Roosh Williams
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Roosh Williams

Houston, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | INDIE | AFM

Houston, Texas, United States | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 2011
Solo Hip Hop

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Mar
02
Roosh Williams @ NightCulture Inc

Houston, TX

Houston, TX

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For the first time as long as I've known Roosh Williams, he's late.


Actually he's struggling with finding the building where we're supposed to meet. When it rains in Houston, things grind to a halt, double when it's cold. Williams has always looked a bit like a Persian prince, a good-looking guy with a square chin and either some stubble or a full-on beard. Yet when he finally pulls into DJ Supastar's Spin Academy near the Medical Center, he looks, well, square.

"The hair's kinda a new thing I'm doing, a renewal," Williams says with a laugh.

For the moment, he looks like he's back on campus at the University of Texas at Austin, where he honed his rap talents while earning a communications degree. Now he's in a deep, dark burgundy Boston College pullover and blue jeans with glasses that hug his face and a shaggy haircut that resembles the Beatles' George Harrison.

I casually joke, "You look like a schoolteacher."

"That's because I sub," he swings back.

It all seems like a bit of a shock: Roosh Williams, the man with a double-time flow and a deep competitive energy, working with private-school children, but he laughs.

"It's fun as shit."

Roosh Williams Is Your New Favorite Rapper
At the moment, everything appears to be fun with Williams. He can joke about Amber Rose walking by ("we brushed arms") and being utterly shocked to see Farnsworth Bentley at SXSW ("dog, I used to think you were real tight!") and his own basketball talents, but it happens to be album season for the 25-year-old rapper.

A native Houstonian, Alief to be specific, Williams was born to Persian parents who lived in Tehran before emigrating here. However, he's always been smacked with the "white rapper" label.

"First, people didn't know what the fuck I was," he says. "My hair was short and people thought I was half black. First time I met Killa Kyleon, he thought I was white. I guess people think I act white. I went to middle and high school in Katy. I just consider myself an average motherfucker."

As his Unorthodox album nears, Williams has come into his own both as a man and as a rapper. From the clever samples of skate-party kingpin Ini Kamoze's "Here Comes the Hot Stepper" and the Dazz Band & Benny Lava's "Let It Whip" to the feature by Scarface, the album is an extension of Williams that expounds upon his Persian heritage and more.

Roosh Williams Is Your New Favorite Rapper
In his own words, Unorthodox is "completely Roosh," but there's a bit more to Williams. He's got a mouthy, competitive edge that flashes out when provoked, whether he's playing pickup basketball or water polo, or speaking out on social media.

Last October, the Rockets were in the middle of dismantling the Los Angeles Lakers at home on the NBA's opening night. During the middle of a heated argument between Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant, Williams took to Twitter and defend his hometown squad, and eventually raised the ire of an ESPN personality.

"I'm a huge Rockets fan," begins Williams. "Basically, Kobe and Dwight got in the fight and people were gonna talk shit about Dwight regardless. I went to Twitter, searched 'Dwight Howard' and the first tweet that popped up was [SportsNation co-host] Michelle Beadle. I responded and then put my phone down. Then I looked back and her fans just jumped on it, and I started flaming them one by one."

"I saw one dude's profile and it said he lived in Katy," he continues. "I said something to the effect of, 'I'm 15 minutes away from you.' His tone changed real quick. He said sorry and wished me the best of luck. Little moments like that make it so fucking worth it."

Story continues on the next page.




The tweet, which Williams fired off to his 3,000-plus followers, eventually volleyed back and forth among Beadle's 1.05 million followers, and became the best piece of free publicity Williams had ever had.

"Next thing I know, [ex-NBA star] Jalen Rose blocked me," the rapper says. "I tried to look at his tweets and it said, 'You are blocked' and I was like...what did I do to Jalen Rose?!"

It wasn't the first time Williams' competitive streak got the best of him. Growing out his hair was the direct result of him tearing his labrum while playing water polo on vacation.


"It's a lot that's surreal to me that I've done," he says. "I've performed big shows, hung with groupies and all that. It doesn't hit me until it's way over and I say, man, I really did that. But there are still things I've got to unlock. I think about quitting every other day.

"There are days where I say, why the fuck am I doing this?", he continues. "But then there are others when I feel I'm doing this for love. It's what drives me. I've touched people, [and] they keep telling me to go."

