On San Williams’ Facebook page, he lists Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd as influences alongside Black Hippy, Kanye West, and OutKast. This doesn’t give you much insight into how the Atlanta rapper sounds, but it does hint at something that you’ll hear when you listen to San Williams—he’s a sponge. Listening to “Vicious Cycle” you get a heavy dose of ScHoolboy Q, but “Wake Up”—from the same mixtape, The Out of Body Experience—tones things down and shows a more restrained, introspective side. “Air” sounds like Section.80 Kendrick Lamar (“Hiii PoWeR” to be specific), and his newest track “King” is the most intense and trapped out yet, driven by the production of Mike Will Made It’s “Show Out,” a track originally for Juicy J. By the two-minute mark, San Williams crosses that line between capable rap chameleon and a compelling figure, turning an ominous, late-night club anthem into something much more powerful.
San Williams was born in Fort Lauderdale to a school teacher and a drug dealer. He credits this “world of polarization” for shaping his perspective. When he was nine years old his father was sent to jail and he moved to Atlanta with his mother and sister. Throughout his music you get glimpses into his pain and, more importantly, his life experience. At his worst he’s derivative of some of hip-hop’s most exciting new artists. At his best, he doesn’t sound like anyone else at all. With a little sharpening of his delivery and individuality, San Williams could be a force.
His first mixtape, The Out of Body Experience, is available to stream and download for free here.