Rapper & Producer
At only 23 years of age, South Carolina rapper/producer Kill Bill has a lot to get off his chest. Copious amounts of weed-smoking, heartbreak, anime references, love, and frustration are just some of the things that serve as artistic fuel, and it all burns brightly on RAMONA, his latest release on digital indie label Exordium Music.
I’ve known Kill Bill and followed his growth as a rapper for nearly a decade. I drank some Old Pulteney 12-Year Scotch and talked to Bill about possibly getting sued by Quentin Tarantino, cooking dinner for Madlib, Bill’s latest album, being a White rapper, and a Wu-Tang album where RZA tells Raekwon to go fuck himself.
The one and only Kill Bill—
They call me Kill Bill, a.k.a. Pablo Fuckaround, Coogi Santana, they call me a lot of names.
You know, I think the longer your list of “A.K.A.s” is, the more street cred you have, really. And the better rapper you are, in general.
I’m shooting for like, 30 AKAs by the end of the year. That’s like getting a 10 outta 10 on Pitchfork, that’s usually how it works. [cell phone dings] I’m gonna mute my phone.
You should, that’s rude. How dare you.
That’s very, very rude. Very unprofessional of me.
Come on, man. I got people walking in and out rooms here—
We started talking around 2008, 2009?
Something like that. Back when I was really, really bad at rapping and you were still tight at producing.
I would disagree—
I mean, in comparison, y’know, I was terrible and you were good, or at least passable.
I dunno, you’re pretty good at the whole rap thing.
Back in the day I wasn’t, though. Back in the day I was dookie. I’m comfortable now, like I would show this to people and not cringe at it 5 years down the road.
You got your latest album, RAMONA, that came out towards the end of 2014.
It’s hard to stay relevant in the rap game today, with the Internet and Twitter. How many twerk videos do you have on YouTube right now?
I haven’t released any, but I’ve got a stockpile, like a 2 TB hard drive full, ready to go.
It’s actually all just one long video.
[Laughs]. You just went on a 24-hour twerking binge?
Yeah, it’s a marathon. It’s hard to keep up, but it’s a labor of love.
I listened to RAMONA again a couple of day ago because I figured, hey, I should prepare for this interview. And then I started drinking whiskey like 30 minutes before.
That is how you prepare.
How did that idea come about?
Well, I’m gonna sound like a nerd right now, but I used to read — still read the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World graphic novels. I love stories that have, y’know, cool female romantic interests, and I always thought of Ramona Flowers as being like this unattainable goal that Scott — he has to keep fighting her exes and stuff to get to this chick, and it seems unattainable.
So RAMONA represents this unattainable relationship with a girl, the perfect ideal that may or may not really exist in my world. That’s kinda how it started, and it’s a lot of songs about stuff I was going through, stuff I was thinking about.
Who hurt you, Bill?
It was Rav, man… Rav-mona.
Rav is a fellow label-mate —
Yeah. He’s the founder of EXO (Exordium Music). I guess I’m what you would call the “second in command.”
EXO is underground, little-known, but boy, you guys put out a lot of music.
2015 is gonna be crazy. I’ve got a project with Stanley KubrixXx that I’m working on. We don’t have a title yet, but we have a few tracks recorded already. It’s all gonna be produced by him and myself, with me rapping. I’m definitely gonna get his alter-ego, Big Dick Yogggi Berrra, on a few songs.
I’ve listened to all the Big Dick Yogggi Berrra songs, and there’s really just no competition.
He’s the GOAT (Greatest of All Time), easily. That “Banana Split” song was the one where I was like, “Yeah, I can’t ever match this.” I cried. I locked myself in a closet and cried for a while.
And then you came up with the idea for RAMONA? Maybe Stanley KubrixXx, one of the greatest living producers of our time, is Ramona.
I dunno how that would work out, because his wife probably wouldn’t be into that — the fact that I’m pining over KubrixXx. But I’m thinking on a subconscious level that’s what’s going on.
Do you support the gays?
Oh, I love ‘em.
That’s gay, man.
