HHLO.Net | Inter-Billion

HHLO.net’s Second Underground Online Battle Champion Billion sits down with Shango to talk about his new album, the influence of his cultural heritage in the music and more.

Hip Hop Lives Online: Billion how you man?

Billion: Taking it easy on a Sunday.

HHLO: I hear you easy like Sunday morning like the song go.

Billion: (Laughs) Yeah, no doubt.

HHLO: Well let’s get right into it. You had just dropped the album I-95: Highway Ridin in April. Aside from promoting that what you been up to?

Billion: Right now, right now really just hard press promoting that. Really we’re booking a couple shows. We’re actually looking at here in New York, where I am at now. Also looking to Boston a couple of the close states, you know what I’m saying, DC, Boston. And just trying to book some shows you know.

HHLO: Ok, ok well folks, a lot of folks don’t know you been putting work for a while. For everybody who don’t know bout the work you put in through the years and all that.

Billion: Yeah ahhh. I guess that man I’ve been rhyming since like. damn more than 10 years man, you know what I’m saying. I’ve been doing my thing since I was like 15 or so with me cousin back home in Miami. We had this little group called South Pole. And we actually did a couple of show, recorded some tracks in the studio. Did the whole damn thing, you know what I’m saying, at a young age. We we’re thrown into the, um, into the business actually petty young, you know. But then I moved up here to New York ¦to solidify it out. Find my own voice; you know what I’m saying.

HHLO: Ok, Ok while you we’re up here you we’re in the Pirannahs Band right?

Billion: Yeah, Yeah, Yeah (smiles)

HHLO: Yeah man, most definitely.

Billion: (Laughs). That was hype actually, uh, that was like early 2000, like 2000-2003 really. Pirannahs Band, man I got to say that was a great experience. It’s a different thing to be you know doing your thing up on stage is always nice. But when you got a full band behind you, it’s like it’s a different, different thing; you know what I’m saying like a rock star you feel me. It’s a, it’s a different feeling. You know you got homies holding you down you know like that. And also it’s just more dynamic. You can just start, stop, start off songs, do stuff in between. You know it’s a whole collaborative thing. It’s a little family affair.

HHLO: Yeah, yeah, yeah it’s also bringing it back to the roots in a sense too.

Billion: Yes, yes no doubt.

HHLO: Your Nicaraguan/American, how much of your music is influenced by your Nicaraguan roots?

Billion: Well let’s see…you know what I got to say that it’s got to be my taste in beats and also in drum patterns. In Nicaragua we don’t necessarily have like a national kind of types of music like that. It’s near the Caribbean they listen to a lot of calypso out there. So I grew up listening to a lot of calypso, when not me but you know it was playing in the household, you know what I’m saying. So I think that influenced me a lot and just, you know, like the Latin flare guitars and flamenco style. That really um, I pick a lot of beats that are like that and produce a lot of beats that are like that. And especially the Pirannahs Band that was like. that was the epitome of it. We were doing tracks that were damn near salsa, you know.

HHLO: That’s dope, spinning off that question. I am a Jamaican/American so I was curious to know how important, do you feel, is it to represent both of your roots in your music?

Billion: Well in think. I think being in the states, it’s a melting pot. I like you and myself. If we don’t put it out there, our roots, they’ll get lost, you know. And I think it’s always a good for people to hear, you know, different sound and different ways to vibe on things. And will just brings an extra flavor to it, you know, it sets people apart; you know what I’m saying. Which in the end brings everyone together, it just unifies everybody.

HHLO: The album is I-95: Highway Riding. Tell us about it.

Billion: The EP that we got on ITunes is an excerpt from the album. The EP is 4 tracks that are mine on the mixtape. The mixtape itself, the concept behind it; why we called it I-95 was it’s supposed to be like a car ride from New York. So we had artist repping Miami, artist from Atlanta, DC, all the way up to New York. That’s sort of how we wanted to lay it out, even how the tracks are laid out and everything. Like you going up I-95 you know what I’m saying.

HHLO: A rider’s album, huh?

Billion: Exactly, exactly that was the basic concept to it. The way we put it together we basically just hollered at friends and family, you know what I’m saying. A lot of people I used to chill with in Miami, etc you know. They got their own albums out, you know, got their own buzz. We invited on the record to represent.

HHLO: True, other than it being a mixtape. What other direction did you go in that makes this different from your first album “Unwritten Chapters?

Billion: I think um, I think it was definitely more focused in a sense that I feel Unwritten Chapters was still trying to be very autobiographical. But also sort of loose, in a sense, that’s why it was the unwritten chapters. It was sort of meant to be that kind of underground album that never really sees the light of day until much later on, you know. You get all of these chapters, you get the book, and then you find the unwritten chapters, feel me. I think on this album it was a little more honed in. They were years apart so I wanted to focus on concept this time. You know what are we trying to do and how are we gonna deliver that, yeah. So I think it was more concentrated. I was more focused on this album. It steered away from just album cuts and sort of tried to do stuff for more of a mass market. You know get people riding. You know the sounds get it your car; a lot of the Miami cats was big on that. They wanted you to feel like you were riding.

HHLO: What more do you want to tell people bout Billion and what you’re doing?

Billion: We, you know, just keeping it moving. Right now I am concentrating fully, fully on the EP, you know. With glances to the future, do a little more recording a lot more production. But really right now I’m focused on this album and the next thing to come is all the live shows. You we’ve been doing a lot of press and everything that comes with press, like we did short little video for one of the tracks on the mixtape. Plus photo shoots interviews the whole nine. Now it’s ‘bout taking it to the people. We took it to the press, now it’s about taking it to the people. And that’s where we’re at right now.

HHLO: Now I am gonna ask you the staple, what separates Billion from the rest?

Billion: (Chuckles). What separates Billion from the rest? Um, I am a real cat. I don’t try to pose and front. I am from the hood; I don’t believe that’s a badge of honor. It is what it is homey you know what I’m saying; we all grew up in the hood so it is what it is. So I kind of find a little bit of humor in a lot that’s going on in Hip Hop now. When people try to big it up. While I was in the hood it was just an everyday thing. So that’s really what it is, you know, down to earth, everyday thing we are all grinding, we are all struggling, we all doing our thing. I make music for the people dog.

HHLO: Yeah, that’s definitely what the people need, word. Well congratulations on your victory. Much more success to you, I see you’re doing your thing and much blessings and success to you, seen. Be safe.

Billion: Thanks man that means a lot man, for real. Later.