Have you checked out veteran hip-hop artist Tim’m West’s latest album Iconography? If not, you are missing out on some good music by the pioneer of out-and-proud queer emcees.
We chatted at length about the recording process for Iconography and its influences. As a long-time supporter of West, I noticed that he incorporated more house music than he has in his three past albums. West also sings more throughout the album than in past efforts.
West calls Iconography a “return to his roots.” If you are familiar with his first solo album Songs From Red Dirt, you would notice the familiar sound.
Musically, it’s a return to my roots as a solo artist. My first album was Songs From Red Dirt. I have an eclectic taste in music that was inspired by me coming up throughout the 80’s and 90’s during the time when house music was a force in popular and mainstream music. Urban radio wasn’t just hip-hop and R&B during that time. Songs From Red Dirt was influenced by love of all those genres and paying homage to those who inspired me musically.
After the release of Red Dirt, I received criticism from some people saying that I had too many music influences in there. They commented on how I had some of everything like R&B, house, hip-hop and reggae.
In a way, I felt like I was apologizing for the critiques I received when I released the albums following Red Dirt because I would not include house music in them, with the exception of bonus tracks as remixes, and stuck to my hip-hop sound.
Tim’m West mentioned how recording Iconography made him feel more confident than ever as a solo artist.
I didn’t see this project coming – especially now that I have become more confident than ever as far as who I am as an artist. I did not want to compromise what I love to do. I grew up in the church. My father was a pastor. I like singing ever since I grew up in the church. Therefore, I decided to sing more, include ballads, record duets, do songs without raps and more things that inspires me.
Those things make Iconography unique.
This project is more responsive to my fanbase. My fans have asked me to do more singing.
West also elaborated on how he discovered and fell in love with house music.
I was in Arkansas when I discovered house music. I would listen to a radio show from Grambling University, which was the radio program I picked from the closest signal to me living in Southwest Alabama. There was a Chicago DJ hosting the show, which I realized that Grambling had large population of students from Chicago. Something about the sounds he played really grab my interest, and I fell in love with house music since.
There is so much more to share from my interview with the hip-hop great. We talked about labels in the Black LGBTQ community, especially how his masculinity is defined and treated by different groups within the community.
It is always good to get inside the mind of the Black LGBTQ figures we have looked up to, and Tim’m is one of my favorites to ask those questions.