Born in Nashville, but spending most of his time in Chattanooga (with Summers spent in Atlanta), Walter Lee has been flexing his musical muscles since he was young, finding unexpected ways to explore his rhythmic inclinations and further his understanding of how various genres intersected. After he adopted the moniker of Extraordinaire when he was a little older, he joined forces with B-Lo Brown to found Black Folk Inc., a hip-hop duo whose work has gained them a devoted following across the South, which has given them the opportunity to open for artists like Too Short, Trina, Ying Yang Twins, Slim Thug and Eightball & MJG.
Through his work in Black Folk Inc., Lee developed a reputation for innovative and complex arrangements and began producing work for musicians signed to such labels as Atlantic, Shady, Sony and SRC. Eventually, he began to shift his focus and helped to form the hip-hop collective known as Circa 94 Beats, and over the next few years, the group released several projects through Serious Knock Entertainment. In his latest iteration as Extraordinaire, Lee has fully embraced the roots of his rap influences, collaborating with Killer Mike, Too Short, Project Pat and countless other musicians.
On his new single, “Go Me,” he blends background electronics, complicated vocal arrangements and washed-out beats that drift down into your subconscious, easily attaching themselves to your memories. The song feels wonderfully out of step with current trends in hip-hop, which tend toward cheap sounding beats and lackluster lyrical insight. Here, though, Extraordinaire pushes his own specific agenda, a personal and affecting brew of emotional associations and hip-hop reverence. The resulting mass of sound and tonality is refreshing and without artifice, a track that plays on the strengths of its history while carving out its own unique identity.
“I had been working with a lot of artists and labels that were ‘dropping the ball’,” Lee said, “and I just felt I needed to take my destiny into my own hands. So this song was my declaration—me drawing a line in the sand knowing that I could serve others better by serving myself. This song was my declaration that I was ready to step out on my own and share some great music with the world with no apprehension.”
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees