Valley Vibrations: Executioner beatboxes his way to France

Bobby Shipman

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Toward the start of his career, Terrell Woods gave up on music all together.

Born in West Chicago, Woods later moved to Minnesota at the age of 4, and grew up listening to his mother’s old school R&B.

Woods started beat boxing at 8, and became inspired to learn how to DJ after hearing Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit” in a movie, but living in various group homes and shelters at the time made this difficult.

He wrote his first rhyme at 13 in 1987 under the name T-Swift.

“It was just kind of battle rap talking about how cool I was,” Woods said. “I wasn’t really that cool because I had just started, but with hip hop you’ve got to assert your dominance.”

10 years later, Woods quit the game after a sour record deal left him crushed and in a lurch. A producer used Woods and his friends to make a record then soaked up the money, Woods said.

“I was like, ‘I’m done with this shit, nobody fucking cares about Minnesota–only Prince’,” he said.

Despite his frustrations, Woods couldn’t help but be inspired by music, he said.

“I was really turned on by stylistic rap,” he said. “That’s kind of what I pattern my style off of–faster multi-syllabic rhymes.”

Woods called up his friend DJ X-Caliber, a rapper/producer, and they paired up and began to create their own songs. T-Swift became Carnage the Executioner, as a way to brand his new focus.

Although Woods still asserts his “freshness” in music, his main goal is to inspire confidence and his music has grown to appeal to a wider audience, even still within the last 5 to 6 years, he said.

“I also tell a lot of stories about my upbringing and the kind of rough tumultuous life I went through growing up,” he said. “I also hit topics on social consciousness, race, race-relations and things like that.”

Woods said he gets most recognition for his unique style.

“I’ve been told that the pattern I sometimes rhyme in reminds people of a saxophone–it’s kind of like jazz,” he said. “The cadences are not always one, two, three, four, but I hit rhymes on different patterns or different areas of the beat. So it sounds more like an instrument.”

Woods said this comes from his affinity toward jazz.

He has also been told his voices moves like a guitar, he said.

“The guitar is actually my favorite instrument,” he said. “One of the commonalities of all of the album’s I’ve released is every last one of them has a guitar sound in them. Every last song has some type of guitar in it.”

Rock and metal are two other genres Woods incorporates into his style. His wide range has led him to beat box for Folk and Opera singers and tap and Burlesque dancers.

“I feel good about being able to be a hip hop artist who isn’t just confined to standing on stage rapping,” he said.

Woods partook in an array of projects over his many years as a performer, working with different labels and releasing EP’s and solo albums, he has shared stages with big names like Method Man, Mobb Deep, Too $hort, Sage Francis and Aesop Rock, but his most defining moment was releasing a self-titled album “Ill Chemistry” with Minnesotan friend Desdamona on a French Jazz music label called Nato/Hopestreet in 2012.

He has since been to France eight times and has gone on six tours in two years. Presently, he is on his longest tour ever—25 consecutive days—titles “Better Late Than (N)ever” with performers Illogic and PCP.

“You’re going to hear some singing, some rock influence, you might catch me on stage doing a Led Zepplin cover,” he said “Improvising on the spot, free jazz and then just hardcore underground hip hop. You are going to hear all of that range if you come to the show.”

Woods said he wants people to get three things from his music.

“Passion. I want people to see that I’m very furious and passionate about music. That’s one thing, I think, people probably see first,” he said. “The second is probably my pallet of talent.”

The third is self-confidence.

“There was a time when I wasn’t very confident in my skill and I got a little older and I saw other people doing stuff and getting credit for things that I either thought that I could already do or that I couldn’t do,” he said. “My confidence level went down. So now, I’m confident in what I do and it helps me navigate through all of the struggle.”
Woods said that if someone finds something they are passionate about and talented at, to just run with it.