Freddy Will Speaks on His Introduction to Hip Hop while living in Kakata, Liberia
We were thrilled to hear from a motivating literature writer who makes crossover hip hop. Upon contact, we found out that he is Freddy Will, one of the few autonomous entertainers to have made it onto the international scene. As an Afropolitan, the “City Boy” performer is a self-proclaimed supranational mouthpiece of Sierra Leone, the USA, Canada, and Grenada. But how did this West African all-rounder become inspired to make crossover hip hop and publish books? We thought music fans would like to know how this avid businessman started his mundane career.
Thanks to our research, we found some hidden articles on the Internet that refer to the author of “The Dark Road from Romarong” as one of the most prolific writers of his time. Note that a passionate critic argues that the newspaper is owned by his family. We interviewed another reviewer who quibbled that Freddy comes from a diplomatic family, both parents are devoted, Christian pastors. We didn’t find a criminal past in him, but we wanted to know what part of his musical journey happened before his writing career. This was the first subject we touched.
Hello Freddy, Welcome to ABOUT INSIDER!
Are you from the street?
No. I was around twelve/thirteen when I jumped off our porch, but the scene I grew up in was different from what Hip Hop fans know as the street.
Tell us a bit more about your early experiences in life?
I entered a civil war to refugee phase that lasted eight long years. It was extremely violent. Lived in Liberia, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, and Senegal before immigrating to the United State. Still have the scars from bullet and stab wounds but I can’t claim to be from the street.
We were told you come from a diplomatic family that values good education and Christianity. How were you introduced to hip hop if you grew up in that surrounding?
I heard my first rap while passing by a neighbor’s house. Months after that some Monrovia kids visited and taught me how to beatbox. I saw the movie ‘Breaking’ started to lip-sync and dance to my favorite rap songs. Later, I’d write rhymes and become an artist.
Got it. A Christian kid from a diplomatic family heard rap music for the first time, loved it, became curious, started lip-syncing. Who were your favorite artists at that time?
Learning to lip-sync to rap, I loved L. L. Cool J. The lyrics for “Around the Way Girl.” Naughty by Nature? I learned the lyrics. I also loved KRS1, Queen Latifah, Run DMC, Heavy D, Big Daddy Kane, Ice T, Eric B & Rakim, Kid N Play, Public Enemy, Kool Moe Dee, A Tribe Called Quest, Brand Nubian, Jazzy Jeff, and The Fresh Prince and De La Soul.
You had all that in Liberia? What was it like to do hip hop in West Africa?
No one was smiling at my new hobby. It wasn’t easy to meet guys who were into Hip Hop. If you did, they’d want to battle. Sometimes they’d come from across town, just to prove who’s a better rapper but I would always win. I preferred to freestyle in a cipher.
You’ve listed several legendary old-school hip-hop rappers as your early influences. Classifying yourself as a crossover hip-hop artist is quite different from that.
I categorize myself as a musician first before a rapper. I write and record my music with that on my mind. Black music culture has deep roots that go back centuries. This is very important to me. When someone says rapper or hip-hop artist, it distracts people from them being an entertainer. Jazz, calypso, afrobeat, reggae, and R&B have a significant cultural value.
You also publish books. How was a religious kid from a diplomatic family in Liberia, introduced to book publishing when he was already drawn to street hip hop?
I was writing before I started doing Hip Hop. If there’s one subject I loved since elementary school, it was literature. Before my parents became born again Christians, my dad played jazz, pop, reggae, and Congolese music all the time. He had a large bookshelf and praised the books from his favorite authors. There was also the West African tradition of storytelling.
Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
I’d have to say, those Bible stories had a lot to do with it. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have a book called ‘My Book of Bible Stories.’ It had a strong effect. My father is also a writer. He’s a newspaper editor and publisher. I concentrate on other topics but the drive came from him. I also adored Shakespeare when I was growing up. I read a lot of material from Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, John Grisham, Caresse Crosby, and some West African Pacesetter Novels.
Do you have any experience in the world of theater?
It’s my first love. I studied theater in college. I’ve acted in a few short plays.
Who were your influences when you were growing up in Liberia?
We’d reenact Bible stories in church. Shakespeare was mind-blowing. In Liberia, there was a popular television show called ‘Malawala Balawala.’ We also watched Good Times, Different Strokes, Sanford and Son’s, and The Jeffersons. I’m into storytelling. Theater felt natural but there’s that anxious feeling I’d get when it’s time to do my stage performance.
