An intellectual emcee, Wordsworth is the Brooklyn born lyricist who has become one of the most respected lyricists in the world of underground and independent hip-hop. Like all intellectuals, his music has grown with his personality. His transition from what he was to who is now is honest, real, and emotional.
Originally part of the duo, Punch N Words, Wordsworth gained respect and exposure as they performed in the legendary Lyricist’s Lounge. These performances led to classic collaborations on “Yes Yes Y’all” from A Tribe Called Quest’s “The Love Movement” album and “Twice Inna Lifetime” from Black Star’s LP. Both Punchline and Wordsworth became stars on the MTV show version of “Lyricist’s Lounge” too.
From singles and an EP, Wordsworth was known as a lyrical monster who could freestyle and battle while spitting insightful lyrics. He held the spotlight with guest spots on Masta Ace’s “Disposable Arts” and “Long Hot Summer” albums. His single, “On Your Feet”, produced by Da Beatminerz was an energetic hip-hop anthem that could move the laziest people.
Fast-forward to 2004, Halftooth Records released his debut solo album “Mirror Music” with production by Da Beatminerz, Curt Gowdy, Ayatollah, Frequency, Oddisee, Belief, and others. While many know Wordsworth as an excellent freestyle emcee and battle rapper, “Mirror Music” is much more emotional and introspective. He rhymes about stories and situations of everyday life. His new topics range from fatherhood, love life, money, and inner city life. His growth is more and more evident as each track plays. While emcees rhyme about money, cars, jewelry, and women, Wordsworth’s wealth is his knowledge of the English language.
MVRemix: Your debut LP is called ‘Mirror Music’. Tell us about it. Why the title?
Wordsworth: I called it ‘Mirror Music’ because it's a reflection of the world through my eyes. I believe when you listen to it, you’re hearing an audio mirror of what people go through.
MVRemix: Why did it take so long to finally come out?
Wordsworth: It took awhile to come out because I had to make sure I knew what I wanted to do musically. Also, the offers I was getting weren't in my best interest. So, I took time to grow as an artist, so I can be here for the long run.
MVRemix: You got involved with Halftooth Records. How did this come about? What was it about them that was different from other labels?
Wordsworth: I met David Shrager in the Seven Heads office and asked if they were looking for artists. I played him a few tracks and he dug it. Weeks later, we started negotiating. The difference with them and other labels is that they let me make my album without idiotic input. They just let me be free and put my heart into my work.
MVRemix: Do you have a favorite song on the album?
Wordsworth: My favorite song on the album would be ‘Trust’ because it's real personal. I also like ‘12 months’ a lot too. Plus, the song ‘Guardian Angel’ is a personal favorite.
MVRemix: The songs on the album are very personal and introspective. I think some people were expecting more punch lines, freestyles, or battle rap. Was this move intentional?
Wordsworth: Well, the album has the battle side with songs like ‘Gotta Pay’, but people knew I could do that already. It was intentional to give people another side of me musically, that people didn't know. You only can brag how dope you are in the same way so many times. You can brag how dope you are in other perspectives too.
MVRemix: What made you go solo? Will there be another Punchline & Wordsworth project?
Wordsworth: Me and Punch are still partners. It just was time to venture out and find out what we wanted to do as artists. The EP didn't share my point of view nor do I think it shared his. A Punch N Words project may come after Punch’s solo.
MVRemix: You said that the EP did not share your ‘point of view’. Can you expand on that?
Wordsworth: It held our point of view of battling and maybe, even women, at the moment. We both knew we have lives besides that which I expounded on in ‘Mirror Music’.
MVRemix: It has been said that ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’. Do you agree? Why?
Wordsworth: Yeah, I agree. Words can echo forever. No matter where you are, you can be moved by scripture to believe in someone. That's why music is heard around the world and brings people together. People may be threatened by a weapon, but I'm sure a speech can be powerful enough to take away any fear of any harm from any weapon.
MVRemix: Da Beatminerz did an incredible job with 'On Your Feet' and ’12 Months’. How did you hook up with them and what was that collaboration like? How are they different from other producers?
Wordsworth: Yeah, they are some of the best producers in the game. I got a beat CD from my home girl, Margeaux. I said that I wanted a specific beat and they said they had to hear my vocals first. That's how ‘On Your Feet’ came about. They actually take time to come to the mixing session. They have a vision for the beat and the bass lines are always crazy. They know how to make a hot record.
