Words by Sierra Holmes Benford and Le’Deana Brown
Lil Billy, Skill Skill, Mr. Yes, Yes…how did you come to go by so many names? Lil Billy is my actual name. Skill Skill is the name my neighborhood calls me…I’ve got the skills to pay the bills. They call me Mr. Yes, Yes because they never tell me no, referring to the ladies. When I first started I was going to make my music for the ladies because that’s who I prefer to entertain.
Do you feel like art imitates life or life imitates art with your music? Everything I rap about I go through. Everything is true to me. I’m not one of those type of guys that will tell another person’s story. All my music is exactly how I live. 100 percent authentic.
Speaking of 100, you recently dropped a video for a song with that title along with a mixtape on MyMixtapez. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Crown Hill Section is the name of the mixtape that I just dropped on MyMixtapez and it has gotten over 70k plays in the short amount of time it’s been on there so far. The physical release is taking place October 31st at my free concert which is also the release for my Midwest Leak Magazine cover story. The song “100” is about keeping it 100 and telling the absolute truth. This project is organic. It’s all the thoughts that go through my head on a daily basis. People are loving it and I’m not sure if it’s more because they love the way it sounds or that it’s so authentic to the real me.
In the hook on “100” there’s a line where you say your teacher said you wouldn’t amount to anything. What was the classroom situation that led a teacher to say something like that? I went to Shortridge middle school. In some of our classes we used to shoot dice the entire class and our teachers used to let it go on. I guess one day he wasn’t feeling it and got on my case. He told me I wouldn’t amount to nothing like a regular street punk. On the song I was just telling him thanks for his opinion because it made me want to do something different. That negative always stuck in my head and made me want to accomplish something and throw it in his face. I’m a person that likes to prove points. Some people thought I wouldn’t be around rapping this long. Some people thought I wouldn’t live this long.
In the song you also said that no one would even send you 100 when you were away. But you say you have a lot of friends. Was it out of sight out of mind? Yea, that’s how it is. I can’t blame people for nature. That’s one of the laws of nature. I couldn’t blame them for not sending me money, but I do blame them because money is not a problem. The reason I said that lyric is because the same guys that didn’t send me $100 I’ve bought modification lawyers. Or I’ve bought their kids shoes while they’re away. Anything they asked me for. These are people I’ve taken care of on the streets and people that I would drag along with me on my music career. A lot of people didn’t believe in me doing music. They didn’t think it would last. They thought I would resort to my old ways.
I’ve seen you on the news a little bit recently. You got into some legal trouble? I got accused of a few crimes like conspiracy to murder, etc. We’re trying to wrap it up right now. I go to trial in a few days. It’s just a couple of accusations that aren’t true. I’m being framed basically.
You’ve had some really public exchanges with a certain local news anchor. Some of which were even shown on the news when you had court dates related to the accusations. What was that all about? It was really just my honest feelings toward Russ McQuaid who works for Fox 59 News. He rubbed me the wrong way when he said a lot of things about me and my friends that were not true. My reaction was to tell him how I felt. I felt like I needed to address him.
If the things he said bothered you because they weren’t true, tell us who you really are. I’m really a musician. I’m a person trying to do different and lead people into a different light. I come from the streets of Indianapolis and I want to do better. Music is one thing that I’m great at, and the friends that I was associating with we were all trying to do music and find new business ventures. He had us totally misconstrued. I’ve been doing music for the last 16 years. I take my craft seriously. We were a group of rappers and they called us a gang. Instead of assuming he should have gotten to know us and learned what we were about. I can’t blame him, because there probably are a lot of people who do things a certain way or mask things as something they’re not, but we’re not those guys.
You seem to believe strongly in friendship and family bonds. So much so that the news media tried to turn that friendship bond into a gang. Why do you think people don’t believe the show of unity in Indy’s rap scene is in fact a business? Where we come from is not big on unity or everyone from every side coming together to accomplish goals. People often want to say what we’re doing wrong, but they’re not sharing the information. There are people here that have information on how we can do things the right way with the music and they’re withholding it for their elite group of people that they feel have the ticket. You never know who it’s going to be. If they start exposing the information as far as where we need to go and what we need to do then we would do it.
What kind of information are you referencing? How do you expect a street person to get up and go out of town without any knowledge of where to go when they’re not even used to leaving their block? When I first started recording it took me a week to find out who designs CD covers. I don’t know if people were scared I was going to come out and take over or what, but they wouldn’t even point me in the direction of who designed their covers. Then I find out they get theirs done free. I was trying to spend money with the designer and they were hindering the man from making money and paying his bills and hindering me from accomplishing my goals because they fear if they give the right person the information they may run off with it. I think if people start sharing we would be a lot better off.
You sound like you have a message not only to music industry folks but your peers in rap as well? Stay down, keep working hard, stay true to yourself, invest in yourself and stop being so emotional. Emotion is not going to pay the bills. It’s going to be hard to get where you’re trying to go. That’s a part of this. Once you build the relationships and build up your brand and show hard work everyone will work with you. But don’t be so emotional that you curb everyone from working with you. Once you put in some time and hustle and spend some money it’s going to happen. Also, when shooting videos, please wear Indianapolis apparel. I get tired of seeing people doing things in an Atlanta outfit or Cincinnati jersey. If we don’t rep us, what makes you think the rest of the world will? You don’t see Atlanta artists wearing New York apparel. Represent your own. We have to brand our city no matter where we are or what we do.
Can you explain the deeper meaning behind building your brand and project around a local landmark like Crown Hill? Crown Hill is a cemetery and it stretches about 10 blocks. Within those 10 blocks there’s a few neighborhoods that it touches. It’s not about it being a cemetery, but it’s something that touches all of our neighborhoods so we used it as something neutral. That’s what Crown Hill Section is. All of our neighborhoods unifying. In the inner city we’ve never had a movement. It’s always been the westside and Haughville having their movement and the far eastside having their movement. We all knew each other from the streets, but in the midst of that a lot of us are good musicians. Crown Hill Section is bringing the music to the forefront and trying to leave all the street stuff behind and getting together as a unit with guys I’ve been knowing their entire life. My main focus is unity right now. Without unity a lot of things are not going to happen. We’re stronger when we’re together. Love & Loyalty.
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