Artist Profile: Wes Phili

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I had the pleasure of chopping it up with local independent rapper Wes Phili on how he’s been, where he’s been, and what went into his debut album Black Flower.

First of all, how old are you, tell me about where you are from, and what kind of influence where you are from has had on your music.

26, from North Philly. Grew up seeing both sides of the fence. Divorced parents; Mother, a lawyer who would eventually move to a more quiet area just outside of Philly. Father, a working man living in one of North Philly`s several hoods. My music comes from my experiences growing up in both, along with having lived in NYC in my later teens & early 20s. Philly is an MC`s mecca…long history of battle rap and great lyricists just like its brother NYC. Reppin Philly is askin for that torch…and by default you can’t be weak on a mic if you wanna carry that…bein nice at ya craft is showin respect to those that paved the way for you.

What kind of hip-hop scene, if any, were you exposed to growing up?

“The Infamous” by Mobb Deep was the first album I ever owned. That was my introduction to rap as a kid…and I was hooked. From there, I then moved on to albums like “Illmatic”, “Enter the 36 Chambers”, “OB4CL”….and the rest was history.

You said recently you are in Japan for the time being, tell me a little bit about what you’re up to, and what the change has been like.

I came out here just for a change of scenery to help me reflect on my life and figure out what I really wanted to do with it. Felt like I was in a bubble back home, and I needed to get outta that and find a place of solitude away from everything familiar, where I could breathe and think clearly.  Still a working man, but my free time is almost entirely spent on perfecting my craft.  The goal being to live completely off my music soon.

In a sentence or less, how would you describe your style?

Eclectic… I`m a little a bit of everything and future releases will reflect that.

Who do you listen to music-wise? and who has inspired you? Hip hop related or not.

I listen to anything and everything. If it sounds good, I`ll listen to it; regardless of genre. Recently though, my playlist has been filled with a lot of Roc Marciano, Mick Jenkins, Mach Hommy, (Illmatic – I Am… era) Nas, Lupe Fiasco, and Black Thought. All of these MCs have elite pens, and you can learn something different from listening to each. No matter how much I improve, I`ll always be a student of the game.

You said it took about a year to complete Black Flower. When you first started did you intend for it to take that long?

Absolutely. I like to take my time when making music in general…and doubly so with Black Flower. Black Flower was me really challenging myself lyrically and content-wise. In my opinion, storytelling is what separates your average artist from your truly great ones…and instead of doing that with just one track, I wanted to challenge myself to do it throughout an entire album. One single story told throughout 10 tracks. A lot of effort went into this project, and I feel my penmanship grew with each track I wrote.

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What does your writing process look like? I.e., medium, ambiance, company etc.

Complete solitude. I lock myself in my room and tune out everything around me, focusing only on what`s directly in front of me.  There`s an interesting story from Nas`s early career about how he went “missing” for a day or so. He was found in a room that he rented just for writing, with papers filled with rhymes and verses scattered everywhere and all that. I`m not much different.

What goals, if any, did you have going into the creation of Black Flower, and do you think you achieved those goals?

No grand goals or schemes…I just wanted to test myself, tell a story, and create a listening experience as best as I could. If the end result attracted an audience & fanbase, cool. If it didn`t, also cool. This was more for me to experiment with my artistry and push my boundaries further. Do I feel I accomplished that? Absolutely.

How do you feel about how it’s been received thus far?

I`m pleased. I haven`t really been heavily promoting the album or anything I`ve done to keep it real… I`ll just finish something and if I like how it sounds I`ll put it out there, then will move directly onto the next thing. I`m assuming most are finding out about the album through word of mouth, and the feedback I`ve been getting back has been entirely positive. This just motivates me to continue taking my time to make sure everything I release continues to be of quality.

Tell me about your relationship with JLVSN, and how you two worked together to put together an album like this.

JLVSN is the god and is one of the most talented producers out there by far. He reached out to me letting me know he was feeling my sound, and proceeded to send me pure heat. Everything he sent me I connected with instantly, and knew immediately I was going to make an album with dude. Much more will be coming from us both soon.