MVRemix: What was it about the other producers on your LP that made you choose them?
Wordsworth: The other producers just had sounds that made my mind click once I heard the track. I was looking for anything that made me explore other field of rhyming. You can hear it on ‘Fastlane’, ‘Point Blank’, real awkward but came out dope.
MVRemix: What emcees would you like to work with in the future?
Wordsworth: Honestly not sure, but I like The Roots, Large Professor, Pete Rock, and Premier if possible, but not sure MC wise.
MVRemix: How did you get involved with Lyricist's Lounge (the venue) and then, the TV show? What was that like?
Wordsworth: I got involved with the Lyricist Lounge from rocking on Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito. Me and Punch’s name circulated from rapping on there, then the Lounge approached us for the album. The TV show I got involved with started from a cipher, which spawned a videotape that basically was a show demonstration. I had fun doing the show I learned a lot of different writing techniques and other things. It was a great experience.
MVRemix: You did an excellent job on Tribe Called Quest's "Yes Yes Y'all" from their last album 'The Love Movement'. What was that experience like?
Wordsworth: Thanks. That was cool vibing with Q-Tip and everyone. It was fun to see all of writing at the same time and being part of history.
MVRemix: You are also a gifted freestyle emcee. What were some techniques you had (and still have) on perfecting this art?
Wordsworth: I never knew people were writing rhymes when I was younger, so I just practiced to perfect that. I just try to think of what's important to the people in my surroundings and try to speak on it.
MVRemix: You have a degree in English. (So do I, from Rutgers). Do you feel that a college education has helped you in hip-hop?
Wordsworth: Yes. It helped me become a better writer in my field. It definitely gave me some extra techniques to apply.
MVRemix: On 'Mirror Music', were the rhymes pre-written or off the top of the head?
Wordsworth: Everything on ‘Mirror Music’ was written to the track. I only free styled some of it. Then, went home and revised it.
MVRemix: What was it like growing up in Brooklyn?
Wordsworth: I grew up in Brooklyn in a melting pot. It was cool but had its negative times and good times. Everyone wasn't broke and everyone wasn't rich. It was something that made you street smart. New York definitely makes you aware of your surroundings and your senses are heightened.
MVRemix: What was the last incident of racism you experienced?
Wordsworth: Well, the last experience of racism was when I was pulled over on The Lower East Side of Manhattan for a broken tail light that was working. They asked for my ID after saying I was stopping in the middle of the street. Once they checked out my records and seen I had no issues, they rolled up and said, ‘Get the tail light fixed.’ They needed an excuse for the police report, in case something happened.
MVRemix: What do you think about the US involvement in the Middle East?
Wordsworth: I think the U.S. got into something they can't get out of. The intentions for going to war we're not the case at hand. It was a bold face lie we invaded for, and you can't have peace with one person’s ideology of it. We just can't pull out of there now. We can't leave the terrain like that. It's a living hell situation over there.
MVRemix: Where were you on the Sept. 11th terrorist attack. How did you deal with it? How did you think it has affected hip-hop?"
Wordsworth: On September 11th, I was in Brooklyn. I was shocked that it was even happening. I used to work in the Towers just a year before. I thought it was a simple accident. When I found out it was an attack, I was like ‘Wow!’ I never thought it would happen like that here. It made hip-hop aware of the value of life and the message we project can be about reality.
MVRemix: How has being a father changed your approach to hip-hop?"
Wordsworth: It made me realize that these words are chapters of my life that will be read my children. I want it to be a classic that they can be proud of and pass the book to a friend to read.
MVRemix: Word association. I am going to say the name of a person and you say the first thing that pops into your head. So, if I said 'Public Enemy', you may say 'Revolution' or 'Fight The Power'. If I said 'Flava Flav', you may say 'The Surreal Life' or 'Clock' or 'Crack." Okay?
Wordsworth: Legend. Dope emcee.
MVRemix: 50 Cent.
Wordsworth: Hard worker.
MVRemix: Curtis Mayfield.
Wordsworth: Soundtrack to life.
MVRemix: George Bush.
