Wordsworth with Ken starr and Oddissee performing as part of NXNE 2004 at B-Side (129 Peter), Friday (June 11), 1 am. $6. 416-204-9660. www.nxne.com Although battle-ready Brooklyn MC Wordsworth has just finished his long-overdue debut solo album, Mirror Music (due August 24), which he'll be previewing at his highly anticipated NXNE showcase backed by Ken Starr and Oddissee, he's already thinking about his next few projects. Along with upcoming Soulive and Rahzel collabos, he's got an idea for a film based on his own life story. There are no bullet-riddled bodies or dope-dealing exploits to boast about, but it's an intriguing script nonetheless.
Best known as one-half of hiphop duo Punchline & Wordsworth, the microphone marvel who came out of the Lyricist Lounge scene caught his first big break back in 98 freestyling with Mos Def on A Tribe Called Quest's Rock Rock Y'all. Yet long before hooking up with the in-crowd of New York's bling-free hiphop alternative, Wordsworth was well known on campus for his unique term papers, which revealed that his true calling was not English literature or political science.
"I had to do this paper for a course on U.S. politics discussing the meaning of the term -politics,'" recalls Wordsworth, "so I thought it would be interesting to try to write entirely in rhyme form. I got an A on it, so I thought, -Hmm, maybe I should try this in other courses, too.' I tried it African-American studies, intro to religion, English lit - every course I had.
"Pretty soon the professors started talking about what I was doing. Eventually, it opened up this whole dialogue about poetry and rap, and the English department started holding these panel discussions where I'd be freestyling in front of the professors and students in the auditorium - it was cool. I think it would make a great movie."
Wordsworth is aware that being a respected freestyler has its drawbacks. The less-than-impressive studio recordings of hiphop's greatest spontaneous rhyme stylists (see Supernatural) have left many hiphop fans wondering whether Wordsworth would be able to capture the excitement of his performances on wax.
"That's true. That's very true," he sighs. "I know there are still some people who believe I won't be able to cut it. But when I put out the Not Me record with J-Zone, I think that dispelled a lot of the doubts people had about me.
"The reason why my solo album took so long to finish was because I wanted to learn the mechanics of composition and become a good songwriter before putting out a record. A lot of people just throw out records to stay afloat in the game, but I wanted to make sure whatever I release will show that I'm amongst the hiphop elite."