An artist must be willing to adapt his sound to both the music scene and his own personal taste. Our recent find Billz the Young One has been around for a while and is always looking for ways to be a better rapper. We had the chance to sit down with him to see where he is at, where he is going, and about our mutual love for sports. Enjoy the interview here:
First off, what made you go with the moniker Billz the Young One?
I’ve always gone by Billy. My name is William, but all anyone has ever called me is Billy. When I started rapping I had no idea what I wanted my name to be, so generically, I went with Dolla Billz. That name couldn’t be any more wack, so about 6 months later I changed it to Yung Billz. After seeing that every single human being that was rapping at the time went by the name Yung Billz, I finally decided on Billz the Young One. A final name change is likely coming soon, I’m getting old.
How would you describe your sound?
Excellent question, it’s a hard one for even myself to answer. My style changes, at least to an extent, every single time I record. I would say primarily my style is lyrical, that remains the constant. But I like to play with the meshing of sounds as much as I can as I continue to grow. I think that’s kind of evident on Molly & Sativa as OG Billy Johnson transitions into Milliseconds, tracks that are completely opposite each other.
Which artists have had the biggest influence on you?
My first favorite rapper was Cassidy, I used to sit on Youtube looking for Cassidy freestyles until I had seen em all. I know his famous 11-minute freestyle almost word for word. After my Cassidy phase, I was all in on Lil Wayne. I had always liked Wayne, (still got my Carter I hard copy) but when he went on his Carter II, Drought 3, Dedication 3, No Ceilings run I was all in. I also spent some time with Fabolous at my top spot. I went back and checked out my old desktop from high school recently and I had like 12 projects of Gucci Mane’s on there so I would be remised if I didn’t give a nod to Radric Davis here. And of course Kanye West in some way, but I’m not trying to Make America Great Again with him.
What is your take on the current state of the hip-hop music scene?
My take on the current state of hip-hop is shifting, much like I feel the definition of hip-hop is doing. I decided about a year or so ago to finally give in and accept that all things change in time. I grew up listening to lyrical music, and it’s what I was accustomed to, so I got stubborn and set in those ways. I’ve now grown to accept the changing aspects of it, and enjoy it. The creativity that we have in hip-hop these days is off the charts, everyone pushing their sounds to new creative levels, and I think it’s beautiful.
Like me, you seem to really like sports. How would you compare the sports scene to the music scene?
Huge sports fan, thanks for noticing. I’m gonna stick with the NBA on this one. I think there are some parallels between the sports and music scenes, and the biggest parallel is that they are both changing. Much like how Derrick Rose elevated the game of basketball around 2009, Lil B came and changed rap and basically made anything possible. Lil B got on a microphone and did whatever the hell he wanted, and it couldn’t be more obvious that people took notice. A bit of his DNA is all over the rap game today. Ugly God’s Water sounds like an entire Lil B song. Fast forward a bit to the Big 3 formed in Miami that also changed the format of the way that a team can be formed, a team approach can be taken in the NBA. A parallel to be made here is with the Migos. They came in the game and changed the format with the way 3 artists can approach a track at once. We’ve seen groups in rap before, we’ve seen artists do in and outs, sure. But we’ve never seen a rap group coerce quite like Migos. It’s almost like Boyz II Men, just the trap version. Lastly, I’m gonna compare the way Steph Curry transcended the game with the way that Young Thug has seemingly transcended the rap game into something completely different. Thug has like 10 clones, already, much like how Steph Curry has Thon Maker and DeMarcus Cousins shooting 3’s at the same clip as Paul Pierce in the early 2000’s.
What is your songwriting process? How does a track come together for you?
My songwriting process is all over the place as well. Sometimes I’ll hear a beat and start writing verses, then come up with a hook to fit the verses, other times I write the hook first then start on the verses. Often times I just write acapella verses while I’m not doing anything, and sometimes I can take 2-3 of them, put them on a beat, and come up with a hook, and BOOM. A song. Sometimes the whole song just comes to me, I don’t even have to really do anything, an absolutely amazing feeling. What I’ve been doing more recently is just getting in the studio and putting a beat on, and coming up with my hook and verses while in studio. It seems to come out much more naturally, way more of an organic feel that way. I plan on doing that a lot more as time goes by.
What advice would you give to other artists creating new music with classic roots?
Hell, I’m still looking for this advice myself. What I would say is to make sure to never sell out. Never compromise what you believe in to try to appeal to a larger audience. If it’s not from the heart it’s not worth doing. I’d also say to artists wanting to keep the classic roots to write your verses first. In my mind, if the verses are written first it gives them priority, makes them more important to you. This is what keeps rap at the forefront. This is just me though, there’s no cookie cutter method or right way to do it. Do what makes you happy.
What is next in the plan for Billz the Young One?
Molly & Sativa 2, visuals to go along with some of these songs, and shows. In that order. Many don’t know/forget that Molly & Sativa was never really supposed to happen, those were basically throw away songs. The next one is gonna be special….. Also be on the lookout for my brand/clothing line debuting soon, Look Up. Look Up is really going to be a part of the whole Billz experience, and I hope to create some really good looking, affordable clothing. Just get ready.
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