I’m feeling good, man. I’m feeling good. I feel blessed to be doing this music.
What was it like growing up in Columbia, South Carolina?
Growing up in South Carolina, it’s like any other place. You have your good and you have your bad. I would like to focus more on the good. I didn’t grow up in the best neighborhood and have things like that, but I always knew I wanted to do something positive with my life. Music was something that I started at an early age. It was like a prearranged marriage.
How did things change for you when you moved from South Carolina to Virginia?
Things change for the best, to be honest. In all honesty, I had to get out of South Carolina so I could come and bring it back to South Carolina. When I came to Virginia, I met a lot of people. I did a lot of things and I met a lot of people who know a lot of people. I actually met my manager in Virginia. The opportunities have been put out in front of me and doors have been opened up for me since I’ve been in Virginia. People up here are showing me love and they respect the music that I do because no matter where you’re from, I feel like good music is good music.
You’ve been grinding for awhile and you’re at a point now where people are starting to check for you. How hard was it for you to get to the point you’re at now?
It really wasn’t that hard. I really didn’t jump out there too early because I’m my own worst critic. I’ve been rapping since I was 10 years-old. My cousin used to take me around the neighborhood to battle cats twice my age. It was just a thing where I didn’t feel I was ready to be exposed to the public yet because I wanted my craft perfected and I didn’t want it misconstrued in any way. When Thadd Williams drops, he’s here to stay. It hasn’t really been that long of a road and everything takes time.
You’re coming into this game without any co-signs. Does that make it harder for you or do you like it better that way?
It’s kind of funny. I like it that way. I like going to a show and people are sitting there with blank faces because they don’t know if it’s going to be wack. And then when the beat drops, I give it my all and they show respect at the end. True enough, I don’t have any co-signs yet, but it’s going to make it that much sweeter when we attain the type of success that we want. You can’t keep a good dude down for too long. Talent is talent and good music is good music. I’ll ride the bench for right now, but when the coach calls my number to put me in the game, best believe I’m going hard.
Your first mixtape that you’re officially releasing is titled #1 Draft Pick. Why did you choose that title?
Basically, it’s kind of self-explanatory. It’s basically to let everyone know that I’m the next one to come out of the South. South Carolina is a market that hasn’t been tapped quite yet. I have a big opportunity to be one of the first people to come out of South Carolina and represent us in a manner that everybody can be proud of. The process of doing the mixtape wasn’t too hard. I picked beats that I felt were classics and I have my songs on the mixtape. We just wanted to put out a project that I could be proud of and everyone in my camp could be proud of.
Getting into the mixtape, “9 to 5” is a very realistic song about the grind. What inspired that?
What inspired that was basically that I’m an artist that never sold crack. I never went to jail. I never did a bid. I feel that it’s very important to be honest with my listeners so that they could feel me on a whole ‘nother level. A lot of artists today, they talk about things that go on in the street, but what about the everyday people that go through the struggles, waking up in the morning and going to their nine-to-five? It was a very real song for me and it was a song that everybody can relate to because everybody has had a supervisor or a boss that they can’t stand or colleagues or coworkers that they can’t stand. That’s what inspired that song. I feel that everybody has been through that and that everybody can feel it.
How important is it to have that realistic perspective in your music?
It’s very important, man. That may be the most important thing to my career because record sales, they decline. I don’t think you could base success on record sales today, especially with all the downloading. When you have a fan that can say, ‘I feel this dude. This dude is real. He’s just like me,’ that speaks volumes. It’s very important to have that connection with my listeners on that level because I’m pretty much letting them know that I’m sincere. The thing about why I take that approach to tracks the way I do is because everybody uses a different formula. That’s why the name of my album is Against the Grain, which is dropping in February of ’08. I named it that because I’m taking a whole different angle with this hip-hop music. I’m taking a whole different angle to the game.
How much longer do you expect to have a nine-to-five?
