Earthwork artist profile Vol. 1: Will See
I had the opportunity to connect with new Earthwork artist, Will See, soon after a Long Hairz Collective tour of the Detroit area over MLK weekend. Educational, inspirational, deeply rooted in community, Will See brings a uniquely prophetic Detroit-based voice to the Earthwork Collective.
1. How do your artistic & activist pursuits compliment & inspire each other?
In developing the Will See brand, I see that my image as an activist is central to my identity as an artist. I’m not just a hip hop artist but a voice of movement building and resistance out of Detroit’s Black community. This doesn’t mean that every song I make will have a “message” but it means that I am a husband, a father, a brother, an MC, an environmentalist, a healer, a New Afrikan, a Detroit West Sider and the intricate flows will paint a picture of where I am and where we are.
My single “Take tha House Back” was created with the support/ interviews/ assistance of Housing as a Human Right, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, and Moratorium Now organizations. I was very impressed by the courageous work taking place in Detroit to help put homeless families back into welcoming and safe neighborhoods and wanted to tell their story in a way that would also be inspiring and give people that feeling of urgency and celebration. In other words, to create an anthem for folks to get hype to before, during, and after their direct actions. Kate Levy directed the video which won best Hip Hop video at the 2017 American Music Video Festival.
My new project Detroit Diplomat is in the mixing stages. This will put new meaning for how a rapper “represents” Detroit. It’s based in the personal, the social, the traumatic, and today’s headlines. As a Diplomat it is my job to welcome other cultures to Detroit and to translate our policies and experiences to new ears. People may think they know Detroit because of what they read online or see on TV, but with a Diplomat as their tour guide, they will get a deeper and richer experience- sonically, lyrically, and in all other forms.
2. What excites you about being a part of the Earthwork Music community?New possibilities for musical collaboration with talented artists of new genres. As a Detroit Diplomat, I enter respectfully into new lands—new genres, new histories, new cultures of creation in order to write new treaties. Very open to working with musicians that are looking for hiphop lyrics and verses to remix their own compositions.
I am eager also to join in conversations learn from experienced performers and working musicians.
Lastly, I am looking forward to connecting with parts of Michigan beyond southeast/ metro-Detroit in new ways. To give folks throughout the mitten-shaped state a Detroit Diplomat and make new fans, friends, and family.
3. Current/upcoming projects you're excited about?
Detroit Diplomat album, which in many ways is a culmination of my artistic career so far. The features on the album are bananas, representing innovators of New Culture of Detroit including SupaEmcee, Bryce Detroit, the legendary DJ. Los and many more. The entire album’s production is handled by two of Southwest Detroit’s finest – Info56 (Jedi High) and Sacramento Knoxx (ADZKN). I wanted this album to sound consistent and not be a myriad of sonics. Hope to have the project released by late winter 2018. The first single released is “New New Slaves”featuring Bryce Detroit and Dow Jones.
Starting February 8, hosting a monthly open mic with Detroit Equity Action Lab “Commons Culture Night” is going to be the place to be for our artist-activist scene. We debuted this open mic over the Christmas holiday. The first session was a powerful creative experience that brought together professional artists, grassroots arts collectives, local activists, young poets and singers, and folks who wanted to share heartfelt family/ cultural expressions. We actually didn’t plan to repeat it, but the audience and participants asked for more.
Lastly, my band, the Long Hairz Collective is launching a 2018 Midwest tour after the Harvest Gathering. We’ll be rocking in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minneapolis for approx. 20 days. We performed three shows for MLK weekend in the Detroit area. We hope at least one or two shows can be collaborative with other Earthworks artists. We are cosponsored by the Midwest Environmental Justice Network and will highlight our regional struggles against polluting pipelines and the fight for affordable and clean water for all.