D/WILL
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D/WILL

Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Band Hip Hop Soul

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Feb
21
D/WILL @ The Record Bar

Kansas City, Missouri, USA

Kansas City, Missouri, USA

Aug
29
D/WILL @ atomic cowboy

st. louis, Missouri, USA

st. louis, Missouri, USA

Aug
16
D/WILL @ crosstown station

kansas city, Missouri, USA

kansas city, Missouri, USA

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D/WILL (Kansas City, MO)
Anybody who knows me knows I’m a fan of multihued instrumentation, and listening to D/WILL’s soundscapes are the reasons why I dig them. No 808s & bullshit here, just a soulful, jazzy, boom-bap hybrid that amplifies the lyricists’ verses rather than outshine - or even worse, helps - them.

DOWNLOAD: D/WILL - Knock f. Rhymedy | Mediafire
DOWNLOAD: D/WILL - Love Or Confusion f. Outasight | Mediafire

-Mek - 2DopeBoyz: http://2dopeboyz.com/2009/01/21/2dope-to-sleep-on-3/


Beatmaker and emcee D/Will joins us from the often underrated hip-hop community of Kansas City, starting point for contemporaries such as Tech N9ne and Mac Lethal. His new mixtape, Just Add Water, follows a traditional model of showcasing original productions alongside remixes of established artists; unfortunately for Pharrell, in this collection the locals consistently outshine the stars. Emotive, mostly sample-based tracks underscore several of D/Will's affiliates, and despite a few awkward moments the talent manages to push through, leaving you longing for a full, finished album. Since generating interest is the whole reason mixtapes exist, this one can reasonably be deemed a success.

D/Will's music covers a spectrum from club-friendly to laid-back, with the latter receiving more prominent representation (suggesting "laid-back" to be his natural tendency). Q-Tip's "Breathe and Stop" gets a jazzier reworking that's in keeping with this aesthetic, as does, with less success, Little Brother's "The Way You Do It." The standout times are when he and his friends are fully making their own music: "KC Dreaming" finds D/Will, Reach, and Approach rhyming over a twinkling piano, harp, and equally dreamy glissando, layering emotion upon an already hard-hitting break. Also of note is an appearance by the always-excellent Ces Cru in "Say What." Godemis opens the track up strong, paving the way for the Soul Servers and partner Ubiquitous to finish up tight. "Share Your Love," hung on a smooth soul vocal sample, affords an opportunity for the Rooftop Legends to bring another dimension to the sound.

Aside from an occasionally awkward remix, the biggest misstep is the track "I'm Fire," featuring King James. Presumably a metaphor for King James' abilities, it is delivered as an elementary school fire-safety lecture. The writing and delivery ---while not absolutely horrible--- are not as clever as the concept, causing King James' execution to sound a little pretentious. The backing track, however, is as good as ever.

He may be very close to playing out a certain phase effect (cool as it may be), but D/Will's got a mixtape to be proud of, and one that gives it up to others as much as to himself. His lack of ego keeps the focus on the music and the crew, and at the end you'd like to hear what else Kansas City, and not just D/Will, can do.
- okayplayer.com


Kansas City-based producer, MC and DJ D-Will recently told us that he makes at least five beats a day. Though an admirable claim, we didn't think much of it until we remembered a line that beat guru Kanye West once rapped: You can't fathom my love, dude/Lock yourself in a room doin' five beats a day for three summers/That's a different world. Not that D-Will is destined to become the next West, but the name of the game on his latest, the Just Add Water mix tape, is sharp kick drums plus a penchant for creating original melodies for locals CES Cru, the Soul Servers and Approach to rhyme over. Will delivers a solid mix with Just Add Water, and his hard work shows in the quiltlike arrangements and cuts between tracks. He processes beats, rhymes and turntable tricks like some kind of hip-hop studio's in-house cyborg. But to D-Will: Just don't forget to eat, man - The Pitch


D/Will is foremost a DJ and a beatmaker with an ear for old-school melodies and rump-shaking rhythms. But he's a capable MC, too. This 18-track mix-tape samples and remixes several of Hall of Fame rappers and singers (Jay Z with Pharrell, Q-Tip, MJB ).

The tracks that sparkle brightest and flow best, however, are those that feature local stars, like Ces Cru and Soul Servers ("Say What") and D/Will himself, with friends like Reach and Approach ("KC Dreaming"). If the words don't grab you, the beats and melodies will.

