I remember ordering my first Art of Verse album. The package came in. I opened it. Besides a kickin’ album, I found a handwritten letter, dedicated to me, the one who bought it. I still keep it. It’s a sign of gratefulness that’s rare in artists these days. He loves his fans, that’s for sure. Big ups to that.
Waldemar, a.k.a. Art of Verse is a Seattle-based MC with Filipino blood. With mellow productions and a chilling flow, Art of Verse is a laidback and easy-to-listen-to artist. I was interested in an interview with this man so I contacted him.. Turned out he was humbled and very pleased to do this Q&A.
I soon found out this was a smart guy with good Hip Hop knowledge, as you can read right here.
Please state your name and introduce yourself.
Peace peace through and throughout the universe! My name is Waldemar, but I suppose folks know me as Art of Verse, and I love this Hip Hop shit.
Lately, I’d say my free time is spent wishing I had more free time (Like billions of other people on this planet)! Nah, just playing. I usually like to kick it with homies and close friends. However, most of my close friends are musicians and artists so conversation centered around music and art is bound to happen. I also do organizing work as a cultural worker in the Filipino community (using art as a medium to educate and raise awareness about the struggles in my motherland, both historically and currently). So there’s always something that needs to be done, or forward progressive movement to be made with my art; just trying to keep things moving.
What does Hip Hop mean to you?
Hip Hop… She’s so many things to me! She helped awaken my identity, helped open my eyes to various truths in the world, and taught me how to have a good time. I was first introduced to the culture via the elements of B-Girl/Boyin’ and the backbone of Hip Hop, the DJ. Shortly after, a homie got me hip to the art of graffiti but it wasn’t until late high school that my love of poetry evolved into 16-bar rhyme form. She’s in every aspect of my life, it has become the way I live; and if you’re a Hip Hop head, you know what that means.
How long have you been busy with Hip Hop?
I’ve been getting busy with the artform of emceeing since early high school but I’ve had the intention of sharing what I write and create for only a few years.
Which are the most common and important topics on your tracks, and why?
I suppose the most painfully obvious one is love (and all the facets thereof) but what comes hand in hand with that is Struggle. Whether that’s the struggles occurring in one’s daily life, or the struggles of the masses on a much broader level, the ties between love and struggle are undeniable to me. We all struggle for love, whether that’s love from an intimate partner, or just love for our fellow humans roaming this planet, struggle makes love substantial and mean so much more. Because love isn’t perfect, it’s struggling through the downs and ups that makes that love worthwhile and meaningful.
MissKita // (iMissYou)
What are your future goals? Not only talking about Hip Hop, but life in its totality.
Ahh man! I’d really like to get back to drawing and being more visual. I usually doodle while I’m writing to get the brain moving. I’ve also been working on some new tattoo designs so really just more artistic type of stuff. But as far as life in totality is concerned, I’d like to see a free Philippines from corrupt politicians and fucked up foreign interest! (Hahaha a pipedream but possibly for my children’s, children’s, children?) But on a lighter level, marry the love of my life and raise some kiddos, y’know that whole thing.
Who or what are your inspirations?
At first glance, one could guess that I’m a person of sentiments, which is a fairly safe presumption, but I gotta pay respects to the heads that made me fall in love with Hip Hop. So the likes of Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def), Talib Kweli, Black Thought, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, a lot of east coast stuff.
However, emcees aside, I’ve always been inspired by phenomenal artists: Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, & Picasso.
On a more local level though, I’m tremendously inspired by the wonderful folks who I organize with in the Filipino community. They feed me knowledge for my soul and keep me refreshing my connection to our Motherland and the struggles therein.
Are you really as heartbroken as your music shows us?
Hahahaha! Ahhhh dang. Nah. A few years ago I thought I was for awhile but it was more of a prolonged tantrum that would subtly bubble beneath the surface from time to time, kinda mucking things up. And really heartbreak is simply the universe letting you know that you’ve much more to learn about love. (But of course, you gotta believe in that type of far-fetched nonsense!) But hey man, heartbreak really makes finally finding it that much more dope! I mean, I did mention the struggle!
(P.S. to all of my brothas & sistahs who fell in love with someone bumping “Marvel at the Stars” (check the video below) only to have their ish broken in the end, I feel you! It’s all good. Worry not, that was just a mere glimpse of what it will eventually be. Just keep steady, if you believe, that person is out there waiting.)
Do you consider yourself a rapper or a poet, since your music has a big spoken word vibe?
Hmm. If it isn’t too much of me, may I perhaps adopt the term “emcee/MC”? I love poetry and the expression of rapping, but I guess the school of thought I stem from is emceeing; microphone controlling, moving the crowd, manifesting creativity, and making connections. My style however is definitely poetry heavy but I do love rapping.
You’re from the Philippines and you live in the USA now. How did both locations and cultures influence your music and mindset?
Both locations most definitely influenced my music and my mindset greatly. Living in the US has shown me what possibilities exist out there, and being from the Philippines taught me how to go and get it. Not to mention when I examine the historical timeline of my people, it’s nearly impossible to not be agitated and inspired by my people’s history of resistance.
Is there anything you would like to share with us, tell us, some funky-ass shout outs; anything really?
Ahhh man! Shout outs to all of my collectives! Alay ng Kultura, AnakBayan Seattle, AnakBayan Los Angeles, Pinay sa Seattle, PUSO, CARW, Habi Arts and Bayan all over the Globe!
Shoutouts to all of my music brethren! Miketron, Olee, Chev, Arne, KP, the KnowMads, Blue Scholars, Kalil, OTOW Gang, Rogue Pinay, and the whole Pacific Northwest!
Much love to my family and my Boolaklak.
Thank you Sir Drullman! ‘Tis been a pleasure!
Marvel At The Stars
Recognizable lyrics, mellow vibes and a big smile. Isn’t that enough in life?
Check this man out, you won’t be disappointed. Peace!