To The Nth Degree: A Conversation with Wisecrvcker (Interview)

Arizona emcee, Wisecrvcker has seemingly came out of left-field and released two of the most robust albums in the past decade featuring a boom-bap fiend’s dream list of guest stars.  These include Supreme Paradigm Act I: The Grand Scheme (2018) fully produced by Canadian emcee/producer Moka Only.  Moka appeared on four of the album’s tracks and other guests included Ill Bill, Sadat X, Lord Jamar, Blueprint, Rakaa of Dilated Peoples, Celph Titled, Stic of Dead Prez, El Da Sensei, 2 Mex among others.

Earlier this month he released the second installment of his Supreme Paradigm series, sub-titled The Nth Degree.  Fully produced by France’s Kyo Itachi (Blaq Poet, Ruste Juxx) Wisecrvcker’s baritone timbred rhymes are book-ended by such notable guests as Killah Priest, Cappadonna, Planet Asia, Supreme Sniper, Ruste Juxx, Tragedy Khadafi, Andre Nickatina, Rockness (Heltah Skeltah), Guilty Simpson, Madchild, King Magnetic, Diabolic, Myka9 and more.

Weekly Rap Gods premiered one of the albums’ stand-out singles recently “Brass Tactics” which features Conway The Machine and NEMS.

With such an illustrious catalog but little to no history on him on the web, we decided to find out more about Wisecrvcker.

INTERVIEW

So researching your previous work I only came across The Grand Scheme. Was that your official debut?  Do you have any other projects/releases floating around from before then?

The Grand Scheme is my official Debut Album. From 2004-2012 I was rapping under the moniker RAGE – Under that name I became known in the Arizona drug trade and caused the ruckus that led to my incarceration. There a couple mixtapes out there in the ether mostly in physical form from those days but the delivery and content pales in comparison to The Supreme Paradigm or anything else I’ve touched since the birth of WISECRVCKER.

I read that you had a stretch in incarceration early in your life. Were there any positives that came out of this period? Did you work on emceeing in there?

Nothing but positive things to say about prison actually. 10 out of 10 would recommend. Prison was one of the most positive experiences of my life. Why, you might ask? Well my father passed away of lung cancer when I was 13 and from then on I was wildin’ out.

I grew up in a small town in southeastern AZ that was literally on the US/Mexico border. After my dad died, I got involved with cartels, and found myself in some unsavory situations. I had several run-ins with the law before turning 18. Once I turned 18, I ran for Mayor of my town, part of which was to keep enough attention on me that I couldn’t be caught up in the corruption of the local police – they couldn’t target me as easily as a political candidate without incurring public scrutiny.

Long story short, as soon as I lost the mayoral election I wound up in jail and decided I needed to get out of my hometown. This was all before my true incarceration. I moved to Phoenix at 18, and the trouble didn’t stop there. I got involved in moving drugs in the Phoenix area for some of my previous associates on the border. In an effort to get away from this life I moved to California to work with a friend I knew that was in the medical Marijuana business. We setup a couple of grow-houses and I did that for awhile.

Eventually there was a falling out and I returned to Phoenix. This is when the heat really got turned up. I dove head first into the Rave scene in Arizona and started taking over the party drug game. I realized that people selling LSD, Ecstasy, Mushrooms, Ketamine, etc. were not organized like the cartels of old and I used my business acumen and bad judgement to create a bit of a party drug empire. This is what led to my incarceration. I got to a point where I was trying to limit my intake of drugs by adhering to a self-created sales ratio. I had a bit of an ecstasy problem and I decided I’d only take 1 pill every-time I sold 100. It was my way to ration myself.

Unfortunately, I got to the point I was taking 20-25 pills a day. Do the math there. Money was good and the lifestyle seemed even better but not sustainable – but I was 20 and I was impressed with myself. It wasn’t long before I sold to undercover agents that were targeting me and my supplier. In addition to selling to local under-covers I got caught going into a rave with 70 pills for personal use.

At this point I felt the need to escape again and I took off to California where my mom was living. I was on the run for 2 years. A hard 2 years, I was able to find jobs in the IT industry, but I couldn’t have friends, women in my life etc. I was lucky to be able to go out and work – Having felony warrants and a suspended license meant no driving, no renting my own place, etc. Something had to give eventually.

