Houston Music

A Look at Florida Transplant Billyracxx's Unique Brand of Hip Hop

Billyracxx is a Florida transplant making hip hop the H-Town way
Billyracxx is a Florida transplant making hip hop the H-Town way Photo by Shane Converse

In an empty lot on Westheimer, on an overcast Friday evening, Billyracxx is on the phone. He is speaking to the owner of a hydraulically modified slab that Billy coordinated for his video shoot that day. The owner tells him the car ran out of gas on the way over. He gets off the phone and tells his team their shoot isn't happening.

Billy is in the lot to film the final scene for a new visual he's dropping. The single, which will feature Houston rapper D Flowers, will be the latest in a string of extremely well produced and professionally edited projects by Billy and his small team of independent collaborators.

Billy's team — or at least the ones in attendance — consists of his girlfriend/creative director, Minzly, and his videographer, Dakota. While the 25-year-old rapper sits in his car trying to figure out his next move, he chats with about his art, giving a brief yet enlightening glimpse into the creative process of one of hip hop's most intriguing young artists.

Upon first viewing, Billyracxx's visuals are almost mildly discomforting. That is not to say they're bad. Quite the opposite. They're incredible. His videos are discomforting the way a horror movie is discomforting, the way spicy food is discomforting. Billy is more than just "a rapper." In truth, he is an auditory and visual artist. His music is a strange fusion of hip-hop, punk, emo, and trap sounds. He does not have a traditional flow and his tracks use short verses wrapped in heavy vocals and saturated production.

Billy transitions from melodic and low-pitched vocal hooks to distorted, high-pitched rapping to create an effect of auditory juxtaposition. Combined with the frenzied, almost manic style in which his visuals are shot and edited, Billy's projects become a sort of visceral artistic experience.

The Florida native, who now calls Houston home, explained how his personal sound and artistic vibe are two things that took him years to cultivate. He came into the music industry like any other young kid trying to rap for a living, unsure of his identity and sounding a lot like everyone around him. Over the course of the past 4-5 years he has identified and refined an aesthetic, both visually and sonically, that is entirely his own.

When it comes to being artistically independent, Billy and his team do not take shortcuts. On the day of his shoot, he wears a pair of tight red and blue denim pants that look like they were worn by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. Minzly explains that she made them herself, along with the vest he's wearing. From the backseat of their car, she pulls out another vest, this one denim. She made it as well, along with an identical one she sold to Quavo (of the hip-hop phenoms Migos).

Dakota, the videographer, is a Seattle native living in Austin. He's been in Houston shooting Billy's videos and plans to travel to LA with him the next day for a three-week trip.

What is clear is that this is no group of amateurs. Though they sat in an empty lot without fancy equipment, stood up by their prop guy and frantically trying to reschedule, they are full-time independent artists making a living from their crafts.

click to enlarge Billyracxx and D Flowers - PHOTO COURTESY OF BILLYRACXX
Billyracxx and D Flowers
Photo Courtesy of Billyracxx
In this way, Billy represents the bright future of modern hip-hop. In a time when tens of thousands of "SoundCloud Rappers" pollute the industry with garbage tracks rapped over stolen beats and recorded on iPhone earbud mics, Billyracxx shows us the silver lining of the modern DIY industry. Independent artists like Billy and his team are able to create wildly artistic, incredibly original content and offer it to an organically generated fan base without the influence of mainstream labels.

Billy's art is unrefined, unfiltered, and presented in the exact manner in which he visualizes it. He creates hip-hop, yes, but follows no template or form. He says his strongest influence has been Lil Wayne. That much is clear from his raspy, high-pitched vocals and skate-grunge personal style. But any comparisons to other artists stop there.

The day after his interview, Billy and his crew manage to get their shot. An Instagram post shows Billy and D Flowers on the hood of the purple slab that had been missing the day before, exactly as they had envisioned it. They managed to film the scene before hopping on flights to L.A. DIY hip-hop at its finest.

Listen to more of Billyracxx's music on his website.
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Houston Press contributor Carlos Brandon is a freelance writer, blogger, and self proclaimed Houston hip hop historian. He contributes to various publications and can usually be found haggling with food truck cooks or talking politics on the METRO Rail.
Contact: Carlos Brandon