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"Spoken Word or Rap whatever your pleasure?"

Revolutionary Hip Hop
September 2007 Key of Gee (eMagazine) Ortheia's Corner By Ortheia Barnes

WAE with Words

Spoken Word or Rap whatever your pleasure? Interview with Khary Frazier (Revolutionary Rapper) who says he is about business. Like the city of his birth, the Detroit emcee who calls himself WAE (pronounced way- an acronym which stands for Working At Excellence) is a creative combination of white collar intellect and blue collar work ethic, of grassroots activism and street-smart savvy:

Ortheia Barnes: How did you get started in the industry of hip hop?
Khary: My cousin was a hip hop DJ so I grew up listening to Whodini, Boogie Down Productions, Kaos and Maestro and more. I didn't really think this is what I would do until I started paying more attention to the Source than my textbook. I found myself creating my own raps and people liking what I did; I have been smitten with hip hop artistry every since.

How long have you been in the business?
Khary: I first went to the studio in the 10th grade, back in 1999. Right around the time Nas “I Am” was released because I remember “Nas is Like” had me in the zone for like 2 months off of my first record.

What do you think of the Hip Hop industry?
Khary: I think that the industry now is used as a huge marketing tool. It has really taken on a lot of the corporate identity today.

Okay, but did you think that the hip hop industry was going to be different?
Khary: When I think industry I think business and when I think hip hop music I think creativity. I did think it would be a lot different and allow a voice for many different stories from all types of people, and on a national level that seems to not be the case.

No matter what the genre the industry is still the industry, right?
Khary: Well, the music industry has taken many strides through hip hop. The influence that hip hop has over some people (especially the youth) is truly unimaginable. People really liked Jimmy Hendrix and Bob Marley but people didn't take on their whole persona the way people gravitate towards Jay Z, Kanye West or Fifty Cents.

We are in a new generation now and the evidence of promotion is being taken advantage of anyway you can. Fifty Cents is one of the largest marketable people now from the black to white market so the industry is going to jump on that because the bottom line when we gets down to it with corporation and industry is money.
Khary: True.

What makes your music so different in your rap.
Khary: I go into songs from three vibes: my city, my money, and my people. My city is how I grew up and what I’ve seen and am seeing. My money is how I talk about economics and uplifting making my money and using it correctly. My people is how I discuss revolution in the sense of organization and activism and then the problems that exist in the community. When you put all that together that's my music.

Let me tell you what I enjoyed about your live show is that you created your own beats from blues, folk, and funk. Is that a new way of doing rap?
Khary: Well, when I started truly listening to rap I began to study more and more music. I was drawn to blues initially because the stories gave voice to creativity. I suggested to my good friend Paul Miles (the Blues Man) that we should join blues and rap together. Actually I had never heard a Blues/hip-hop record myself. Blues is really call and response at its essence, so is rap.

What do you think about the freedom of speech in hip hop?
Khary: I feel as an artist, especially a hip hop artist, every word in English even profanity has a use yet it's depending on how you use it. I think the bigger problem we face is when artist think that certain language is something that we have to use. If you become more creative with your artistry then you will naturally make something you can sale and be proud of. Now, if you really live the life you rap about then you have to be ready to take on the church and others complaining about it, and be ready to stand by your work because it is true to your art.

Many are talking about the hip hop industry fading out or has had it's day; what do you think?
Khary: Maybe the music is but not the industry; the industry is alive and well.

Explain what you mean by that?
Khary: You can have the number one song in the country for weeks in a row and only probably selling 200,000 but the hit songs off that album sales 3 million ring tones. The industry has taken on all kinds of campaigns now to keep making money: Jay Z did his whole Ad campaign to promote his album through Budweiser and Budweiser Select wrote a check for Jay Z with enough 0's at the end of it. While at the same time running a campaign for a computer Ad to promote his music. There’s much money to be made.

The music industry is growing through the internet as well. Many record labels didn't license internet access guaranteeing that they would have monies coming in from all over the world; therefore, many companies are downsizing every day. What do you think about that and are we going to be Pimped again?
Khary: Major record companies are shaking in their boots because of the power of internet distribution. The power is truly in the hands of the people, even those that record and distribute from their own homes. My motto is to distribute on line, sell at shows, and whatever other option comes my way. The problem today is that everybody has a My Space page. This blurs the line between those who can create music and those who put no effort into their art.

