Willie Rich

27 July 2015

[ ] : What's good Willie Rich!? Tell us where you are from?

[ Willie Rich ] : I'm from the East Side of San Jose, but I represent the whole Shark City. I love San Jose a.k.a Skrillacon Valley! It's the land of opportunity; you know where the money at.

[ ] : So how and when it all began... your rap journey. Tell us about how you started rapping, who was there with you back then and how the Self Made Hustlaz was founded.

[ Willie Rich ] : Growing up, I had a lot of rap influences: EPMD's Eric Sermon, Too Short, NWA... the list goes on. I wrote my first rap in 1989 and that changed my life forever. I used to go by the name of Young T - The Self Made Hustler. I was the kid with the big Sony headphones on my ears, tape deck tucked on the inside of my coat pocket... slappin! In high school I used to battle-rap every lunch period, every break, just anywhere I could get it in.

In 1993 I formed a group with some of my closest patnas (myself, Mac B, Bryce, Greedy Black, Da'Heathin and Meko McAfee) called Self Made Hustlaz. Bryce and I were introduced to the game by this OG named G-Rock. He put out a compilation titled "Major Playaz, Hustlaz and Gangstaz" in 1997 and this was the first project I was on. We had the hardest song on the album called "Related to the Game". From that point on things seemed to take off and we gained a few more members to the group... J Remy, Thunderbird and Tayta Booski.

[ ] : Tell us something more about each project from Self Made Hustlaz

[ Willie Rich ] : Self Made Hustlaz dropped its first album titled "Low 2 High" in 1999; it featured The Heathin, Mac B, Greedy Black, Bryce, Meko McAfee and myself Willie Rich. We recorded that whole album at China's Cabinet. Those were the ADAT days and as a matter of fact, China and Jus Dre from the Bootycrack magazine did the graphics for that album.

Our second group album was titled "Bow Down" (2002). It was album that Bryce and myself primarily put together. It did a lot better than we anticipated. At that time we were actually signed with JT The Bigga Figga and Get Low Records (a one-year contract). The "Bow Down" album featured Turf Talk, JT The Bigga Figga and KMEL's original street soldier Herm Lewis and included production by Traxamillion.

In 2010 we dropped an EP produced by Traxamillion called "The Made". The Made had numerous songs featured on Wild 94.9's Mistah Fab's Yellow Bus Radio. We released our first single "Futuristic", which was more of an up tempo club banger. Other songs on this album included "Boss Like Me" and "Oh My God" featuring Goldie from The Federation. I had a lot of fun doing that album!

After 3 albums we decided to start working on our own solo projects and careers.

[ ] : Why did your group change the name for its third album?

[ Willie Rich ] : We changed the name from Self Made Hustlaz to The Made because we matured as a group as well as musically. We had come a long way and the name The Made said just that... it was our stamp.

[ ] : Tell us about working with one of the most known producers from the Bay - Traxamillion.

[ Willie Rich ] : Trax is a cool laidback type dude. We get in the lab and he knocks shit out. Trax and I (as well as the rest of the group) go back well over 20 years. We're all from San Jose so we got history.

[ ] : Let's focus on your solo career now. Over a decade ago you dropped your debut solo called "Da Syndrome". If I'm not mistaken it was 2003. Your next solo and the next one have just been released: "Still In the Kitchen" in February and "Da Streets Iz Talking" in June. What happened over that 12 year long hiatus? Why didn't you drop more solo material?

[ Willie Rich ] : Although I didn't drop any solo projects, I did a lot of collaborations and projects with other artists such as: Money Hungry Productions, Stunna Boys, Jiggsaw and Biaje's The Reconstruction... just to name a few. I signed to Money Hungry Production in about 2010 and was featured on a lot of songs with other Money Hungry artists. We also did a lot of shows during that time. To be honest, I wasn't really worried about dropping a solo album. I was just enjoying doing music.

[ ] : And why did you decide to bring so much solo stuff in 2015? You dropped 2 solos and are already announcing "My Pablo" in the upcoming weeks.

[ Willie Rich ] : The answer is simply that it is long overdue. My fans were always hittin' me up asking when was I going to drop my own solo joint. So this time, with no mistake, they don't have to wait anymore. I'm more experienced, not only in music but on the business side as well.

[ ] : Tell us something more about your next project "My Pablo".

[ Willie Rich ] : "My Pablo" is my signature album. I was able to express my creative side in this album. I did all of the recording and mixing myself and the production on this album is crazy. My first single off the album is "Sunny Day". This song features my man out of Kansas City, Royce Krispie. The graphics were done by my long time folks Charles Mosely. The title song "My Pablo" was produced by my man Strict 9. I plan on releasing this album August 25, 2015.

[ ] : What should your fans expect from you now - more solo material or are you also planning to work with your comrades from Self Made Hustlaz?

[ Willie Rich ] : My fans should always expect my best work. I say things that a lot of people are afraid to say. I'm gonna keep it street on this next run with a little political justice, revolution type shit on they ass. I don't have a title on it yet but it's definitely going to be an eye-opening album that shows my growth. As far as working with Self Made Hustlaz, we'll always be family but whether we work together or not is in God's hands.

[ ] : What is 4080 Music Group? Is this just the name of your "label" that's making stamps on your projects or is it something more? A home for other artists, studio, etc...?

[ Willie Rich ] : I created 4080 Music Group as a home for myself and a few other upcoming artists. Since music is created by the soul instead of the mind, I wanted to have creative control over my projects and give other artists that same opportunity. The general of the camp is KB the Prince a.k.a. Prince Too Shady, Cash, Mac B and my right hand man Q-Butta.

[ ] : How is it being a San Jose rapper; I mean, SJ is one of the most fertile turfs in the Bay Area, so your competition is huge, there are a lot of other rappers trying to get their bread out of rapping.

[ Willie Rich ] : San Jose a.k.a. Skrillacon Valley is the land of opportunity; it's the high-tech capital of the world and the land of money. Just like any other city, we network but our network is on a much larger scale. I do music because I love it; getting paid is just a bonus.

Check out Willie Rich on iTunes, Facebook, Twitter, Reverbnation and Soundcloud.