Roosh Williams Is Your New Favorite Rapper
Williams' original nurturing ground was in Austin around 2010, where he had already heard of burgeoning acts in Houston at the time, such as Doughbeezy, Propain and DeLorean, among others. Learning how to navigate local politics and more, "Houston was harder than Austin," Williams admits.

"'Cause I already knew how to work Austin," he says. "And I love my last album, but I love this one more."

From 2011 on, Williams has been full-go within the local rap scene, opening each performance with an introduction of his name before launching into a stop-and-stutter fast-paced blitzkrieg. "He raps so hard," one fan said of Williams' performance when opening up for MMG rapper Wale. The acclaim has put Williams on the precipice of an even larger perch than even his acclaimed 2013 project, déjá Roo: Times Have Changed, achieved.

Now Unorthodox, to Williams, equates to freedom. "It's more me," he says of the project, which will be released through his longtime Pairadime imprint. "I didn't want to be a double-time demon forever. I can't do it all the time -- I mean I can, but it's not going to be dope all the time.


"To tell you the truth, after this project I wanna expand what I do," adds Williams. "Because rapping only takes you so far. It's an unorthodox thing about me. I'm either off or I'm on. I'm either in it to win it or I shrug and say, 'maybe.' Either it clicks or it doesn't." - Houston Chronicle


Forget what you thought you knew about the booming indie scene in Texas. While legends like DJ Screw, Scarface, Fat Pat, Lil KeKe, Paul Wall, Slim Thug and more have left legacies that can’t be recreated, there’s a new generation that has now taken the reigns, setting themselves apart by reinventing Houston’s signature sound.

Enter Roosh Williams.

Creatively combining fast spitting with potent lyrics, it’s easy to see how he gained an entire legion of fans before even signing an official deal, whatever it is he’s got it. On the eve of his new album Unorthodox, he sat down to break it all down for us.

AllHipHop: Your life almost took an entirely different path, you were in college when you got into the game right?

Roosh Williams: I actually started recording my freestyles on a computer when I was in 6th grade and made my first cd in 9th grade. Eventually I went to UT (University of Texas-Austin) to study communication. My original plan was to get a communication degree and then go to law school.

AllHipHop: What turned you from student to artist?

Roosh Williams: I had kept doing music in college and just spread my name. Once I started recording again it just started spreading across campus and then I met the people with Scoremore. I started getting booked. I was opening for Curren$y, Juvenile, Bun B, Chitty Bang…just recording and trying to juggle studying. I was studying to take the LSAT and walked out halfway through.

AllHipHop: That’s a leap of faith. How did your family feel about you dropping out of school?

Roosh Williams: My parents wanted me to pursue law school and still do, but I started making money rapping and I was just running everything myself. It’s definitely different in Austin, out there I was one of the most known on the underground scene. I graduated in 2011 and moved back to Houston but realized that a lot of people didn’t know who I was the way that they did in Austin. I had to start all over again.

AllHipHop: You recently linked up with Scarface again for “Deep End” and have already collaborated with a number of artists including Bubba Sparxxx, Action Bronson, Emilio Rojas and more. Are there any that stick out for you?

Roosh Williams: I’ve got to say Scarface, GT Garza and of course Killa Kyleon. I dropped “No Hard Feelings” with Killa and got booked for three shows that weekend. One of my favorite collabs has been with (fellow Houston emcee) Doughbeezy. I met Dough I think about 4 years ago and he’s showed me love from jump, he’s always had my back. Never asked for anything.

AllHipHop: You’ve been credited with being extremely versatile with your flows, how would you describe your individual sound?

Roosh Williams: I’m unorthodox. That’s how I named the album. I’m definitely not a traditional Houston sound, which is why being in Houston is so difficult sometimes. The way I sound here is not the norm. People keep trying to recreate what Houston’s known for but it’s just not like that anymore. It’s just the same old shit. I’m all about cadence and I’m all about content. Someone with southern roots but influenced by all different kinds of sounds, from Detroit to the East and West Coast. I’m just a weird cat, I’m a weird human being.

AllHipHop: What’s a common misconception about Roosh?