[laughs] Yeah, I guess that is. It’s pretty gay. I’m a pretty gay dude… There’s gonna— people are gonna look back on this interview and they’re gonna be like, “Oh, yeah, he’s a pretty gay dude” but then these crazy homophobic types like 3 years down the road are gonna be like, “Man…”
I think that’s one of my objectives in this interview, is to just make you say shit that if you ever get signed to a major label, and people try to dig up info on you they’ll be like, “Hey, this guy, he raps pretty good, but uh, he kinda hates the gays. I dunno if we can really fuck with him.”
[laughs] Nah, man. I’ve made the very proactive step to stop using the “F-A-G” word in songs because I realized it hurts people’s feelings ‘n shit. I didn’t know that, like 2 years ago I didn’t even think about it, it’s just some hip-hop shit. But now, it’s like nah, I don’t say it no more.
So Exordium Music, Rav founded it. He’s White, right?
No, he’s not, he’s Asian.
Mmhmm. I think he has some White in him, but he identifies as Asian.
Wow. He raps pretty good for an Asian, lemme tell ya.
Oh, wow. [laughs] Now people are gonna look back on you, man, they’re gonna be like “Oh, dang…” [laughs]
I don’t know really any rappers that have come out of the South Carolina/North Carolina/Virginia area, aside from Pusha T, maybe. [Mad Skillz, too — I swear I’m not a toy, just drunk at this point. Shouts to Dick B. -ed.]I have a theory, though. I’m pretty sure that they have a factory in Virginia where they make dope producers. Like, they have Timbaland, and Pharrell, and the other Neptunes guy that I can never remember his name. They’re just like, pushing ‘em out.
Yeah, but as far as rappers, it’s kinda —
Yeah, the only ones that I actually know of are Pusha T and Reckahdam. In South Carolina, there’s a lot of them but none of ‘em are famous at all, that’s the thing.
When did you decide to start rapping?
I didn’t actually listen to a lot of hip-hop when I was real young. I listened to a lot of dad-rock and punk, stuff like that, when I was like 13 or 14 years old. And then I heard Lil’ Jon and the Eastside Boys, the “Get Low” song with the Ying-Yang Twins, and I was like “Okay, they’re yelling, so it’s cool. I can get into this, they’re yelling!”
I got Crunk Juice, which just came out, the album after that. There was that song, “Grand Finale” at the end that had like, Bun B, T.I., Jadakiss, Nas, and uh… Ice Cube on it. And I heard Nas’s verse, which is one of the hardest verses I ever heard in my life, to this day. I said to myself, “I’m gonna rap now, that makes me wanna make rap music.” Then it all spiraled, my life went outta control and I became a hooligan, listening to the rap music.
So I was maybe 14, 15 years old, I started rapping. I didn’t get real serious with it until I was 17, 18, I was like, “I’m gonna try to RAP-rap.” I sucked [laughs]… and I got more serious, and I still suck but, y’know—
See, your problem, Bill, is you’re too humble.
Yeah, I try.
The thing is, I dunno if this is a disadvantage for you, or maybe it’s an advantage: you got a cool voice, you’re also White, and you’re a rapper.
So being a White rapper: easy thing? Or, the easiest thing?
[laughs] I don’t know if I’ve actually seen any benefits from it yet, but America seems to buy records from White rappers, that seems to be a recurring thing, so that’s kinda cool.
I think Eminem was a pioneer, in that he was like “Hey, White rappers can say ‘faggot’ on record and we can just have a concert with Elton John like 5 years later, and it’s all cool.”
Yeah, definitely. I mean, him and —- did Cage say “faggot?”
Oh, yeah! Yeah. Cage would like, just start a fuckin’ verse with “faggot.”
Yeah, it was really —- it was the Wild West back then. I remember Cage would be dropping the N-bomb and stuff, and now he’s not like that at all.
Technically you’re a Southern rapper, right?
Yeah, I’m from the South.
And you have a bit of a Southern drawl, so it’s not like you’re pulling an Iggy Azalea and forcing anything.
Back in the day, I would try to make myself sound like more, I guess, Blacker than I am, but I stopped doing it because it didn’t sound good. Like back then, I thought that was just what you were supposed to do, like “Oh, I wanna sound like a black rapper,” and now it’s just my own voice. Sometimes it comes off a little bit urban, a little bit Southern, just because that’s how I talk and how I am.
