can you tell me about the hook and what it pertains to (“Jordan didn’t even make the varsity team, so why the fuck you wanna stop my dream”), if anything in particular?
There’s a story about Jordan, [that he] didn’t make the varsity team. So, somebody as great as him was even rejected. When I first found the sample, I was like, “Whoa, we gotta use this.” Shout out to DJ Shooow from Japan, who did the scratches on that song. A 70’s action chase scene? That’s hot, I didn’t even imagine that.
When you face rejection, does it fuel you or bring you down?
It’s according to what it is, but I’m not going to lie, it does bring me down. Then, it fuels me and makes me better. Plus, it makes me stick my middle finger up higher.
“Her” is a love-guided song about a special lady in your life, where you rap about a crush that’s developing into lust and love. What can you tell me about writing this song? Is writing about love easy for you to express and share?
Love is a part of life, so yes it’s easy for me to write; we all go through it. When I wrote it, I visioned me brushing my teeth, starting my day off, thinking about this special lady.
For awhile now, you’ve been using the term “coolness”–stamping it as a hashtag after most of your Tweets. You also use it in the hook of “her”, saying that it’s her weakness. Tell me about this “coolness” you speak of?
Coolness is a way of life. It’s like a higher level of The Fonz, Rick James, and Morris Day mixed together.
In the intro of “Minimum Wage”, you have a sample in there that touches base on releasing music for free. With this album being available for free download, via Soundcloud, why did you guys choose this route as opposed to having people pay for it, or even opt out of the pay-what-you-want feature on Bandcamp? What’s your stance on free music–beneficial or hurtful?
We wanted it to be free, so everyone could get a chance to it. So, there’s no reason why nobody shouldn’t be able to click the link and download The Island Of Misfit Toys. Plug, plug, plug! Lol. I rather do free EPs and sell albums. Free music is a great promotion, so it doesn’t hurt.
Who is on the intro to “Footprints On Mars,” talking about space exploration and dreaming about the future?
Her name is Veronica. I call her V Mars. She’s a hippie from Brooklyn. I asked her to say a few words for that intro. I thought she was going to do a few simple words about Mars. I had no idea she did poetry. I was like, “Oh, shit why didn’t you tell me you did poetry?” I didn’t expect it be so good. I found the perfect sample with the kids in the background to go with it. Everything worked out perfect.
When I listen to the song, I feel like you are combating dreamers and/or believers of a good future, with world realities, such as the unstoppable drug trade and abuse, killers roaming the streets, social inequality, and frivolous spending, to name a few. Seeing past the illusions and phoney talkers. Am I right in thinking that, or did I totally miss the picture? If I’m incorrect, tell me about writing “Footprints On Mars”.
Wow, you got real deep there for a minute. Lol! It’s just different thoughts I had on my mind–just venting. But, yeah, you’re right. It’s a mixture of everything. It’s just beyond anything fucking strange.
I love that “Expen$ive” takes an unexpected route of defining “rich” as being happy and/or experiencing life (whether good or bad), rather than using money to define a person’s value. Thre are two sides of the coin here, as we all know life isn’t always good. You go from talking about being rich in love, the joys of doing what you want, being proud of who you are, being adored/respected by others, and so on; then, you flip position and talk about the unfortunate times of life, like holding on to dreams too long, having bad luck, dealing with two-faced people, and a rough life leading to a hollow heart. This song is wonderfully written, with sentimental value, and the beat is the perfect soundscape for what you’re saying. Please tell me about where your head was at when writing this song. What does it mean to you?
Thanks. The title was thought of first, putting the dollar sign in the S for “expen$ive”, then I just started writing about it. I found the samples, the music, the vocal sample in the hook, and the drums. The Deep Notes layered the drum sample. It was the first song I recorded. It was going to be the first video, but my brother was like, “Naw, shoot a video for the Bellwether Boyz.” If you really listen to it, I wanted it to sound like an intro, but use it as the outro. Rich thoughts, broken hearts in masses. This is sentimental like John Lennon glasses. I still cant get over that line.
What do you think makes you rich?
Everyday, being happy with no worries is being rich to me
What is your favorite song on the EP, and why?
I would have to go with “Minimum Wage”. I love the different vocal samples; the crazy trippy beat, [because] you feel like you’re high on some new drug listening to it; that breakdown is so dope; plus, the crazy lyrics like, “Haunt you from the tomb, throw bleach on ya wounds. I’ll give you wedgies in ya Fruit Of Looms. Put coke on ya cereal spoon, stretch ya sister womb, and I’ll show the footage to the groom”. That has to be the craziest shit I ever wrote! Just imagine that scene in a movie.
Which song was hardest to write, if any?
I would say “Kush Groove”, which [doesn’t have] any lyrics. [It was] just waiting on The Deep Notes to make that beat that had me impatient. It’s all love. I always get on him about that, lol.
What’s next for you?
My leaked porn. Just kidding, lol. My last album, Devilish Grin. This is going to be my last project. I’ll continue to make songs, but as for projects, this is it for me… unless something big comes my way, no homo. Coolness.