Listeners be warned. Oprah, the Rev. Al Sharpton and a certain sportswriter in this town would damn some of the lyrics and skits here. However, they are delivered not for the sake of shock but in the service of a greater mission: as pieces of a larger portrait of hip-hop and how it uses comedy, satire and commentary to analyze our diverse culture.

-Timothy Finn, The Star
- The Kansas city Star


Denzel Williams is a nerd.

You can't tell just by looking at him — he doesn't wear glasses taped at the bridge of the nose or Urkel pants. The 26-year-old rapper and producer, who goes by the name D/Will, dresses fresh in tilted hats, crisp polos and bright Nike SBs.

But he approaches music with the kind of devout seriousness usually reserved for, say, a theologian contemplating transubstantiation. The dude is emphatically not messing around.

Locals in the hip-hop scene know it, which is why, for the past year, up-and-comers and vets on the mic have been clamoring for Williams' beats. It's also why people are excited for his soon-to-be-released mixtape, Heir of Abraham, and debut solo album, Battery Effect.

Producer and DJ Andrew Rayl, who goes by the alias Beatbroker, mixed Heir of Abraham in the recording studio, making it flow seamlessly from one track to the next. "He's absolutely going places," Rayl writes by e-mail of his friend. "He's got serious skills and an insane level of drive and self-motivation. I mean, it's routine for this dude to crank out upwards of four or five serious beats a day."

Williams has always had drive, but he wasn't always known for his music. He grew up in North Kansas City and attended North Kansas City High School, where he was a track star and excelled at the pole vault and the high jump.

After high school, he studied psychology at Park University. Checking out the whole spectrum of psychological fucked-upedness probably made Williams feel awfully well-adjusted. He has a great family to thank for that.

"My pops, I can remember being like 15, and he told me that I was raised with a silver spoon and to make it platinum," Williams says. "To make it gold. Like, 'I put you on a high level, and I need you to exceed past that, as though you were at the bottom.' I've been built with the mentality of 'I have nothing,' but essentially, I've done really well, and they [my parents] worked really hard."

While at Park, Williams ventured into music armed with a Casio keyboard given to him by a woman at his church. He started recording beats on an MPC (music production center), a cousin of the drum machine with the ability to record, sample and loop sounds.

"The module is a complete, open box, and you put all the sounds into it," he says of his Akai MPC 2KXL.

Williams invited friends over to listen to his first, rudimentary beats. He got surprisingly good reviews, so he kept experimenting.

In college, Williams approached beatmaking the way he approached running track: through rigorous conditioning. While working part time at the community center in his neighborhood, he noticed a guy with a tattoo of an MPC who worked out there frequently. The guy was local producer Joe Simon, known as Simon Says. They started talking about music, and eventually Simon invited Williams to check out his home studio — which turned out to be considerably more high-tech than Williams' Akai.

"I went over to his house after work every night, or before work, probably for a good eight months," Williams says. "He let me watch, and he talked to me about whatever he was doing, and I just sat back. I took notes like it was class. Like, nerd-style, pen out, writing down stuff."

When Williams thought his own beats were ready, he started handing them out to MCs for free. But not everyone was a fan.

Some Park University classmates thought Williams was stuck-up. He acknowledges that the way he walked around campus — his headphones on, deep in thought — probably made him come off aloof. Some told Williams that his brand of hip-hop wasn't valid. They were fans of artists who rapped about sex, drugs and cash. Williams' soul loops and hard drums, a throwback to hip-hop of an earlier era, didn't sound like the stuff on the radio. And the idea of a rapper or a producer coming from a loving, two-parent household didn't fit the mold.

"I don't know if they just started hating or what, but I got a lot of nigger-isms about not being 'hood' or whatever," Williams says. "So, yeah, I got a lot of very bad looks and people thinking I'm thinking I'm better than I was. And it wasn't true. I was just on something else, you know?"

The frustration that came from those experiences manifested itself in a song called "Childhood." The chorus goes, I had a good childhood, now they want to take my black away/You see I ain't from the hood, now they want to take my rap away. That song appears on Battery Effect, due out August 16.

D/Will's beats are multilayered — he calls the sound "thick" — with horns, old-style breaks and soul vocals. Heir of Abraham showcases his production skills and features the artists with whom he thinks he's done the best work this year. It includes tracks by a few out-of-towners, including an MC from New York City who goes by Outasight; a rapper named L.E.G.A.C.Y. from the nationally known Hall of Justus Music Group; and Williams' longtime friend and collaborator CN-N.

