What Are Wordsworth’s Words Worth? Pure Gold, Baby!
Arlene’s Grocery Wednesday Night Line Up lit it UP!
Arriving at Arlene’s Grocery store on Wednesday July 3rd, soaked in rainwater but still having a smile on my face, I beamed as I looked at the 6 or 7 people around, and I suddenly warmed up as my sight set on the stage. Baxter P. Wordsworth was already a few minutes into his set and was sex-lectric. I was wet. And he immediately dried me off, and it’s surprising I didn’t get electrocuted.
The first track that really caught my attention was the Quest-love-ish type track “Sole Mates,” about a lost love (from his current album and video project “Scraps & Scruff). “We were part of a renaissance,” the lyrics say. It’s the kind of song you always want written about you as a woman.
Could he be referring to the female MC Likwuid? It would make sense, I used to see the man who was then commonly known as “Back Wordz” and Likwuid perform all over the city as the epic hip hop duo Rebel Starr. Indie music blogger Kevin Nottingham has this to say about the former musical couple, and I couldn’t have said it better than if I hadn’t known them well enough from the scene: “Mars had sex with Venus and produced a set of twins, Back Wordz (the boy) and Likwuid (the girl). The soulAquarians, joined by the sign of the Water Bearer, were separated at birth leaving Back Wordz in New York City and Likwuid somewhere lost in the South.” On the article from 4 years ago the comments are now closed, but on it you can see the 11 comments from some of NYC’s most well-known indie hip hoppers saying things like “Rebel Starr is ill.”
With his slim muscular build, black button-down shirt buttoned all the way down, stylish gold-rimmed aviator glasses, gold chain, and that ever present angular afro (that, like his soul mate Likwuid he never abandoned despite the artistic growth), he looked like a rapping Jimi Hendrix of sorts. I appreciated the retro flavor that reaches that far back to the 70’s when everyone is doing 80’s and 90’s throwbacks right now.
He did some lyrical tricks like doing his oldest rhyme next to the newest; just one of the few clever wiles Backwordz has come to be known for.
Then a spiritual track about corruption was performed, which is conscious in which he employed a more laid back riding-the-beat type of flow: "I’m a human being with a heart and consciousness...I need love" and “Every day they hustlin’, who you think they hustlin’?
Towards the end of the energetic set he did the song tentatively titled “Good News.” He screamed,“I got nothin’ to fear!” Wooooh! A perfect song for this warrior soul-dier Summer season, and I was literally on the edge of my seat waiting for him to flip me out of my chair with some dope rhyme that I’ll have trouble wrapping my head around, the type of lyric that I won’t understand until the next day!
The last song “At the Door, ” produced by Raydar (from the album “Know You’re Right(s)” an album he’s currently working on) had a B.O.B by Outkast feel to it. That + his 70's style + the hook "they at the motha fuckin’ door!" = an inevitable though of the film “The Spook Who Sat by the Door.” He jumped around on stage and expertly missed the mic cords. Outkasts’ B.O.B was satisfyingly referenced towards the end of the song.
Baxter P. Wordsworth has been doing music for 14 years but 2010 is when he says he really began making music he could stand behind. After doing music for so long and knowing the ins and outs of the business, is he trying to get signed? “I wouldn’t mind investors; I’m trying to develop a fan base. I’m not trying to have someone save me from my music.”
He adds, “Definitely when I was younger I wanted to get signed and have somebody give me paychecks. Now I just wanna make music good enough for people to buy.”
So, is the “Sole Mate” song really about his supposed illustrious relationship with Likwuid? He wouldn’t say, but he did say this: “It definitely has a different meaning now than when I wrote it." Suddenly he turned into a man of few words, but always clever.
During the set, Mr. Wordsworth mentioned Star Rebellion, an idea that says an artist must do three things:
1. Say something of value
2. Be honest, not necessarily factual but infused with real emotions and….
3. Entertaining because “what’s the point of some valuable honest, boring shit?"
He’d be rolling in dough if Wordsworth was really worth his weight in words….but to the underground hip hop scene he’s priceless.
Nebraska Drum Experiment
Also on the roster that night was Jessie Davis, the lead vocalist of the synthesized trip-hoppy auto-tuned composition-of-the-beat-right-there-on-stage music. Don’t roll your eyes at auto-tune. I can’t take away from the creativity and artistry of it, because it still takes take arrangement. She started with a scatty cover of “Black and Gold,” and ended with harmonies delicately overlaid on top of each other layer by layer like a spinach pie or baklava.
How is it experimental? “We have a set formula but it’s different every time, based on the band members I use,” says Jessie. Experimental… isn’t that how all music is created? All art?
I’m not gonna do one of those "live instruments are best" nonsense. This isn’t a breast milk public service announcement.
Rappers with live bands
….But of course live instruments are all good. Skipp Whitman points out after he hands out a free CD to none other than Baxter P. Wordworth that "It Sucks Being Broke!" the hook of the song with the same name. "I don’t know if you noticed, but every song I write is about something." See if he’s really telling the truth. Check out his album 5AM. I guess as a broke man he’s used to having a couple of loose coins in his pocket…to be precise, Exact Change was also on the scene with some jazzy beats backing up his rapping.
Arlene’s Grocery is awesome and I plan on going back for another Wednesday night to see what veteran indie talent I can dig up.
(Photo of Baxter P Wordsworth by mikeshanahanphoto.com)