With the continuation of our tribute to some of Orlando’s most promising acts, Culture Climax recently wrapped up our 2nd installment of the Climax Vibes: Put On For Your City. As like our premiere installment back in April, we had some of the most talented artists drop off their hottest tracks for this contest. Each of the artists held their ground on the polls, but there was one that you voted as the one who has put on for their city the most. Wes Fif, an Orlando native and full time grinder, sat down with Culture Climax during his session at Real Feel Studio and gave us a little insight on how he keeps himself motivated, what he finds success to be and how to remain humble in a game that isn’t always promised. - Kesi P.
For the people that don’t know much about you, tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Wes Fif – Orange Country representer, that’s Orlando, Florida if you didn’t know. I’ve been doing my thing since 2003/2004 or however you want to call it. Just been out here grinding – short and sweet.
How did you get your name Wes Fif?
For those unfamiliar with the city that runs east to west throughout the whole city – SR 50 or Colonial Drive – and being that I’m from the west side, I took West 50 and made it Wes Fif and that’s it.
What is the most recent project that you have out now?
The most recent full length project that I dropped is called International Drive. It’s a free EP that I put out with like 10 or 11 tracks. You can get that at wesfif.com by the way. More recently, I dropped my new single called “Jit”, produced by my dawg, KE on the track out of Atlanta and that’s what we got right now. We got a full length album coming in December too.
How long have you been rapping?
Rapping, rapping? Or just writing and shit?
Um, whichever one.
I’ve been rapping, rapping since I was like 11, maybe a little bit earlier than that. I bought Da Brat’s first single a long ass time ago with the only $4 I had and started writing to that shit and that’s where it started from. As far as putting out material, probably like February/March 2004 up until now.
Yeah, I remember. You started rapping when I was in high school. That’s probably when I first heard your first track – around the time when Treal was out.
Yeah, that means you’re a baby [laughs]
[Laughs] Something of the sort. So, who would you say influenced you to rap?
I mean first and foremost, my main influence would be Trick Daddy for the simple fact that before him, Florida music was synonymous with bass music. If you want to get technical, bass music is the birth of Southern rap – in my opinion. Trick was the first one coming out of where we come from at that time not on no bass shit. He had real raps telling stories and that was the first body of work coming out of Florida on a national scene that wasn’t “shake ya ass” and all that shit. Then T.I., Jay-Z, Outkast – of course – those are pretty much the main guys that I have the utmost respect for. I have nothing bad to say.
You’ve worked with a lot of notable artists, who would you say that you would want to work with next?
I’m more so big on working with producers. People like Mannie Fresh, DJ Tunc, uh…to follow more in the whole Trick Daddy thing, there was a cat, Righteous Boogie that used to do all the Slip ‘N Slide shit back in the day. If I could dig him up, I’d work with him. On the flipside, I like doing all around records. I would more so want to work with alternative cats – cats outside of rap like Jhene Aiko and of course, cats like Frank Ocean.
Is there anyone in Orlando that you would like to work with or prefer to work with?
It’s a lot of cats out here doing their thing. Before, it was just me, Treal, Granddaddy South and Smilez & Southstar and I think that’s it. Now, you got more people. As far as working with cats, I don’t never really go out of my way to listen to cats music. That’s just me. It’s not just an Orlando thing either, it’s just period. I might hear someone else playing it and that’s how it happens. I run into a lot of artists, but I don’t like to have too much shit out there to the point where cats be like ‘I’m tired of hearing this dude’ or ‘This dude got a song with everybody’. It takes away from the exclusivity of when I drop something on my own. It’s a couple cats I fuck with and they know who they are. We rock with each other, but other than that, nah.
As far as producers, who would you want to work with? That could be people here in Orlando or just outside of our area as well.
