Chicago emcee WateRR stays working. He released three albums earlier this year, each one produced entirely by a single producer. In keeping with that tradition, WateRR looked north of the border to obtain tracks for his fourth release of 2020 “Workshop of the Mind.”
Workshop of the Mind is produced entirely by Canadian producer, The Kurse, with co-production from MTK, ForTheNight, BVLVM, Motif Alumni, and Beat Butcha. The 12-track album features appearances by Ty Farris and TriState.
WateRR spoke to The Real Hip-Hop about why he likes to continuously release music, what it would take to unite the gangs in Chicago, and his new album, Workshop of the Mind.
TRHH: What’s the meaning behind the title of the album, Workshop of the Mind?
WateRR: Ah, man. That’s a good question. I’m into the Moorish Science. When you study into the science there’s a particular chapter that talks about tools being used. Those tools being used are similar to the tools being used in the workshop of the mind, which builds character. It goes on to talk about the different tools and what they are specifically used for. I’ll hit you with the exact quote. This is in regards to a highly enlightened individual. It says, “One day he was bringing forth the tools for work. He said, ‘These tools remind me of the ones we handle in the workshop of the mind where things were made of thought and where we build up character. We use the square to measure all our lines, to straighten out the crooked places of the way, and make the corners of our conduct square.’” It goes on to say we use the compass, the axe, the hammer, and other tools and explains what they use them for. It’s the symbolism of building, or either similar to planting a seed. But instead of doing that thing physically outside of you, you’re doing it inside in your mind. You’re building up your mind to become a better individual. That’s what this is about.
TRHH: How did you and The Kurse get together and decide to do a full-length album?
WateRR: Me and The Kurse been working for a little bit now. Last year we dropped a couple of singles and got some good responses. We did a joint “Dollars & The Rent” and “In My Eyes.” Both of them got some spins on Soul Assassins Radio out there in Cali on Shade 45. We got some good feedback as far as the streams. I like his style. He reminds me of Alchemist. He be on some Alchemist shit. He got some special talent. The feeling was mutual so we decided to come together for a project.
TRHH: Workshop of the Mind is your fourth release this year. Why are you releasing so much music back to back?
WateRR: Ah, I love it. Great question! So, number one, this is how I eat. This is how I make a living. I eat, sleep, and shit this rap shit. Right now, I got two projects almost done and they’re going to be out before the year is done. I always got music ready, it’s just that once the money starts getting low it’s time to put something out. I got a daughter I have to feed. I’m not at that stage yet where I can drop one project and that shit is good enough to hold me over for a little bit of time. I gotta do what I gotta do. Another thing, to be real with you, along with me sitting on a lot of music anyway – so why sit on it, you might as well put it out — one of my inspirations is Curren$y. Last year I put out four projects and 2016 I put out four projects. This time I already did it by July.
I’m saying all that to say, Curren$y being the inspiration you gotta put out work. When you look at the current climate of Hip-Hop it’s so many artists out right now and it’s so much music dropping. It’s big artists as well whose names hold more weight than mine. Once some new music drops your shit can get pushed to the back! Nah, I’m going to stay current. I’m not going to have my name get fizzled out by no new music. I’m right in the mix with y’all. And another thing, when you look at people like Griselda, how they’re moving, the success they have, and the work ethic that they have, if you’re an artist in today’s climate and you’re only dropping once or twice a year that ain’t enough. That ain’t gonna cut it. Unless you’ve got a heavyweight name like Kendrick or you’re on some Freddie Gibbs type shit where you have a fan base that can sustain you and hold you over when they’re buying your merch and you’re doing shows.
TRHH: “Chasin’ My Dream” is my favorite song on the album….
WateRR: Ah, that’s special right there. I appreciate you even saying that. That’s some real shit right there, man. Everybody don’t wanna be vulnerable. Everybody wanna drop music where every song is hard as hell and every song is about how I’m a tough guy and I’m the best rapper. We’re all individuals and we all got weak spots. I think it’s critical to share those types of feelings and emotions with your fans, because I’m sure they go through the same shit. There are people that can relate. I’m not afraid to be vulnerable with people.
TRHH: In that song you say, “Sometimes I feel it’s all for nothing.” What keeps you chasing the Hip-Hop dream?
WateRR: In the beginning of the second verse it kind of answers your question. I say, “Been on this road so long it’s hard to take an exit/Only stop for plates of breakfast.” I’ve been doing this shit for so long now – over ten plus years. Even when I was balling. I used to play football. I went to the University of Wisconsin in Madison – the Badgers. I was a running back, you can look me up. I had to stop playing due to a heart condition. Even back in high school and grammar school I was doing music. I was good at ball and I was on my way to the league, but when I got the diagnosis and it altered my path I dove into the music even harder. I’ve been doing this for so long and sharpening my skill, I can’t stop now. It’s certain things with the heart condition where a regular job ain’t gonna cut it. It’s certain things I gotta do that won’t be conducive to that type of work environment in the sense of the commitment that you gotta make on a daily basis of doing that. I got other stuff that I have to do. It’s not stopping now. I’m going to see this shit through. I’m blessed to be in a situation where I’m able to be at it full-time like that. I’m taking advantage of it.
TRHH: What’s the origin of your name, WateRR?
