A Talk with Unruly
Will Diaz, known professionally as Unruly, is an up-and-coming rapper whose elite feature run and debut album, Black Graffiti, garnered him sizable attention in the hip hop underground in 2022. Starting off 2023, he has teamed up with grimy producer Klwn Cat to deliver their twisted collaboration, Don’t Go Outside.
Unruly described the sound of Don’t Go Outside: “I would say the style of this album is very abstract and industrial, schizophrenic almost in my delivery and flow. It’s distanced from my last album because it’s much more mature – the schemes, the subject matter, the delivery. This is definitely my grown man album, as opposed to Black Graffiti.”
He discussed the creative process behind the collaboration. “This album was very quickly made in the aftermath of Black Graffiti. Klwn had been trying to get me locked onto a record but I was hesitant at the time because I had records planned with several other great producers … But then Klwn sent me the ‘Obsidian’ beat, and it really expanded my thought process and how I wanted to approach this next album. The original name for the album actually was Obsidian Trench Coats, which was scrapped for obvious reasons. But, honestly, it all came about and went pretty spontaneously.”
He added: “Klwn had been a fan of my rapping before I even had a Spotify page out. I had done a song with a good friend of mine and talented artist in and of himself, Sincerely Yours. And from there, Klwn sent me the ‘Ramses’ beat. And ever since, we’ve worked closely together.”
Going on, Unruly hinted at the meaning behind Don’t Go Outside and its title. “There is a deeper, specific meaning that I have for the entire album which I will explain as the album is digested and as it ages. But, for right now, it’s pretty cool to see everybody’s own interpretation of the album and how certain lyrics evoke certain feelings from different types of people … The point I was trying to get across with this album is perfectly summed up with a few words on ‘Hades’: ‘Meaning what you perceive as beauty and life is always a double-edged sword.’”
Speaking about his favourite tracks, featuring fellow underground MCs from Matt Draugos to Patty Honcho. He said: “I’d say most tracks have some form of story being told throughout. While the entire album isn’t exactly a tight, linear narrative, most of the tracks align as far as progression and things of that nature. My favourite tracks on the album are ‘Hades’, ‘Tell Me How You Feel’, and ‘Malice was the Case’. The first two because it’s insane the talent I collected to be on those songs, and even crazier because I was able to keep up.”
He spoke on his inspirations for the new album. “Unruly goes through a lot. A lot of mental anguish is depicted on the album is a very, very real battle for me. As far as the music side, I’d say Nas, Black Thought, Kendrick (as far as creating a world in an album), and MF DOOM as well for sure, with the abstract and even sometimes lo-fi instrumentals.”
Last year, Unruly featured on dozens of albums across the hip hop underground, but he’s decided to relax on the features this time around. “I’m slowing down heavily on features to like three or four a year to focus on my solo music. My solo run last year was really me trying to prove I belong here, and prove that I can – and will – rap with and outrap anybody you put in front of me … I have an EP dropping this summer with some familiar faces. My next single is dropping in June, and then my second full-length this year drops around November or December.”
When it comes to future collaborations, Unruly already has a few names in mind. “I’ve been saying this for a while now. I would love to work with August Fanon, Vega the Ronin, Defcee, Willynova, Deadpan. I’d like to get another track in with Sun Mundi too – he’s crazy. I would love to make an album (and have held brief discussions) with Harvey Gold as well.”
With Don’t Go Outside making waves and a number of new projects in the works, Unruly is looking to dominate the hip hop underground once again in 2023.
Find Unruly here: