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  • Writer's pictureKayla Grant

Willie Buckley defied all odds and continues to elevate

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

Willie Buckley, professionally known as Willie The Kid, grew up in a place that made the Forbes List as the worst city in the nation for Black economic opportunity. However, the Grand Rapids, Michigan, native did not let that statistic stop him from pursuing his dreams.

“It also inspired people, like myself, to not let that … be the badge that we wear, so we got on a relentless, unyielding pursuit to change that perspective,” he said.

Inspired by movies like Spike Lee’s “School Daze” and television shows like Bill Cosby’s “A Different World,” Buckley made the decision to leave home, travel approximately 790 miles to Atlanta and enroll in Clark Atlanta University. He values his experience at the university describing it as an “exciting time.”

“It kind of just broke me down, built me back up and improved on everything I already had going on,” he said.

Upon graduation, the 22-year old secured a huge record deal with Aphilliates Music Group/Asylum Records where he worked closely with DJ Drama and Don Cannon. After appearing on both DJ Drama’s “Gangsta Grillz: The Album” and “Gangsta Grillz: The Album Vol. 2,” he released his debut album “Absolute Greatness” in September 2008.

Buckley experienced not only working with a major record company, but also being an independent artist. Under his own imprint, The Fly LLC, he released 23 music projects with his latest project being “Capital Gains,” which released in October and charted Top 20 on iTunes Hip Hop.

Buckley asserted that he became an independent artist to control his music, the representation of it and his own destiny.

“If I'm not gonna succeed, it's going to be because of me [and] not because of somebody else or something else,” he said.

In addition to being a successful hip hop artist, Buckley also is the co-owner of Ambiance GR Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge, the co-founder of Motu Viget Spirits Company, a tech investor and a film producer. He continues to diversify his business portfolio by searching for things that he believes would have benefited him and that will help give back to his community.

While being your own boss and running a successful business seems glamorous, Buckley explained that there is another side to entrepreneurship.

“The ugly side is it’s all on you,” he said. “You got to have that same accountability [when things are not working out], to rise up and do the great things that you have when it was time to be the champion.”

He also urges the upcoming generation to change the narrative from being self-made to being self-directed.

“I don't know anybody who's obtained a certain level of success who didn't have mentors … or didn't have people that told them no,” he said.

The Clark Atlanta University alumni charges the budding entrepreneurs and artists to understand who they are and the value of staying true to themselves.

Buckley said, “Your uniqueness and your qualities are what’s going to propel you to the next level.”

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