Well in 2012 I got that wish. I went to a bar with my employer and the local police in California were doing warrant sweeps. They arrested me, held me for 31 days in the Salinas County Prison and extradited me to Arizona on a single prop Cessna plane. Once in AZ my family helped me secure a lawyer and I traveled from AZ to cali and back often for about 5 months while we fought the case. I was facing 48-60 years for 4 Felony 2s.

Eventually the lawyer was able to get one of the counts dismissed and we settled on a deal. I signed for 2.5 – 3.75 years with an 8 year probation to follow. I was taken into custody and booked into county jail in Maricopa County (Joe Arpaio’s Tent City. I spent time in Durango, and Tent City Jails while awaiting sentencing.) When it came time to be sentenced we pushed the fact that I hadn’t been selling or using drugs for 2+ years and that I had held a stable career-oriented job. I got lucky, I had a judge that wanted to dismiss the prison term and only assign probation, but the DA wouldn’t hear of it. So in the end the judge gave me the minimum sentence – 1 year in prison and a 4 year probation to follow.

While in prison I reinvented myself in all aspects. I read over 300 books, created a 5 year action plan for myself, and evolved myself as an MC. I adopted a new moniker The Wisecracker and did rap battles at the barber shop in prison. I was the only white rapper on the yard, or at least the only willing to admit it and face the potential consequences from the skinheads. I learned a lot in prison and emerged with a level of focus and determination that has never run out of fuel.

I am the man I am today because of prison and I wholeheartedly believe every person could benefit from a year without their cell phones, without the distractions of loved ones, friends, and life responsibilities. It’s a chance to reset yourself.

WISE-SA

For those of us who haven’t been to Arizona, what do you like about your turf?

Arizona is my favorite place in the world. I have lived in Southern California, California’s Central Coast, Northern California, Oregon, and spent extended periods in Idaho and Montana and none of those places compare for me.

Sure the Monterey Coast of California is breathtaking. The Hood River gorge in Oregon is one of the great wonders of the Northwest but nothing is quite like the desert. Arizona winters are like California Summers. The Phoenix metro area has more species of Palm Trees present than anywhere else in the world. In the 1950’s Phoenix was still basically a small town. This is a very relevant fact because it means the city-scape is very new. The roads, bridges, freeways, and other vital infrastructure is much newer than other cities like LA, SF, NY, Chicago, Philly, etc.

Arizona planned for a large scale metropolis. We have six lanes on each side of the freeway, sometimes more. We have a lot fewer bottlenecks than other places I’ve lived like Portland, OR. What I appreciate most of all about my stomping grounds however, is the culture. We are the Wild West, we are rough and tumble. The majority of men carry guns and the women aren’t anybody to fuck with. We retain an underlying Tombstone vibe, the OK Corral is alive and well. Arizona and the southwest region are unique in that we have always been a place you come to escape the bullshit that the rest of America is contending with.

During the civil war Arizona was a territory, we did not participate in the Civil War nor did we participate in slavery. Arizona was a place anyone could come to exercise their freedoms. Lay claim to a mining grubstake and create a life regardless of who you are. Arizona is a place that cares not what color, religion, or creed you may be, but rather this terrain cares how tough you are. In the late 1800’s if you came to Arizona you had to be ready to deal with the heat, the lack of water, the rough terrain, the Highwaymen laying in wait to ransack your wagon and take your women, you had to be ready for Native Americans to take back their land from you (and rightfully so), you had to deal with citizens of Mexico coming up into the territory to secure resources, you had to deal with cattle rustlers and equestrian gangs like the Cowboys with their red sashes. You had to contend with the gamblers, the thieves, the lawmen and the outlaws alike – and most importantly you had to hold your own. This is the culture that remains in Arizona.

