Each Wednesday (or Thursday), Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to email@example.com.
Typically - typically - what a musician says has a fair impact on whether or not they are chosen as Artist of the Week. Though, in the case of Third World, a band that's really one man with songs that contain zero words, it's more about what he's not saying than what he is.
New(ish) to the music scene, Third World creates varying gradations of funkiness with little more than some drum loops, a few tinks and tonks and warbles and the occasional sample from obscure punk-rock bands. What's most meaningful about his music is that somehow, despite technically being an instrumental, it exists entirely on its own. There aren't voids or empty spaces where vocals should be, there is only more music.
So we reached across Twitter to set up an interview to talk about irony, time traveling robots, and whether or not one should love the hoes.
Rocks Off: Artist of the Week opener: Tell everyone everything they need to know about Third World in exactly six words.
Third World: Never making music for other people.
RO: Do you find it very ironic that you make these rich, rich, rich sounds, yet your name is the one they give to countries where people die because they are too poor to eat?
TW: Well, the social dynamics of the third world ultimately made me into an artist. My uncle died in a robbery attempt in Colombia that made us move over there for a bit, and I picked the guitar up and started playing along to hip-hop music after I semi learned from a friend overseas, later using this same logic to write melodies and bass lines for my beats.
But I woulda never been a guitarist, beat maker, real ass nigga, etc., if I hadn't made it back to Colombia and developed my skill and viewed myself as an artist. I'd never be where/who I am, nor answering this email semi-drunk at 3 a.m. But the social conditions of the country created the poverty that killed my uncle and made us move back, thus leading me into my musician aura, a la Rick James.
RO: Is the above question the most assholey interview question you've ever been asked?
TW: It's the first. And I don't love these hoes.
RO: It takes nearly 12 minutes before any actual words are said on your album. Curiously, the first words said are, "We're the No. 1 rock and roll group in the world, and we are gonna see that everything is going to be different." Surely this is some type of commentary on something?
TW: I think the quote requires some context for people, and to sum it up it was spoken by a female punk group's lead singer in a movie from the '80s. Much like them, I wanna influence and persuade, like the news does, with music. Except I'm just doing it for the cool wristbands and shit.
RO: You know what we like about your "Payphone" song? It makes us feel like we're shopping inside a really funky Macy's. I guess that's not a good question, but that doesn't make it any less true.
TW: Thanks. I collect records and use the elevator-music concept heavily in some of my songs. I cringe at the idea of my generation missing out on the ambient effects of "lounge" music, whatever that may mean to the listener.
RO: Would you be more afraid to fight a robot from the future or a robot from the past? And which song would you choose to play in the background as the fight music?
TW: I've been waiting years for this one. Future robots all day. Fuck Bender, he's gonna die slowly by my hands. I'd blast a live version of "Nothing But a G Thang."
RO: Is there anything you want to make sure gets mentioned? Now's the time to do it.
TW: I have a profound link to many different genres of music, and hip-hop music combined with sampling has led me onto some of the most amazing music I've ever heard from other genres. I feel sorry for people who use genres as a Berlin Wall on their ears. And I want the young people to remember to never love these hoes.
Follow Third World on Twitter at @beardmeech.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.