Every month, through a partnership with Reverbnation, Unheard Voices chooses deserving artist cultivating their way and making their voice heard in the music world. As we know, deserving artists often go unseen in an industry that praises mainstream success. Here at Unheard Voices we like to shine light on artists who are not only talented and gifted, but making a difference. This month we would like to introduce you to rapper Willie of Wilshire.
Willie Of Wilshire A.K.A WOW is an MC hailing from Downtown Los Angeles California. He has been rhyming and writing music since a young age and its evident in his music. Born Willie Arevalo from Guatemalan and El Salvadorean immigrant parents and raised in a rough neighborhood of Downtown LA, he developed a love and passion for Hip Hop music as a way to express his creativity which has grown into his life calling. Songwriter, performer, and owner of his clothing brand I Awoke, he has collaborated and shared the stage with several artists and is always working toward improving his craft.
Unheard Voices asked Willie a few questions about his craft and where he sees himself going. I can definitely say Willie of Wilshire is definitely an artist you need to watch. Willie brings his rich culture mixed with some hip-hop flow. He most certainly lives up to his alias, wow!
UV: When did you fall in love with music?
Willie of Wilshire: I fell in love with music at a very young age. My parents would play their Spanish music, Merengue and Cumbias in the house but it wasn’t until I heard Hip Hop that I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I grew up in an apartment building in Downtown LA and I remember hearing Hip Hop music being played real loud by my neighbors one day. We had this common area in the center of the building where everyone would hang out and these older kids I looked up too where blasting their music real loud. I remember hearing Tupac and distinctively the song “Going back to Cali” by Biggie and I just fell in love with Hip Hop, and I knew right then and there that I wanted to be a Rapper. Plus my elementary school bus driver would always bump Snoop Dog and Coolios song “Gangsters Paradise” over and over every morning on the way to school. I would sit in that seat and I would tell myself as a little kid that one day it would be me bumping thru those speakers and on the radio. I knew one day that my time would come.
UV: How long have you been creating and performing music?
Willie of Wilshire: I have been creating and performing music since Junior High. Growing up where I did, full of violence, drugs, corrupt cops, prostitutes, gangs, homeless people and vast poverty I turned to rap as a way to vent my frustrations. I would carry these notebooks to school and write lyrics on the school bus. In High School I formed a club called Hip Hop Fundamentals which consisted of a handful of DJ’s. We would host freestyle battles during lunch and it was there that I started performing in front of crowds.
UV: How would you describe your music?
Willie of Wilshire: I would describe my music as the soundtrack to my life. My music is an extension of myself and I express my thoughts, feelings, and experiences thru it. I like to look at my music as a blank canvas, where I get to paint anything I want with a beat and lyrics as my brush strokes. I have different sides to me and as such I have songs that portray each of these sides. Sometimes I may want to vent about a certain issue and my revolutionary side comes out when I record a song, other times I just want to turn up and party so I will record a party song. Just depends on my mood. As such I have conscious songs where I am rapping about socio-political issues that interest me, I have songs that are drawn from my experiences growing up in the streets, I have turn up songs for the club, love songs, and songs where I just express whatever experience in life I am going thru at the moment.
UV: What artists have the greatest musical influences on you and your music?
Willie of Wilshire: The artists that have had the greatest musical influences on me and my music would have to be Tupac, Biggie, WuTang, Psycho Realm, Nas, Gang Starr, Canibus, NWA and Immortal Technique to name a few. I like to listen to a lot of different artists but I would have to say growing up these where some of the artists that I listened to the most.
UV: I see you’re from Los Angeles, how have your tapped into the growing Los Angeles music scene?
Willie of Wilshire: I first started performing in the underground scene at local bars and clubs in my neighborhood. From there I met several artists and promoters and just expanded my reach. I started performing at different venues throughout LA from Downtown LA, to South Central, Watts, to West LA, to East Los, Korea Town, Tokyo Town, to the Valley, just anywhere I could do a show.
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UV: What is the hardest challenge you have encountered with building your fan base and expanding your music?
Willie of Wilshire: The hardest challenge I have encountered with building my fan base and expanding my music has been financial. I have the talent and the ability to write songs, but having the money to record them, to buy beats, pay for videos and marketing for my music has been a struggle. I have had to balance out work with music when I really wish I could just focus on doing music.
UV: Has anyone ever given you negative feedback on your music, if so how did you react to it?
Willie of Wilshire: Well I get more positive than negative feedback but when I do get negative feedback it just makes me try that much harder to prove them wrong. If it’s a song I am working on and I show it to friends and they tell me it doesn’t sound good then I go back and rewrite it until it does sound good. For me it just has to do more with recognition. When I get overlooked or another artist get’s more time on stage even tho their music is wack, it makes me go harder to outshine everyone to the point that they have no choice but to recognize that I am one of the best and they give me my due respect.
UV: How important and how difficult is it to support your career with your own funding?
Willie of Wilshire: Supporting my career with my own funding has been very important and difficult at the same time. I don’t have any financial backers so I have to pay for everything out of my pocket, whether it be for beats, studio time, mixing and mastering, or music videos, the list goes on. This creates a conflict with having to hold a job and still finding time to write and record music. It’s a constant struggle as I have to sacrifice and choose between paying my bills on one hand or paying for studio time or a music video on the other. Like do I use this money to fix my car or to record my music? It’s tough but I feel it makes me stronger and hungrier to succeed when I do my music.
UV: To date, what has been your best performance? When was it, where was it and why is it your best performance?
Willie of Wilshire: My best performance I would have to say was the first time I performed at the House Of Blues in Hollywood back in like 2005 or so. Since I was a little kid I had made it a goal to perform there one day and so when I walked on that stage and looked out at the crowd I felt immensely happy to have been able to reach my goal. That was my first time performing at a large venue so I will never forget it. The crowd was very hyped and I could just feel the energy as I performed my music. I felt like a true star that day.
UV: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Willie of Wilshire: In the next five years I see myself as a successful artist in the music industry with millions of loyal fans worldwide, with hit records and a growing demand for my music. I see myself going on global tours, being able to make a living off my music and expanding into other industries such as acting and business.
UV: Do you have any upcoming shows?
Willie of Wilshire: I am working on my next Mixtape at the moment and have not planned any upcoming shows until I get this project done. I want to have some great material recorded before I go back on tour and perform it. The good news is I am almost done with my Mixtape and it wont be long before I am back on the road performing. I have some bangers I can’t wait to perform.
UV: What` current projects do you have out or forthcoming projects in progress?
Willie of Wilshire: Right now I have my Mixtape titled Practice out on datpiff.com and I am working on my next one called Showtime at the moment. I feel I am about 70% done with that one. I definitely feel this one is an improvement over my last project and fans will notice my growth as an artist.
UV: In closing, I would like you to leave the Unheard Voices readers words of encouragement and inspiration, especiallyfor those pursuing a career in music and entertainment.
Willie of Wilshire: I would like to say first of all no matter what path in life you choose, you must always believe in yourself. Believe that you can make it, that you can be successful and live out your dreams. If you can believe it, and picture it in your mind then you can achieve it. For those that are pursuing a career in music you need to work harder than the next guy. If the other artist is in the studio 8 hours a day you need to be in there 16 hours. You want to want it more than the next guy, be hungry be relentless. Practice makes perfect. You need to formulate a plan, put in the work, perfect your craft and when the right opportunity comes along you will be ready. With belief and hard work you can make your dreams possible.