AAA Music Approved: Willie Of Wilshire
aaamusic | On 08, May 2020
Who are you and where are you from?
I was born Willie Arevalo from Guatemalan and El Salvadorean immigrant parents and was raised in Downtown LA in a predominately poor socio-economic Latino neighborhood. My artist name is Willie Of Wilshire or WOW for short which is derived from Wilshire Blvd. one of the streets I grew up on by Downtown LA. (Shout out to C4MULA for helping me come up with this name) I liked the idea of Downtown being like my Kingdom. Like how you have royalty with titles like the Duke of Sussex or Duke of Edinburgh etc. Coming from the bottom I wanted to visualize myself as royalty, as the King of Wilshire if that makes sense haha. I also have Mayan blood in me so I like to think I come from Mayan Kings and Queens. As far as music I developed a love and passion for Hip Hop Music as a way to express my creativity which has grown into my life calling. I like to write about different topics that inspire me, whether it’s how I feel at the moment, experiences I am going thru, things I have seen, current politics and conscious issues.
What inspired you to get into music?
One of the earliest memories I have of Hip Hop was listening to Biggie Smalls, “Going back to Cali.” My Ese neighbors where playing it loud and once I heard that song I knew I wanted to be a Rapper. Also my Elementary School Bus Driver would always bump Hip Hop on the bus and I would always tell myself one day that’s going to be on the radio, my time will come. I started writing music at first just to vent my frustrations. I had stacks of notebooks filled with rhymes from top to bottom all past the margins. I would write everything from punchlines, to poems, and I even had a rhyme dictionary I would add too all the time. But later it grew into actual songwriting, followed by recordings and performances. There are too many influences to name. But if I had to choose a few I would have to say Tupac, Biggie, Wu-Tang, Psycho Realm, Nas, Immortal Technique, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop, Ice Cube, 50 Cent, Kanye West, Meek Mill, Rick Ross, Nipsey Hussle, Talib and Mos Def, Skepta, Giggs, and Stormzy. Anyone following their dreams inspires me.
What have you done?
I have been writing music since I was a young kid. I’m proud of how far I have come as far as perfecting the craft and finding my own voice. I’ve gotten way better as a songwriter and rapper but still have a long way to go to truly master the art form, which I think you never achieve but always remain a student for life. There is always room for improvement and leveling up. As far as projects I am proud of releasing a trilogy of mixtapes called Practice, Showtime and Grammy. Releasing Music videos and dropping one song a week for over a year now. I am proud of releasing my single “Tell Me Twice” which had an impact in my community and spoke on the current problems we are facing at home with immigration/racism. Looking back now, I am proud to have been able to have done it all independently and financed it all myself and to have never given up on my dream regardless of all the setbacks I have faced. It’s really just me and a few guys working on my music. Shout out to my producer/engineer Eddie Ruxspin, New Ethics, Big Ferns The Chef, Max Rebo and Mav Rose.
What are you like live?
I have done mostly shows in California at small bars, clubs, backyards, parking lots, anywhere really to earn my stripes and gain experience. I am yet to branch out and do National and World tours. But best believe I have plans for that coming soon haha. Every time I perform I always give it my all, as if I was performing at a sold out concert. I have performed with a lot of local/upcoming artists, have opened for some established artists, and I support anyone that is actively pursuing their dream.
What makes you different?
What makes me different is that there is no one else in the world like me. I am One of One. I am all the world gets of me haha. My sound is unique and different from any other artist. I follow my own lane and speak on topics that are important to me. I stay authentic to who I am and I dance to my own drum. Being a Latino Rapper from Downtown LA puts me in a unique position to be able to tell this side of the story. From growing up as a 1st Generation American to my struggles with racism, poverty, gangs, drugs, police brutality, oppression, all thru the lens of my Latino Heritage. No one else grew up on 485 Hartford Ave. and can tell my story the way I will tell it. Only I can. In my mind I am the best Latino Rapper in the world and I strive to be the best Rapper in the world period. That’s my mentality.
Physical vs Downloading vs Streaming…How do you listen to music?
I grew up when we still had tapes haha. I remember popping my tape in my cassette player and being ready to record a song that I liked when the Dj dropped it. I have seen the changes from Tape to CD to Streaming. I also used to Dj with Vinyl so I will always love vinyl. But now I listen to all my music via streaming. It’s way easier and accessible. I really like Streaming and services like Spotify and Soundcloud. It lowers the barrier of entry so anyone that wants to get their music out there is able too. It gives more power to the artist. Back in the day you needed big budgets and record label backing to be able to have a shot in music. Now I feel with a small investment you can set up a project studio in your home, record and upload your tracks to Spotify, promote it via social media outlets, and if your music is fire then you blow up. Most importantly if you can do it independent then you can own all your masters. You have services that can do all the distribution for you so you don’t really need a record label. And if you take off and have fans and get streams then it gives you more leverage if you do want to sign. I wish I had all these advantages when I was growing up and making music haha. I remember spending thousands of dollars to print my first CD and hustling it on the streets going hand to hand. Now its way easier I feel.
What have you been listening to?
I like to listen to new and old stuff. Recently I was inspired by Nipsey Hussles (RIP) Victory Lap and Meek Mills Championships. I like listening to UK Rappers like Skepta, Stormzy, Giggs, Dave, and AJ Tracey. And I like to listen to young artists like Roddy Rich, Juice Wrld (RIP) and I liked XXXTentacion (RIP). Crazy how we have lost a lot of rappers recently too, Rest In Power. But mostly I probably listen to myself haha. I like to listen where I can fine tune my rhyming, where I could have done better, had a better punch line, where I could have been better on timing, been better in pocket, done my cadence a bit better or added some more dynamic. I am student of Hip Hop and I m always striving to improve my craft.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I have future plans to release my official Studio Album. Been working on that for a while and I have a lot of songs stacked up. I just need to go thru it and pick the best ones that fit together. I also have plans to release more music videos this year and to continue dropping a new single once a week and to do more shows. I really want to do some shows overseas as well so if you know any promoters out here in the UK hook me up fam haha. I be flying out to London all the time, love the city and would love to collaborate with some UK artists as well. Overall I want to level up and release better music, better music videos, and do bigger shows. Gotta go from a peasant to being crowned King Willie Of Wilshire.
Questions answered by: Willie Of Wilshire…