By Jake Paine
On the should-be classic "I Left it Wet for You," UGK's Pimp C rhymed "All the time, I'm bumpin' WC, 'cause it seems like he's the only n***a makin' sense to me." That was almost 15 years ago. WC, approaching his twentieth year as a recorded MC is still making plenty of sense to many.
With his recently-released Guilty By Affiliation, William Calhoun keeps it currently by chronicling his strong bond with Ice Cube, weighing his hood credibility against his rap wealth and twisting words into a flow that's endured from WC's early days with Rhyme Syndicate and Low Profile.
The twisted-braid MC spoke to AllHipHop.com about his evolution and maturity, his back catalogue and his status abroad. With a new album that shows no age but flexes its wisdom, WC will forever make sense to me too.
AllHipHop.com: My favorite WC line ever was on “Just Clownin’” where you said, “When Run-DMC and Jam Master first bust / We was snatchin’ motherf**kas out of Nissan trucks.” To me, that line embodies your street certification with your love of Hip-Hop. Tell me about that line’s meaning to you… what was WC like in 1984?
WC: 1984 was the era of crack taking over in the hood. A lot of money was starting to flow to the hood, in the ghettos in general. When there’s more money, there’s more weapons. With more weapons, there’s more violence jumping off. Music was an outlet for me. Back then, that was an era when mothaf**kas was rollin’ in Nissan trucks with little sounds in ‘em. We used to have Uncle Jam’s Army come through and do concerts and stuff, and always something would jump off at those concerts. I was just letting people know that I’m not new to this. Back in the days when motherf**kas were listening to Run-DMC, I was really experiencing “Hard Times.”
AllHipHop.com: You found your first major success with DJ Aladdin as Low Profile with the song “Pay Ya Dues.” You just came back from touring in Australia. In a WC concert in 2007, does that song still get performed?
WC: On a WC solo show, s**t, yeah, definitely! When I’m on the road with [Ice] Cube, nah. My whole goal when it comes to getting out and performing is to not just do the records that cats have heard from me lately, my whole goal is to get in there and create one big party. At a party, if you request a song, you’ve got it. I just want to put n***as up on WC and West Coast culture. I’m bringing ‘em up to date. You’ll catch “Pay Ya Dues,” ‘cause that was the foundation, the beginning.
AllHipHop.com: If you were to release that song today, or write it. Would the lyrics change much? A lot of rappers aren’t paying dues…
WC: It would be the same song, it would just have different names. “You sound like KRS-Chuckski-Kool Moe-S-1, yelling on the mic like your name was Run,” I’d change the names to somebody that’s relevant right now. Other than that, I’d keep it the same way because it’s still relevant. In order to get out here in this game and maintain, you gotta pay dues. Even the cats that’s been very successful in this game is still paying dues in this game.
AllHipHop.com: In the late ‘90s, some people perceived Westside Connection as a group throwing gasoline on embers from the East/West conflict. Some of us knew better. But shortly after the first album, you appeared on “The Militia Part 2” with Gang Starr and Rakim. Tell me what that record meant to you.
WC: It meant a lot to me. A lot of people in the media was trying to make it like it was an East/West thing when it really wasn’t. We was representing where we was from – liberating the West Coast. By us throwing up the “W,” people that didn’t like that, ran with it. Long story short, that record at the time was something I seized the opportunity to do. I’m still a fan. It just so happened that me and DJ Premier was always cool. To this day, we’re like brothers. If Premier flies to L.A. to handle some business, he has no problem getting a rental car, meeting me in the hood, getting a hood burger, going to the corner liquor store, and eating in my living room, smoking a joint, chopping it up, and being out. That’s how we’ve been for the longest.
That record was nothing – nothing but a phone call. I called him and told him I was in New York on business. He was like, “Stop by the studio.” I got there, he played me a bangin’ track and said, “Get up on it.” I just couldn’t resist. It was like three or four in the morning.
AllHipHop.com: On your album, you have a track called “Crazy Toones 4 President.” He’s been instrumental throughout your career since the ‘90s, and did all the scratching on this album. Why did you do that now?
WC: Crazy Toones is definitely the backbone of my music. He’s my little [blood] brother. We know each other like we know ourselves. He’s always been my inspiration, my ears too. Even in my solo career, he had a major hand in it [outside of the Maad Circle]. He’s the only n***a I know that I can ask to spell something or say something with records, and he can do it within 30 minutes. He can go to his records or Serato and make “Jake Paine;” he’ll take the “P” from f**kin’ Whodini and so forth. This n***a’s ridiculous. Cube and Snoop…they’re all reaching out to him to do what he do. Toones had to be involved in this record right here. This record is so important to the West Coast. We needed a record under the radar that still stood for something. The West Coast is always known for their DJs… Joe Cooley, Battlecat, Egyptian Lover, Aladdin. Most n***as never mention their DJs anymore, we made a song about it.
AllHipHop.com: Looking at yourself all these years later, how have you matured as a man and as an artist?
WC: As a man and an artist, I’ve changed ‘cause I’ve had the chance to taste success. I realized that a lot of us don’t get to taste success in the way that I’ve been blessed to. A lot of people don’t get a chance to be in the spotlight. Success is really only based on the eye of the beholder. What I’m trying to say in so many words is, all I wanted to have was a worldwide voice. Once I tasted it, and saw how many people from ghettos there were dying, worldwide, over senseless crimes, I got to say to myself, “Damn, this is a blessing. I’m not gonna waste it or take it for granted.” That made me mature a lot as an individual and as an artist. Easy come and easy go.
AllHipHop.com: Overseas, you’re something else. Domestic radio might shun your album because you’re on an independent label and the climate has changed. In Europe or Asia, what’s your career like right now?
WC: Yeah. Product nowadays is only as good as the person who can get it to the fiends. If you got a big machine behind you… Kanye West and 50 Cent had machines behind them pushing buttons, making sure every five minutes, you’ll hear a record, see a video, n***as talking about you. At the end of the day, buttons are being pushed. On the other hand, the others gotta get it in the peoples’ hands. But once the people taste that s**t, they’re gonna want that as well. We’re not relying on radio [or] video to sell our record, we’re relying on the word of mouth on the streets. We’re beatin’ up the pavement, getting inside these clubs that a lot of people don’t want to f**k with, in order to have a lot [consumers].
When we’re overseas, they get to see and hear what we’re working with ‘cause we brought it to them. Once they taste that s**t, they love everything we’re giving ‘em. Right now they’re trying to get my record licensed overseas. There were requests for me to come back over as a solo artist – not “WC & Ice Cube,” but me. They want a month over there. It’s just a matter of us getting out there. Overseas, it’s overwhelming. I can’t walk off stage without them yelling, “Crip walk!”
AllHipHop.com: You’ve done so much for Hip-Hop for nearly 20 years. You’re still doing it too. What do you want from Hip-Hop?
WC: At the end of the day, I just want n***as to listen to me and say, “Know what? I learned something from that n***a. Throughout his career, he kept an element of staying true to himself, to the West and to something he believed in.” You can’t do a whole album about being in the club ‘cause when you leave the club, you go home and face reality. There’s bills due, police killin’ n***as – and this s**t is going on worldwide.