New Orleans is one of the most unique cities in the world. It’s filled with a magical essence, distinct beauty, and some of the most talented souls around. One of my favorite things about the city is all of the beautiful creatives you meet at every turn. From musicians to dancers to visual artists to actors, you’ll find them all here. New Orleans serves as the birthplace to greats like Fats Domino, Master P, and Frank Ocean and so many other artists that are on their way to becoming greatness.
Being a native New Orleanian and a music lover, I am always scrawling the city to follow the careers of the next big thing, and there are 3 artists that I’m sure will be on everyone’s radar very soon. These eclectic group of musicians are breaking boundaries, and bringing real talent to the music world. Recently, I got a chance to catch up with them and we discussed all things New Orleans and (of course) all things music. Be sure to view my interview featuring Willie Dropkick, THELIKWIDLIGHTEXPERIENCE, and Pernell Cook below.
I randomly meet Willie Brooks or Willie Dropkick in the mall one day. He was pushing himself as a new artist and told me I had to give his SoundCloud a listen. I remember thinking “Great another over confident SoundCloud rapper,” but after actually listening to his music I realized there was some real talent that lied within his confidence. Willie can actually spit, and to say he is a super talented lyricist would be an understatement. His raps cover a little of everything from the political climate to the typical “turn-up” lifestyle of a touring rapper. Back in April, Dropkick independently released his debut album “Legendary,” a project he calls a testimony of his life.
I’ve known LIKWID for some years now. He is one of those artists that you would call an all-around creative. Not only is a talented musician that sings, plays the piano and the guitar, but he is also a skilled photographer, songwriter, and producer. LIKWID’s artistry is just as his name says, an experience. His futuristic and funkadelic sound is not only sonically stimulating but he makes sure his listeners are visually pleased as well, as he’s currently working on a film to compliment his newly released album “Sex Droids.”
I go as many people would say way back with Pernell, we both attended the same high school (Shoutout To Warren Easton). Pernell is what I would say is an artist through and through. Everything about him screams dope ass artist, from his style to his vibe to (of course) his sound. Pernell’s sound is sensuality embodied at it’s finest. He is the perfect mixture of Lenny Kravitz meets Maxwell.
DM: Tell me about your journey as an artist, what has it been like? What inspired you to become one?
Willie Dropkick: My journey has been great the ups the downs all the late nights. I couldn’t ask for anything better. My dad [inspired me], he would always bump the 90s hip hop and r&b everywhere we went. I used to steal all his cds and bump it alone in my room. Growing up watching rap city, seeing artists freestyle in the basements seeing artists go freestyle with flex and sway. I always had a knack for writing, after awhile I started rapping to random instrumentals myself and developed a love for it.
THELIKWIDLIGHTEXPERIENCE: My journey as an artist has been one of constant learning. Music is a world with no end. Being from New Orleans I was inspired first by the local musicians and my surroundings.
Pernell Cook: I’ve always been a vocalist. My mom once told me that as a toddler, instead of yawning, in the morning I would sing. My family is full of singers and musicians; They first inspired me to want to sing. Though I’ve always loved to sing, I was super shy about it as a kid. My family helped me get over the bashfulness and I started, slowly, to embrace my gift and began to want to hone my craft as a musician. I’ve been singing for a while, but I’ve only recently-within the past half decade- began to consider myself an artist. The journey, thus far, has been self-enlightening. Personally, art is something that is supposed to take you out of your conform zone; in doing so, you learn a lot about yourself. It’s great that being an artists and my journey is allowing me figure out a lot about myself, which I feel reinforces my art.
DM: Describe New Orleans in one word?
DM: How has being a New Orleanian influenced you as an musician?
WD: From from New Orleans can either make you or break you. I can guarantee it made me be a better man and a way better hustler. Seeing what I saw makes it easy for me to write songs. Always hearing and being around live music made me become way more creative.
LLE: There are so many brillant musicians here I guess its made me push myself to be excellant in it. Im always trying to take things to the next level.
PC: Music is such a huge part of the city’s culture; it’s really hard to be here and not have music be apart of your life. Literally, there’s a musician on every street corner, when you’re downtown. It’s like the city is a huge stage. Being here has, for the most part, made me more comfortable with myself as a musician.
DM: Describe your artistry is one word?
DM: What would you say sets you apart from other artists in your genre?
WD: I may have a deeper feel than other artists, these songs I write comes from a lot of pain, problems, good times. You can really tell by my tone that i’m not just doing this music thing for a wave.
