Find the right phrase. Keep it fresh. Alive. Now stay in the moment.
Find the words that will break through the page. Through the head phones and into the brain. Listen. Hear the words. Follow the example.
Be exposed. Find the music. All that’s ever left. Bill McClarnon, the artist known as Wise Dome, is five years old and hiding under a car from his mother. He told her that morning he was heading to school.
Twenty minutes later she got a knock on the door. It was the crossing guard. The guard told her that her son was hiding under a car at the end of the block. He refused to go to school.
Quite a few days began like that for Bill and his mom. So many days began with Bill under the car that eventually a truancy officer started coming to his house to walk him to school. He taught Bill’s mom how to set rules and use an egg timer to develop time management skills. “When this goes off, you have to get ready for school,” Bill’s mom would say. Mostly he would just do what he wanted anyway. Bill failed kindergarten.
He had trouble interacting with other kids. The school system said he showed poor behavior and had emotional problems. They advised his mother to put him in "special" classes, so she did, and he remained in special classes until he graduated high school. By that time, he still couldn’t read a newspaper. Kids in the special classes couldn’t fail at the end of the year because the school thought it would be too much for them to handle emotionally.
So, they pushed the kids through the grades whether they showed up to class or not. They didn't even have to try. Bill rarely showed up for class. The days he did, he spent his time goofing off or break dancing in the hallways.
He still managed to pass through school every year and graduate despite all the time he wasted. Well, the time wasn’t exactly wasted. About 10 years ago in Bensalem, Philadelphia there was a revival of breakdancing. Eric Venuto (Bamboo of Love Bandit Records) didn’t know much about it at the time, but Bill did. He already perfected a lot of moves when Eric met him at their friend Jay Jay’s apartment on the first floor of their building. The apartment was mostly just a small room with an old sofa and a big piece of linoleum on the floor.
The linoleum was old, too. There were holes in it–it looked like wolves had gotten to it. That didn’t matter. It was good enough to dance on.
Bill, tall and lanky, starts breaking out moves like Eric had never seen before. Few people had seen these moves. His footwork was crazy, and his windmills took over the room. All of the time he spent watching dance movies like “Breakin’” and “Beat Street” in slow-motion on the VCR had paid off.
This was some top-secret shit they were getting into. That day at Jay Jay’s apartment inspired Eric to rap. He learned how to breakdance, too. He bought his own piece of linoleum, but he knew he couldn’t be better than Bill at dancing, so he started working nightly to perfect his rapping. They became good friends after that, and a reputation started to grow in Bensalem.
Eric could rap, and Bill could dance. It was as simple as that. When they would go to the mall on Friday nights, people came to see them perform. Eric would be rapping in some empty corner of the mall with people starting to crowd around, and out of nowhere, Bill would run in, do a flip off a wall and start dancing. It was a pretty good show until the cops broke it up and kicked them out.
But back in highschool, senior year, something happened. Bill, the "dumb kid," won the award for being the best dancer in the school! After high school, Bill spent some time in college and failed at a few meaningless jobs. There were drugs and parties, but no success for him. It was enough to convince him to make up for all the years he wasted.
He wanted something better, and he started looking for it at the library. At home and in school he wasn’t provided with too many answers, so he began educating himself. Where school failed, rap succeeded. His classes didn’t provide him with much support or social contact, but rap did. People were telling Bill he was smart, even if he didn’t believe it. There were things in books that he wanted to learn about.
He loved Bruce Lee and realized he could learn more about Jeet Kun Do if he read a book about it. There was also the learning that came from rap. Not all rap, but the rappers like the Wu Tang Clan and Canibus that were saying something with their lyrics. That is how Bill began to become educated. People started looking at Bill differently.
He was capable of giving good advice, he wasn’t quick to judge others, and his ears were always open. The self-absorbed world of victimization and paranoia constructed in school suddenly transformed into a haven for cultivating an intuitive ability to help others and offer substantial support. He learned that at the library. Clarity gave him the ability to focus on what mattered. What had always mattered was music. The influence it has had on Bill’s life has been heavy, and it began when he was about 10 years old with albums like The Chronic and Doggystyle.
His older cousins introduced him to the music, and it wasn’t long before he was running around singing songs like “Bitches Ain’t Shit.” It affected his personality, probably in a bad way, but the influence was clear. It made him want to be a rapper. So, that is what he did. Bill learned lessons from listening to rap that he wouldn’t have gotten any where else. It taught him things parents and school teachers wouldn’t, but not all of the messages were meant to be mimicked.
