As AWKWORD as he was. The man is comfortable with any mic!!

Tell us where you’re from, AWKWORD?

I’m from a seemingly picture-perfect Connecticut suburb of NYC, and I was part of the seedy underbelly only my crew, my rivals, the cops, some teachers, and a few parents ever knew existed. S/O Whatzisface. RIP YME

I finished high school with an A+ average, but almost didn’t graduate due to suspensions for fighting the status quo (i.e., rape and racism). It was during my senior year, before I developed the name AWKWORD, that I performed for the first few times – and from the beginning it was always political: I co-created/hosted my school’s first-ever Diversity Day with the Anti-Defamation League and was featured in the town’s MLK Day celebration.

Had it not been for Hip Hop, I wouldn’t have made it… I’m known more as a New York-based artist, but I didn’t move to New York City until 2004 or so. I left the City after about a decade for Upstate NY, after meeting the woman who is now my wife and adopting her two children (two girls, now 9 and 12). My mom died in 2012.

For about a year, ALL I had was drugs and music. Until I met my wife.

@AWKWORDrap

[AWKWORD with younger daughter, Anna, then 7/now 9]​

Where did you develop the name AWKWORD?

As a student at Vassar College in Poughkeepie, NY, I was performing more and starting to take it all somewhat seriously… And I was finally comfortable in my own skin… So we came up with a name – a play on “Awkward” – that reminds me of what my childhood was like and connects with young people growing up as I did.

​[#itsoktobeAWKWORD – AWKWORD at Frank’s Chop Shop]

What artist from your area inspired you to pursue your dreams?

No one in my immediate area inspired me. But ILL BILL, a Jew from Brooklyn like most of my family, showed me – in person when I kicked it with him, as well as on record – that I could do this rap music thing, no matter what society was telling me at the time.

What’s a hot spot to go to catch a live show in your city?

In Danbury, Conn., I rocked with J-Live at Tuxedo Junction. There’s also Toad’s Place in New Haven. My former rap partner Whatzisface and I used to sell out Monkey Bar in Danbury every summer. In NYC I’ve rocked all over, and there are a million spots to perform. But I miss Southpaw in Brooklyn, where I did a benefit show with Asheru and South Africa’s Hip Hop pantsula.

[AWKWORD at the Monkey Bar]

[AWKWORD at Southpaw]​​

What female artist would you like to collaborate with?

MIA, Jean Grae. But many woman contribute in incredible ways to Hip Hop music and culture.

What male artist would you like to collaborate with?

DJ Premier (even the below was an honor)…..

The Alchemist, El-P, DJ Skizz, , Apollo Brown, 9th Wonder, Statik Selektah.

[AWKWORD and Statik Selektah at BB Kings]​

Can you tell us of any upcoming projects?

The Hitmen and ItsBizkit.com just dropped The Best Of AWKWORD, out now on limited edition ‘mystery’ cassette, CD and digitally, via UndergroundHipHop.com, Amazon.com and my bandcamp.

I got an EP dropping with Jakk Wonders of South Africa (‘American Me’) in the next year. In the meantime, the official music video for my global collab “I Am” is coming VERY soon. It features artists from 9 countries across Africa and the Diaspora; it highlights our differences and our similarities in today’s worldwide Hip Hop culture.

“Listen to “I Am” via MTV Base Africa;”

Watch a preview of the “I Am music” video:”

Any shout outs?

Big shoutout to everyone who’s helping make the “I Am” video possible by donating to the gofundme campaign.

What was the first song you performed live in front of people and where was it?

My first rap show was probably at Monkey Bar in Danbury. The only song from that era that people can really still access is “The People’s Champ”.

Watch “The People’s Champ” music video, shot outside the legendary Mars Bar in NYC:

What was the first song you wrote?

The first REAL song I wrote was “The People’s Champ”. There are two remixes of it on my critically acclaimed World View LP that dropped in 2014, one produced by my old friend Harry Fraud and the other by my go-to guy for mixing and mastering, Trilian of Serbia, who’s also a crazy producer.

[Listen to “The People’s Champions”, featuring Shabaam Sahdeeq, Punchline and Beretta 9 (of Killarmy), produced by Harry Fraud]

[Listen to “The People’s Champions (Part II)”, featuring AKIR and Y-Love, produced by Trilian]

Do you have any blooper moments in the studio?

Can’t say I’ve got any bloopers. There have definitely been some songs that, for whatever reason, caused a lot of frustration during recording. And then there was that time Sean Price and I got real twisted and went to visit Harry Fraud in his studio. Smoke Dza was there with Asap Twelvvy for the Rugby Thompson album, and I made the connection for them that led to Sean P recording a guest verse for the album right there on the spot.

[Sean Price x Shakespeare x Daytona x AWKWORD – the Bars & Hooks video shoot]

Watch the “Bars & Hooks” video via Complex:

What’s a hot clothing brand from your area you like to support?

I dress pretty sparsely. I hate labels. But if I’m going to rock something graphic, I’ll go with my sponsors out the UK, Aerosoul Limited.

What would you say to a brand new artist just starting out in the music industry?

DON’T pay to play – and that means performance slots, blog posts or radio spins. “And for more advice like that, stay tuned to my ‘Advice for the independent artists’ series:”

What’s your favourite quote?

“Anything a writer writes should be written with the urgency of someone holding a gun in their mouth.” – Maya Angelou