At some point during 2017, Billy Bryan aka ‘The Raptivist’ will take the hip hop industry by storm by unleashing some of his unreleased records, he says. One of his best songs, “Cheki” with AfghaniStar Crew rapper Rap Nzolo is already receiving rave reviews on soundcloud.com. He is an accomplished hardcore hip hop artiste, rapper, producer and activist all bundled up in one. In the following conversation, Edge Magazine digs deep on his underground chronicles and why the sudden urge to go commercial.
Tell us about yourself and what you do?
I am a hip hop artist and producer too. I am a super versatile rapper though am most comfortable doing Hardcore Hip hop.
What were you doing before becoming a musician?
I have been doing music albeit low key since primary school so I bet the answer should be…playing with toys (laughs).
Anyway in my other life am a journalist and all these activities run concurrently.
What does it take to become a professional hiphop artiste?
You obviously have to be skilled as an artist first but what really makes one a pro is acceptability from your target audience. You audience is everything in this trade because without their approval you are as good as dead.
Highlight some of your successes
For me it is the recognition I get from the staunchest of Hip hop fans. You know you are good when your biggest fans are established artists and influential industry players. I got a couple of tracks on play in Hip hop shows across the region and that’s definitely a great thing too.
You style is unique. What’s your secret?
I was a fan first before I began making my own music and my patronage traverses ‘strange’ genres of music. My kind of Hip hop samples non-ordinary music like oriental, classical music, metal and even tribal sounds etc. All these create a cocktail that’s unique and outstanding at the same time.
What motivates you?
This has to be the fact that I’ve never in my whole entire life had to do things similar to everybody else to forge ahead or be acceptable. I just do me!
Who is your role model?
Talib Kweli. That guy literally lives my life from the music to activism, religious beliefs and interests plus much more.
What mantra do you live by?
Do what you are convinced defines you and let everybody else play to that or keep off your business.
How is your day like?
A typical day for me begins at 6.am with a 30 min work out before a shower. I then attend to my day job till evening before I break off to other ventures. I do lots of creative stuff at night including graphics design, beat making and mixing tracks. I usually retire to bed between 2am and 4am.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy lots of artistic stuff that vary a lot; from drawing to practicing a lot of combat games. I also read a lot on anything and everything and listening lots of music as well.
What is your style?
Am more of a complicated multi-syllabic rapper that loves to sample indigenous sounds. Basically its poetry all the way.
Who is your favorite rapper/musician?
I listen to way too many artistes to call but I still had to say Talib Kweli twice in an interview, damn!
Your favourite jam yet?
This for me got to be an unreleased track am sitting on called Swahili Symphony. Best jam from public response is called Cheki (with my rhyme partner Rap Nzolo- Find it on soundcloud.com). Best jam from airplay on radio however is Mafreestyle, also available on soundcloud.com
What are your future plans?
I have hundreds of unreleased material that am keen to get to the fans in the near future and go full throttle into the music biz. Am also producing tracks for other artists following increased interest in my production style.
*I currently work both as an independent solo artist and producer as well as part AfghaniStar crew with rapper Rap Nzolo. I have a very close working relationship with BMG music from where I record most of my material.