What was the process behind choosing samples and some of the theme-central intros/outros?

I`m a film addict and I wanted to do something with that…so I decided to make a film through music. Once I had an idea in mind for the story I wanted to tell, knowing what to use for the skits came naturally.  As for the samples, I knew what vibes and feelings I wanted the listener to experience on each track, so it was just about choosing samples that could bring those to light.

Only two features on the album, but Heem Stogied and Estee Nack definitely stood their ground, tell me a little about your relationship with these two, and how these features came about.

I first heard Heem Stogied on one of Mach Hommy`s earlier joints and thought dude was ill. So, I went on to check out his King Stogied Dump Gawd tape and was like damn…. dude raw as hell. Whole style from the flow, energy (unmatched here), cadence, and lyrics…all the coldest shit man.

I got put onto Estee Nack from the knowledge god Nick Gauder (fadeawaybarber). Listened to a few tracks of his on SoundCloud and was like yo…his talent is ridiculous. The rhyme schemes, unorthodox flows…there’s layers to his shit man…and those adlibs…no words man shit crazy.

They both came through and were perfect fits for the album.

How did you link up with Camouflage Monk? He has an insanely elite group of collaborators and you seem to fit right in skill-wise.

Camouflage Monk is God…you know it, your friends know it, and anyone else that`s up to speed with the renaissance going on in hip hop right now knows it. No doubt he`ll be revered in the same respects as Knxwledge, Madlib, and the likes real soon. I reached out to him and had him check out a track I did with Nicholas Craven (another god) and he was feeling it so we connected. Expect more from him & I soon too.

Based off some of the really personal songs on this album like What A Man Wants it seems like despite having been through a lot of strife, you have evolved to a very pragmatic outlook on everything. Speak on that a little.

“What A Man Wants” is the most personal song I`ve ever written. A lot of that song drew from previous relationships I`ve experienced, and in particular, touched on some feelings that I never got a chance to share with my woman that I loved, who had passed away in the middle of me making the album. Took a lot to write that song and finish it. It had my own personal experiences mixed with the story I was telling on the album.

On songs like Heist! You do some really quality storytelling, which has become a less followed path as of more recent times, what inspires you to do so?

The challenge of doing it. Storytelling without sacrificing lyricism…and by that I`m referring to all the similes…metaphors…entendres etc. that are a trademark of hip hop. Making a story interesting but easy to follow while still maintaining a certain level of wordplay ain`t an easy feat…and learning how to do that was a difficult but enjoyable process

What is your favorite song on the album? 

High Tension is my personal favorite, then after that would probably be Pipe Dreams. High Tension, because as someone else put it, it`s got an abundance of “flavor”. Pipe Dreams because it takes me back to that old The Infamous & Hell On Earth era Mobb Deep sound.

Will you be returning to Philly anytime soon? What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get back?

Definitely… that’s home. Cliché but likely grab me a good Philly Cheese Steak…been a while…damn.

What can we expect in terms of future releases, collaborations etc.?

Big things…and I mean BIG things starting this year and going into next. Both in the underground scene and outside of it.  A massive release with THE ONE AND ONLY God sorcerer Evilldewer, and a few high-level collabs. Stay tuned.

Any shows?

Absolutely. Plan on making a few trips back to do some shows around the end of this year and throughout the next. Maybe even sooner if the bag is right.

Thank you for the interview and the music Wes Phili, looking forward to what you have in store.

Appreciate your time king. Peace to you, and salute.

 

 

Listen to Black Flower here: https://wesphili.bandcamp.com/releases.  

Instagram: @wesphili

Twitter: @wes_phili

A Conversation with Wicca Phase Springs Eternal

Image from Primary Talent International

Above the Fillmore lies a secret world with red velvet walls and giant sectional couches, dim lighting and high ceilings, surrounding a bar. This secret world is known as The Foundry, a small upstairs venue that is part of The Fillmore which presented a Secret Boy, AKA Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, on Wednesday of last week, February 27th, after the recent release of his album “Suffer On.

