You may have heard of Bohemia – the Punjabi Rapper and Honey Singh. But if you haven’t heard of Pakistani rapper Billy X – have you been living under a stone?
This rapping sensation showcases a fresh and fun approach to rap music. With sizzling looks, enviable voice and entertaining rapping Billy X is a complete package. Listen to his album “Badshah” and read on our conversation with him!
1. Why do you call yourself Billy X? How did you start out in this field? Tell us about your educational background/qualification.
Billy: Well the real name doesn’t really mash up with the rapper image. I was thinking of a cooler 2nd name instead of the X but it got stuck n recognized so I let it be. I’m currently enrolled in the Masters program at University of Technology Sydney.
2. Which is easier – making it big in singing or rapping?
Billy: Well it’s not at all easy in either field but definitely “rap” was the harder path to choose especially when I started to get serious about the genre and at the back of my mind I knew I would have to somewhat of a revolutionist if my music was going to get anywhere. In a sense, I was going against the tide when the rest of the mainstream and upcoming artists were following more traditional genres of music.
3. Who is your musical icon and influence?
Billy: It’s true I wouldn’t have started to write if I hadn’t had listened to Eminem. So he was definitely the one I was idolizing from the beginning. But as far as musical influences go, there have been quite a few throughout these years. Iron Maiden, Blind Guardian, ACDC, Led Zeppelin etc were most influential when I was going through that metal phase that most guys go through in their teens. Recently, I’ve shifted to calmer forms of music especially soft rock and the artists I look up to most are The Script, Ed Sheeran & Damien Rice.
4. How much does your family support you in your career choice? Is there anyone in your family who do what you do?
Billy: No, I’m pretty much the only one who took this career path and you can say, most of my family was even surprised. I’ve never required much support from my family because music was something very personal to me and in the beginning; it was too big a secret of emotional expression for me to be sharing with my parents. My siblings had an idea though and one of my sisters is especially a big fan of my music especially the English rap songs I used to write in the beginning. But to cut the answer short, yes my dad was supportive with my career when I needed him.
5. You have been compared with Yo Yo Honey Singh. Is it flattering or outright irritating?
Billy: I really don’t mind being compared even though the type of music we do is mostly worlds apart. But I understand the comparison because there are not many recognized rappers around in desi music for now. Though I love HS’s work and he’s just an outright genius with what he’s been doing.
6. Rapping is a very eccentric but an incredible talent. What do you have to do to learn it?
Billy: Eccentric is definitely the right word especially if you see my origination and development into a rapper and the circumstances involved. The only reason behind my success was hard work. I took my passion seriously and wasn’t concerned with what other people thought of me. My competition was my idol at the time, EMINEM. That’s how good I wanted to be. You can find a few fancy terms over the internet such as “rebuttal” and “syllable” but at the end of the day it’s just a lot of rhyming, and the more you practice, the more you’ll figure out how to play with rhymes and verses.
7. Describe the track-list of your album Badshah. What was the inspiration behind all of them:
Anni Da Puttar: A feeling of power and self destructiveness.
Juttni: A comical of representation of frustration and hate towards women in general. Nothing serious though.
Kurti: Playing along with the idea of women and Kurti.
Baadshah: Self representation, admission of realities and a sense of proudness.
Bechaini: Expression of a heartbreak and helplessness in delivering one’s message.
Chummi Da Sawal: Plain and simple naughtiness.
Nehar: No real inspiration, just a sheer sense of confidence in writing songs on the spot.
Hor Nai: A sequel to JUTTNI spread over 3 verses; mehendi, baraat & walima.
Chiknay Khilari: Shahzad Khan was the inspiration as I was writing the song for him basically. So pretty a mash up of his passion for heavy bikes and my passion for cars.
Dil Walo Ki Duniya: Originally written as the soundtrack for Waqar Zaka’s Living on the Edge. But I liked it so much that I had to complete the song and stay within the theme which pumps up my energies whenever I play it.
8. Is it easier to rap in Punjabi? Name some your personal fav Punjabi Raps done by you.
Billy: No! I find it much easier to write my rhymes in English as I see more freedom of expression. My personal favorites out of the album are BAADSHAH, ANNI DA PUTTAR & CHIKNAY KHILARI.
9. If you weren’t a rapper – what’d you have been?
Billy: My first passion was cricket but when that didn’t seem like happening, I shifted to music. So even if I hadn’t become a musician, I would’ve still gone into something more on the lines of arts and sports.
10. What’s next for Billy X? Message for the readers and the fans?
Billy: Well I’ll be shifting here and there from rap music but always coming back to it so the message to the fans and listeners is just to keep an open frame of mind as there is a lot I want to do when it comes to music n not just stick to one thing as it gets boring if you do. With that said, I’ll surely keep entertaining more n more people for as long as music stays in my soul.
Well the journey has just begun for him. We are sure there is a long way to go but he’s pumping his fists, pulling up his sleeves because now it's not just him, but a generation who expects bigger things.
So wish him luck!