Wax Tailor’s Love Letter to Hip-Hop
In the midst of a turbulent time in his native France, Wax Tailor found home where it has always been.
In the music.
The result, October’s By Any Beats Necessary, is a love letter of the highest order, celebrating hip-hop in a way that doesn’t just work on its own, but reminds you of a time when innovation — not just commercial success — was the result of an artist’s labors. And when you get both, it’s because the music comes from the heart.
“It (the album) was special for me for many reasons, but I really needed to do something that was helping me in the period,” he said. “In France, especially for the last two years, it was very complicated with political things and regarding tourism and it was not easy. So I think I really needed something to take me away. I just had something in mind that it was important for everybody, that music could be helpful for that, just to take a moment to think about something else. And for me, it was about creating something with all the elements were very important for me, and looking back at all the elements that built my culture for the past twenty years and the different kinds of music I had been involved in. All those elements came together to make this new album, which was kind of music for a road trip. That’s what it was.”
It is certainly road trip worthy, with journeys through hip-hop, blues, rock and soul, but it’s also headphone and party music that sports an all-star cast that includes Ghostface Killah, R.A. The Rugged Man, A-F-R-O, Token, Tricky, Charlotte Savary, Lee Fields, Sara Genn, Mattic, Raashan Ahmad and Idil. Yet don’t mistake this for an unfocused and disjointed collection. Instead, the cohesiveness of By Any Beats Necessary comes down to the man at the helm, who doesn’t write for the guest artist, but writes the song and then brings the guest in.
“No, it’s completely about the music itself,” Wax said. “I’ve been trying both, but the music comes first and it’s more important for me to be sure that I can push the process about the music one hundred percent. It’s the main ingredient. I need the music the way it should be, and once it’s there, I bring people in and I explain not only the track, but the whole concept.”
What results is another example of the innovation coming from places far from hip-hop’s birthplace. That comes as no surprise to Wax, and he chalks it up to the fact that after several decades in existence, the art form is part of everyone’s culture. So if you’re alive and making music, odds are that hip-hop has been a part of your life.
“We’re talking about a culture that has more than 40 years, so it’s completely worldwide,” he said. “The basement, the foundation, the backbone, whatever you want to call it, it’s all about the U.S. and New York. But it’s like a tree, and it’s so big that you can expect people to come from New Zealand or wherever, because they grew up with this culture. It’s all about love, and if you’re sincere with what you do, you can be from Poland and just kill it.”
Or you could be from France, and while Wax admits that commercial radio at home can be as dismal as it is here, he’s more optimist than pessimist.
“The problem is a cultural thing because the people who are in charge of commercial radio, they’re expecting things to be so poor that the guys are doing what they expect and it’s a nightmare because it’s getting worse and worse,” he said. “We all know that, but at the same time, we have some different roads. There’s the commercial highway, but we’ve got more and more small roads with people just doing their thing. Once you don’t do it for the bad reasons and just for the love of the music, you can expect people to do some creative things.”
Wax Tailor has lived up to those expectations, and in January, North America will get their dose of him and his band, and he’s as excited for the tour as his fans are.
“I feel so good when I’m touring the U.S.,” he said. “I’m talking every day with some European media, and they’re like, ‘So, this album is so much about the U.S. Why?’ And I can’t tell them exactly, but I think I’ve got the right vision about the U.S. It’s not black or white, it’s always more complex. I love the U.S., that’s a fact. There is an energy in your country that I can’t find in mine. In another life, maybe I was American. (Laughs) So I’m looking forward to be back, especially with the audience. I feel it’s more alternative. Maybe because it’s too big for me in France now. Not to be arrogant, because I’m happy to have a great audience, but sometimes I feel they are disconnected with the soul of the music, and I’m really happy to be back to something more alternative.”
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