By his early twenties, Bill learned how to listen to rap to learn from mistakes, find the positive messages, and let people influence him, but not necessarily to hold them as role models. He does model other rappers, though. It is a technique he developed to help him learn how to a rap. Whenever he finds artists who particularly interest him, he practices acting like them. He studies their style, learns their rhymes, tries to move like they move and listens to the whole catalogue of their music. Each time, it takes him about two weeks.
Once he has learned whatever he can from the process, he moves on. He has done this ritual with all his favorite rappers. Shortly after Bill graduated high school, he was working on a song with Eric Venuto. It was the first project they purely collaborated on for what would later become rap's flynamic duo The Vibraters of Love Bandit Records. Eric decided that the song had to be finished, so Bill agreed to join him in an all-nighter, working on the lyrics.
They got coffee and came up with every word they could think of that rhymed with “diner waitress” for the song, but it still wasn’t finished. The song took about six days longer than they had expected, and the only reason they got through the week was because they pushed each other to new levels of accomplishment. All of the time Bill spends studying rap helps him when he’s on stage. His personality off the stage is that of a quiet little hermit. He reads conspiracy theories on the internet and thinks about the possibilities of the metaphysical world.
On stage, he moves like a preacher. Arms waving, eyes flaring, channeling the sonic world as if he’s possessed by the god of rap. He feels his job is to motivate the crowd, and he does in any way he can. For Bill, the state of modern music shows how important it is to lead without following when it comes to developing technique. He sees the world overwhelmed with promotion—all hype and no substance.
Music used to be about power. It gave people a voice when they didn’t have anything. Anything. Now it seems to be in the hands of the people with the biggest budget.
Those are not Bill’s hands. By making music that’s honest, Bill can lead by example. Fans can see the difference in his music like day and night. The over-produced, assembly-line style of modern music is like fast food. Honest music is a home-cooked meal.
He thinks about these things when he sits in his tiny bedroom, trying to make his music without getting yelled at by his parents because his mom is in the kitchen making buffalo wings with bleu cheese dressing. It all starts with the message that is delivered lyrically. Bill’s music is about self-discovery and learning how to prioritize what’s important—whatever that may be for his listeners. He doesn’t necessarily want to reach large groups of people. That would be nice, but it’s more about learning how to walk the line between what is necessary and what is accessible to the audience. Because of his lyrics, Bill considers himself a poet.
It all stems from a love of language. The last job he had was at a gym. The best part about it was it gave him the opportunity to talk to lots of different people from lots of different cultures. Everybody came into the gym. Sometimes they spoke Russian or Spanish or Arabic.
Bill talked with these people a lot. He picked up the some of the similarities between languages and learned to appreciate the connections. Now, he keeps rhyme books. He has one for spontaneous ideas, another for hooks and choruses and one for punch lines, too. Mostly he likes to write when he’s in the moment, when he gets an idea that just has to go into the song.
The droughts come, though, and the books are there so he can keep on writing. The goal is overkill for the audience. He wants to find the crazy information, like aliens or Tao, that people wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise and then, deliver it to them. This keeps the music fresh and has a capacity to blow his listeners’ minds. All the time Bill spent growing as an artist and a person has helped him find a home with Love Bandit Records. At LBR he gets respect on creative and personal levels that is hard to find in the music world.
In the roughly 10 years he has spent working on music, he has met a lot of critics and people that go to great length to put walls between him and his success. Love Bandit is a collection of strengths that allow the artists to playoff each other and find unity amidst the conflict of the music world. Bill Mclarnon spent so many years living in a great place that he has constructed for himself by prioritizing what is important to him. Sometimes he forgets the dark times in his life, but he realizes that there are others still stuck in destructive environments. He doesn’t forget about the others. He reaches out to them with his lyrics and the example he sets.
His arms open to them, and he knows it’s never too late. There is always time to take control. Pre-order Wise Dome's new album Vision Proper coming Summer 2010 featuring Major gold and platinum selling artists Kool G Rap, Canibus, Planet Asia, Supastition, Peplove,Crooked I,AZ, and more. Listen + follow him @ MySpace, @ Twitter, @ Love Bandit Records. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..