Billyracxx in an outfit designed by @jetpackhommePhoto by Thomas Welch
Last month, burgeoning independent rapper and visual artist Billyracxx released the latest visual component to his 2019 eight-track album Religion. The video for the track "12 gauge" is the latest in a slew of 2019 releases and ongoing projects for the enigmatic and unorthodox young artist.
"12 Gauge was shot in Houston," says Billy, "I'm in Houston whenever I'm not travelling, so I find a lot of inspiration in the hometown. What better place?"
Like so many of Billyracxx's videos, "12 gauge" features loose narrative elements and unnerving visuals, like a contorted Billy rapping to the camera while suspended in an exorcist-inspired position. From the film's neon-lit color palate to Billy's blood splattered make-up and its multiple layers of editing, production and direction, "12 Gauge" is the latest in a line of visual releases by Billy and in-house videographer and editor Dakota Hansen. The pair have collaborated on all of the Florida-born rapper's video projects over the past few years, a partnership that has resulted in a uniquely defined and meticulously curated vision.
"Me and that guy met like four years ago when I moved to Austin," explains Billy, on his relationship with Dakota. "I've always been kind of visually inclined. I was looking for a videographer, for the right people to shoot with and me and [Dakota] kind of stumbled upon each other."
Billyracxx is quietly developing a signature aesthetic, both musically and visually. While the music has drawn Travis Scott comparisons over the years, with each new release his evolving style moves further into uncharted territory.
When asked about his motivations as an artist, Billy replies, "I'm trying to slap people every single time I drop. I'm driven to be one of those artist that people can look at and say, 'he's himself and he's found the ultimate way to project that'"
Billyracxx by Thomas Welch, Clothing by @jetpackhomme
Photo by Thomas Welch
Via an organically growing grassroots audience, Billyracxx is emerging as part of a new class of Houston rappers and producers — one with little or no musical ties to the city's signature slow mo' sound. Yet, despite the polarity between traditional southern rap and Billy's hard to define, fast-paced and often manic sound, his self-directed and independently produced projects are the spiritual successors to the DIY days of Houston hip hop.
What today stands as a lasting global influence on popular music, particularly on the hip hop industry, began as a local movement in the forgotten wards of inner-city Houston. Bootleg homemade mixtapes sold from the trunks of cars to friends and family. Through the innovations of a small group of unorthodox artists, Houston rap became a global phenomenon. In the same vein, Billy adds his self-crafted style to a new generation of Houston rappers. Mixing contemporary music and art direction, he leaves behind a dated vision of what Houston hip hop should be.
When asked what fans can expect this year from Billyracxx, Billy lights up and delivers an impassioned answer as enthusiastic as his latest batch of releases. Coming off the June release of "Face", a collaborative single featuring L.A. based singer/rapper Felly, Billy promises several new features and collaborations in the coming months, as well as four new videos currently in the works.
"I expect to be on tour by the end of this year," he continues. "I expect some real life changing things to happen this year.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE...
Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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.