Arizona is unique in my eyes because it is a place where Native American tribes, Native Tribes of Mexico, Spaniards, and Immigrants from the east coast have created and sustained life since before the civil war transpired. There were mining claims held by African-Americans in Arizona PRIOR to the civil war. So in my eyes, it’s one of the most special places in the country. I see Arizona as a place that stands for freedom and opportunity for all those who can handle the heat. We are rough around the edges, and we sure as hell put up a good fight but we are accepting of anyone that shares a passion for freedom and opportunity no matter who they are or where they came from. Arizona’s underlying culture is that we judge you by your abilities, your tenacity, your stamina, and your depth of character, We are a place that has understood not to judge a book by it’s cover since before it was a commonly accepted practice. We are a state proud of our rights and dedicated to protecting them. That’s what I love most about the Copper State.

There’s an air of mysticism with The Supreme Paradigm and the anime like covers, is there an overreaching concept for these albums?

Absolutely!  You’ll notice that The Grand Scheme pulls imagery from the Hindu God Shiva, as well as from Buddha. Giving it a Indian or Southwest Asian connotation. The Nth Degree is heavily influenced by the Samurai Warriors of Japan, as well as Wu-Tang inferences and my line about the Terra-Cotta Warriors pulls in some elements of Chinese Legends as well.

The 3rd album will move further west and centers the focus on Greco-Roman mythology. The Supreme Paradigm Act III is entitled The Herculean Task and features 12 tracks that follow along the 12 Labors of Hercules. Each installment of The Supreme Paradigm will be themed with a representation of world cultures. My hope is that the imagery in each album will eventually assemble to represent all of our ancestry as humans, and create The Supreme Paradigm. The words supreme paradigm are synonyms of the phrase “The Prime Example”, as is the name of the IT company I founded called “Flagship.”

Flagship stores or Businesses are the ones you base all of your other satellite units or franchises upon. The resounding theme of everything I do in music, and professionally is to lead by example. Being the “prime example” to others is really the definition of what people seek when they want fame, money, power respect. In my eyes, too many people lose sight of this concept. The fame, money, power, and respect are supposed to be by-products not core desires. Our core desire should be to better ourselves and better each other by leading an exemplary life, doing on to others what we would want done to us, treating others as we would want to be treated. Carrying ourselves with a candor we would respect if we were to observe it in another.

I am not a religious man, but I believe this teaching is at the core of every religion. I see this theme at the core of every self help book, and every entrepreneur manual. The recurring theme of success and happiness is to lead by example, to be the change you want to see, etc. There are thousands of catch phrases but the same principal holds true in all of them. Be the prime example, be the flagship, embrace the Supreme Paradigm.

Beat-wise how do you think this new one The Nth Degree with Kyo’s beats differs from The Grand Scheme with Moka Only? Did you give them any directions for what style of beats you were looking for from them?

I see the first album as having more of a West Coast feel, and more of a California-conscious vibe. In my head I always section off Hip Hop into genomes based upon like artists.

Artists like Dilated Peoples, Zion I, Living Legends, Visionaries Crew, Moka Only, Atmosphere, Eyedea, Brother Ali, Murs, Freestyle Fellowship, Cunninlynguists, and Aesop Rock I tend to lump into the more conscious movement, and a majority of those artists are from the Bay area or Southern California.

I structured the first album around this group and style of emcees. In another corner you have your Skeleton Rap bridging into Horrorcore, I associate cats like Tech N9ne, Brotha Lynch, Twisted Insane, Swollen Members, Ill Bill, Necro, ICP etc. Then you have your Hard Body Hip Hop which tends to be more east coast with cats like Wu Tang Clan, Sean Price, Ruste Juxx, Crimeapple, Roc Marci, Conway, Pharaohe Monch, Benny the Butcher, Guilty Simpson, King Magnetic. Then obviously you get your Crunk cats like Masta P, UGK, Geto Boys, Three Six Mafia, Paul Wall, and early Lil Wayne, who tend to be more from the south.

The style list goes on with some Artists landing somewhere in the middle of 2 genomes. Maybe someday I will create a venn diagram to go along with this explanation. Clearly the 2nd album has more of that Hardbody/Godbody feel to it than the first album which focused more heavily on that west coast conscious vibe.

To answer your other question, no I don’t really tell producers what to make I just listen to what they send and try to choose things that suit my tastes and sound like they will fit together well. In the case of both Moka and Kyo I probably listened to 200-300 beats or more to pick what you hear on the album. That differs from what I did with Sultan Mir on part III, Sultan tried to tailor the beats to what I was looking for and I think we did a good job, we have a very dynamic setlist for a 12 track album. The 3rd album being the shortest album to date.

