Wallie the Sensei is Here 2 Stay: Compton rapper Wallie the Sensei (WtS) released a new mixtape right as 2022 was coming to an end – it might have flown under the radar with all of the holiday noise but it’s a superb release that should be getting a lot of attention. Tackling real struggles, authentic stories, the man with the (let’s face it) amazing name, has called it Here 2 Stay. With a bit of luck, and justice, he will be.
Wallie caught the music bug when he would go to church with his mom and grandma as a kid, taking the position of support-vocal in the gospel group.
“That’s how I learned how to sing and I learned how to rap from doing it as a hobby with my friends,” he says. “We used to sit in a car and freestyle. I really didn’t know how to rap at the time, but I got better over time. This became a weekly routine, and I got better and better. It was just something to do to keep our mind off other things. I attempted to make music in 2010-2015 but never took it seriously. I wasn’t as good as my friends. At the time I didn’t even drop any of my music, I was just freestyling and jumping on stage. In 2019, it got serious. I started paying DJ’s to perform and I was getting all of this positive feedback from the crowd. They wanted me to do encores and from having that reaction, it made me realize I could really be an artist.”
So that’s what he did. That said, the path wasn’t smooth. WtS endured a period of homelessness from seventh through ninth grade, and again when he reached adulthood.
“As a kid, when you go through that, it opens your eyes to a different world versus having things handed to you,” he says. “My siblings and I were staying at hotels bouncing from place to place. The experience made me grow up early. I took a summer job when I was 14 to help pull my weight. Musically it just made me go harder in everything I do. It also made me feel separated from my ego; I was just hungry for success trynna make sure I wouldn’t face it again. It made my music more honest, while everybody else wanted the world to believe they’re rich and have no problems. My music doesn’t always talk about celebration, it talks about real problems.”
Wallie describes his sound as something new for the West Coast, both uneasy and melodic.
“It could be buttery or smooth,” he says. “It’s different. My influences are Taj Zaafi, Avant, Charlie Wilson, T Pain, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne, 2Pac, Joey Badass, The Hot Boyz, billboard (4Bent) & Popcaan – but I don’t think there’s ever been an artist similar to myself. A lot of music is watered down. I talk about real problems.”
The artist says that Los Angeles, and Compton in particular, have had a big impact on his music and, in fact, every aspect of his life.
“My city is the reason I am who I’ve become, even outside of music,” he says. “The way I dress, how I talk and my overall experiences as a man. The music is only giving you a small feel of how it really is growin’ up here. It’s a much smaller place than what people think it is. From the way of life to the slang, everything is different. I’m a product of where I’m from.”
His love for his city is evident and glowing, though he does wish the current L.A. hip-hop scene was more original.
“Everyone is talking about the same topics all the time,” he says. I feel like there’s a lot of dope artists out here, but they have no voice. The sound is becoming repetitive based on the fact that the rawest talent doesn’t get found.”
Hopefully, Wallie the Sensei is about to change all that, and Here 2 Stay should help. It was recorded in California, and the project lays out his evolution as a musician.
“My last project was me expressing where I was at the moment; I just kinda laid everything out how I was feeling,” he says. “This mixtape mechanically shows how I evolved as an artist. It has me experimenting. My recording process when I dropped my first project took me 2-4 hours per song, but now I can crack out records anywhere between 30 minutes – 1 hour while doing even more. I’m definitely more confident in my sound. Shoutout to Russ, Berler & XL – they recorded me and produced most of the work. Angel produced [the track] ‘Watch Me’ — these people are all musical geniuses in my eyes. Regular sessions with just my family Jay West, Pho Pho and Mari Ruger doin’ what we do best!”
The cover art offers a hint about the project’s themes and concepts – a photo of a young Wallie with his grandma, after church.
“She gave me a lot of confidence as a kid,” he says. “She gave me the courage even when I didn’t want to sing, to make me do it. That helps me even now when I sing in front of crowds. I named the tape Here 2 Stay because a lot of the music I hear these days doesn’t last, but I’m just getting started. It’s a statement that even after I’m gone from this earth, my music will still be here. My music is inspiring people that have no hope, gain a sense of not being alone.”
2022 was a year of hard work for Wallie, as he strove to be as great as he can possibly be.
“I took a lot of losses,” he says. “For me it was having the strength to not give up. I lost a lot of friends and I got to the point where I wanted to stop making music, but making music did help me feel better. I gotta keep going for everyone that I lost.”
So looking ahead, and accepting that Wallie the Sensei is indeed Here 2 Stay, what does 2023 have in store? He’s optimistic.
“In 2023, I wanna drop the best album our generation has ever heard,” he says. “I need a slot at Rolling Loud. I want a platinum record. I wanna start my own clothing line. And on another note, 2023 is about getting better at receiving my blessings but getting even better at giving back to my community and the kids! I wanna spread my fanbase internationally. I wanna tour in Jamaica and the UK. I wanna get better at painting the picture of who I am. Everything until now was a build-up. I’m just getting started.”
Wallie the Sensei is Here 2 Stay: Wallie the Sensei’s Here 2 Stay mixtape is out now.
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