Williams will be at Hip Hop and Hot Wings at the Peanut downtown (418 West Ninth Street) Sunday, June 29, to sell copies of Heir for $5. A code on the inside flap contains a link for a Web site with extra songs from C.E.S. Cru, Lucid, the Soul Servers and two D/Will beats. Williams says of the finished disc, "The way that Beatbroker mixed it added a completely different element with cutting and blending and scratching — it sounds ridiculous."


- The Pitch


www.pitch.com/music - PITCH WEEKLY


http://www.kansascity.com/entertainment/columnists/timothy_finn/story/1267145.html - Tim Finn


pitch.com/music - jason harper


Denzel Williams, henceforth referred to as D/Will, has a had a big summer. His workmanlike approach to beat-making earned him notice within the Kansas City hip-hop community and with the release of The Heir of Abraham mixtape, a collection of some of his best work between 2007 and 2008, earned him national notice from XXLmag.com and giantmag.com. And with the upcoming release of The Battery Effect, D/Will's first full-length album, and a few shows in the greater Midwest, it doesn't look like he'll settling down anytime soon.

Ink's Trevan McGee spoke with D/Will days before his The Battery Effect Preview Party at Crosstown Station about organic instruments, growing up in the Northlands and the meaning behind his album titles.

Download the entire Heir of Abraham mixtape here for free.

Ink: You've been making the rounds lately. It looks like you've got some good buzz built up for the album.

D/Will: Yeah, it's going to be pretty good. I'm getting excited about it and it's a long time waiting for it.

Ink: Are you still making five beats a day?

D/Will: It's not five beats anymore. At first the only reason I was doing so many beats, man, was because I wanted to ... I was building quantity just to show people I was making beats, so I wanted to be able to do joints with everybody. So I had to have a big stash. But anymore, it's about two to three and I'm more-or-less building for projects and for artists as opposed to building for anybody. I'm actually beginning to build songs and put a little more time into my beats.



D/Will: "Ramon Saul Freestyle" Heir of Abraham Mixtape

Ink: You're starting to get more selective.

D/Will: Yeah. Definitely being more selective with emcees. I think I found my niche, so I kind of know what kind of vocalist I want when I'm making a beat or I know what type of emcee I want. Because at first it was like, "If you rap and you were good, let's do it," because I wanted business cards, you know?

Ink: What do you think your niche is?

D/Will: Right now, I would say that I think I'm a very –– I don't want to say Neo Soul because I don't think that works anymore –– I would say definitely sample-based and definitely Soul-driven. Soul, not like Aretha Franklin or Diana Ross, or nothing, although I do sample them, but Soul as in more organic.

I'm finding myself buying live instruments, like I just bought a bunch of different percussion instruments and I'm micing them. I bought a high hat, an open/close high hat a couple weeks ago and I'm just micing it and then running it into the NPC. Opposed to sampling those sounds I'm beginning to be more –– a band could translate these beats. And I think that's where it's going now.

Ink: Did any of that influence make it onto The Battery Effect or is that or is that where you're looking to go next?

D/Will: Oh, no. When you listen to the album, towards the end you can definitely tell it's transforming into something you're not quite sure. Because it gets really electronic towards the middle of the album and things get really synthetic. The first half of the album is pretty much picking up where The College Dropout left off. A lot of sample stuff and then it goes into this crazy synthetic part and then towards the end it kind of opens up and just becomes music. A couple of the songs I'm only rapping for maybe a verse and maybe a hook. It kind of turns into an instrumental disc.

Ink: What influences your choice of samples? Is it something you like yourself or is it something that fits the album or song?

D/Will: A lot times I'm digging for sounds rather than artists. If I'm looking for a Jazz music or a Fender Rose type of sound or a certain type of trumpet or keyboard, I'll go digging for that. And on the back of these LPs they have the musicians and who-played-what. Back in the day they did all that type shit. Normally I go digging for that. But obviously I enjoy Soul music so the bulk of what I own is Soul music, so I guess kind of both.

But whenever the needle goes on the record, I know instantaneously if I'm going to sample that or not. It's a matter of seconds.

Ink: What are some of your go-to studio artists that you like to sample?

D/Will: I find myself falling into modes. There for awhile I only was doing joints off of Motown eras, like '60s, '70s Motown, I would only sample music from that era. I don't know why, but I just get into a niche where I'm like really digging a style of music, and then I begin to seek out that music.