Wicca Phase hails from Scranton, PA, so this night in particular was chosen as his tour-opener and release show for his new album Suffer On which came out on February 25th. The 5 openers ranged from rap to hardcore and included Choice to Make, Guardian, Lil Zubin, Fantasy Camp, and Angel Du$t. Later on in the night, Wicca Phase, whose off-stage name is Adam McIlwee, walked on-stage eager for his first show on tour.

Commenting that he expected 150 less people to be at the show, the whole room was packed with fans of all the openers as well as Wicca. Although Wicca Phase is best known for his goth sound with long, droning, emotional lyrics, he was incredibly charismatic, often breaking out into smiles and laughs at the end of verses. His unique voice is unheard of in the traditional rap scene, with his drawn out and deep moaning lyricism, a genre of rap that is incredibly nichey that seems to only be successfully executed by groups such as Goth Boi Clique and Misery Club, which he is a part of.

One could say his alternative lyrics and approach stem from when he was in in the band Tigers Jaw, where he can be heard singing similar themes of heartbreak and uplifting music paired with the harsh realities of being young and unhinged. When asked about this, he replied saying he writes songs the same way he did when he was in Tigers Jaw, and being in the band helped him develop into a better writer.

In addition to his entire family and girlfriend supporting his home show, a familiar (and tattooed) face, Lil Tracy, made a cameo from the sidelines of the show. It was obvious that McIlwee had an incredible support group as his friends and family alike enjoyed the show just as much as the screaming kids in the audience.

After chants for an encore, Wicca Phase came back out and performed “Absolute in Doubt,” a song he collaborated on with the late GBC member and friend Lil Peep. An emotional end to an incredibly intimate show was the perfect way to kick off his North American Tour.

“It wasn’t somethin’ that I thought aboutBut, knew that you were absolute in doubt”

After the show, I waited… and waited… and waited until the floor cleared and Wicca appeared again to collect some of his belongings from the stage and greet the fans who hung around after the show. I got the chance to have a short interview with him with the last few minutes he had. I leaned over the barricades to ask a few questions…

)O(

Why did you choose to have your album release show in philly?

Adam: It’s the closest place to my hometown where people will actually come to a show, yeah.

Okay, so GBC seems to have started the whole emo-rap genre, do you feel like you have personally contributed to the creation of it?

Adam: Uhhhh, maybe inadvertently, I just wanted to do, like electronic music and this is what happened.

Can you elaborate a little bit on your name?

Adam: Uhh, not too much, it was given to me by an internet artist that I knew and I asked her for a name and that’s what she came back with, um I think it was kind of a troll, like, uh, that I was just going through a “Wicca Phase” and but it stuck.

So did being in Tiger’s Jaw, a more alternative band, help create your style that you have now or did you just want to do something different?

Adam: No, it probably did, I only… I only know how to write songs one way. And I wrote songs like that in Tiger’s Jaw and I write Wicca Phase songs the same way, but I got better at writing songs while I was in Tiger’s Jaw because I practiced.

)O(

After the brief interview and a few pictures, it was apparent that Wicca truly was happy to have dedicated fans who enjoy the different type of music he creates. Even more so, performing seemed to be something he will never take for granted, as I could tell he was trying to deliver the same emotions and feelings he had when creating his music to the crowd in front of him.

His set was filmed which you can check out here:

STREAM: Oberhofer’s New Record, Chronovision

Chronovision features Oberhofer’s signature amped psych-pop with orchestral flourish, New Wave flare, and grungy fuzz, but multiplied with his intensity that only time and life’s gut checks can enhance. The road to Chronovision was winding, owing to Oberhofer’s resolve to produce the LP himself and initially taking him from the Catskills to Seattle and back. A final spurt brought him to a studio in his hometown of Tacoma, two NYC facilities (Strange Weather, Electric Lady), and the former Sound City in Los Angeles. Lastly: Atlanta to mix with Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Washed Out). Exactly 106 demos later, Oberhofer emerged with these 12 songs.​