What is your industry experience?
Khary: I have done production both studio and stage. I’ve spoke on behalf of the revolution of Detroit for economics and more. Also I have worked in media outside of doing performances. I’ve had the pleasure of working with producers, engineers, and managers of everyone from Puffy to Glady’s Knight.

Underground hip hop, how successful do you see it?
Khary: You can be very successful according to how you budget and market yourself. There are a couple of guys I know that sit around and record songs, release them on the internet a couple of different ways and make a couple of thousand a week with little overhead.

In closing tell us about Khary better known as WAE and your product and how do we get it?
Khary: WAE (working at excellence) isn't just a name. It's a phrase that functions as my personal and professional credo. "Working At Excellence" means setting the highest standards for myself, and then striving to attain the best possible results toward those goals, WAE explains. In my studio, in my business and on the stage WAE's skills, ambition and work ethic set me apart from the rest of the pack. My current release is: "Preaching II the Choir". This product shows that I have elevated my game, and I am ready to step onto the world stage. In an environment where silly, uncreative hip hop lyrics dominate the airwaves, Preaching II The Choir explodes with an edgy, innovative, assault. WAE's lyrics open doors for those who will hear - the doors of economics, of revolution, and of the Detroit city streets that I call home.
- Key of Gee

"WAE Live @ Metro Times BLOWOUT"

WAE performance Review

When Urban Organic booked Wae to perform the Metro Times (Detroit’s largest alternative weekly) 2008 Blowout on a snowy evening in winter at Capo’s lounge in Hamtramck, Michigan, a city inside Detroit city limits, it would be the third time that I witnessed this emerging Detroit emcee take the stage, but only the first time that I realized what a powerful performer he is.

As it turned, Wae’s performance that night ended up being one of the most transcendental hip hop moments I have every experienced – at least in this millennium. When he began, the people at the venue were mingling and doing their thing, not paying any attention to him. By the time his set was over it seemed everyone in the spot was caught up in his rapture.

From beginning to end, front to back, and side to side, Wae had em’ on lock for his entire set! His use of intelligent and witty lyrics, combined with an obvious street sensibility, and an easy as well as natural sense of authority that night, in my mind, made him a true Mick Controller of highest order. He commanded the attention of the room to the point that if you weren’t paying attention in the beginning, by the end of his bellowing set, you had no choice than to submit to the warm, powerful rush of the vibe he transmitted.

The best thing about Wae’s performance was it was obvious to me that this kid was raised on ‘golden era’ stuff. Easily he brings to mind Audio Two Biggie Smalls, and even Chuck D at once. His modern day indie hip hop contemporaries - One.Belo, Murs, and, Little Brother, Mojoe, Guilty Simpson - should be welcoming this rapid and sure-fire MC to the table, or else he’ll be crashing their dinner party soon. The part revolutionary, part street dweller, has no choice but to.

Drake Phifer – Urban Organic/ Soul Commune
- www.soulcommune.com

"Follwing Up with WAE"

Following up with Khary Frazier.
Vaughn Arrington
Performer WAE interview

Detroit has another Volcano brewing inside its Hip-Hop region. The prolific Native Detroit Advocate and Activist was just nominated by the DMA (Detroit Music Awards) for Outstanding Hip-Hop Artist.

He gave a powerful performance at the college that reverberated throughout the halls week after week. Let’s take a look in to his world…
A: How are you doing today?

W: Making my way in the “land of the free”, as it’s claimed to be.

A: Very well, very well… Let’s just jump right into the interview. I was wondering where you got your name. Why did you choose Wae?

W: I got my name from when I was a kid and my crew had aliases’ I thought rapping in many ways was cool. Then as I grew as an artist and was searching and finding myself, reaching Hotep as I refer to it. I needed to put more of a meaning to me. My mother, father, preacher, and even the dope boys always put in work and I tell that story of what they’re working towards. What we’re working towards on my block is excellence so it came natural, Working At Excellence.

A: How did that fuel you in the sense of being from where you’re from, and growing up how you grew up?

