Scarborough-born Wes Williams has joined American Grammy award winner Ice-T as rappers who have also become actors and authors.
Williams, also known as Maestro after dropping the “Maestro Fresh Wes” moniker he held in the late 1980s on his way to becoming the dean of Canadian hip-hop music, was in town last week to launch his motivational book – Stick to Your Vision: How to Get Past the Hurdles & Haters to Get Where You Want to Be.
He and his family – wife and co-author Tamara Hendricks-Williams and their two-year-old son Chancellor – moved to Los Angeles 10 months ago.
Spilt into three sections, expectation, operation and destination, Williams offers tips on how to define and achieve your vision, what to do once you have reached your destination and empowering strategies, inspirational quotes and practical exercises.
“For me, vision is about moving forward with motivating intention,” he said. “If you stop moving, that vision will die.”
The Gemini-nominated actor and Juno award-winning artist said the myriad challenges he faced inspired him to write the book.
Shortly after the 1991 release of Black Tie Affair, an album that sold 50,000 copies, Williams moved to Brooklyn in an attempt to establish himself and build some credibility in the American market. Unfortunately, his label did not know how to market him and he quickly faded. The dejected artist put out a couple of records on his own and was back in Canada crestfallen by 1996.
“This project is about things that have happened to me in my life and I think the time was right to say something about them now,” the 42-year-old artist told Share.
Williams has come full circle, artistically, since inserting Canada on the hip-hop map with his phenomenal debut album Symphony In Effect, which almost broke double platinum and still stands as the biggest selling Canadian hip-hop single ever.
He began writing poetry at age seven and by 11 was rapping with influences from New York rap acts, including Kurtis Blow and Grandmaster Flash. In 1988, he adopted the name Maestro Fresh Wes and recorded his independent demo, You Cant’ Stop Us Now. This was followed by I’m Showing You and Let Your Backbone Slide, which he did with DJ LTD and former manager Farley Flex.
The classic single sold more than 50,000 copies and still stands as the biggest hip hop single ever.
As an actor, he played roles in the series Metropia, Platinum, Blue Murder, The Line and Instant Star and in the films Honey, Four Brothers, Poor Boy’s Game and Get Rich or Die Tryin’ before teaming up with his wife – a former CBC Radio and MTV Canada reporter – to produce the motivational book.
“The book would not have been what it is without her,” he said. “She definitely kept me on track. I am not a Margaret Atwood or Ernest Hemingway type of brother, you know what I mean. Basically, I came up with the stories and ideas and she helped me summarize everything to make it complete. That’s how she helped out on this project…
“Of course, there were challenges writing a book with your wife.”
Williams said he enjoyed writing and acting, but made it clear that music is his lifeline.
“That’s what got me to where I am,” he said. “That’s my foundation and having music as my template allowed me to transfer the work ethic I picked up to acting and writing.”
He did not rule out a collaboration with fellow Canadian recording artist/actor Drake when the question was posed.
“We will see what’s up with that,” was Williams’ reaction to the suggestion. “About three weeks ago, I saw Drake for the first time in six years. I am definitely proud of him and it just goes to show that we have a lot of serious talent right here in Toronto.”
The 2002 Harry Jerome award winner for Excellence in the Arts was inducted into Scarborough’s Walk of Fame three years ago.