posted: 04-12-04
interview : tadah
photo : hobin choi
Ill Bill is one of four members of Non Phixion. But you know that. Therefore he talks about a whole lot of other stuff - along with much about Non Phixion still - like his album "What's Wrong With Bill?", about what is 'wrong' with Bill, as well as politics, spanking and violence.
The album's called "What's Wrong With Bill?" What is wrong with Bill?
I don't think anything is wrong with Bill. I think it's more or less something that people ask all the time. And I think that it's really the rest of the world that's the problem.
You know (smiles). But that's what I've been hearing for a long time now: 'what's wrong with that guy, man? What the fuck is his problem?' - 'My problem is you!' That's what I say to whoever is asking that question (smiles).
So people tap you on the shoulder after the show and go: 'dude, what's wrong with you?'
It's more like that it comes back to me. It's something that you hear third person. A lot of people meet me and they keep that to themselves and I hear about it later. And I thought the conversation I had with that person was cool.
I don't know. I think people are a little intimidated by me. I think I'm sometimes a little bit too blunt for people, a little bit too straight to the point. A lot of people like everything to be sugar coated. They want you to sweeten everything up before you tell 'em what time it is or what's really going on. I'm not down for that. That's a waste of time for me. Life is too short. I rather say what I gotta say. If you're with me, you're with me. If you're not, whatever. Fuck you.
That's also what Bush says.
You know what, I think a lot of people say that. I tell you, my ideology on probably 99% of everything else is left from whatever Bush believes. If that's my only similarity with Bush, oh fuck it (smiles).
So people are not handing out business cards of psychiatrists to you?
(laughs) Nah, nah. That doesn't happen often. But some people out there probably think I should have my head examined.
But you're a very tall guy, you are kinda intimidating.
Yeah, I'm a big dude. But it's not necessarily even about that. I just think that I really don't relate to a lot of people. A lot of people aren't nearly as driven as I am. Or the rest of my crew, be it Necro or Q-Unique, Eclipse or Non Phixion. Just the way we approach things: we are very into our music, into work, and we don't really believe in relaxing too much. We're very in your face when you're supposed to get stuff done. Because there's just too much to be done. As many supporters and fans we already have, we feel like there's a lot of people out there that really don't know who Ill Bill or Necro and Non-Phixion are. And in that way we're very aggressive with getting our movement in people's hands and getting our music in people's ears.
What made you you?
A lot of things: the environment, the way I was raised, the choices I've made in my life, my victories, my failures. It's a long list of things that make anybody who they are. I think the more fitting question would be: am I happy with who I am.
Are you?
I'm extremely happy with who I am. I wouldn't have it any other way.
With all the struggles and strives?
Absolutely. Because without struggle and strive you have no foundation. You have no understanding of what it is to appreciate victory. To succeed you must fail. That's part of the genetics that makes me who I am.
And at the same time, being happy with my life doesn't necessarily mean that I'm satisfied with where I'm at. I'm far from satisfied. There's many more mountains for me to climb. There's many more different ventures that I want to conquer. I have so many different ideas that I haven't nearly gotten across yet. I mean, this is only my first solo album. There's going to be much more stuff ahead. We're working on a lot of stuff this year. And next year.
Necro alone, just through Psycho+Logical, is going to drop ten albums just over the next twelve months. I will be dropping albums through Uncle Howie Records, which is my label. I mean, there's just so much stuff to do. That's the thing: if anything, I'm driven.
So, saying what was lead to the title of "What's Wrong With Bill?" Are there any new things that are wrong with Bill on this album?
We're touching on a lot of different topics, whether it be about my personal life. I was able to speak about things a little more critically and dig a little deeper than I've been able to on the Non Phixion records. Just because, you know, when you're in a group, you can't really speak as much about yourself on sixteen bars. You have to share that much space with other people. So just to be able to speak about myself, I think that's one thing I was able to do. There's a lot of personal stuff on the album.
One of my favorite songs is a joint called "The Anatomy Of A School Shooting". Which puts you in the scene of the crime of the Columbine shooting. And I took a very visual point of view in writing that track. That's what I try to do with all of the songs. Whether it'd be songs for Non Phixion stuff - but especially on the solo stuff I was really able to cut loose. I look at songs as if each one is like a motion picture. That's how I put it together.