W: Well my parents worked hard to handle the responsibilities of myself and my sister. Furthermore my whole family is full of drive and determination. When you wake up and have a father and mother who work 15/16 hours a day and 2 grandfathers who become successful entrepreneurs off street education, some hustle gonna’ rub off. I grew up in a hood where ain’t nobody take a day off. So for me to not turn around and put the same passion into this, then it wouldn’t come out right. I don’t take no nights off; I’ll sleep in my Timbs.

A: What are you trying to communicate with your new album and the music in general that you make?

W: With my album, my album is going to be about the three ingredients of me as a man, where I’m from, what I know, and where I’m trying to go. I’ve been in Detroit my whole life and it’s the place I’m going to die. The imagery and the essence of my city exudes rebirth and creativity. Walking these streets puts the reality of the social injustices of my people in my face. Detroit city is a city that has been engineered by Black people; since the rebellion in the 60’s scared off many of my people’s oppressors rightfully so. The opportunity to create business, art, schools, and many more elements to build a nation all are here and we’re waiting. What I know is economics. My father is CPA and both my grandfathers were entrepreneurs. My uncles are businessmen as well and I’m surrounded by the vast knowledge of what resources can bring to the table. The message I give is about bringing those resources to the table. Where I’m trying to go is to the Mecca that was Detroit’s Black Bottom, Harlem’s Renaissance, and Michigan’s Idlewild. Black unity, economics, and a loud clear voice in support of my people is what I’m moving towards.

A: So being more of a revolutionary rapper, how do you feel about what we just found out of what the American government is doing and is that part of your music?

W: The American government is a BIG factor into the voice of my music. The way I feel about the government is that it is an establishment that is maintained by those who have interest in keeping their say. The reality of the situations that face this country is very simple and it comes down to haves and have nots. Those who have are taking everything they can take from the have nots to continue having. This changes the laws of the land, the justice in the courts, the equal opportunities in business, and sadly the education of a people. This is economics 101. Capitalism thrives on poverty, oppression, ignorance, and lies. I go into my songs with these beliefs because that’s how I live my life. When I say “**** this whole country it’s Flaky like dandruff” I mean that. I’m not Professor Griff (of Public Enemy) but somebody has to let it be known that the time for shucking jiving and showing teeth ain’t right now. My music is only a reflection of my love for my people. I don’t hate white people. I hate the actions of the many people throughout history who have purposely sought out personal advancement on the backs of black people without equal and opportune compensation. I have a problem with the dope man and the overseer.

A: Does it seem that every time people speak out they get censored?

W: My music is not for the faint at heart. This is a country where you can have Black Entertainment Television create their best produced show about dope dealers and strip off the news. Black Entertainment Television, and the role models we have are not Imohotep, Nzingha, and the Zulu Nation instead it’s Tookie Williams. In 1989 the biggest rap group in the world was being censored for calling Elvis Presley out for the racist he was while Eazy E was live in America’s living rooms with AR-15’s and 8-Balls. My album has to come with a disclaimer, because I’m not biting my tongue about the realities of this system.

A: How do you feel about Fox News and the Republican Party?

W: Funny they call it fox news because they’re definitely fooling many sheep’s. I love we have a forum where I can see straight up the propaganda the media is peddling today. When I finished making my video for “Black Fist Up” I purposely made a specific press kit addressed to the Republican Party. I figured the first line about never meeting a cop I didn’t feel like killing would open up some ears. But I also submitted some information about the statistics of police brutality here in Detroit city. Cops are raping (stealing their cash) Black Men in broad day light in the streets of Detroit and getting away with this. It’s sickening. The police department and these public officials should turn their heads in shame.

A: Who are some people that influence your style?

W: Ice Cube, he’s the one. From ’88 til he went Hollywood that dude was telling it how it was. Public Enemy was raw just loud drums and that music that made your moms hate rap. Just the title of a song like “My Uzi Weighs a Ton,” I love that ****. I listen to a lot of Blues too. John Lee Hooker and Bessie Smith have that feeling and passion of rap. I’m drawn to story-tellers. I can listen to the same song for hours on end if it has that feel.

A: What comes first with you in making a song? Do you first have the lyrics or do you just hear the beat and go off that?