How much weed would you say you smoke in a given day?
Ohhhh, man. See, you caught me at the worst time, ‘cause I stopped. I haven’t smoked in like, 2 months.
Yeah, just for various reasons. Not saying I won’t go back to it, I think I probably will in the near future. But at my height, it would probably be like 4 or 5 joints a day, something like that. Or a couple blunts. Especially when Rav was here, Rav smokes more weed than I’ve ever seen in my life. That man is a freak. He’ll wake up with 2 blunts—- [laughs]
[Laughs] He just wakes up with 2 blunts in his mouth, rolls them in his sleep.
Yeah, he can roll good, though.
South Carolina, that whole region, wasn’t that all tobacco fields back when Black people were three-fifths of a person?
Yeah, we still have big tobacco fields out here. North Carolina is more famous for that. I heard Chance the Rapper owns a tobacco field in North Carolina. That’s gotta be a good hustle.
Here’s a question for you, as somebody that has the God-given talent to rap. I don’t get Kendrick Lamar. I listened to Good Kid, m.a.a.d City, and I just get the vibe that he’s constantly whining about shit that a teenager would whine about.
[Laughs] I loved that album, so it’s kind of a weird question to ask someone who really digs the album — I’m trying to think of an instance of where he was actually whining about something. Most of the time he’s just telling stories, right?
I dunno if it’s him actually whining, or me not liking his flow, and it just comes across as whining.
Yeah, I dunno.
It’s just one of those instances where everybody’s like “Oh man, the Beatles are the fuckin’ greatest band in the world —”
Oh yeah, it’s definitely gonna get hyped up beyond, but I’m pretty sure of myself when I say that it was the best mainstream album to come out that year, because there was —- what else came out mainstream in 2012 that was really critically acclaimed?
I dunno, I just feel like I missed the boat.
Did you hear his project before that one, though? I think it’s good but in a different way. You might like that more, it’s a bit more abstract. And then there’s that one song where he just says “Suck my dick” over and over.”
It’s abstract, and then there’s that one, which is tight.
Isn’t that what rap music really is?
To the core? Yeah.
At its core, I think rap music is just about driving nice cars, and having voluptuous women sucking your dick.
Yeah, that’s what the KubrixXx album is gonna be like, kind of. It’s gonna be more flexy than the Ramona album. Somebody asked me on Tumblr the other day, is the KubrixXx gonna be anything like Ramona? If Ramona was the soundtrack to the anime FLCL, then the KubrixXx is gonna be like security footage of a bank robbery.
So it’s gonna be some gangsta rap.
Do you ever wonder if some of these rappers who rap about doing home invasions, do they just have iPod earbuds in, listening to rap music as they do home invasions?
That’s a good question. That’s what I would do. I would have one ear in …
Speaking of home invasion music, what did you think of Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s Piñata?
Love that album.
For me, that was on par with Madlib and MF Doom on Madvillainy.
Yeah, I like the Madvillainy stuff more, just because I like weird stuff. But I think that musically, it was very close. It was tight.
When you listen to Madlib, his releases 5 or 10 years ago versus where they are now… he’s just consistently gotten better and it is the most fucking annoying thing ever.
It’s like, why do you keep getting better?
This is the part that really annoys me about Madlib getting better, the fact that he sticks to the exact same style and still gets better. Like, he doesn’t branch out and do something completely different. It’s the same thing, but better.
I was cleaning out my old bedroom over here and I found this old Scratch magazine, which was discontinued but — shouts to Scratch magazine ‘cause they were super tight — they had this article about Madlib and asking him, does he clear any samples? He was just like, “Oh, nah, I’m not on no major label. I ain’t out here sampling Rick James.”
And then they ask him, what about your mixdowns? Apparently he would never send track-outs, even to major labels. They would ask him, and he would just send them a little MP3 and say “Here you go, Busta Rhymes. Here’s an MP3.” I thought that was mad funny. And the artists take it! Because it’s just dope, and sounds great. Just a little 256Kbps MP3.
[Laughs] That’s amazing.
Half of the time, he said he would straight up send loops from records, and then it’d be the most obscure, dope loop that they would give him thousands of dollars. And I’m sitting there like “Dang… Where are you finding this loops? Those are just fire.”