I feel that one advantage that I have - being an emcee and making hip hop music - is that I'm able to get a lot more across lyrically in a shorter period of time than somebody that writes Rock songs. The format and the way the music is set up is a little different. So, I like to take advantage of that and really get as visual as possible or just come with as much of a variety of subjects as possible. That's what I do with the album.
I mean, I got stuff about my personal life growing up. I got stuff touching on my feelings on politics, on the American government, how they operate in the world and their relationship with other countries - the bullshit that's being propagated right now. That's on the album. But I feel at the same time, as much as I can rhyme about the hood, and people doing full albums about that, or as much as I could rhyme about creating viruses on a space station five miles from Mars, I don't feel like doing a whole album on those topics. I wanna give you a taste of everything. And that's what I brought across with this album. I worked really, really critically on getting that across.
What I found interesting was that it only took you five songs to "Peace Sells".
(smiles) As opposed to how many songs it would usually take me.
Just saying that it is a track that the superficial listener of your work wouldn't expect coming from you.
Why don't you tell me what you got out of this song. As I have been doing press in the last couple of weeks, it has been interesting the way different people mention that song; what they got out of it. So I'm curious what you got out of it.
What really struck me was when you say "peace sells, but who's buying?" on the hook. Because that reminded me of this old truism that I often mention: that if one could make more money with peace, there wouldn't be any wars anymore. As well as that there's someone profiting from every problem on this planet. If no one profits from a problem, it gets solved. So that hook just kinda hit me, and that's the meaning I put into it.
Certainly. And that's absolutely a part of what I was trying to get across with that song. That song is actually an interesting track, because there's a double meaning to it.
Firstly there's the point that you got out of it. At the same time it's also an ode to a lot of old school metal and hardcore bands. If you actually listen, the hook itself came from a band called Megadeth. They are still around but their heyday was in the eighties, at the time when Metallica was at the top. So the title of "Peace Sells" came from a Megadeth song.
But I gave it my own twist: if you listen to the lyrics, the entire song - as much of a message I was able to get across in the song - I actually created the lyrics from band names, song titles and album titles. Ninety percent of the lyrics are made up of that.
I find it interesting, speaking to people, that don't necessarily know that, and get something totally uplifting out of it. Because that was my intention.
That's very interesting, as the track has a positive message. And usually when people do a track where the use title and names, it's a silly story or something.
Yeah, I really didn't wanna do it that way. That was the whole point. I wanted to take something like that and make it serious. At the same time, you know, a lot of old school metal heads, hear that song and they fuckin' trip out.
That's what we bring to the table with the whole Non Phixion crew and Necro: we touch on a lot of metal stuff in our music. At the same time, there's gotta be a point behind it. I don't want it to be trivial.
Do you think there's a stereotypical Ill Bill on the album?
I don't know if there is a stereotypical Ill Bill. It depends on who you ask. You know what I mean? Maybe the stereotypical Ill Bill is an asshole, a scumbag, a cretin. Then again, if you're only really familiar with the Non-Phixion material, you might that I'm more politically minded and an activist almost.
I think the main thing that I try to crush with my career overall, if possible - but I think stereotypes are very hard to crush - it is the idea of crushing stereotypes. It's a fucked up part of our society. Unfortunately, it's easier to put somebody in a box and label that box, put the box away and move on to the next subject. I'd rather not do that. I feel like each person should be judged as an individual. I think that comes across in my music.
That's why I laugh at artists that are so called 'conscious' artists, but then I see them out on tour doing some real scumbag, party animal shit. It ain't nothing wrong with that. I'm the biggest party animal. But I reflect that in my music. I feel like that's realistic. That's realism and that's being honest to yourself and to your listeners. I don't feel a lot of artists are really like that, whether they be all the way left or all the way right. Whether it's some conscious type of idea that's being shoved down people's throats an entire album or it's a gangsta idea, a thugged out super criminal idea. I don't think that anyone is really balancing that scale. And that's what I'm doing.
So if you mean that the stereotypical Ill Bill is the evil Ill Bill, the one you hear on Necro records, then yeah: I give you that on the album. But there's no such thing as evil without good. There's no positive without negative. I'm giving you everything. I'm giving you me; the most honest representation of myself that I can give you.