Roosh Williams: Man. I feel like people that don’t know me may take my demeanor the wrong way. It doesn’t bother me but I do get a lot of comparisons to white rappers, I’m not even white though. (He’s actually Persian.) It’s like people are just misinformed. If I was the “trust fund hipster” people thought I was, I wouldn’t be here I’d be gone. (laughs.)

AllHipHop: Music is a crazy industry. Have you considered any other paths in the game or do you think about returning to school down the line?

Roosh Williams: It’s a little of both. I feel like it’s going to happen but I’m always open to a Plan B. I wouldn’t count on going back to maybe law school but I feel like I built my name up enough to where I don’t have to do as much running around and can actually focus more on music. When I put something out I’m confident in it. - AllHipHop.com


Roosh! Don’t sleep. The Houston MC made a huge impression at SXSW, and is looking to turn non-believers into believers. Bone up on him with his album, deja Roo: Times Have Changed, and stay tuned for more from this rising talent.

Name: Roosh Williams

Age: 24

Hometown: Houston, TX (Space City the great city baby)

I grew up listening to: Eminem, OutKast, DMX, Ludacris, Atmosphere, Geto Boys, Jay Z, Redman, Royce da 5’9″. Lupe Fiasco, Chamillionaire, Nate Dogg.

Most people don’t know I: Graduated from the University of Texas with honors and fluently speak Farsi.

My style’s been compared to: All sorts of shit really. Because of my appearance, voice, and delivery, I’ve heard everything from Eminem to Tech N9ne to “the Persian Drake.” But I don’t spend too much time thinking about it. At the end of the day, I think it’s difficult to make an accurate comparison or put my style in a “box”, and I think that’s a good thing.

My standout records and/or moments to date have been: “Introduction,” “Quite Frankly,” “It’s A Beautiful Thing” featuring Action Bronson, and “Fraudulent” featuring Bubba Sparxxx. Standout moments in my career thus far: 1) Having the opportunity to work on a record in the studio with Scarface. You get so much game just from being around an OG like Face, it’s priceless. 2) Neing ranked the 6th best rap performance by Complex for all of SXSW 2014. Having your hard work recognized by a credible publication is always a validating feeling, but that ranking was incredibly humbling.

My goal in hip-hop is: To go down as someone who broke barriers and helped expand the culture while simultaneously preserving it.

I’m gonna be the next: International household name. - XXL Magazine


Roosh Williams, to employ an oft-used hip-hop sentiment, likes to keep it real.

The Houston-born rapper, whose parents immigrated here in the '70s from Iran, knows he's not standard issue when it comes to his music of choice. A Persian rapper spitting rhymes onstage raises a few eyebrows, particular in this city, where he's struggled with getting "mainstream love."


"Houston's fixated on the sound that we're known for: the slowed-down, trunk, riding music. I'm from Houston, I love it," Williams says. "People like Drake and ASAP Rocky have taken the Houston sound and used it to their advantage. But the sound is dated. The mindset is dated. Houston is diverse, but the hip-hop scene just doesn't embrace it."

Williams - a handsome, charismatic guy with a lot of hustle - is working hard to spread his sound beyond Houston. He recently completed a tour through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.

In March, Williams, 24, released "Deja Roo: Times Have Changed," which features Scarface, Bubba Sparxxx and Action Bronson, and he's now making a lot of noise thanks to the October release of his "Drobots: The Reboot" EP.

"Drobots" is the culmination of a project from Simple Mobile, Complex Magazine and HipHopDX called Change Your Game, a video series that visited various U.S. cities to "create game-changing opportunities" for artists.

Earlier this year, Complex released a list of "10 New Houston Rappers to Watch Out For" that included Doughbeezy, Fat Tony, Propain and the Niceguys, all solid choices. Williams was nowhere to be found, and his fans spoke up in online comments.

"It was a very dramatic list, very controversial. A lot of people were upset they didn't make it. This was after my Twitter account had been verified, performing at South by Southwest, my album. I just didn't think that some of the artists on that list matched my résumé," he says.

"They looked in the comments and saw my name being mentioned by fans. They researched me and said, 'Yo, let's pick this guy.' I work hard. I go out of the box."

