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HHV Exclusive: Wes Fif talks “American Beach,” independent success, and Orlando hip hop

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HHV Exclusive: Wes Fif talks “American Beach,” independent success, and Orlando hip hop

Wes FifBy K.B. Tindal
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

Florida’s hip hop scene went through a major transition and it led to several rappers from the scene experienced success. Wes Fif was among the people who rose and became prominent on the Florida hip hop scene. However, Wes Fif has become known on the mixtape scene as an independent artist instead of going mainstream.

As the Orlando hip hop scene is becoming more prominent, a lot more attention has to be given to Wes Fif. Before a lot of the others were making moves, Wes Fif was putting on for the whole city and he continues to do so now. This week, Wes Fif released his latest project, the American Beach EP.

Hip Hop Vibe had the opportunity to talk to Wes Fif today. With American Beach out now, Wes Fif opened up about his new project and what comes next. Opting to keep dropping independent projects, mainly mixtapes, Wes Fif also spoke on that and the budding Orlando hip hop scene.

Read the entire interview below:

Where did the American Beach title come from?  With my last few projects, my titles have always had double meanings. One meaning being something Orlando related, and the other a different meaning altogether. So, I did research on African-American history in Florida and I ran across American Beach, which was a beach settlement brought about because black people could not go to the beach in Florida during segregation, so they created their own. On the flip side, the beach is a place people go to relax and enjoy life, that’s what I wanted this project to symbolize. An escape from current music, created for that purpose.

Why did you choose to put out an EP instead of doing another mixtape? I don’t think I’ll do another mixtape ever again. They are oversaturated, I have done nine mixtapes already, but they were full albums. I put those together like albums, thirteen tracks on those. But, I did not want to give away that much high-quality tracks on one projects, so I am now doing EPs and working towards doing a full-length album at this point.

Are you using American Beach to set up another, possibly bigger, project? Right now, that’s the plan. But, I want to use the next few months to promote American Beach. But, my next project is Rich Hope, Poor Decisions, which I want to make a full-length album. I might end up dropping another EP in between time and I look to drop that ideally in the fourth quarter of this year, but I might hold off and drop it in January.

You came up at a time when a lot of Florida artists were getting signed, why did you choose to remain an independent artist? It was one of those things where it was somewhat my choice, but not fully my choice. I talked to a few companies and held meetings, but the interest was not fully there. With all of that going on, I made the decision to stay independent until something favorable came along for me. A lot of these companies are out of touch, but I am right here with the fans and knowing that they want. The people uplift artists, so I hang out with them and give them my product. If something comes along that embraces that, a move will be made. I am open to a deal, but I’m best to just do what I do.

One thing about it, all of your success came on your own merits, how would you best summarize your run as an independent artist? Personally, I will say its frustrating. It is going on ten years now and I was running with a lot of cats on this level and they shot past me over the past six, seven years. I am happy for those guys, but I get frustrated waiting on my time to come. But, I am a control freak and I keep my control, so that part is cool for me. Still, I want that extra push, but I blame myself because I’ve gotten close a couple of times, but then I fell back. Now, I am making that move and trying to take it to the next level and blow.

As an independent artist, you built a big fan base and turned a lot of people on to Orlando hip hop, do you feel as if you deserve credit for putting the scene on the map? In a lot of ways I do. At the same time, I do want people to pay a little homage to the homeys Smilez & Southstar because they were the ones that helped put this thing on the map. They had #1 video on 106 and park and all, so homage needs to be paid. But, wherever I go, people know me and know I’m from Orlando. Still, I decided to fall back off it because what’s understood doesn’t need to be said. The people coming up now they understand that and my fan base is broad and people from all walks of life listen to me from the privileged to the less fortunate. That’s a blessing for me.

Orlando is a budding hotbed for talent and artists are getting signed from the city, are you pleased by this? Oh yeah, definitely. I remember when we were out doing what we were doing, Granddaddy Souf and them. Some artists got signed to SRC, Warner, and Universal. It looked like we were going to take off, but nobody got hot. But, to see the one of the hottest label pick somebody up in Caskey is a great thing and as long as he is doing great things, it is great for the city. In his video on  “106″ I recognize the houses and the world is seeing Orlando.

What do you think makes the Orlando scene different from the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area for an example? The good thing about Florida, as a whole. Every city is different in Florida. But, Orlando and Miami are like night and day, the whole makeup is different. People do what they do on a daily basis and that’s all they do, we’re not as flashy as Miami, but the hood is all the same. Miami is more about the glitz and glamour and it has that allure. There are just as many people who frequent Miami frequent Orlando too. More people come here than not, we’re really just two different spots on the map, nothing too much different.

Who are some artists in the Orlando area that you see having a bright future ahead of them? Caskey, and there’s another dude named Woop making some noise, Leik Baby, there’s a lot of cats working. We just have to see if they all remain focused and not getting caught up in the bullshit. They all need to stay focused and they will be fine and there are a lot of people coming up who I am not familiar with coming up. My brother SKY is coming up too, he is in my camp, he is doing it all from his lane.

Where can we find you on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? It’s all the same, @WesFif. Even on MySpace, I’m up there, Wes Fif and my website, WesFif.com.

Download American Beach by Wes Fif here.

Follow K.B. Tindal on Twitter @KBTindal.

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