But I would say a lot of the classic joints I stay away from because they've already been touched so many times. Like Luther Vandross. I haven't sampled any Luther because he's an amazing artist and I can't think of a way to do with giving him any credit for that. I don't want to take a classic and mess it up, so a lot of times, if it's a super, super Soul classic, billboard charted –– I probably won't touch it, I'll probably leave it alone. I might flip to the B-side and pick something else.

Ink: What kind of state of mind do you have to be in to make music?

D/Will "Magic Mic" Heir of Abraham mixtape


D/Will: For me –– and as corny as this may sound –– for me, it's a part of what I do. It's a part of me and my personality. Honestly, if there's a couple of days that go by and I'm not able to work or listen or create, I'm not the same. I'm in a whole different type of mood, so I feel like it's an extension of life that I have to do for the day, so when I get up there's really no need for a lot of inspiration for me to walk over to the machine and turn it on. It's almost like it's innate at this point, so I walk over, I put the record on and I'm relaxed and it's fun and it's easy.

As of late I've been challenging myself, it's like a game. I'll take the NPC and I'll turn off the metronome, you start the sample with the tick and I'll find the rhythm that I want in a sample and I'll get close to the beats per minute and I'll turn the tick off and I'll just feel out my loops and I'll feel out my loops, just to see if I can do it. Because a lot of cats really depend on the metronome just to keep on time, but as of late I've been turning it off just to see if I can do it.

It's a real awesome thing if I can get motivated by life, like my nieces or something aweseome in my day or something pisses me off. Of course those things motivate me, but they don't drive me, necessarily.

Ink: Here's one you've heard plenty of times lately: What can we expect from your preview party at Crosstown Station this Saturday? Will it be an average D/Will show or will it be something different?

D/Will: I'm going to approach it the same because I think I can only approach shows in one manner, but what I'm going to do for this show and some of the songs is strip out some of the instruments and I'm going to have some of my friends come in and do it. [Leonard] D. Stroy is going to add some drums to some tracks and Miles [last name] may bring his trumpet and accompany that.

I want the show to be like the The Battery Effect. The reason why I called it that was because you either work or die. That's the lifespan of batteries –– they're working or if they're not, people cast them aside, so I wanted people to see like, "This is what I've been doing." This is almost like a party, so I called it a preview party because we're celebrating the work I've done to this date, so I'm going to play all these you joints and you guys are going to enjoy this shit and then you're going to leave.

Ink: And hopefully buy the record.

D/Will: [laughs] And buy the record, of course.

Ink: What comes after that?

D/Will: I've got a couple of dates. The 28th I'll be in St. Louis, the 29th I'll be in Chicago, the 30th I'm in Cincinnati and then early September I'm back here doing this thing at UMKC, so I'll be spreading myself kind of thin on like the mini –– I don't want to call it a tour –– mini spots at different cities.

But then it's back to post production. I've got some awesome things lined up for me on the production side, so i really need to get into the lab and begin to build tracks.

Ink: What do you have coming up?

D/Will: I've got Outasight from New York City, he is working on something right now that I promised I wouldn't say anything about. But he's working on something and an album is going to be coming soon.

And a few other spots, I'm just going to let you see. I don't want to jinx myself either. [laughs]

Ink: Fair enough.

D/Will: I'm running into some awesome opportunities, even with local artists. There's a few local artists that I'm still excited about, like Hozey-T and Stik Figa and IZMORE, those are the three guys from here that I'll be working with more than others, I think.

Ink: Could you talk about a few of the songs you're proudest of off The Battery Effect and Heir of Abraham?

D/Will "Good Evening (dream big) (Featuring Outasight)" Heir of Abraham mixtape


D/Will: Heir of Abraham, all of those joints are collective joints from the year, stuff I've done in 2007 into 2008. The "Good Evening" track with Outasight is pretty token, although I don't really like that beat very much, we both joke about how much we don't like that beat. It's not bad, but it's not my favorite and when I made it, I made it in, like, five minutes. But everybody seems to love that song. And when we finished it he began to use his press avenues he created and he got it on giantmag.com, it was like Five Songs That Don't Suck and there were tons of bulletin posts about it. And then he got it on XXL.com, everything was just working out. He got the review on OK player and they talked about that song, so I was like, "Hell man, I've got to put that on the mixtape," so that was a media segue for me because now giantmag and XXLmag.com are coming back to me to see what I got.

