Will Wildfire isn’t afraid to go after anyone who he feels is biting his style.
Earlier this year, the D.C.-born Charlotte vocalist/producer heard a track called “L.A. Confidential” from on-the-rise rapper/singer Tory Lanez, and noticed something eerily familiar. Wildfire, who opened for Lanez at a Charlotte show last December, claims Lanez picked up a riff from one of his songs and put it in his single “L.A. Confidential.” Wildfire took it to Twitter, putting “Confidential” and his song side-by-side in a brief video clip to see if people could spot the similarities.
“Tory Lanez – he makes good music and stuff,” says Wildfire, 23, on the phone from Charlotte. “But it just kind of upset me, so I had to say something about it.”
Wildfire isn’t sweating the riff-jacking much. He’s been too busy promoting his latest EP, “Romance Dawn 2: One Piece,” which came out on Wednesday. He will also be in Raleigh Saturday night, as one of the opening acts for Shirlette Ammons.
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While he may be a young lad, Wildfire (born William Hoggard) is definitely eager to show off his skills as a musician. It’s been like that ever since he was a boy, growing up in Bertie County.
“Well, I grew up in church a lot and, so, my mom was in the choir,” says Wildfire, whose father was also a bass player at the church. “And I was like, you know how they have the kid that’s always running around, either playing on the drums or messing with the keyboards and stuff? Like, that was me.”
As his musical tastes began to broaden in his teen years (“I listened to a lot of Fall Out Boy and Blink 182 and Jimi Hendrix and stuff like that”), Wildfire also started to learn guitar-playing. When he went to school at UNC-Chapel Hill, he learned how to properly produce music thanks to a beat-making class taught by Triangle hip-hop heavyweights Apple Juice Kid and Pierce Freelon.
“When I took that class,” he remembers, “Apple Juice taught me how to make beats and pretty much just get everything all together.”
Although he’s only been kicking around professionally for a few years, Wildfire has amassed a steady stream of work over at his Soundcloud page, which includes songs he’s performed and produced as well as tunes he’s produced for others. As for his musical style, this is how Wildfire describes it: “If you could mix Jimi with Michael Jackson and Frank Ocean – Frank Ocean’s a beast, I know he hasn’t been anywhere in a while, but he’s one of my favorites.” (Note: Ocean’s long-awaited second album “Boys Don’t Cry” is scheduled to be out Friday.)
Wildfire is also not afraid to put his own spin on popular contemporary hits. On his Soundcloud page is a smoothed-out, more decipherable version of Rihanna’s “Work” (which also includes a lyrical jab at Tory Lanez).
“I just did it because I really loved that song,” he says. “I don’t know what it is. That’s a great song. I’m not even, like, an island type of music guy at all. But it’s a great song… I know nobody knows what the (expletive) she’s saying. OK, that’s cool – I get it. But, melodically, it’s just so pleasant. I just wanted to do it and switch it up.”
Wildfire says he’s gotten nothing but kudos from people who have heard the cover. Of course, Will Wildfire hopes that people will get into his music more and, then, hip others to it. Basically, he’s hoping that his music will spread like – oh, you know.
Who: Shirlette Ammons, with (J)Rowdy & the Nightshift, Will Wildfire and Nance
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Pour House Music Hall, 224 S. Blount St., Raleigh
Info: 919-821-1120 or thepourhousemusichall.com