When The Wall Street Journal recently caught up with Wale in the studio, the DMV emcee was rapping about a television show.
This isn’t surprising because Wale loves television. However, this isn’t Even More About Nothing:
I’m tellin’ whoever messin’ with me
I can bring you that Khaleesi heat
Use my King, knack for words, as an actual sword
I can decapitate a rapper…
This is part of Wale’s contribution, for better or worse, to HBO’s Game Of Thrones mixtape Catch The Throne, which Big Boi alluded to in February and fans caught snippets of Thursday. You can stream the entire thing below in anticipation of the series’ fourth season premiere on April 6.
The project includes tracks by the aforementioned Wale and Andre Patton, and also Common and Bodega Bamz. But it was a friend of The Smoking Section, Dee Goodz, who was a part of the entire process, contributing a track himself and the production for the project through his company, Launch Point Records. We caught up with him earlier in the week–before the tracklisting and song leaks became public–about the tape, the show and his predictions for the upcoming season in a Q&A that can be found on below the embedded player.
So, like, why rappers and Game Of Thrones? Of the show’s 14.3 million viewers who watched season three (across all platforms), only 13.2 percent of them were Black and 9.2 percent were Hispanic. HBO wants to expand its multicultural reach with its most-watched show, and the mixtape seems to be the best way to connect with minority audiences.
That’s pigeonholing, certainly, but even cynics can agree that a mixtape increases HBO and Game Of Thrones‘ cultural cache among everyone. It’s no different than, say, Converse enlisting James Murphy, Andre 3000 and Gorillaz to promote a pair of shoes through song. Lots of people dig Hip-Hop, and lots of companies reach specific demographics through music, whether you agree with it or not.
“For me, it was all organic,” Goodz says. “It’s like, This is Game Of Thrones! It’s something that me and my homies were talking about for years. If it was something that I’d have to force, it’s not good. But when it’s in your lifestyle, then it’s all good.”
Goodz also mentioned that HBO will be holding a screening of the fourth season’s first episode for SXSW attendees on the night of March 11. Also, Goodz and several other mystery guests will perform live.
Anyways, have at it. We won’t keep you any longer from the perfect synergistic example of fanboy-dom.
TSS: So how did the Catch The Throne idea and project come about?
Dee Goodz: I mean, we’re all fans. I don’t really know about the business behind it. I just know that I got a call one day, and my manager asked me, “yo, do you watch Game Of Thrones?” And kind of crazily I had been binge-watching it, being in New York, and I had just gotten shot last year, so I wasn’t moving around a lot and I spend most of my time in the crib, chilling, smoking.
But it’s a great show to watch. If you can get the hook-up on watching it, it’s definitely very interesting. So I’ve been keeping older seasons and then, you know, I got informed that we were working on this project to come up with beats and everything. So I’m going through all the homies to find someone who has HBO Go [HBO’s on-demand content app] and figure out episodes that I didn’t see. Just to make sure I knew my stuff.
So I came up and we pulled different samples from the show–we’ve got some scores from the show–and then came the mixtape and we involved some other artists. And there it was, turned it in.
TSS: Wow, that sounds crazy. What’s your favorite part of the show, and how did that influence the music you made for the mixtape?
DG: It’s, like, a couple of different storylines. My favorite storyline is Khaleesi’s storyline because she’s so fine. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Khaleesi–she’s the one with the super-blond hair, walking around with dragons and all of that. She’s bad.
The second storyline is Tyrion [Lannister]. His dad is Tywin and they’re on the Iron Throne–the Iron Throne is the head spot. Joffrey’s the king right now, you know? But Tyrion who’s this little guy, no matter how he looks, this guy gets all the ladies. He’s getting everything.
Another good storyline that was awesome was the [Ned] Stark storyline, but he kind of got murked out in the “Red Wedding” in the third season, so we won’t see him anymore*. But it’s a good story and it’s interesting because it pushes you into a different time place–what could’ve been the Middle Ages. Also, it teaches you about power moves. And being an independent artist, you’ve got to move and shake and learn how to rub shoulders with the right people. Everybody’s trying to reach the Iron Throne. The Iron Throne is just success. So it was just relative to life and it’s a good show to watch. There are people getting killed and there are dragons. It’s just real good, man.
TSS: Subtracting the fantasy elements of it, it sounds like a very Hip-Hop show.
DG: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It actually does, dog. Like, just with everybody and their mind-state to get the Iron Throne and be the hottest rapper in the game, you know what I’m saying? It’s an easy translation and relevant when you start to think about the moves you make in the industry and the moves they make in the TV show. Or, like, family and sustaining the Throne. And loyalty and ethics and different things like that.
It’s just very interesting when you get in-depth into the storylines of the show as far as who’s doing what and you never know who’s going to get killed or get snatched up. It’s really good, man.
Before I started watching the show, someone was telling me like, “yo, dude, watch this show,” like the second or first season. And it was like one of my cameramen–shouts out to my boy Digi-Rob. Like, if you know my boy, he’s one of those creative, hipster dudes. And I’m like, “dude, ‘Game Of Thrones’? C’mon, dude, I’d rather watch something like ‘The Wire’!” You know what I mean?
But then he forced me to watch this episode, and I’ve been a fan since then. I just been watching and keeping up. And since I’ve been moving and shaking myself, you know, luckily that there are programs out there to allow me to binge-watch and catch up on the show. Once you catch on, you can’t just stop, so it’s going to be interesting to catch up on the show, see if the Throne gets overthrown. Kahleesi is on her way to the Throne, taking over everything, looking fine as heck while doing it. I’m excited.
