Wyeth “Dub B” Barclay is all Seattle all of the time. Except when he is on the road touring with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, or travelling the world looking to introduce his two passions, hip-hop and golf to each other.
In addition to producing and recording four albums at his downtown studio, SeaRealRecords, Barclay is the host of a new webcast, Above Par, where he introduces hip-hop musicians to golf, or plays a round with celebrities as addicted to golf as he is.
Barclay comes to his love of golf honestly. “I’ve been playing golf since I was 2 years old,” said Barclay, who was born on Queen Anne and still makes the hill his home base. “I grew up on a golf course in Palm Springs.” Shifting between Seattle and California, Barclay continued to play golf. “I was basically groomed to be a D (division) 1 golfer,” he recalled.
He played and did well in junior golf and helped to start the golf team at Bush School in the mid-1990s, which went to the state tournament four years in a row, he said. But although his passion for golf didn’t ebb, another love was growing inside him. “Hip-hop was the rock and roll of my generation. I became immersed in it. You see, hip-hop is the voice of our times,” he said. After high school, Barclay attended Seattle University, but hip-hop was calling. “I built a recording studio (with his father’s help in Belltown). I had this dream to do digital recording. Started in my bedroom with 8-track. And then I met the Hadlocks (who had Bear Creek Studio in Redmond). They were crucial to the whole grunge movement. I played them one song and they liked it and said, ‘we’ll help you build a studio.’”
The breaks kept coming for Barclay. He was a huge fan of Bone Thugs-N- Harmony, a hip-hop act out of Cleveland, Ohio. Through some music connections one of the group’s members, Layzie Bone, came to his Belltown studios. They jammed together and the rapper said: ‘You’re coming with me,” and with that, Barclay was on tour, performing with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, which, for the non-rapper reader, would be the equivalent of getting a chair in the Glenn Miller Band, or being invited to go out on tour with Pearl Jam. “Here I was, a 19 year old white kid on the bus with all these guys who had seen so much life,” Barclay said, pleasure and surprise still fueling his memory a decade down the line. Touring and producing has taken up much of Barclay’s time since but he stayed with golf. And while on tour he got an inspiration. And soon Above Par was born.
“I grew up with golf and I am the product of hip-hop. I did not find my contemporaries on the golf course. They were not playing golf. They were playing basketball, football, boxing. My contemporaries are enthralled by and enmeshed in hip-hop culture. There are 300,000 million worldwide listeners, or more. Even if you don’t like hip-hop, you have to deal with it (in today’s culture). Golf is losing clientele. It hasn’t grown in the past decade. The golf world feels locked out to a lot of people. The key is for golf to say let’s include everybody,” Barclay said, voice rising with a missionary’s enthusiasm. Barclay’s dream is to get Snoop Dawg, Wiz Khalifa and other famous rappers on Above Par, with golf and hip-hop joining hands. “The First Tee (a PGA program) wants to introduce kids to golf. I want to introduce hip-hoppers to golf. Five percent of 300,000 million people,” he said, smiling. “Golf gets new blood and hip-hoppers get to experience golf, which teaches you never to give up, to depend on yourself, to believe in yourself. And you can learn to play a game that will last you for the rest of your life,” Barclay said.
Four or five episodes of Above Par are already available on the web. Curtis Blow, an original hip-hop artist of the Eighties and a lifetime resident of the Bronx played some golf with Barclay. “He grew up in the Bronx and he never knew the golf course we were on had been there in the Bronx since 1895,” Barclay noted. Alice Cooper, the golfing rock and roller who brought America “School’s Out For the Summer’ three decades ago, is also featured on a show, as is blackexploitation movie star and former NFL player, Fred ‘The Hammer’ Williamson. “I want to bring contemporary hip-hop stars out on the golf courses,” Barclay said. Anyone even vaguely familiar with the success Dub B has had in both his chosen fields would be wise not to doubt this lifetime Queen Anner, despite a certain natural incredulity.
Golf and hip-hop, you might be saying soon: Why didn’t I think of that? To see Barclay in action see www.above-par.tv