It’s plenty of producer talent coming out of here. Kane – that’s my homie – you got Oddz N Endz, The Colleagues, The Agency, Countdown…it’s quite a few. Yeah man, it’s a lot of them. I really stumble upon more and more every day. As long as its dope – and that could be someone who has never had a placement ever.
What do you feel that Orlando is missing right now in the hip-hop game or just overall?
It’s a few things, but the number one thing that I see – and it’s kind of ironic – is pride. When I say pride, I mean like from the people that have the ability to take what cats like myself and other cats are doing and break into the forefront. They lack that pride that Orlando people have. Me growing up and being from here and even up until now, when it comes to Orlando vs. other cities, you got cats like ‘Nah bruh, I’m from the O, I’m from Orange County’ – from saying you’re from the east side or the west side and even Kissimmee now – everybody reppin’ they own shit and are proud to be from here. But when it comes to the cats that have the ability to bring it to the forefront, that’s where it kind of stops. What I mean is, you can have somebody come from Miami with a whole bunch of Miami music and the nigga from here just gone play all of that shit. But on the flipside, he can’t go down there and be like ‘Look, this is where I come from; let’s put some of this shit on.’ You know what I’m sayin? I tell these rap niggas all the time, you can rap about Lennox Square and Aventura, but you won’t rap about Milennia? That shit makes no sense to me. It’s just as much going on here as it is anywhere else, but ain’t nobody talking about it. That’s in any aspect.
Touching on the K.R.I.T and B.O.B situation, how did you end up working with both of those artists?
B.O.B.’s manager is a dude named TJ. He’s a real influential dude from down here in Tallahassee. We would see each other grinding all the time on the scene and one of my dawgs were really close with him. In the midst of being on the road trying to promote B.O.B., they would come to Orlando and we linked up in Miami at some conference that I ran into him at and it was like, ‘This is B.O.B., we workin on a few projects, let’s get y’all working on some shit.’ I sent him the track for the mixtape and we got on the phone and put that shit together. That shit ended up doing way more than what we thought it was gone do. And K.R.I.T., that’s just my dude. Me and K.R.I.T been griding for about the same amount of time. We used to be in the same places all the time and on the same websites and all that shit. We used to get on the phone and talk about how we was gone quit this shit. It’s just two different instances. K.R.I.T. is my dude and the other one was just on some networking shit.
In this situation that you’re in right now, how do you stay focused and how do you stay humble?
I mean, as far as the focus, it’s the same thing that we were just talking about. We don’t have no voice as a city. I can thrive in any environment. I can be in the middle of the trap or the dope hole with cats that most people are scared of and on the flip side, I can be in Fubar or some shit doing Jell-O shots and playing beer pong and shit. Just that alone gives me the ability to be that voice that I feel we’re lacking. Until I feel like that voice is there, I refuse to stop. I’ve thought about it – probably thought about it like last week – but it’s just not something that I can really do because I feel like I still have a lot of work to do.
What do you feel like is next for you?
I just did a digital distribution deal with Empire Distribution; they’re out in San Francisco. If people aren’t familiar with them, they were the force behind Kendrick Lamar, Section 80 and ScHoolBoy Q’s album. They did all the marketing and distribution and shit for them. So we just linked up probably a month ago, got everything official. We gone drop my first album in December – probably like December 11th. It’s called H.E.I.R. – Hating Envy Is Real – and that’s pretty much it man. We’re at the point where we’re pretty much tired of waiting. We’re not waiting for no deal or not shit like that because a lot of times, a lot of my niggas that got deals, are still grinding like they don’t. We just gone do the shit ourselves. I’ve been chillin’, but we gone turn this shit back up as a whole and get back to that hunger that I used to have when I started or midway through.
It seems as if the whole Independent route is the best way to do it now. Would you choose to be signed or would you just choose to stay Independent?
