Mckinney "WorkHorse" Williams Jr. has plenty to rap about. With an easy-going voice, the West Jackson native doesn't give you 16 bars of nursery rhymes. Instead, he conveys stories of what he has witnessed in the capitol city. "I got so much music in me that I literally dream songs," Workhorse writes on his MySpace blog. His mixtape "In the Future Volume II" is available at BeBop.
How long have you been rapping?
I've been doing it really just messing around as a hobby in high school and carrying on to college but seriously trying to make a push at it for about three years.
Where did you go to college?
I went to Southern Miss and graduated with a sports medicine degree, and then I was working on my master's at Mississippi State. Then, I came back home and started pushing this music and working for Mississippi Sports Medicine. Now, I'm working at Jackson State as an athletic trainer.
You produced all the tracks on the album. What were your musical influences coming up?
Everybody, man. My daddy had me listen to a lot of old-school stuff coming up. Also, I'm a musician. I play the bass and drums, so in order for me to be a real musician I had to learn to respect and listen to all types of music. So I would listen to everything, especially old-school like the Isley Brothers, James Brown, Al Green, Teddy P, Earth, Wind and Fire, and my favorite rapper is Devin the Dude.
One of your blog entries went really in-depth about how your parents and upraising influenced your lyrics.
Yeah, I just write as far as things I've done and I've been through. 'Cause with music now if you turn on the radio station, everybody is talking about cars, rims and dope boy stuff. It's kinda oversaturated to me. Everybody talking about the same things. Everybody is talking about what the next person is talking about.
Some local rap artists say Jackson doesn't really support its own. What has been your experience of local support?
You got the out-of-town syndrome down here. Man, you will get some love but not a whole lot. People here, I guess they don't think you have talent. It's been times you go in the club, and the DJ says, 'We about to play some local talent,' and the club will empty out. You can ask anybody in the game. It's hard. But if you get love here, you can get it anywhere.
Your label, Monsta Entertainment, states that it encourages people to be thinkers and not just blindly follow what the crowd is doing. Do you feel rappers have a responsibility to conscience?
Well, it's a way you do everything. You have to almost trick somebody into thinking nowadays. Just like the song "Dope Man." 'Cause "Dope Man" is more than just a song. "Dope Man" is life. The chorus itself, I had a lot of people not really understand the song itself by just listening to the chorus. 'Cause most people just listen to the beat and the chorus saying, "I wanna be just like the dope man." But if you listen to the whole song, it's not like that. The song is about telling the young cat not to be like me but be better than me.
In the song, the kid says, "I wanna be like the dope man." Have you had that conversation?
You can go into different (school) classes, and they look up to different rappers and shiny stuff and people who have things they can see. In their neighborhoods, they don't see any doctors or politicians around, but they see the dope boy riding through in a nice car. So yeah, they wanna have something. They know what they don't have and they're tired of this sh*t, so they want something else. That's how you end up with people looking up to the dope boy. But any time I'm around little kids in the neighborhood, I talk to them about what they wanna do in life and try to open their eyes up. 'Cause people don't see sh*t, 'cause it's so easy to go out there and make that fast money.
You rap about Frank Melton on the mix tape. Why do you think so many people support him despite his record and extreme tactics.
People want change; people want things to get done. If he gotta step out there and do drastic things, the older people will support that. I ain't saying he's doing the sh*t right, but people want change. They want to see a better Jackson. … (Melton) feels like he can scare people into stopping doing what they're doing, but you can't fight crime with crime. It ain't working. We need better leadership from our elected officials. Not just him but all of them.