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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week - Why G?
Monday, June 08, 2009

Why G? is an emcee who has led a number of different lives. First there was his happy childhood growing up in Jamaica, Queens. Well, actually, according to Why G?, “my history starts off in outer space with my spaceship landing in Jamaica, Queens.” Then there were his rebellious teenage years, which saw him get expelled from his public high school. Sometime during all the turbulence of his teens and early twenties, however, the Guyanese emcee totally turned his life around as he co-founded of The Optimus Foundation and started working with Urban Art Beat. This week I sat down with Why G? to find out about some of the events that led to this major shift in his life, who he is as an artist, and why he rocks a lab to coat during some of his performances.

Adam Bernard: Let’s start by talking about music. Musically, who is Why-G?
Why G?: I started engineering first and didn't really perform and record my own stuff until I met Mathew "Optimus Rhyme" Hall, who took me to my first open mic, and DJ Emmo, who helped me put out my first project. Matt would take me around the NYC underground scene and some people would ask me if I had a CD and I didn't, so that put the bug in me that I should try to record a project. Also one emcee from the Zulu Nation, my friend who went by MC Pain, asked me if I wrote down songs and when I said no he was like "don't be a waste of talent" and those words echoed in my head ever since.

Adam Bernard: You have an album coming out in July. First of all, is this your first official album? And second, what is a Why-G? album experience like?
Why G?: I have one CD out, Beginning of the End, and I have two CDs worth of material I'm mixing now for release. I won't consider anything a full out album until I have certain elements in order and a quality of recording that is beyond industry standard. I call them projects because there are all experiments I conduct on myself in order to progress. I want to achieve things that have never been done before.

Adam Bernard: The last time I saw you perform live you were rockin a lab coat. Is that a fashion statement you make often?
Why G?: {laughs} I'm a musical mad scientist and as I said, I feel my music is an experiment, and on stage I want people to know they are seeing something/someone different. I also do it to bring that live performance theater element into my stage show. I'm here to give people an experience. I don't do it at every show, it’s a vibe thing. I hope it inspires people to be different and themselves no matter how strange that may be… and, of course, I'm from outer space.

Adam Bernard: Of course! Switching gears a bit, in addition to your music also do work with the Optimus Foundation. Tell me about what that entails and how you became involved with it.
Why G?: Optimus Rhyme was a member of the Zulu Nation and he was murdered in 2003. After he was killed it hurt me because he was always dropping knowledge and he was one of the first people to recognize my talent. I had started building a studio in my parents’ house and he was helping me out. We planned on making music together. After he got shot me and several friends of his - Ben, Izzy, Edmund, Emmo and Herman - felt we had to carry on his legacy. He was an A student in college, taught after school, and was an emcee as well as a visual artist and b-boy. We started the organization and first did shows to celebrate his life. After that we decided to do monthly open mics in Brooklyn, but we also wanted to go beyond the music, so we decided to start a free G.E.D program out of a church. We didn't end up doing that too long because there where several other more established programs available, but we named it The Optimus Foundation in honor of Opitmus Rhyme. Since I was working with Urban Art Beat and assisting with curriculum writing as well as mentoring we decided Optimus should go more towards youth music education because a lot of us were artists ourselves, so we moved the program to the community centers of two Queens housing projects. After about two years of that we moved the program to a junior high school in east New York and we’re currently working on a few other locations for summer programs.

Adam Bernard: You were kicked out of high school.... a PUBLIC high school! When did your life take a turn from where you were causing so much trouble that a public high school said “get out” to helping form something like the Optimus Foundation, and what influenced that turn?
Why G?: I was lost early on. I didn't have a focus like music or sports, so I got into becoming a follower. In high school I saw the opportunity to sell weed, so eventually I started doing that more than going to school and I went into screw the world mode. I was walking around with guns and hanging with the wrong crowd. Even though the Zulu Nation showed me positivity I wasn't ready to give up my ignorant ways. The truth is I wasn't good at anything, so I chased money and did drugs to fill a void. When I met Optimus Rhyme I was still smoking and selling and he actually wrote me a letter saying that I should stop because I have talent. Shortly after he died in 2003 I was stabbed several times and I had to go to the ER. This was when I hit rock bottom. I had a near death experience, a vision that the Mos High spoke to me, "GOD" was myself without flaws. The blessing of my past is I can relate to anyone, even if they do drugs or live a negative lifestyle, and I'm an example that it’s never to late to change. I'm already successful and I measure that on what I’m able to do for others. I know I can do anything I put my mind to. We set our own limits, I just set mine to NONE. I also know if I'm off my path the universe will check me to put me back on my course. I was sober for a while and I said I can probably handle smoking weed again. Within a month Homeboy Sandman wrote me letter that reminded me of Optimus Rhyme’s, so I stopped again.

Adam Bernard: Finally, ya gotta fill me in on your name. Why Why-G? and why the question mark at the end of it? Are you forever questioning something about yourself, or am I reading way too much into a single punctuation mark?
Why G?: Dope insight. My name is Yogi Guyadin, so my initials are Y.G. I flipped the Y to Why and the G is like the old school saying “what up G” and is short for God. Back in the day Kool G Rap was the man at rap so they called him G Rap. If you got money you could be called G Money, etc. The question mark is because before I do something I always ask myself "is this the most productive thing I could do right now?" It's a reminder that if it isn't the best, or I'm not feeling something, not to do it. I also feel the question is what leads to the answer, therefore I'm the "G," or God, of all the questions I ask myself and I will find all the answers.

Related Links

MySpace: myspace.com/EmceeWhyG
MySpace: myspace.com/OptimusFoundation
Urban Art Beat: UrbanArtBeat.org
Cajo Communications: CajoCommunications.com


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:42 AM  
  • At 9:01 AM, Blogger Chilly S said…

    I've had the honor of sharing the stage with Why-G and capturing his dope performance. Here's a short clip and interview


    - the entire set (which features the aforementioned lab-coat) can be seen on www.ChillyS.tv (free on-demand section).

  • At 10:41 AM, Blogger YC The Cynic said…

    Why-G knows every word in the English language. And he uses them all when freestyling. I've seen it myself, its crazy.

  • At 10:54 PM, Blogger Homeboy Sandman said…

    one of the greatest of all times. period.

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