WateRR: It’s multiple reasons why I named myself “WateRR.” Originally, before I put the other “R” on I just called myself “Water.” Like most artists I had different names. In like ’03 I became Water. For one, I like how it sounds. Also, just the meaning of it, man. We all have 75-80% water in us. Along with the earth being 75-80% water. It just relates to the connection we all have. We’re all connected. It brings life and it also brings death. It’s a duality in water, just like it’s a duality in man with good and evil. In ancient cultures water was seen as the land where the ancestor’s dwell or the land of the underworld.
I also get into that type of science as well – showing respect and reverence to the ancestors. It touches on a lot of things, shows our connection, and water is a special element. It’s a universal element. It’s not just on the earth, it’s throughout the universe. It’s multiple meanings. It’s complex. It’s a lot in one, which I like to think that I am. In this one body that I’m in it’s a lot going on, just like it’s a lot going on in water. With water you can’t destroy that shit, it’s going to transform. Just like spirit. Energy can’t be created or destroyed, it can only transverse. Just like water. It’s either going to turn into a gas, a liquid, or a solid. The shape shifter!
TRHH: You mentioned Curren$y earlier as an inspiration, but who would you say inspired you to want to be an emcee?
WateRR: To be honest, if I really go back and think about being in grammar school and writing my first rhymes and shit, I would have to say my friends. We’d be in the classroom kickin’ rhymes to each other. You don’t want nobody to outdo you, so you’re sharpening your sword. I would say my childhood classmates inspired me in rap. Of course, I have my favorite rappers and people that I listen to, but I was just a fan. I wasn’t necessarily inspired to write music. If anything, I would have been intimidated to write music because this is the best music I’m hearing. I wouldn’t have saw myself as competing with that, so I was a fan of it. What made me want to start writing was hearing my classmates rhyming. It was like, “Hold on, y’all doing that shit? Let me get down ‘cause I can do this too. You ain’t gonna outdo me. I’m not going to play around with it, I’m just going to say what I have to say.” I would say my classmates and just being a competitor.
TRHH: In the Intro on the album you say, “Peace to Folks and the Brothers, that’s your blood…”
WateRR: Yes sir! I say, “Peace to Folks and the Brothers, that’s your Blood/You don’t fuck with Cuzzin?” I’ll touch on that. I don’t know where you’re going, but you I’ll jump in and you can tell me if you have a different question besides what I’m going to say. Being from Chicago it’s a gang banging city. You got people under the five and people under the six. When I say that I’m referencing the points of the star. Most people that’s under the five we call them “Brothers” and people under the six are the “Folks.” GD’s got the numbers anyway. Even if other people under the six don’t consider themselves to be Folks. Overall, when I say peace to the Folks and the Brothers I’m covering all bases and talk to everybody under the five and six like, “Peace. You see what’s going on. You saw Duck got killed. That’s not the move.” Gang banging on records and being disrespectful to the dead, you’re going to have to answer for that. It’s a sad situation on what we think is cool and our whole mindset, period.
When I say, “peace to the Folks and the Brothers” that’s on some unity shit. When I say, “That’s your Blood, you don’t fuck with Cuzzin?” it’s self-explanatory. This is Chicago, man. Other cities got those Bloods and Crips, we don’t got that shit. It’s respect to them. We’re the original gang banging city. We don’t follow, but at the same time I want to show respect to other nations as well, because you know what’s going on out there. Of course, it’s more than just Bloods and Crips, but you cover a large base when you bring that up. So, when I say, “That’s your Blood, you don’t fuck with Cuzzin?” it’s kind of the same shit. The Bloods and Crips need to cool out on that shit, too. Gang banging wasn’t even about getting into it with each other, it was about protecting your people. We’re so far off base with shit now it’s just fucked up. “That’s your Blood, you don’t fuck with Cuzzin/Family affair/Vanity, calamity, and evil stares,” yeah, you might not fuck with everybody in your family, but it’s still your family. It’s some unification type shit. When I mentioned that, that’s what I was on with that.
TRHH: Well, my question was, in your opinion, what will it take to bring Vice Lords and GD’s together to realize that we really are all family?
WateRR: A lot of these shorty’s might be claiming some shit and they might really be in the street, but it’s some block shit going on. They come under the umbrella of a gang, but they ain’t really been in no circles. They ain’t really get plugged like that. I’m saying all that to say, they might not really know the history. It takes some education on the history of the organization that people are claiming to be a part of and knowledge of self. Having a real understanding of the history of the organization and having the knowledge of self, and then hopefully those organizations can turn around and be what the Vice Lords were in the 60s – being incorporated and having real businesses for the people. That’s what it comes down to — real understanding of the history of the organization and knowledge of self. A lot of these shorty’s out here come from parent-less homes. They’re out here wild with no guidance. A lot of us on the other side, the elders, are afraid to bring ‘em in, coach ‘em up, put an arm over their shoulder. That’s what it comes down to. When you leave somebody out there to fend for themselves and they’re going wild, that’s all they know.
TRHH: Who is the Workshop of the Mind album made for?
WateRR: Ah man, it’s made for everybody. All is mind. It’s like they say, “mind over matter.” If you can have control of your mind, be peaceful, stress free, be calm, still, and understand how to use your mind to attract things that make you greater, you can be the master of your fate. I feel that this is for everybody. The Workshop of the Mind is just you working out and mastering self. Like I brought up before, the duality of man. Man or woman, you’re your biggest enemy. Working through those malfunctions and the things that you need to overcome to build character and a strong mind, and then that shit is going to go on to the youth and we can develop a new cycle. So, it’s for everybody.
Purchase: WateRR – Workshop of the Mind