There's a joint on The Battery Effect called "The Scene" and the song about being seen and how people lust for that almost and they get in their little cliques and they are only in that clique so that people look at them and think that they're cool or think that whatever. And so the song is about "You're in this small, little scene, but are you being seen? You still could be overlooked. You done sucked ass and kissed ass to get into this little clique and then people still don't like you."

Ink: What motivated that song?

D/Will: That song came from a lot of different experiences that I went through in high school and college because I was an athlete in college and in high school, so that kind of gave me the cool card, but I hung out with the band geeks and the skater punks and the people that wore black and shit. I was cool with them because they were really cool people and some of those cool people from high school that were all in all black and gothed out, those would still have my back right now, if I called them now and asked them for something, so it was interesting to see everything, to see every little clique form. I wrote that song because it was something I experienced first-hand.

Ink: What about "Childhood"?

D/Will: "Childhood" is on the album. That "Scene" song and "Childhood" four and five on the album and they blend right into each other. And "Childhood" is the same thing. Just because I live in The North Land and my dad busted his ass for 30-plus years at the railroad to create for me, cats automatically had something to say like "He thinks he's too fresh," or "He thinks he's too fly." "He ain't even black. He ain't got no hoodie and he has no soul because he lives out where the white people live." That lead to me wearing headphones all the time and that made it worse because then it was, "Oh, he's too good to talk to us now. He's too good to listen to us."

It's a sample-based song. And the "Scene" song is when the album gets very sythn-based and very bass-driven. It's going to be an experience for the listener, I think.

D/Will: "Glory" Heir of Abraham mixtape


Ink: The way Heir of Abraham ends by explaining the album's title and the pursuit of personal inspiration. Are you accomplishing that?

D/Will: I hope so. I hope people, and my peers, but more or less consumers, I hope they're listening and really feeling like they want to do what they love too. And that was the whole point of me putting that spiel on the end is because we all have a certain talent. Some of us, like you, are blessed to have a job doing it. Others we have to do something else. I work for a railroad, but I still make time to come home and do what my soul is providing for me. I just want people to focus on they do well and not what others do well. My gift is music and I'm going to do it to the fullest.

- treven mcgee


Discography

Just Add Water mixtape- '07
"Good Evening"- performed by Outasight produced by D/Will
Heir of Abraham mixtape-'08
Human Decency Prevails EP-'08
Battery Effect-'09

Photos

Bio

A lot of emcees talk about making it. They rhyme about flossing and shining, but D/Will is a man of action. A producer in every sense of the word, when he’s not creating beats, he’s writing bars.

Kansas City hip-hop is the rose that grew through concrete. Battered but beautiful, its petals grow stronger and stronger, and D/Will is a part of its evolution.

Born Denzel Williams in 1982, he doesn’t have the stereotypical hard-knock life emcees and producers often fabricate to make it in the game. He grew up in suburban North Kansas City, in a two-parent home with his brother. He’s proud of his good childhood, college education and faith in God. And none of it kept him from falling in love with hip-hop.

He’d always been a fan, but it was the summer of 1993, things got serious between D/Will and hip-hop. “Chief Rocka” by the Lord of the Undergrounds was inescapable, its infectious hook and funky, raw production intrigued him. He collected cans and bottles and did yard work and odd jobs to save up $18 so he could buy the tape. “Here Come the Lords,” was worth every penny, because the seamless, sample-based production on that album planted a seed within D/Will.

It would take seven years for that seed to bloom: when D/Will finally got a drum machine — the Akai MPC2KXL. At the urging of friend and underground emcee, CN-N, D/Will began to study the art of beatmaking. Inspired by Dilla, Madlib, Pharrell and Timbaland, D/Will started to craft a sound of his own: soulful, honest and bass heavy. Together, they pushed each other, bars for beats.

In 2003, CN-N moved away, leaving D/Will without an emcee to produce for. So he began to write on his own, mastering the marriage between beats and rhymes. In 2006, his cunning lyrics laced with his soulful sounds created a buzz in Kansas City when he released “The OH NO! Mixtape.” A year later he smashed the scene with another mixtape, “Just Add Water,” earning acclaim from Okayplayer, local media, fellow emcees and producers alike.

For a lot of artists, hip-hop is a dream, a goal, something to aspire to and talk about. For D/Will, it’s more than that. This is his calling, something he was born to do. It’s already written. And this is just the beginning.