on making an EP in two days and surrounding himself with the type of friends who drag him on stage
The other day, I was reading a note from one of my favorite artists, Brittany Howard, on her jaw-dropping first solo project. I was surprised to hear that even though her album was a representation of her and what she never really got to express in previous bands, it would have never come to be if it weren’t for the relationships she’d made that allowed her to sing her song and play her instruments.
It was ironic to hear such similarities the same day when I chatted with Chicago rapper, Woes, who’s been rapping since he was an outspoken, Boston-transplant highschool troublemaker, always feeling like somewhat of an outsider, but just the same, destined for big things. Though Woes has been making music for a while, it wasn’t until recently that he bit the bullet and started performing, and that credit (in which we should all be grateful for) is owed to Woes’ friends.
The beginning of Woes’ stage time began when he moved in with David and Robert from Chicago band, Spacebones. They took a butcher-shop-turned-studio in Humbolt Park and transformed it into a DIY venue called Hungry City. Moving in with the musicians from Spacebones, working the door at Hungry City’s events, and going to countless shows where he learned that some of the most talented musicians were in fact people just like him…Woes was at the peak of his inspiration and David finally told him it was time to get out of his studio bubble and start rehearsing and playing. Woes’ raps were like granny’s chocolate chip cookie recipe and David knew Chicago needed those damn cookies. Despite his comical and easy going social media presence, his gritty and honest lyrics suggesting he doesn’t have anything to hide, and well, you know I have to mention the gold teeth and head tattoos, Woes is a humble and genuine guy. He knew that performing was necessary, but it was an intimidating hurdle, that would take a lot of confidence. But hustling is in his nature, and just like that, Woes was on tour with Spacebones, learning and giving thanks every step of the way. He quickly tossed the live tracks he was rapping over for dynamic live drummers who shared his tense, dope energy. Again, with a little help from his friends, confidence became less about putting yourself on a pedestal and more about curating the attention of the room with a mic, and boy, can he do just that.
Woes recently dropped a project with Baltimore producer, GoodBoy called ‘Quarantine,’ a 5 track EP written in 48 hours. Yes you read that correctly. The two never met in person but had been in contact and knew they fuxed with eachother’s music. Nothing like a quarantine to get the juices flowing and finally make potential into tangible. Goodboy, being also a good producer, sent Woes a whole catalog of fresh beats to pick from and Woes excitedly got to work. Woes said the process was so mindful, that everything else became mindless…dunkin coffee, poptarts, the world turned off as he wrote and wrote. On day three, the songs were being mixed. The EP is hot. Each song is sonically diverse and a lyrical revelation, of where your mind may go during isolation. There’s a Lot Going On is extremely honest, and reflects on Woes in his younger years- the beat nostalgic with dreamy guitar. Fairy Tale had me booty poppin’ with an extremely catchy hook. And then the EP, sealed with, well I don’t know if I’d call it a kiss but, something like that: Quarantine. Woes actually wrote this song first and then worked backwards.Woes’ rap entrance on this track is a statement, and he keeps you entranced with a flow you can’t quite put your finger on because it’s not what you’d expect, but better. The real shocker and artistic merit of this song is that these two guys never met. Woes didn’t sound like he was rapping over a beat; the music and the rap sounded like they were made for eachother. But honestly…maybe they were.
Woes is wildly skillful, modest, funny, and passionate. His flow ranges from quick and somewhat furious to slow, sexy, and smooth. He finds new and creative ways to market his music with videos that give you a glimpse into his life and process, showing you the people he pulls inspiration from, giving faces and moments to his words and lyrics. He shouts out his mom (more than any rapper I know honestly) for her love and support, and though he raps a lot about his own depression, he never stops letting his blessings know he’s thankful for them. When asked to describe what phrases or ideas come to mind that make Woes uniquely WOES, he laughed and told me “I’m like the auntie in your family who hasn’t done shit with herself but is always the one leading the ted talk at the dinner table. – It’s the people who fucked up the most that learned the most” Well Woes, I never had an aunty quite like you, but you’re welcome at my dinner table any time and fux with can’t wait to hear what you whip up next.