Hopefully not for too much longer! I’m working real hard right now. With Against the Grain, we’re about 30 songs done right now. I’m probably going to cut it off at 50 and we’re going to choose songs from there. I just want to stay out there and stay in people’s ears and drop the mixtapes. I just want to keep following the same formula that other successful MCs before me have attained. Hopefully I’m not unsigned for too much longer, man. (laughs)
You have a line in your song “Hip-Hop” where you’re addressing your expectations from the game. Can you talk about that?
A lot of people get by on just songs that are played in the club. You do need those as well, but you need other songs. What about the people who are not in the club like that? What about the people that are struggling and grinding? Hip-hop, as you know, we’re going through a lot of things right now. They want to blame hip-hop for a lot of things and hip-hop is getting a lot of bad press lately. I made “Hip-Hop” because I just wanted to give my two cents on what hip-hop is and what hip-hop means to me. I felt it was almost mandatory for me to do a track like that because what I’m doing is I’m giving you all dimensions of Thadd Williams. You’re going to get your club songs and you’re going to get your party songs, but you have to give the people what they want and a lot of people today want answers. I felt that “Hip-Hop” was a song that kind of explained my perspective of hip-hop.
Can you give us some more detail about your debut album Against the Grain?
I named it ‘Against the Grain’ because I’m doing something different. I’m taking a different perspective to the game. It all just kind of fits in together with the movement that Diamond District and myself are trying to do. The reason why I went with my government name, Thadd Williams, is because I’ve had plenty of rap names but none of them felt real. None of them felt authentic to me. My name is something that they can’t take away from me. That’s me. That’s real.
With Against the Grain and the types of songs that we’re putting together, like “9 to 5” and “Hip-Hop,” we’re taking a different approach to the game. We have a song called “Use Your Head” where I’m talking to the listener about using their head before they do something stupid. We’ve all been through things and we’ve all been through our own trials and tribulations, but at the same time, man, ‘use your head.’ Every song is going to have some type of message in it, even a party track. Against the Grain is coming along great, man. I think when it drops there will be posters everywhere and we’ll be out selling them. I think the people are really going to appreciate it and the streets are really going to feel me on this.
How will you release Against the Grain?
Basically I just want to have the product in my hand. It would be great to have somebody distribute it and to have some type of distribution, but if push comes to shove and we have to do it on our own, there’s no better marketing tool than word of mouth. We’ll be doing marketing and be on MySpace and we’ll be doing all of that. We’re going to get this train moving if no one else will. That’s the approach that we take to the game. Hopefully we’ll get some type of deal or some type of sponsorship by that time. But if not, we’re definitely going to push it ourselves.
Lenny S gave you props on HipHopGame in DEMOlition Derby. What did that mean to you?
That meant a lot. To be recognized by somebody of his caliber and somebody like that, who’s been around the business for a long time, to have him give you props, that’s just a great feeling. It’s just like if I’m a ballplayer and Larry Bird or Magic Johnson saw one of my games and said, “Good game.” It let me know that I’m on the right path and to keep grinding because success is right around the corner.
What do you have to do for the next few months to set people up for Against the Grain?
We just have to keep hitting up the DJs, man. We have to keep putting out mixtapes. We have to keep doing shows. They just have to keep hearing ‘Thadd Williams.’ My mouthpiece is one of the best tools I can have to promoting myself. Against the Grain is somewhat anticipated right now, but we want that anticipation to really be there by February. We just have to stay out here and keep doing shows and keep doing these mixtapes. I have a long way to go. I still have a lot to prove and I don’t mind putting in the time and the effort to do that. Definitely, man, I just have to keep working. I have to keep working.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Hey, be on the lookout for Thadd Williams. The real is back. And be on the lookout for Against the Grain, the Diamond in the Rough series and the #1 Draft Pick mixtape. Big shout out to the Hood Hard DJs and DJ Prince Ice down in the Cak. It’s time to stop gaming. Let’s put it back to where it needs to be. It’s time to put South Carolina on the map.