Wisdom is nothing but a preparation of the soul, a capacity, a secret art of thinking, feeling and breathing thoughts of unity at every moment of life.
- Hermann Hesse -
They say still waters run deep - that often a quiet or placid facade hides an unforeseen passionate or subtle nature. Such can be said of Antwan Dickens, better known as T.W.A.N.
A Jacksonville native, T.W.A.N. has been an active part of the Duval Underground Hip Hop scene for years. From freestyling to producing, he's been unpretentiously honing his craft while always remaining humble and gracious. In a realm where bravado tends to dominate, he has consistently produced quality content while sharpening his skills, allowing his work to speak for itself.
The message has been clear - he's a beast and he doesn't have to brag on it. He released his debut, self titled album in the fall of 2016 to rave reviews and has recently followed up with his sophomore project - The Wise Soul - a much more polished, sophisticated, and self aware body of work. His evolution from YOUNG TWAN The Problem Child to The Wise Soul is more than evident in his lyrics and production. Heavily laden with Duval swag, the album features cameos and collaborations from a handful of equally talented Duval powerhouses like Ché, Ebony Payne-English, Higher Learning and boasts production credits to Tough Junkie as well as Executive Production credits to himself.
Getting to know The Wise And Nice One might take some time, but his music is the perfect place to start. His is one of the many voices of Duval and he has quite a bit to say.
Thank you for taking the time to chop it up with us today! Please introduce yourself to our readers...
My name is T.W.A.N. aka T. Dot. I'm a Hip Hop/Soul Artist and Producer born and raised in Jacksonville Florida and I have been creating music since the age of seven. Over the last six years I've been heavily active in the underground music scene after taking a five year hiatus from the Jacksonville entertainment and arts scene.
Your sophomore album, The Wise Soul, recently dropped in December 2018 and you're rolling out some amazing singles and visuals to accompany it. Tell us about your artistic evolution from your debut self titled project, T.W.A.N., to your present day Wise Soul. What were your inspirations and or motivations? How have you changed as an artist?
Well, as far as my artistic evolution, the separation between the debut album and the sophomore album is that from a songwriting standpoint, one is a concept based project (a film in audio form) that was inspired by certain aspects and situations in my life - mainly between the ages of 16 to 24 years old - that molded me into the man I was a few years before I released the album. The Wise Soul is a reflection of the growing pains and life lessons I've learned in recent years. It's just as rooted in my reality as the first album, but is much more transparent. Production wise, I served as Executive Producer for the debut album, but the majority of the production was handled by the great Burnamen Jones. However, The Wise Soul was not solely executive produced by me. I produced all of the songs with the exception of "4 Da Real" which was produced by the great Tough Junkie. The motivation behind "The Wise Soul" was the same as my debut album - lyrically giving people some of my real life in the form of art. With the album I really wanted to show more of my range artistically to prove that I'm more than just a complete Emcee, but a complete artist.
How do you feel about the music scene in Jacksonville, specifically as it pertains to the realm of Hip Hop and Black and Brown Culture?
I honestly feel like there's an obvious separation between the mainstream scene and the underground scene in Jacksonville. That divide is evident in not only the consumers and supporters, but within the general population of those who are or aren't aware of both sections of the culture. Overall I do feel like Jacksonville is in a good space because there's way more artistic diversity than ever before between the black, brown, and other cultures around the city. There are plenty of artists from both scenes that are making noise in and out of the city in their own way and I love it because ultimately it shows how much greatness exists within my city.
How do you feel the general population views Hip Hop in Jacksonville? Do you feel it is respected as an art form? Explain why it should be.
I feel like there are a lot of folks that are slowly starting to respect the art coming out of Jacksonville and are also looking at this city as a potential place to make a big impact on a national and possibly worldwide level as far as Hip Hop goes. However, I do feel that there are different aspects of Hip Hop in Jax (moreso on the underground scene) that the general population may not have caught wind of which may possibly make it hard for most folks to get behind it. But I definitely foresee that changing very soon.
You create within a realm that tends to be overrun by ego and bravado, yet you remain consistently humble. How do you deal with your ego and your art?
At the end of the day I'm just built differently. I'm very aware of my talent and gifts, but I'm also very aware that, for me, it's all God given so I never get caught up in the hype. Instead of feeling the need to prove "I'm the best" or "I'm the hottest in the city", I'd rather prove that I have the ability to create music that will outlive me and that people will forever appreciate. Hopefully my life journey will motivate others after me. I've always been a firm believer in letting my work speak for itself and leave the bragging to my supporters [laughs].
What are the greatest challenges you face as an artist and arts professional living and working in Northeast Florida?
Most of the challenges I face now are obsolete and not as challenging compared to my earlier years. I'm much more focused now on doing my part to make sure Jacksonville is fully respected nationally and internationally in my own way. I realized years ago that no matter how much notoriety I gain in this city, there's only so much I can accomplish just being here given that the market here still has a lot of growing and evolving to do. So over the years I've been on a mission to do the best I can to assist in that growth.
What have you learned about yourself through your artistry and career?
I've learned that having some form of influence as a "public figure" in the city that I have more of a responsibility to make sure I'm representing the underground music culture of the city in the best way possible. I've also learned the art of timing and how important it is when it comes to putting out content - among other things.
I discovered not too long ago that you play the piano. What other hidden talents do you have that might surprise us?
Well... I can play the drums, I can sing, and I have an artistic eye for photography, video, and graphics - just to name a few.
What do you have planned next?
Outside of releasing more visuals from the new album, I'm currently working on an EP which will be released later this year. As far as live performances, I will be a featured performer at The Lyricist Live "March Of Rhymes" Edition which will be dedicated in the memory of "Lil Pimp Tyte" (a phenomenal rising Jacksonville Emcee/Battle Rapper who recently and unexpectedly lost his life) during Art Walk hosted by the great Mal Jones. I'll be performing at "The God MC" show presented by the great Ebony Payne-English which takes place in April at MOCA Jax. It will be the first ever hip hop show held at their establishment. I'm also putting together a show called "The Wise Soul Experience" which will take place around the spring or summer of this year.
How do you define success in what you do?
Whenever someone comes to you and tells you that you inspired them or motivated them in some way, form, or fashion through your music or art... to me that's the ultimate success. Eventually your inspiration will put that person in a position where they'll pay it forward and be an inspiration to someone else... That's priceless.
We'd like to thank T.W.A.N. for his participation in this interview. We'd also like to thank you for reading.
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