LLE: I’m crazy enough to do something no one else would think of or dare to try.
PC: It’s really easy to fall into being a “type of artists”. Just because I’m a RnB singer doesn’t mean I have to be what people perceive as an “RnB singer.” Simply being myself sets me apart from other artists. I’m putting a lot of my experiences, thoughts, and perspective into my music; those things are unique to me and will continue to set me apart from other artists because no one else can be me.
DM: Who are some of your big influences?
WD: My biggest influence is knowing what failure feels like, knowing what I’m working toward…me taking that risk and following my passion doing what I love and remaining real. As far as a busines stand point artists like jigga, rick ross, curren$y, and some others just help me grow as an artist, a person , and just a boss period…from their music to their interviews.
LLE: I would have to say Prince, James Brown, Meshell N’degeocello, Stevie Wonder and Bowie. I’d model my career off of James Brown and Prince; they took control of there business and revolutionized music.
PC: Most of my biggest influences are artists who have commanded their creative space and are confronting convention simply through their unapologetic sense of self and the earnestness in which they express themselves. Artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Little Richard, Andre 3000, Young Thug, Lady Gaga, Cher, Lenny Kravitz, and Solange are a few of the bigger names that I feel have done that and have inspired me to do the same.
DM: What has been your experience as an New Orleans musician?
WD: In order to be recognized in your own city you have to make your power moves in other cities first, do a couple tour runs, drop music on a consistent level. Yes, I do get love from my peers maybe not as much as other artists around, but it’s because i’m still under the radar. I’ll give it some time…my 1st album did drop only 5 months ago.
LLE: I overall have a good experience here. I’ve been for the most part well received but I know who my audience is and it’s not necessarily the locals.
PC: New Orleans is a great place to be a musician because of the general appreciation of music here. People here readily embrace new artists just out of their pure love of music, it’s extremely encouraging. Networking here has been really exciting because this same embrace is shown, even more so by other musicians and people in the music circles. I definitely feel I am being received well and I am super excited to push my music.
DM: The current political climate is heated to say the least, do you feel the need to reflect that in your art? If so, why?
WD: Yes and no…I hate politics. I do talk about police brutality on blacks, I do talk about all the hatred being spread around between our own people, I do talk about the senseless killing going on in my city…but I know deep down it’s going to take more than me and my music for my people to come together.
LLE: Yeah I do! My lyrics were always social political and spiritual too. It’s just something I do when I fill a certain way about the world.
PC: I’m putting a lot of myself and my perspective into my music, so it’s difficult being apart of society [and] not to have social phenomenon be reflected in my music. I have an opinion, a voice, and I want to use my art to express my opinions and perspective. The political climate has affected me as a citizen, as a person and if I’m to be completely transparent in my art I have to let how this climate has affected me be reflected in my art.
DM: What legacy do you want to leave behind as an artist?
WD: I [want to be] the artist that made a difference. The artist that had a journey with a message saying that you really can do what you love and chase your dreams it just all matters on how bad you want it. For me it was either chase my dream or be 50 years old wondering what if.
LLE: When it’s all said and done I hope people realize the power and importance of my music as a tool for elevation. If I have my way i’ll change the whole game.
PC: I want my legacy to be that I was unconventional and unapologetic about it. Sometimes it’s hard to be yourself in society because we’ve been taught to be a certain way. I want my legacy to inspire people to be comfortable with themselves and not convention.
DM: What can we expect from you next as an artist?
WD: More growth, more energy, and more stories I have yet to tell [with] more feeling. I’m dropping a joint album with my producer titled “Business & Women,” “Too Legendary” the album and more tour dates coming soon.
LLE: Films, a tech partnership and definitely alot more music. I hope everyone like surprises.
PC: I’m really excited about the projects I have been working on. I want my next project to really introduce who I am as an artist to this city. I’ve been curating this package of music and visuals to do so. I am my own creative director and it’s forcing me to do to a lot of things outside of just singing. I can’t wait to finally show people and let people hear what I’ve been working on. The beginning of next year will be an explosion of material from me and I’m super excited.
*To learn more about Willie Dropkick follow him on IG: @williedropkick
*To learn more about THELIKIDLIGHTEXP follow him on IG: @thelikwidlightexp
*To learn more about Pernell Cook follow him on IG: @__kravitz (double underscore)
*Legendary and Sex Droids available now on all digital music platforms.