With all of the up-and-coming talent in the Greater Boston area these days, western Massachusetts hip-hop artists tend to get overlooked. I understand that Joyner Lucas is the biggest name out of the Bay State right now and I’ll always have respect for my guy Lomel, but what if I told you there are other towns and communities out west besides Worcester and Springfield? Crazy, I know.
Walt Arkain is a kid from a small town of less than 2,000 people. But as an aspiring music producer and hip-hop artist, his passion for music is immeasurable. He’s currently studying at UMass Amherst but still found the time to craft his impressive debut solo EP ‘Incentives’, which was released back in March and is available on all streaming platforms.
We’ve actually covered some of Walt’s work before as he’s had a hand in producing numerous tracks for one of our favorite local rappers meetVoutside. To get to know him better, I recently asked him some questions about the EP and about his journey as a musician.
Q: Where in Massachusetts are you from?
A: I’m from Western Mass and I’ve lived here my whole life. I’m from a small town called Shutesbury
Q: At what age did you start producing/creating music?
A: I started producing and writing a long time ago, probably in like 6th or 7th grade, but I didn’t start taking it seriously until about a year ago.
Q: Who are your biggest musical influences?
A: I have a ton of musical influences. My biggest are probably Lil Wayne and Eminem cause they got me into hip-hop. Russ too cause he is a self made artist and he produces, mixes, and masters his stuff just like I do. Also producers like Metro Boomin, Dr. Dre and TM88. I like the collab project idea that producers like Metro and Mike WiLL produce.
Q: How long have you and [western Mass rapper] Chris Focus been making music together?
A: We’ve been making music since I started, but again we’ve only been taking it seriously for about a year. I remember making tracks on Garage Band back in middle school.
Q: How did you link up with meetVoutside?
A: Chris Focus actually contacted him originally and we got him on the track “Used To.” Since then it’s been dope knowing him and we’ve created other tracks like “All Good.”
Q: What are your thoughts on the current music scene in Massachusetts and New England as a whole?
A: I think that there’s definitely a growing hip hop scene in Massachusetts and other surrounding states. There hasn’t always been a big one but with rappers and producers like Joyner Lucas, Token, Millyz, and even Gio Dee and Humbeats coming out of Mass there’s definitely a growing hip-hop scene. Also artists from around here like Wiki Good, Chris and I, and DJ Lucas with Dark World are creating a scene in Western Mass. I think there’s some great music coming out of Mass right now and it really deserves to be heard.
Q: If you could produce for any artist, who would it be?
A: If I could produce for any artist right now it would probably be JID or Gyyps, or even Logic. I like all their styles a lot and feel like I could match their sounds really well.
Q: Do you have any shows coming up?
A: I actually had a show in April 17th that was lit, but I’m not completely sure at the moment. I’m probably going to have some shows over the summer but nothing solidified yet. Maybe Helefest over the summer.
On His New EP ‘Incentives’:
Q: How did you come up with the title?
A: Incentives was just one of many titles. I had thought of a bunch but didn’t like any of them. It basically means that the music, the messages I can send through the music, and what I can inevitably do with those messages and the exposure I get from the music are my incentives for going into this field and creating what I create. I love music, the messages I can send, and how I can use it to help the world.
Q: How did you decide on the three features?
A: I knew Focus was going to be on it as soon as we recorded and released “MAD”. Warren and I recorded that track a month or two before the project dropped so I wanted to put him on as well. Sam was more of a last minute thing. We were recording her project that I engineered the entirety of, (not produced, just engineered), and I thought it would be awesome to get her on that hook. She sounds way better than I did singing that.
Q: What are you trying to accomplish with this project?
A: Some of the tracks like “All The Same” have a lot of meaning to them that I am trying to convey through the lyrics. Others are more turn up tracks that I want people to bump and get hype to at shows. All around I was trying to emphasize my lyrical style and production skills.
Overall, the project has the Incentives theme, but it also has the theme that I don’t want to be like some other artists in the industry that only care about money and cars an shit. I obviously like that stuff, but I have a lot to say other than that and I have a lot of inspiring messages I think I can convey through my music. I don’t want to be like those mumble rappers or trappers without much meaning behind their music.
Like I said the project is on all streaming services, but all of Walt Arkain’s music (including ‘Incentives’) can be found on SoundCloud << (scroll over, link is hard to see)
You can also follow him on Instagram @waltarkainsound << (link)