W: I use many techniques when writing it all depends on where I’m at and what I’m feeling. I brainstorm at times and draw from a topic and build around a topic. At times I write the whole song except the first and last lines of the verses and fill those in on the spot when I get into my session. The biggest build and make up of a song for me is the 1st line of the 1st verse and last line of the last verse. That’s the alpha and omega of song writing.

A: Do you have a favorite song that you do?

W: That changes like the seasons, but if I had to pick 1 it’d have to be Shit is Over. I’ve been performing that song for years now and it never lets a crowd down. It’s all raw and grimy and a 1 hitter. A 1 hitter means you hear it 1 time and you know it top to bottom, it’s built like an old school Chevy.

A: What’s next for you right now?

W: The albums, ‘Preaching to the Choir’ and ‘Notes of an Artists/Activist.’ It’s been a long time in the making but well worth the wait. I never felt so confident and have had such a clear definition about where I’m going as an artist as on these projects. The production is phenomenal, Mark Bird, Drummer B, Symphony, and more. The album is a journey through my eyes. I went into these projects wanting to make something for me when I was that 13 year old hip-hopper but what’s come about is way more powerful. These albums give a message to me, my city, and my people.
Look forward to lots more coming from the artist who rocked our campus first! He is blowing up fast! Khary is a man of humility who does not forget those who supported him on the way. As he goes into the mainstream, he promises to make it his business to return and give back to all of his Detroit supporters. Marygrove College is on his list!
For more info on Khary WAE Frazier visit www.generalpopulation.org
- Marygrove Mustang (College Newspaper)


Preaching to the Choir 2008
Notes of an Artist/Activist 2010



Khary WAE Frazier
President of the Detroit Hip Hop Congress
Hip Hop Artist & Detroit Advocate

Love of Hip-Hop and his native city Detroit has committed Khary Frazier to a culture and a people drowning in hopelessness. As a third generation Detroiter and first generation child of "Reganomics", he's seen his Rosa Parks BLVD community go through many transformations during his life. Khary, also know as "WAE" (way), uses his music to inspire thought and hopes to invoke change in the lives of the mostly disenfranchised black youth of America. As a community advocate, he's built and implemented models of action to address and bring focus to the resources needed for such a change.

Khary is also the founder and director of the Hip-Hop group General Population. When asked what is General Population's mission or purpose in the Hip-Hop culture, Khary stated, "GP's purpose is to bridge the cultural divide between Hip-Hop and America…to empower a people who are not always thought about individually, but are mostly acted upon in masses". WAE's artistry has also spawned youth movements behind his Kwanzaa and Juneteenth celebrations, in addition to the Peer to Peer mentorship initiatives at his alma mater Northwestern High School.

An emerging thinker and solution based advocate, Khary is the epitome of a Hip-Hop artist. He is committed to the Detroit Hip Hop Congress and remains the voice for the people…his people. Like the adage says "making something from nothing", Khary is always Working At Excellence.

General Population the Band

"if Sly Stone and the Family Stone were led by a hip-hop artist it would be General Population." Drake Pheifer of Urban Organic

General Population is a modern and cultural hip-hop band composed of Khary WAE Frazier (hip-hop vocalist), Claretha P.E.A.C.E. Robinson (spoken-word vocals), Ashley Nicole (soul vocalist), Eric Campbell (guitarist), Tom Stoepker (keys), Dan Zylinski (bass), Mark Mastropietro (Saxophone), Djallo Djakate (drum-set), DJ Leonard Drummer B Ware (DJ) and Maulana Tolbert (African percussionist). GP’s sound is a mix of hip-hop, soul, rock-n-roll and traditional African rhythms. Their sound, coupled with the conscious lyrics in their music, brings people of all ages into the realm of hip-hop. GP’s music will educate, enterprise and revolutionize hip-hop as we know it while still keeping your head nodding. The manner in which the music is presented during performances forces the audience to participate versus just listening.

General Population is also using its music as a catalyst for change, not only in hip-hop but society in general. Recognizing the fight for freedom and equality has moved from the “streets to the suites,” GP is engaged physically in the public policy arena and is seeking to engage the rest of the hip-hop community lyrically.