I’m a Madlib stan. I think I would murder somebody just to have dinner with him. Just to cook him dinner. “I’ll make you tacos, Madlib, just teach me your secrets.”
“I killed a family of four to make you tacos.”
[Laughs] “I murdered a hobo, but here I am.” But let’s talk about you, Kill Bill. Have you ever gotten shit for your name?
No, I wanna say this on record, because I’ve said this on the Internet several times and I think people don’t really understand it, the fact that — Everyone’s like “Oh, Bill, Billy, that’s short for William”. No, on my birth certificate it says “Billy.” I have a nickname for a real name.
That’s good. Tarantino hasn’t tried to press charges?
He’s gonna, eventually. That’s why I’m working on my A.K.A.s, so eventually when he comes through and he’s like, “Y’know, I’m gonna sue you,” I can just be like “Well this whole time I’ve been Coogi Santana” [laughs]. And I’ve got bars, too, so when I come out and change my style up, I’ll be super-duper on some Chief Keef shit, like “Coogi Santana, got that Gucci bandana.”
They won’t be ready.
On Ramona, I feel that you kinda cover the fuckin’ spectrum in terms of different flows that you can present. It’s not like you’re just jackin’ other dudes flows. And it works!
That’s, I think, the difference, and not to be a Kill Bill stan, but you’re doing a great job in presenting all these different flows and switching between them and making them work.
I just get bored with the same thing, and it’s not even a conscious thing. It just kinda happens. Like I’ll — you know me, I listen to a different variety of music, so one day I’ll be listening to some real fast double-time stuff and be like “Oh, I could do some double-time stuff or machinegun stuff.” And the next part I’ll be like, “Oh, I’ve smoked entirely too much weed, it’s time to slow it down.”
You remember that skit at the end of Madvillainy, on America’s Most Blunted, where they’re like “Marijuana makes you 12 times as creative stoned than straight”
And then he misspells marijuana.
For me, I don’t think it is for everybody, but in my experience, it just makes me think of things that I normally would not have thought of. Mental scenery and stuff like, because you get lost in the music a little bit more. But sometimes it works against you, because there’s moments where I’ll be writing something and I’ll be like, “Anyone know what I’m talking about?” I get a little more cryptic and just assume people know what I’m talking about, because I’m stoned.
That’s something I’ve always been working on, trying to balance, find that happy medium between the two. I think it does help, though. Helps me freestyle, that’s a fact.
Is it just me, or do you feel like within the past 5 years, the number of rappers rapping about cocaine and cocaine accessories has just increased exponentially?
Yeah, and I can tell you why that is. Rapping about selling coke sounds really, really cool on trap music. There’s no way to get around it, so everybody’s gonna want to do it. I’m not gonna be rapping about selling coke or doing coke, because it’s not really something I’m into rapping about. But even —- we all did this track called “In the Kitchen” where we literally rap about cooking chicken.
And it sounds like a trap song, like “We’re in there, putting the white on the meat” and all that. It was very fun and I could definitely see how creatively cocaine would be a very fun thing to rap about.
Don’t you think that at some point it just becomes played out?
Yeah, I mean I think it’s been — actually, no. I don’t think it’s been played out, I think that the method of how people are doing it has become played out. I feel like someone could come out with a gangsta rap, or like, Action Bronson could be talking about some stuff like that, and then it’ll sound beautiful just because of the way he words things. And then someone else does it like, “I’m on the corner with the crack” and it sounds like, didn’t the last 17 rappers say that?
The thing about Action Bronson, though, is that he’s an actual chef. He could be throwing in terminology like, “I’m gonna julienne the crack.”
And that might be mind-blowing to 95% of the audience listening to him, because who juliennes crack?
I mean, he does.
Action Bronson does, damn right.
Exactly, and that’s why I feel he’ll be a respected MC for years to come, because he juliennes crack.
Have you ever been accused of biting?
