Willie the Kid continues to elevate with ‘Capital Gains' album
“In school you learn the lesson, take a test, but in life, you get tested then you learn the lesson” – Willie the Kid.
2020 has supplemented lessons in bunches . If there's one takeaway, financially speaking, it's to ensure you have access to assets as you assess your financial outlook. You're liable to lose a lot with the involvement of liabilities. The ability to make money doesn't solve it all, but it sure does help.
An influx of creativity is here from and by creatives all over the world. Consider it a modern-day renaissance. The value continues to rise, as we continue to up our worth. Nobody is going to hand you a million dollars, unless you strike luck like Brewster. And, to be honest, there weren't a lot of teachings growing up on the importance of ownership, multiple streams of income (passive, too) and appreciation versus depreciation. The stock market has been a great takeaway in 2020. The future isn't promised, but it helps to have foresight and build toward the possibilities of one. Robinhood has doubled customer service reps by 40%, with plans to double that by the end of this fiscal year.
The stock market is just the start, as I learned from Grand Rapids, Michigan native, Willie The Kid, who doesn't see a finish coming anytime soon. Willie's wikipedia page could never be sufficient enough for everything he's involved in, and he does his best to convey the importance of ownership and gaining capital. During a Zoom call, I was able to gain more knowledge about everything Willie is working on.
What was the motivation behind naming your album Capital Gains
“The motivation was what's going on right now in society, our communities. You know the COVID situation, the pandemic. The health is definitely a primary issue, but beyond that, it's affecting people's pockets. It even finds a way into government and legislation. Because they talk about the way it affects the working class, the upper class, and neighborhoods. Capital Gains is fitting for that concept. I always make thematic albums. My albums are always based on a theme, what I'm studying or into at the time.”
How did you select these producers?
That's one of the most celebrated moments about Capital Gains. I worked with everybody who I've basically been working with over the years. People that I've built my sound with. The V Don's, the Alchemist's, V12 — that's my guy from back in my Gangsta Grillz/Aphilliates days. I'm bringing in everybody I've been working with and making my best material with and putting them all on one plate. The producers were picked from organic relationships. People who helped me trademark my sound.
Do you feel like this is your best body of work to date?
It's my best body of work right now. When it's all said and done, that may not be the case. You might pull something back from before and say “you know what? That was better.” But right now — speaking right now — definitely.
Which producer would you say makes your most catered sound?
I would have to say V Don. That's my bro. We spent a lot of time curating the sound. A lot of time experimenting. We got like 3 albums together — bangers: Deutsche Marks, Blue Notes, Heather Grey. Shout out my man Eto. I can't sleep on Alchemist neither, that's my guy. Me and Al got a classic. Masterpiece Theatre is a classic.
How did you and V Don meet?
V Don used to send me beats. He used to send me these snippets, back during the blog era. I used to go through the snippets. He had a beat on there that ended up being this record called “Friends & Money.” It's me and Corey Gunz on [my project] The Fly 2.
I hit him like “yo, this joint is crazy, let me get this.” He was sending me a lot of stuff and I was just going through it and that one stood out. Everybody loved it, so I said let's keep cooking. Then we did “The Food” on The Cure 2 and loved that. We did a few loosies here and there. Then he said let's do a whole plate. I said you don't gotta tell me twice. So we did Deutsche Marks. Deutsche Marks put a dent in the system for us and made some strides.
I believe he has the intro track (?)
Yeah he does. He actually co-executive the whole project with me. So everything I was doing, I was like check this out, check this out, what you think? When I get a batch of beats, I hit him and ask him “what you think?” We kind of went through the project together. I built it with him by my side the whole time. That's why he's credited as a co-executive producer because him and I put the project together, every step of the way the whole time.
Do you have a favorite song on the project?
It depends. Like today I'll like a certain record. Then tomorrow I'll like another record. When I'm about to get dressed and go downtown, it's another record. If I'm about to go check on my lady, it's another record. Handling business, it's another record. It depends on what's going on. It fluctuates. And that's why I like the project. It's hard to capture it in a bottle. It's a lot of great moments on the project.
“It's all about taking the access we gained through the music and the culture and pivot that to have a stronger and lasting impact.”
Tell me about some of the investments you have going on
Basically, everything is based on ownership. My city, Grand Rapids, Michigan, made Forbes list for worst economy for black people and entrepreneurs. So I took that as a challenge to offset that statistic. One of the first things we did, we started a merchandise line called GRUSA. We are the official merchant for all the city apparel. That gave way to other opportunities, so we started a nightclub downtown. We're the only African American owned business downtown for the past 18 years. That has a cultural impact.
We have the Midwest Tech Project, providing training and access to technology jobs. Technology jobs are the future. We give training and access to people who've been convicted from felonies and coming home from jail or prison who need gainful employment.
This same tech space blends over into Radi8er Music. It's a DSP, streaming platform you can access on your smartphone. It's kind of like Spotify meets Google Maps, with geo location for independent artists. We're doing interviews, album reviews and getting people exposure like that.
We got champagne and vodka (Motu Viget Spirits) and it's in 200 locations in the Midwest. We just broke in a deal with one of the top grocers in the whole Midwest with 60 locations. Restaurants, bars, grocery stores, corner stores and online, too. It's all about taking the access we gained through the music and culture and pivot that to a stronger and lasting impact. Gotta do more than just rap.
Is there anything else you have your hands in?
Definitely. We're gonna make our way into the legal cannabis business as well. We got some paperwork on the table right now, to break in some locations for legal cannabis consumption in West Michigan. The two top vendors in the whole region reached out to us to become partners.
I'm an executive for the documentary we're doing for the life and times of Langston Hughes. It's called ‘I,Too, Sing America.' We have power players involved in that. Kevin Willmount is directing, an Academy Award winner and Oscar-nominated. We're getting all the key players and pieces to give Langston Hughes his proper due. Langston Hughes is an original voice of the culture. He laid the framework for what we do today as Hip-Hop artists. It's an honor to be a part of that. You see a lot of documentaries but you haven't seen nothing quite like this.
With everything you have going on, how do you mentally keep yourself together?
Gotta have a relationship with God, gotta have that intact. That'll keep everything in perspective for you and clear the path so you can go be productive. And of course there's the family. I have a tight-knit family. I stay close to the family. But other than that, I'm good with all of this. This shit is easy.
Have you ever ran into any roadblocks with writer's block?
I don't believe in that shit. I just think you're not inspired right now. For me it's easy to get inspired. I'll watch a movie and get inspired.
How did The Fly come about?
I did a mixtape and I called it ‘The Fly.' I was talking about elevation, like rising up and being on a higher plateau. It was a real simple concept. Then of course it's an entendre for being up to par, being fly — fly in your physical appearance, your thoughts and your lifestyle. I put that project out and right after I put that project out, my brother who was managing us with the Affiliates and DJ Drama who was at the forefront of the company had a disagreement and business had kind of dissolved and everybody went their own ways and while that was happening, I was in the middle of that. Between my family and my Drama was my man. We tried to figure out the best way to keep the flag flying high and moving forward without getting caught up in letting that slow us down, momentum wise. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.