MVRemix: I saw you live at S.O.B.’s with J-Live in New York City a while back. You mixed your sets together. Why was that done? What was it like touring with J-Live?
Wordsworth: Yeah, we mixed the set together. Most likely, it was J-live’s show and he just shared time with me. J is a cool dude. I'm glad the brother let me rock on the road with him. You get to see him enjoy his work and how people love his music also.
MVRemix: What collaboration are you most proud of? Why?
Wordsworth: I think the one I'm most proud of is the song with Black Star. ‘Twice Inna A Lifetime’ caught a lot of people’s attention.
MVRemix: What is your favorite moment from days of performing at Lyricist's Lounge?
Wordsworth: The day me and Punch performed. Q -Tip hosted and that’s how we got on the Tribe album.
MVRemix: What has been in your CD player or on your turntable recently?
Wordsworth: The Ness mix tape, Da Beatminerz, Fully Loaded with Static LP, Masta Ace ‘Long Hot Summer’ LP.
MVRemix: I know someone who said, 'All artists will eventually disappoint their fans and in hip-hop, it happens quicker.' Would you agree with that statement?
Wordsworth: No, because there are artists who haven't. Masta Ace, Outkast, and there are a number of others. You just have to listen to the music and keep your vibe.
MVRemix: You worked on the last 2 Masta Ace albums (‘Disposable Arts’ & ‘Long Hot Summer’). How did that collaboration come about and how is he different to work with from other artists?
Wordsworth: Me and Ace had a mutual friend. Ace heard a song from me and Punch and said that he wanted us to do a song on his album. It was great opportunity. We were also fans of Ace too. When you work with Ace, he has an idea in mind and knows how he wants it executed. We work until it's done.
MVRemix: What advice would you give to an up and coming emcee going the independent route?
Wordsworth: Make sure you stay on the same grind you had before you put the record out. Also get what you want from it, you're going independent for a reason, not to have major issues.
MVRemix: Do you smoke weed? Drink?
Wordsworth: I don't smoke at all. I may drink occasionally, but next to never.
MVRemix: What is hip-hop lacking these days? What does it need?
Wordsworth: Hip-hop these days is lacking opinion and freedom of choice. You get brainwashed to what is supposedly hot. It needs diversity to be accepted.
MVRemix: If you could re-make a classic hip-hop song, what would it be? What would your approach be?
Wordsworth: Not sure which one but I love ‘Top Billing’ and ‘Mahogany’. I rather leave classics alone right now, but you never know
MVRemix: As an emcee, who are your biggest influences?
Wordsworth: I would say Kool G Rap, The Juice Crew, and maybe even Krs-One.
MVRemix: When did you first begin rhyming? What made you stay with it?
Wordsworth: I started in 5th grade and it's always been fun so I stuck with it. Plus, I saw I was better than others at it.
MVRemix: Who supported you the most?
Wordsworth: I would say my mom. She let me listen to all types of music without censorship. She knew that she was more powerful than music.
MVRemix: In ‘Mirror Music’, you write about romantic relationships. How has hip-hop affected your love life?
Wordsworth: Well I don’t write about romance. I write about ups and downs in a relationship. The good is just as entertaining as the bad, so I wrote to let people know I go through it too.
MVRemix: What are some key elements that make a good LP?
Wordsworth: Sequence is very important. Answering questions you heard asked about you and you asked about others. When the album starts, it should pump up your adrenaline somehow, fast or slow. When you do songs, they should vary from what people wondered, as far as what you can talk about.
MVRemix: What do you want on your epitaph?
Wordsworth: He fulfilled his purpose for living.
MVRemix: What is the biggest mistake you have made in your career?
Wordsworth: Haven't, this is all part of God's plan.
MVRemix: What are some misconceptions do you think people have of you?
Wordsworth: They thought I was just a battle rapper and all I wanted to do was kill emcees. Nah, I live an everyday life also.
MVRemix: What are some of your goals now? What is in the future for Wordsworth?
Wordsworth: My goals are to get a film company up and running and a record label all under the umbrella of Wordwide Communications. Next Da Beatminerz album, I got a song with Last Emperor and a solo record on there. I am also working on the next album.
MVRemix: Any final words for the people reading this?
Wordsworth: Yeah, thanks for the support. There is no me without y’all, Peace.