It all depends. If we can be Independent and thrive, then that shit is prefect. If we are Indy and we are thriving and we hit a ceiling to where we can’t do no more than we’re already doing and then a situation comes along that benefits me and my team as a whole – it has be to be something we can’t do alone – if something like that comes across the table and we got ownership still, of course we’ll take that next plunge. It’s only so much you can do as an Independent [artist] without spending all of your money.
If you could be signed by anybody, who would it be?
Label wise? Uh, I don’t know. Whoever got the check [laughs]. Whoever got the check and let me do what I want to do [laughs]. I’m not really big on signing up under another artist. I can’t see myself doing that. At the end of the day, no matter what another artist does – like no matter what Kanye does – people are always going to be like ‘Oh, that’s Jay’s artist’. No matter what 50 do, he’s always Em’s artist. I never want to be nobody’s “artist”. Even the niggas that’s on my team, I never refer to them as my artist. I just can’t do it. It’ll have to be straight to a major or a P&D deal. I just couldn’t sign to no artist.
If you were stranded on an island and you could only take your Top 5 Albums, what would they be? Excluding your own music.
I wouldn’t even take my own shit [laughs]. Nah, but that Trick – Book of Thugs: Chapter AK, Verse 47, Jay-Z – Hard Knock Life Vol 2, Trap Muzik, Prince: Greatest Hits and damn…the fifth one…I think I’ma have to say that Get Rich or Die Tryin’. If I could take 6, I’d take the Dream’s first album [laughs].
I guess you gotta have some R&B in there somewhere [laughs]. Although I already know you’re your answer is going to be, Orlando Magic or LA Lakers?
About Dwight’s transition to the Lakers, how do you feel about that?
Fuck Dwight [laughs]
Oh! Okay! [laughs] Jordan’s or Adidas?
VIP or General Admission? And why?
VIP. Every time I’m in General Admission, I almost go to jail. That’s just real talk, I just can’t be in there. Every time.
Favorite place to vacation or a place that you would want to visit?
I haven’t even gotten the chance to vacation many places – I’m slippin. As far as where I would like to vacation, I’m trying to go to Polynesia or Bora Bora or some shit like that. Some place that it takes like 28 hours to get there. Just any place where it’s tranquil and I can just chill out. Of course, I want to go to Amsterdam – a couple time a year.
If you could interview anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Hmm. That’s a good question. Give me a second. I don’t know…I really don’t know. That’s a good ass question. I’ve never been asked a question I don’t know that answer to. I really don’t have an answer. Good job.
[Laughs] Culture Climax or any other local outlet that’s out right now?
What other local outlets? [laughs]
That’s a perfect answer! You don’t even need to say anything else! [laughs] But speaking of other local outlets, do you get any love from anyone else here? Promotion wise, do you feel as if you get enough love from your hometown or do you feel like you receive it from other spots of Florida or in general?
I mean I can honestly say as far as love and promoters and fuckin’ with people in the city, I can pretty much hit up whoever I want and be like, ‘Yo, we gone come through’ or whatever and be good. They show a lot of love. Especially from the people – the people show a lot of love. It kinda blows my mind some of the time. On the flip-side though, I can go out of town and get it the same. Aside from a few cornballs, everything is good [laughs].
Do you consider yourself a “superstar” yet?
Nah, nowhere near it. I drive a Volvo.
As far as success and what you consider it to be, do you feel like you’re successful or how far do you think you have to go?
I’d say semi-successful. I figure I’m successful when I can do shit like what Wiz and them is doing. Wiz is at the point right now where he can go on the road and put his people on as supporting acts and they have the ability to make $50-60,000 this year. They ain’t got no videos or none of that shit. So I’ll consider myself successful when I can go on the road and take my team – just us – and pack shit out on our own. As soon as all my people are straight – that’s from the artists to the producers, my managers, everybody – once we good, that’s when I’ll feel like I’m successful. And once people understand that Disney World is in Kissimmee [laughs].
If you haven’t had a chance to hear the winning track “Hold Up”, peep it below and make sure you follow Wes Fif on Twitter!