But how serious can we take you as an activist after we've seen the "White Slavery" video [a video to the Necro w/ Ill Bill song "White Slavery" appeared on the porno DVD Necro presented]?
I think you can take me as seriously as you wanna take me. I think it's a matter of opinion. I mean, I never said I was an activist. Let me get that straight. I'm not an activist. I have political ideas. I have thoughts on different subjects. I definitely have a strong opinion with certain things of concern politically, but I'm not an activist. That's one thing I wanna make clear. At the same time, I think you should take everybody seriously. Look at Martin Luther King: he was one of the greatest Civil Rights activists of all time. But at the same time he was a womanizer. Why can't I talk about the revolution and at the same time talk about getting my dick sucked? Why isn't that real? What's wrong with that? That's reality.
I think trying to sweep the fact that I wanna get my dick sucked under the rug is actually the more close minded point of view. And that is something that should be taken less seriously.
Are you going to vote?
Certainly. Absolutely. And I encourage every Non Phixion fan to vote. Cause you can complain all you want, but nothing is going to change without voting. Shit, even with voting sometimes nothing gets changed. I mean, Bush stole the fuckin' election.
Even though people say that they are tired of having to vote for the lesser of two evils? Would you agree that this time around it's necessary to vote for the lesser of two evils?
I think now's the time. I definitely think that. And really, at this point, I would vote for pretty much anybody but Bush. When you see Bush on TV you say 'this guy is a stupid motherfucker. He's talking to me like I'm a three year old.' He's talking to the people in the Midwest that are brainwashed by him. And brainwashed by the ideas that he's getting across. So there's no way that he's going to appeal to you.
His ideals don't appeal to me. I'm from New York City. He lost here. If the vote of New York City would have determined who won the presidency, Al Gore would be the president.
You chose to only work with Necro on the album. Now, when I talked to you the last time, I actually asked you if you find that the Non Phixion album gets reduced to the producers you worked with, since it was the first album after "Illmatic" that had beats by Large Pro, Pete Rock and DJ Premier. So now, why did you chose to only work with Necro?
Right now he's my favorite producer in the game. Just because I see what he does on a day to day basis, and this guy is definitely doing what I wanna hear. I feel like, being that we are brothers, there's a certain connection me and him have. He just knows my sound. My sound is his sound. So that's automatic. But when we really sat down and made the album, one thing that we discusses was that we wanted it to be in the same vein as Cypress Hill's first album, Snoop Dogg's first album: just one producer and one emcee. And really just creating something, just that perfect combination, a synthesis of two artists: a producer and an emcee. What Gang Starr does. I don't think a lot of people do that nowadays. And I just wanted to bring it back to that essence.
At the same time, there's an even more conventional reason, and that's basically because we don't wanna pay anybody else any money. We wanted to keep it as in house as possible. Psycho+Logical is Necro's label. And if you look at all the albums that are going to come out over the next year, he did the production on every album. And that's the basic concept with everything that he's going to be releasing.
I don't think he has established himself as a producer yet. I don't think people have given him the credit that he deserves. I think it's partially because aside from Necro records, he never produced an entire album. And I think this is the key to him actually getting the credit that he deserves.
How can someone do so much music to have ten albums to release over the period of twelve months?
Just the way the RZA was able to release all those solo albums when Wu-Tang first dropped. You have to understand, we've been working on music for a long time now. There's a lot of music that hasn't been heard. There's a lot of production that Necro has been working on for a long time.
So some of the beats on your album weren't especially done for your album, but they were just older beats that were done?
I mean, the way we look at it, nothing is old until it's been used. Until someone has heard it. So we don't look at it that way. But we have definitely ideas that we've been working on for maybe two or three years. But at the same time we have ideas that we've been working on for two or three months that wounded up on my album. Nothing was created over night necessarily. Even though it appears that way. We're gonna drop ten albums in twelve months, but these things have been in the works for a minute. We're just letting you know about it now.
In what way does this album differ from your "Street Villains" project?