Were you religious back then?
It’s still Abrahamic. I moved a lot when I was growing up. My guardians often kicked me out of their house. That brought me into contact with people who practice different forms of Jewish and Islamic teachings. I learned a little from each one of them. So, as time went by, I developed a mix of those Abrahamic faiths that has now become my school of thought.
Are you and your family diplomats?
Yes. It started when my father lectured at the World Bank-funded institution in Liberia. Then he got into Sierra Leone politics and worked at the United Nations. Intermarriage. I even have family members in the Grenadian and Canadian diplomatic circles.
One other negative we came across had to do with his age. Yet another critic grumbled that the 44-year-old author is too old to be performing. This source also detracted from his literary efforts as he owns a self-publishing house that publishes his books. A look at his albums showed that he has collaborated with Canadian and American Juno and Grammy award winners and some of Sierra Leone’s award-winning artists. Freddy Will is currently the first Sierra Leonean rapper to become a published author. The self-proclaimed Afropolitan had a few words on the subject.
Despite that, the “Hip Hop Kruzade” author is largely unknown in Sierra Leone, America, Canada, or Grenada where he activated a seventeen years career. Yet, our sources have revealed that he is sitting at the top of an impressive empire that includes music, publishing, and various business ventures around the world. Freddy Will told us that he took a break from releasing new music and publishing a new book in 2021 to make a wider gap between his release dates. He said he wanted to focus on completing three new books and two new albums that he is working on presently.
One last concern we heard is, although he was born in Sierra Leone, only a few Sierra Leoneans recognize him as a Sierra Leonean artist or author? It’s no secret that Freddy Will claims to be an American Canadian musician and publisher. Way before Drill music, he was already spitting melodic rhymes to his crossover beats. The multi-talented diplomat often flexes in his beautiful European, Canadian, and United States homes. Music execs, artists, and fans are asking who the hell is this Freddy Will? What is the next level for a musician or author in his lane?
As a teenager from Sierra Leone who discovered hip hop while living in Liberia, when you look back and see how far you’ve come? Were you expecting all this?
I’d have gone much further if I received the right support. The humble results you see come from hard effort. I faced obstacles right from the beginning. If it wasn’t a family member throwing me out of their home, it was rivalry with fellow artists. As someone who moved around, I was always the new guy who didn’t quite belong or fit in anywhere. My experience is bitter and sweet because of that. I expected nothing because there was nothing there for me.
What do you mean when you say “if I received the right support”?
I am referring to provision. When people believe in you, they help you to develop your talents, they attend your events and cheer you on. I could have used some piano lessons, vocal training, acting lessons, or mentorship in publishing. My talents have brought me far. Maybe I should have applied even more effort? There was never a time when I was on top. People shouldn’t admire my career path more than the art I create. An opportunity to create is all I ever wanted.
Some would say you’ve already had that opportunity.
I’ve had the opportunity to create on an independent level. What about the mainstream? The right resource and platforms. Three solid joints from start to finish. That’s an opportunity. As an entertainer, I love that I can do a lot of cool projects on my own but there’s Madison Square Garden. To take it back to where I started and challenge all of my talents. Now that’s what I call the opportunity to create. Do you know what I’m talking about?
We read a lot of articles that sang your praises on the internet which is cool but we wanted to hear from your critics. We spoke with another one who said you are too old to rap.
Hilarious! Now you see exactly what I meant when I said I’m not just a rapper but a musician. Age embarrassment is one of the most classic ways to antagonize a rapper you don’t like. You call him old, dismiss his achievements, and copy all of his best moves. You condemn everything he promotes as a PR stunt and makes sure to criticize the positives from his camp. As a musician, you don’t grow old, your next work is your new hit, and your old work is a classic.
Think about it, I haven’t gone platinum, or had a best-selling book, or a box office hit in seventeen years of working my ass off. I’m not anyone’s favorite rapper when it comes to shows. Thankfully, I’m also a songwriter and an executive producer. So, when I get too old to continue, I’d have a lot of experience that is useful for a younger artist. Not to mention the hundreds of unreleased songs in my vault. That said, the hater can rest assured that I’m not going anywhere just yet.
To know more about Freddy Will visit: www.freddywill.com and don’t forget to follow him on Instagram @therealfreddywill