PHOTO CREDIT: @TiffanyJewels
I first met HawdWerk at THIS Trek Life album release party a few years back, and was reminded that something back then struck me about him when I heard him on CookBook’s Really Tho?!? Podcast. I will try not to retrace those steps, so listen to the podcast episode HERE.
One thing about HawdWerk that stands out is his authenticity, which you will get plenty of in the linked podcast episode, and in his answers below. We are privileged to catch ‘Werk in transition from a blue collar emcee, to a well-rounded artist looking for, among other things, financial compensation for all of his, well, hard work. Take some time out of your busy holiday schedule to enjoy getting to know HawdWerk, you’ll be glad you did.
SDLHH: Who is HawdWerk?
HAWDWERK: HAWDWERK is Jamil Potts. To break that down further, I’m an artist from West Covina, CA, who nobody believed could be a rapper one day, but I stuck with it and [now] I’m recognized as a leader in my neighborhood. World domination is on the horizon.
SDLHH: Can you tell SDLHH a story about how hip hop has changed your life?
HAWDWERK: Hip hop changed my life by giving people I could identify with a unique way to express themselves. When I was younger I was into drawing comics and cartoons, but as I got older that didn’t really excite me as much. Learning how to do what the greats did before me in the music industry became exciting, and learning how to do it in my own way became the end goal.
SDLHH: Now that we have some context, let’s get into the music. I want to start with my favorite ‘Werk song right now, I Don’t Need Much feat Cee Nario. Why do you think you ended up finding contentment in simplicity when so much of hip hop culture is focused on material success?
HAWDWERK: I wasn’t raised to believe that the material gains were the mark of success. Taking care of your family and being educated was stressed to me. Since I put out that song I’ve realized how important it is to aspire to attain material wealth, but that’s only as an outcome of being educated and taking care of your family… you know what I mean?
SDLHH: I totally know what you mean. We have to make money to keep doing what we love and to put food on the table, but money is the bi-product of quality work, right? I Don’t Need Much tells readers what success doesn’t look like for you. After you’ve had that realization, what does success look like for HawdWerk? Once you define success, can you tell us a story of a time when you realized that you had taken a major step toward that success?
HAWDWERK: Success in the music industry is based on how much you’re able to innovate and leave your own unique mark on the game. It’s funny that you mention I Don’t Need Much because that was the first song I released that I felt was the most unique to me. I worked on my style a lot up to this point, stopped listening to other rappers, and focused on my life just to be sure I could feel confident saying “this is me; this is my shit, my sound”. The Call In Sick EP was definitely the beginning of that breaking point.
SDLHH: You recently dropped a single, Indeed. What inspired Indeed? Does the release of a late 2016 single hint at the release of a project sometime early in 2017? If so, what can you tell us about it?
HAWDWERK: Indeed is the antithesis of I Don’t Need Much, lol. Where in 2012 I was working a warehouse job just wanting to be happy, in 2016 I’m focused on my rap career and I’ve found that internal happiness and ready to take on the world. The inspiration behind Indeed was riding on the bus to the Slauson Swap Meet to pick up my gold teeth and listening to the beats Mr. Orange gave me. The first line, “10 karats better than no karats,” is about the the teeth & what set the rest of the song off. Everything in that song is a direct reflection of my life right now. From the credit, the checks, etc. It’s all what I’m going through right now. My debut full-length album, HAWDWERK is Jamil Potts, is definitely being prepared right now for a 2017 release. It was supposed to be 2016, but I’m a firm believer in letting the art dictate the business. You only have one chance to put a project out, so you better measure twice and cut once, an architectural motto.
SDLHH: Speaking of architecture, I want to hear more about how you’ve built your sound, your brand. Let’s talk a bit about inspiration. You have a very recognizable West Coast sound, both musically and delivery-wise; who have been some of the most influential West Coast artists in helping you to discover and shape your sound?
HAWDWERK: Lol yeah it’s hard not to, other regions have been influential but I’m from California, so I should sound like I’m from California. The biggest influences are Dj Quik, Xzibit, Krondon & Phil The Agony from Strong Arm Steady, Chace Infinite, Planet Asia, Warren G, Snoop, & Kurupt. I just knew that I wasn’t going to be able to make a career talking about street shit that I’ve never been in so I gravitated more towards Chace & Warren G as I started wondering where I fit in. Once Kendrick and Ab Soul came out I was like okay here are some guys that I feel I can contrast sonically and make a suburban California sound and stand out from my more “gangsta rap” predecessors.
SDLHH: By telling your story and sharing some of your thoughts, you have gotten readers interested in you and your music. What is the one track you have created so far, that you feel best encompasses who you are and what you’re all about? Why did you choose that track.
HAWDWERK: Like I mentioned earlier, I Don’t Need Much was that song for four years. I feel like Indeed is my best song, structure wise to date, but all of the music on HAWDWERK is Jamil Potts is based on my life, the good bad and ugly, so we’re going to have to reconvene when that’s out and get a solid answer to this question.
SDLHH: I look forward to connecting after the release of your debut for sure. As we start wrapping this up, what’s something you’d like to share with the West Coast hip hop community?
HAWDWERK: I enjoy being a part of this culture and I know the West Coast is known for it’s hood-ness, but I also know that there are suburbanites and even people in the hood areas that want to hear something different and more in line with who they are as people, not just what they see happening around them. So I hope to meet all of them on this journey and I’m honored to be a representative of this new wave of artists coming from the coast.
SDLHH: One emphasis of SDLHH is to see a heightened level of unity in the West Coast Hip Hop community. Can you point to some other artists who you see as comrades and who you also see as helping to progress the scene?
SDLHH: Finally where should readers go to connect with you?
HAWDWERK: Visit http://hwisjp.site and sign up for my email list; Werk’s Circle for deals, early content etc. You can also find my discography and lyrics there. I love instagram so follow @HAWDWERK and I’m @hawdwerk everywhere else.
Peace, Love & Hip Hop,
#SDLovesHipHop exists to carry on a conversation about hip hop music and culture as a catalyst to effect change in individuals’ lives and communities. If any of the artists above, or this article has struck a chord in you, then please leave a comment.