SO Serious — formerly known as Wicked Will — is originally from Chi-town, but grew up on the crazy streets of Milwaukee. There, he built his name as a lyricist and fearless battle rapper, winning multiple battle competitions and being named the “Freestyle King of Wisconsin.” He later spent several years in Atlanta honing his craft, building his brand, and making important connections.
His debut album, “I AM Champion,” and the companion book of the same name — explaining his difficult climb and the key components to his successes — are both available now. We took a few minutes out to chat SO Serious about his career, his influences, and much more. Read the interview below.
How did you get involved in the game?
Well, my dad rapped in the 80s and early 90s, and this inspired me to work on my lyrical skills at first just to impress him. I went from trying to impress him to trying to impress my friends at school while still very young maybe 10 or 11. By the time I hit high school, I was battle rapping in the lunch room, and the rest is history. I quickly rose through the ranks in the local battle rap scene in the city and then started to develop more as an artist after graduating high school.
Who influenced you?
Early on I was heavily influenced by a lot of East Coast rappers, but my favorites were Jadakiss and Cassidy. I gravitated to the punchlines and the laid back flow that both of them mastered in their craft. Also, what Lil Wayne did to the mixtape game made me want to step it up too, the way he was slaughtering everybody’s beat had me like–damn his flow is undeniable! So that’s what I begin to work towards bringing in my music, undeniable talent; shredding to pieces any and every beat I jump on.
Tell me about your latest project, “I AM Champion.”
I AM Champion is a concept that I came up with to embody the spirit of fighting through life struggles to achieve success. We all struggle, but I think we have to remind ourselves that we are Champions in the midst of being broke, in the midst of nobody buying our albums, and in the midst of feeling like we’ve failed. You have to remind yourself this every day so you can fight through the haters’ criticisms and all the setbacks.
I challenged myself to not only do an album but write a book with them both being titled “I AM Champion.” In September 2015, I accomplished that goal by releasing the twelve track album “I AM Champion (available on Itunes, Spotify, etc.) and publishing my first book through Amazon and Kindle. The music is a soundtrack for the struggle, and the book lays out what needs to be done day to day to see results. Listen I’ve had to overcome a lot growing up on the crazy streets of Milwaukee to now having a degree, being a published author, running businesses and most importantly being able to do what I love the most and that’s music. So I beat a lot of the odds so to speak, and I wanted to highlight how that is possible for everyone through this project.
How would you describe your sound?
I would describe it as lyrical but with a down south vibe to it. I lived in Atlanta for seven years, and anybody who has been to the clubs in Atlanta knows that all the Dj’s play is down south music. I never lost my punchline prowess, but I started to get better with my hooks and begin to gravitate more to beats with strong baselines. I’m almost like a Kendrick Lamar and Future mixed in one.
What are you working towards — what are your career goals?
I first and foremost and most importantly would like to be able to provide real hip hop heads with quality projects and great content they can relate to. My goal is to stay true to who I am while becoming a name that heavy hitters in the industry seek to connect with. I want to see success as a solo artist but also, wouldn’t mind getting into some ghost writing as of now. Long term goal is to have my record label and give great artists the opportunity that was given to me.
How do you want people to perceive you as an artist?
I want them to above all enjoy the experience my music brings which will allow them to appreciate the work that went into developing it. For other artists that hear me, I would like them to connect with my creativity and allow it to challenge them to take their skill and to deliver to the next level. After people listen to my music, I want them first to be inspired to continue to chase their dreams and also know that I’m not a typical bubble gum artist but I’m real, authentic, and I have something to say!
Do you want to remain independent or sign to a major label?
It’s funny you ask this because early on in my career I would always say I didn’t want to be signed because of the bad deals and the loss of creative freedom. But we are in a new time now, and I believe I have come as far as I can go by myself. To get to the next level, I’m going to need a major label to get behind me. I’ve always heard; if you want to build something great you can’t do it by yourself, and I believe for the goals and the impact that I look to make in the industry I’m going to need a major label with resources and influence to help me in getting there.