I have, but it’ll be very random usually. I remember I posted this one song, and some people have said my voice sounds like Tyler, the Creator’s, which I don’t really see it but maybe because I rap softly into the mic really close. One time, I put out this track called “Rupees” with KubrixXx, and it’s literally just me talking shit the whole time. And this guy was like “Man, you’re biting Macklemore’s flow” and I’m like, I don’t even listen to Macklemore. No shade at Macklemore, but I literally have only heard “Thrift Shop” and that song about him overdosing. Neither of those sounded anything like my stuff. So I’m thinking, “I’m sorry that you feel that way?” But never in a content kind of way, it’s been more about how I sound.
But Action Bronson got all that flack at the beginning of his career because he sounded kinda like Ghostface. I heard it, but it was kinda different from Ghost.
I like Ghost a lot, but it’s a whole different approach, I think. I could see maybe the way the flow is, but I think’s it that the man’s from Queens, and a lot of people from Staten Island. It’s a regional thing, y’know? Sometimes people just sound similar in the way you flow because they’re from the same general area.
Speaking of Ghost, who is your favorite Wu-Tang Clan member?
Ooooh. I have to think about this for a second. I really like Method Man, and I really like GZA, just because Liquid Swords changed the way I looked at everything back in the day. I like a lot of ‘em, but I’d have to narrow it down to Method Man or GZA. Who’s yours? I wanna know yours.
I fuck with GZA, but nowadays he’s on this crazy natural science tip, where he’s like, “I’m gonna rap about asteroids and fuckin’ minerals for 40 minutes”
I can’t really do that.
Nah, I feel you. I’m just speaking on old Wu, because I don’t listen to a lot of new Wu as much. I feel it’s just like weird and forced. Those guys don’t even like each other, so why are they making records together? It’s clear they don’t like each other [laughs]
RZA was talking about the Wu-Tang Clan instituting some sort of pay tier, where the “star-studded” rappers of the Clan got paid more than the lesser known or not as famous members.
Which I thought was kinda weird, because GZA, Raekwon, Method and Ghostface are probably the most well-known in terms of putting out solo material. But you have Inspectah Deck putting out all these crazy projects, and he can still hold it down even today.
Yeah, I agree.
So it’s like, why would Inspectah Deck get paid less than Ghost?
I dunno, it’s some weird stuff going over there.
Did you listen to A Better Tomorrow?
I haven’t yet, but I’ve been meaning to.
I wrote a blog post about it, and I said that pretty much it was the perfect album for White suburban dads to listen to.
It’s just so non-threatening and…
Yeah. I just expected something more, because RZA spent $500,000 out of pocket on the album.
Yeah, I was reading that earlier today! It’s like.. how? [Laughs] That’s my question.
It doesn’t sound like a $500,000 album.
Not even just him saying “Oh, I spent $500,000.” I’m thinking, what did he literally spend that money on? Was it engineers, was it sample clearance or something? What did he do? How do you spend that much money? I’m so used to my low-budget records that I just don’t think about it.
Do you remember selling your Korg Triton to me for $300?
I used it maybe a total of 3 times and now it’s just sitting there collecting dust.
[Laughs] Yeah, and that’s what it was like when I got it, I was like “Yeah, I’m gonna use this a lot.” It has some tight sounds on it, but it was just — I just never used it, I don’t know why. I had the [Yamaha] Motif as well, and then I got the Korg. I do remember selling it, because I had to take it down to the package store for them to box it up, and they were like, “This is a strange thing that you’re sending.” They acted like it was weird I was sending some form of machinery to someone.
It’s a classic gear piece of gear, but at the end of the day, it’s like “It’s 2015. I could make all this shit on a computer.”
Exactly. I don’t want to, but I’m about to sell my Motif as well. I just don’t use it anymore.
I used to use it for almost every beat, but then I realized a lot of my beats were sounding the same, because I’d end up using the same patches that I liked. So I stopped using it. It’s got some stickers on it, but hopefully somebody buys it.
But maybe that’s how RZA spending $500,000 on a fuckin’ record. He’s like “Yeah, I’ll buy a Motif from Kill Bill in South Carolina for $1,000”
“And then I’ll just look at stickers for 3 hours and I’ll tell Raekwon to go fuck himself.”
[Laughs] And there’s the record!
Yeah! Print that shit to tape! We’re done here. Somebody call Warner Brothers.
If they actually put out a record that was literally track after track of RZA telling Raekwon to go fuck himself, I would buy that AND the bonus disc.