TSS: It sounds like it. With that in mind, I have two specific questions to ask you about the show, the first being, if you had to pinpoint one character whom you’re most like, who would it be and why?
DG: Yo, someone asked me this already, and I said Tyrion. I’m going to stick to it, you know why? Because he has women problems and right now I’m in my bachelor state of life. I’m moving and shaking and meeting all kinds of women. I’m a country boy in the city [laughs]. And sometimes we can let the flesh overtake us, man. And I think that’s what Tyrion is going through in the show.
He’s got this role where he’s trying to impress his dad and he’s trying to show his worth. But then he has this role where he’s meeting and dealing with women and he kind of makes bad decisions. And now he has this wife that he’s been forced to marry. But he also has this side chick, Shae, right there with him–oh look, I just called her a “side chick” [laughs]. Same thing, whatever.
But it’s the same story of life. I can name about six of my homeboys going through the same things right now. But I just think that his storyline is really interesting because as far as, like, his different things that he goes through are the same things that I’m going through.
TSS: But you don’t have a wife whom you were forced to marry, right?
DG: Yo, I’ve got a baby moms, you feel me? It’s even worse [laughs].
TSS: [Laughs] Fair enough. What are you predictions for the upcoming season?
DG: What are my predictions? I don’t know, man…I don’t want to say anything.
TSS: You can just speculate!
DG: I mean, all I want to see is Khaleesi take over… I think Khaleesi’s journey to the Throne is the most interesting story because she’s freeing slaves, taking over armies. That’s powerful. On the show she represents a woman of color or, like, a woman of another descent. She’s all powerful and just being a beautiful woman, you know what I’m saying? I think that’s just dope.
Hopefully she just gets there–the rightful princess of the Targaryen Army is able to get back on the Iron Throne. I mean, they got Joffrey on there right now, and he’s just a kid. He be trying to kill everyone and stuff. But Khaleesi: who doesn’t want to see someone fine running things up there?
TSS: And from what I can gather from friends who watch the show, she also seems very level-headed and fair–the complete package.
DG:Yeah, she’s definitely the complete package. I just hope she stays that way throughout the fourth season.
TSS: Were you with the other artists when the project was being recorded or did you just do your part, send it out and that was it?
DG: Well, I got the call, but being that my team who actually recorded the shit and we made the beats and all of that stuff, I’m one of the artists, but I was granted the opportunity to be in the studio whenever artists were there.
Two specific artists I got to see were Bodega Bamz and…
[Talks to someone in the background]
Man, am I even supposed to tell who’s on here yet?
Well, um, Bodega Bamz–and he was mentioned in the article–and I got to see him, and his record on there is pretty dope, too. That was also my first time meeting him. Very solid dude who I liked his record and he can rap. He gave me that Uptown New York vibe. And he dropped some gems in his song.
And also another artist was Magazeen, who’s affiliated with Wale’s camp and MMG. He had a pretty ill record on there, man.
So those were the two artists who, with my schedule, I was able to see in person.
TSS: Through working on the project, who surprised you the most in terms of actually being a fan of the show?
DG: Big Boi. Big Boi’s record is crazy! You know what I’m saying? And I’m a huge ‘Kast fan, man, because I’m from the South. The first artists I channeled my career after was Outkast, so it was awesome to see him be interested in something that I was working on.
TSS: What was it about his track that really stuck out to you?
DG: Like, he ripped it! Big Boi really rips it, man, he really, like, says some stuff on there. He gets really specific and you can tell he’s really into the show. There are certain things that, when you’re talking about being descriptive, you can really do some corny shit when you’re given a job by HBO to do a song about a show and you don’t watch it. But if you watch it, you’re going to have certain opinions on certain things and a certain perspective, and Big Boi just had it.
TSS: This seems like the perfect show for HBO to do a cross-promotional rap album with. You couldn’t do this sh*t with “Modern Family.”
DG: Yeah, well the show is awesome, man, so you know, like, HBO is taking the initiative–when I read The Wall Street Journal article yesterday–to get the show’s urban viewers more into it. The show is already a hit, you feel me? But I think kind of incorporating the cool world will make it even more. It’s one of those shows that more people need to be exposed to it. It was definitely a good idea by HBO to have rappers talk about the show and tell the audience to tell the fanbases what’s cool about it. Hopefully, it’ll be interesting to see how it affects people watching the show after it drops.
TSS: Who all’s performing at the SXSW premiere next week?
DG: [Laughs] Aww man, I don’t want to give all that away. I will be performing. I have a record on the project as well, but I know that I’m on that stage down in Austin.
TSS: That’s about it. Anything else that we didn’t really hit on?
DG: Yo, my project Family, Friends And Money is coming out in the next couple of… I don’t even have a date for you yet. It’ll probably be out within the next two or three months, though. I just dropped a record off for that called “Done ‘Em All.” [Ed. Note: You can also check another recent Goodz track, "Eatin'," here]
Also, I want to thank HBO to allow me and my team to be a part of it. Shouts out to Launch Point Records, you know? Everything is all Goods, man [laughs].
* — Ed. Note: Ned actually died at the end of the first season. SPOILER ALERT: It was his eldest son, Robb, who was killed in the Red Wedding in the third season.