For your musical consideration, I present to you Edward “3RDegree” Williams. He represents San Bernardino, CA, and has over 15 years in the rap game to his credit. The entries of his resume spell out THIS IS A PERSON YOU SHOULD KNOW! He has ties to the N.W.A. tree through his cousin’s female rap group J.J. Fad who had the hit “Supersonic.” There has been attention from major labels like Def Jam. He was in the mix for two major Hollywood roles, both as the Notorious BIG.
Even his name 3RDegree will likely provoke a certain visceral reaction when it lands on some people’s ears. When you hear 3rd degree usually what precedes or follows ain’t good. You immediately think of 3rd-degree murder and 3rd-degree burns. In many ways, this represents 3RDegree well because he has a murderous flow that turns up the heat on each verse.
Although he takes things in stride, he does not like being labeled as an underground rapper. He would say “it is what it is.” That’s just a box that suckas try to cram him into. Amid being labeled as such, he aimed an entire album, 2010’s Ready IV The World, at anyone who would banish him to the bargain bin. On that project, he very purposely takes it to the club. On songs like “Beautiful” and “Eazy 1, 2, 3” he moves the crowd over aggressive snares and vibrant synthesizers. It’s just like the vintage West Coast Hip-Hop of old.
The musical landscape is teeming with charismatic rappers. Some of them are amazing lyricists. Some meld with R & B seamlessly and make good choices in production. The magic, for him, is in his versatility as an artist. Remember how 2pac told us to heal our women and to be real to our women? Then in the very next breath, he’d rather keep things casual and be her ______. Remember how we asked zero follow up questions? 100% believable on both fronts right?
3RDEGREE walks that fine line. He barges into your emotional elevator, hits every button, and escorts you to every floor. You might hear him throw darts at his competition on songs like the scathing “Go To Sleep.” He might tell a tale of failed romance like on “Love With A Lie.” Perhaps he’ll punch you in the feels with his most personal work to date “Cry For Jaylen.” Here, over fluttering flutes, he paints you a picture of the circumstances surrounding the loss of his newborn son. Did I mention he sings too? That’s him singing the emotive chorus.
A Look Behind His Shadez
When all is said and done he hopes to live a comfortable life and to be an asset to his community. Helping cultivate the next generation of West Coast emcees means a lot to him. Mentoring someone to pick up where he left off and push the culture even further. In April he released his latest album Eyez Behind Shadez. This time around he’s letting the listener in on his inner workings, thus the title. Standouts like “It’s Over,” with its soaring background vocals, set the tone for what may be his most potent effort yet. Other favorites include “Tonight” and the eerily apropos “Black Lives Don’t Matter.”
LL Cool J said in the year 2000 “Seems like every rapper’s a former Nicki Barnes.” There are only about 3 archetypes of commercial emcee these days. The gang banger/drug dealer, the pimp, the pill-popper. 3RDegree shines like new money among them. The emcee that can touch on more than just slanging rocks or sexual conquests, especially in the current climate. As restraints from the COVID-19 begin to loosen 3RD plans to get back in the studio and on the stage. He is even going to contribute to the score of a film and dabble in writing. Notice has been served: 3RDegree is steadily on the come-up.
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