That took about seven days to record and mix. That really didn't take much thought, that was just kinda like: 'hey, let's just do this. People are demanding new music right now. We're not ready to give 'em the Ill Bill album yet, or the brand new Necro album yet, but let's just go into the studio and bang something out for the true supporters.' That's the difference. It's something that we did quick. It was something that was thrown together. We hope that people enjoy it and appreciate it. But when they get the Ill Bill album, when they get the Sabac album, the Necro album, the Goretex album, the next Non Phixion album, that's the fruits of our labor. That's what we were really putting our time into. All the freestyles and that, that's just extra shit. I happen to like the "Street Villains" CD. I enjoyed it.
A little earlier in the interview you mentioned mountains that you still have to climb. Are all the mountains in relation to music or other things as well?
Naw, they relate to everything, from personal mountains to other business ventures that I want to move into in the future. I mean, there's just so many things to do. Music is definitely at the forefront. We haven't gotten the respect that we deserve. There's a lot of people out there that are on top of the game, that I don't feel can fuck with me or my clique. We're going to conquer the music business first. Everything else will follow.
In my opinion, we should be making video games for Playstation, we should be making movies in Hollywood. We should have our own skateboard company. It never ends. Uncle Howie Jeans, I'm working on that right now. So you're going to see clothing coming soon as well. The possibilities are endless.
Do you think that if you had toned down some of your lyrics, that it could have taken you further than it took you so far?
Not at all. If that was the idea, then we would have done that a long time ago. I don't believe that at all. I think if you look at the artists that are actually considered at the forefront, for the most part it's a fifty/fifty thing: there are the ones that really blow up the biggest and there are the edgier, the ones that are really willing to gamble artists. You know, scared money make no money. If I was about doing something commercial and I was going to be a dancing bear, and just be a clown and blow my bells and whistles, I could have made a lot more money than I have right now. But to me there's a certain principle and a certain idea that we wanna get across. And I don't think the easy way is necessarily the best way.
I also wanted to ask this about the "White Slavery" video: I guess that video shows that you like to do the spanking. But do you also like to get the spanking?
(laughs) Nah, man, nah, nah, nah. I'm not into that. But did I spank anybody in that video? I don't think I did. I kinda just played the sidelines in that video. I think I'm an accessory to the spanking.
So no spanking?
Nah, nah. I'm really not into that. I tell you man, I'm into the whole chicks sucking me. I'm a blowjob kinda guy. I like chicks sucking my dick. That's my thing. For my female fans out there…
… you don't need to bring a whip to the concert.
(laughs) Pierce that tongue and check me out.
A pierced tongue does make a difference, huh?
You know, yeah. It's cool.
So I guess we have covered all the essentials and can wrap this up, but if there's something you would like to add, please do.
Really, I'd just like to give a shout out and a big up to all the fans in Europe and world wide that have remained loyal to what we do. We appreciate it. We would like to thank y'all for being patient over the years, as we've released 12"es consistently. But now is the time that we're really going to start dropping full length CDs for you guys. And we appreciate y'all waiting.
I just wanna let y'all know that we're not gonna stop. Support us so we can keep going and do what we're doing. And so that we can keep giving you the music that you want. As opposed to most of what is being shoved down your throats right now. We plan to take everything to another level within the next couple of years and really compete with the big dogs. And the idea is to take a label like Uncle Howie and a label like Psycho+Logical and take that indy point of view and bring it to a major label status. The same way a Def Jam started out independent. We don't have to stay independent. And what I mean by that is: we don't have to stay broke. There's no way to get things across if you have to do things constantly on a budget. We're planning to do big things over the next couple of years and we appreciate all the support we've gotten thus far and we're gonna keep on.
So peace and big ups to everybody. We see y'all this year. We're coming back to Europe. Keep real hip hop poppin'. Keep the grimy shit moving.
And let me give a shout out to all the ladies out there as well. We definitely wanna see the females out there on the tour. So those of you that sent in their pictures to Necro, that he posted on the website, much love. I'ma be coming. I got the brand new camera, the Panasonic DV, so maybe we can make some movies when I come to Europe. We appreciate your support. Even more so than the guy's. Not to diss the fellows, but we really would rather have women at the show. So make sure that when these shows are booked that they don't let any dudes in when there are not three with girls with 'em.
Make sure that goes in the interview too. Cause that's probably the most important thing I've said today.
"The Green CD" by Non Phixion is in stores now. Check the website for more information:
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