[Laughs] To answer your question from 10 minutes ago, my favorite Wu-Tang members are tied between Ghostface and Cappadonna.
Oh yeah, Cappadonna, the most slept on!
He is so slept on, and yet when you actually listen to him, he’s just saying the hardest shit ever for no reason. It’s great. And then Ghost is just Ghost. He’s just the fucking greatest.
Have you heard that new record with him and BADBADNOTGOOD and DOOM?
I think honestly, that is the future of hip-hop, that fusion between live sound and rappers just going crazy over it.
Yeah, and I think just as a jam band — well, I dunno if I wanna call them a jam band, but a band that is dope that jams, BADBADNOTGOOD is super tight. I have all their records downloaded; I’ve already been a fan of theirs. When they did the one song with Ghost, it was like “Okay… y’all are making my dreams come true.” And then they did the other one, it was like “Y’all need to settle down, y’all gonna make me die of early age of a heart attack.”
Have you ever thought about that? At some point we’re gonna run out of samples.
Yeah, I’ve just now started doing sampling really, really weird shit. And I realized that there’s a whole new —- I started sampling those 3D sounds, you know what I’m talking about? Those videos with 2 microphones by the ears, ASMR? I’ve started sampling those and using them for percussion and stuff.
You can sample stuff that isn’t just a record. You can sample a dog barking and make it into a song. You’re gonna run out of traditional samples, the dope ones. But that’s when you have to go through that murk of the weird shit. We’re gonna run out of soul records, because people aren’t making soul records like they used to. That’s the big thing.
Biggest accomplishment as a rapper, as a musician?
Actually putting out an album, and being proud of it, that was for me a personal accomplishment. I’ve been messing around and hadn’t put anything out. But production wise — I have all these weird production credits that aren’t normal. I have nerdy production credits. I produced a song for MVP, who was a former WWE wrestler.
Oh yeah, I remember that!
Yeah, shouts to MVP. He’s in TNA now. He comes out to that song, that “Tokyo” joint.
Are you getting paid for that?
No, but I don’t really care. I didn’t expect to — he gave me the ultimate shoutout, he gives me shoutouts randomly. But if we do another record I’m gonna say, “Yo, slide me a little bit of that…” Because we’ve been talking about doing another record, I’ve already talked to him on the phone ‘n stuff. He’s a cool guy. I also produced that track for Megaran, who I think is the best nerdcore rapper of all time, aside from maybe Charles Hamilton. But I guess the biggest accomplishment would be putting out the record.
And I guess the opposite end of that, what was your biggest failure?Man… I don’t know if I’ve had any super glaring failures in my life. There’s been things that I’ve tried and just said “whatever.”
So you’ve just been perfect this whole time.
Yeah, I’m on a flawless streak right now.
It’s like Mortal Kombat shit.
Yeah, flawless victory after flawless victory.
And what’s next?
I’m working on two — well, 3 things. I’m all spread out right now. I’m doing the KubrixXx and Kill Bill album, which I’m actually gonna be travelling back and forth up to Columbia because I wanna have him engineer it, and so we can record it together and everything. Then I’m gonna be working on the next solo release for the next Kill Bill, which is gonna be called NEET. I’m not gonna go out and say what it’s about yet, but it’s a concept album.
I’m also going to do a Jinzo The Trap Lord EP, which is my trap/vaporwave/drug-hop alter-ego project that I produce all of it. It’s gonna be the most Internet thing you’ve ever heard in your life. So three things officially planned for 2015. That, and taking over the world.
On some Hitler shit?
No genocide, but threaten to genocide everybody. Not even genocide, just kill everybody. Equal opportunity genocide.
I feel ya. Sometimes you start your rap career, and you end up killing a couple million Jews.
That’s just how it works, Bill.
I know. That’s how he started, right? Hitler was a rapper?
Yeah, Hitler was a German nerdcore rapper. He liked architecture and art, and it kinda snowballed into killing Jews and the handicapped.
He couldn’t handle his first King of the DOT battle loss against Daylyt. Because everyone knows Daylyt is eternal.
He eats the booty of his defeated enemies, and that’s how he gains his strength.
That’s normal. That’s what Lil B does. Eat the whole booty.