Change Your Game followed Williams around Houston, making stops at Screwed Up Records and Tapes, and the SF2 Street Wear Shop before revealing that he would be recording an EP in just one day with Like, a renowned producer - and member of Pac Div - known for his work on Kendrick Lamar's acclaimed "good kid, m.A.A.d city" album.

The EP features Like and Devin the Dude in a tight, focused showcase for Williams' aggressive delivery, which has an urgent energy that undoubtedly comes from the speed in which the EP was produced. Williams says he's influenced by everyone from Eminem to Tupac Shakur and touches on everything from his immigrant parents to ex-girlfriends in his lyrics.

"For me, music is life. And life is varied," Williams says. "Life is happy. Life is sad. Life is funny."

Williams was born in Alief but attended Taylor High School in Katy, where he honed his sound alongside fellow Houston rapper Kyle Hubbard. They made their first CD together in the ninth grade, selling about 60 copies at $10 a pop. Williams went on to graduate with honors and a degree in communication studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2011. During his senior year, he released "Attack of the Drobots," which gave him exposure beyond performing at fraternity parties. He opened shows for Lil Flip, J. Cole, Mac Miller, Bun B, Juvenile and Lamar.

"My entire plan was to end up going to law school. Obviously, I got derailed once I picked up steam with music," he says. "My focus shifted 100 percent."

His traditional parents, who envisioned their son becoming a lawyer, are still getting used to the idea. But Williams is quietly demanding attention and gaining respect from them - much like he's doing with Houston as a whole.

"I really concealed stuff like this. I wouldn't call it embarrassment, but it's just maybe a lack of understanding. It's just like a culture clash," he says. "My dad wanted me to be educated and to see me succeed.

"Now that I've been having some success, we've kind of opened up about it, and it's really cool. There isn't anybody Middle Eastern in the hip-hop game that's prominent as a rapper. I truly feel like I could be the first one." - Houston Chronicle


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Roosh Williams is a Houston MC whose parents who moved from Tehran to Texas before the Iranian revolution. A childhood interest in poetry quickly became a love of rap seasoned in the city’s colorful lineage of mic murderers. In elementary school Roosh began recording freestyles in earnest on a friend’s computer, moving on to sell CDs to peers in high school and hone his craft further during his time as a student at the University of Texas. 

His debut album Common Struggles of a Modern Man arrived in 2011 showcasing a booming voice and limber wordplay on cuts like the single “No Hard Feelings,” a collaboration with hometown heroes Renzo and Killa Kyleon, and garnering accolades from the Houston Press.

Roosh built a rep in and around Texas on an energetic live show, and in 2013 he was selected for a one-of-a-kind opportunity when Simple Mobile, Complex and Hip-Hop DX selected him (by surprise!) to take part in the wireless company’s Change Your Game promotion, a partnership that spawned the one-off EP Drobots: The Reboot in tandem with Pac Div producer Like.

That year he also released his most fully realized work at the time, deja Roo: Times Have Changed. The album trained Williams’ army of effortless flows on a collection of songs ranging from the pensive (the laid back Action Bronson collab “It’s a Beautiful Thing”) to the personal (the family history “The Way I Love You” and the backstabber-skewering lead single “Fraudulent,” which sports a guest spot from country-rap stalwart Bubba Sparxxx). deja Roo has been recognized by Complex and Houston Press as one of the top ten Houston rap projects of 2013, and XXL took note of Roosh’s achievements in a feature for the magazine’s up-and-coming artist series “The Break” in March.

That was followed up with his strongest effort to date, Unorthodox. It caught the attention of Sway in The Morning, XXL, and put him on the cover of the Houston Chronicle. Featuring production from Blev, Trakksounds, m.simp, Lacemode, and more, Unorthodoxis an intimate look into Roosh's personality and a glance at him coming into his own as a man and being comfortable in his own skin. It also features Scarface, Emilio Rojas, and Houston spitter GT Garza. 

Self-financed, promoted and executive produced, Unorthodox presents the uncompromised vision of a true independent, one whose songs are borne out of real world experience and whose talents aren’t limited to a recording booth. The album peaked at #40 on the iTunes Charts and caught the region by storm.  

Roosh continues to wow crowds from SXSW in Austin (Complex voted him one of the top 10 acts of SXSW 2014) to A3C in Atlanta, and as a hard-working self-starter with prodigious rhyme skills to match, his star is surely on the rise.

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