With a guest list this large I would imagine that you were coordinating a lot of these features simultaneously, correct? Was that a headache trying to wrangle all these verses from all of these personalities, some of whom are probably on the road constantly? What would you recommend to anyone trying to do something similar?

Yes Indeed, coordinating can be a really difficult task.

I learned a lot doing the first album because I was totally fresh to building a project of that scale. During the structuring of The Grand Scheme I was just shooting emails out to emcees and hoping for responses. That’s actually part of how The Grand Scheme came to be. In the beginning, I was going to do a 4 track EP with Moka Only producing called Tough Cookies. I had 4 beats and I wanted to feature some dope artists so I approached about 20 artists. BIG MISTAKE. I got the go ahead from 10 artists pretty much right off the bat. Then I found myself wondering how the hell do I fit these guys on just 4 beats?

Thus, The Supreme Paradigm started to take shape. I quickly got back in touch with Moka and let him know that shit had just got real. I needed more beats. As I tried to juggle following up with and coordinating with those artists more began to hit me back. This experience taught me not to approach more artists than I can keep track of all at once, or afford!

When I undertook the second album I knew to only hit 1 or 2 artists up at a time, and then move on this helped me keep things organized and not bombard myself. I also learned about timing. I’ve had emcees turn the verse around and get me stems in 4 hours. I’ve also waited 9 months for a verse. A huge part of this is timing. If you hit them on tour or right before tour or right in the middle of them recording their album you are gonna get back-burnered.

I also realized that timing is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to pricing. For example, You don’t want to hit them right after they ink a big deal if you want a generous price.

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What’s next for you? Who else would you like to work with that hasn’t appeared on these two projects?

I have a few things in the works. Firstly, before I release anything else I have a 4 track EP with DirtyDiggs that I have been sitting on way too long. I feel really guilty for putting The Nth Degree out before that EP actually because the Dirty Diggs EP was started beforehand. After the DirtyDiggs EP is done I will focus even heavier on Supreme Paradigm Act III: The Herculean Task which already features Spit Gemz and Sadat X.

Beyond that I am sitting on a dozen Moka Only beats that I plan to use for an album that is mostly solo. I feel I owe my listeners something that is not so feature-heavy and that will come after Part III of The Supreme Paradigm. As far as people I’d like to work with yes there are some I haven’t gotten to yet. The top 2 are Pharaohe Monch and Joell Ortiz, those 2 guys are the best emcees walking this earth in my eyes and I absolutely have to work with them eventually.

I’d also really like to work with Crimeapple, the dude really inspires me. Those are my top 3. Tech N9ne is another cat I’ve wanted to feature with for 12+ years and I hope may happen one day, as well as the greats like MF Doom, Ghostface, GZA, Royce Da 5’9”, U God, Rakim, just to name a few.

Any other things you would like to mention, bring up that wasn’t addressed here?

Sure, I think it is important to note that all of my albums have been released independently. I have paid for the beats, the art, the mix/master, the features, the manufacturing of CDs, marketing efforts, etc, all out of pocket.   It’s a labor of love.

My profit margins are not only non-existent but I am DEEP into the red on these projects and I am not stopping. To that end copping a CD from my website wisecrvcker.com is the most incredible thing you can do to propel this effort forward. This is truly for the culture, and for the craft. I make art for the artform and for the real hip hop heads, not as a get rich scheme. I feel everything I do, and stand for is the polar opposite of the radio-grade rap, and I hope anyone that can appreciate that will support the effort. Before I go I’d like to shout out a couple people instrumental in my success: Graphic Artist JonnyNewBrand for his contributions to these albums and my branding as a whole. The legendary DJ PF Cuttin for making the album what it is and helping me in anyway he had the power to do so, I consider that cat a true friend. I’d also like to mention Moka Only for putting me on in the first place and enabling me to make this happen and start the ball rolling. Thanks to Weekly Rap Gods for the great interview and shout out to Jerry Graham for making the connection. PEACE!

Purchase The Supreme Paradigm Act I and Act II here
https://wisecrvcker.bandcamp.com/

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