In 2023 it will be twenty years since the release of “Camouflage”, Billy Woods’ debut album. The first of many. At the time, “Camouflage” reflected an unparalleled moment in independent hip hop. The idea of “independent hip hop” was flowing as a genre – in essence, “it was a scene” – and conquering territory at a daily pace. Still without streams, YouTube, but with MP3s (and illegal downloads) and CDRs, the message was spreading and reaching some important channels. Billy Woods, already active for a few years at the time, seized the moment to found a label – Backwoodz Studioz – which still stands today as the main platform for his albums and beyond. “Camouflage” followed the logic of the present: limited edition, CDR. A logic not only of hip hop but applied to various subgenres of popular music. It was a way to survive, to communicate and to find a way in an industry, in a world, in flagrant change. The path was remarkable and allowed Billy Woods to maintain a set of important fundamentals: the identity, the label, and a consistent discretion. He gives interviews, with an open tone about the music and the past, keeps his real name off the radar, and doesn’t let himself be photographed in the clear.
All this happens without the creation of myth, of secrecy, just an honest and continued way of saying that what matters is the music. And it is. Since 2003 the activity has been regular. Usual ups and downs without affecting the identity consistency and a sound – still – extremely connected to the imaginary of the “independent hip hop” of the beginning of the century. Proof of this are the two albums they released in 2022, “Aethiopes”, the result of a close collaboration with the producer Preservation, and “Church”. There is something that connects them to their roots, by genetics, by identity. Over the past two decades, the sound of Billy Woods has evolved with a progressive attention to detail and ways to communicate it: whether through the instrumentals, the samples used, or the references that abound in his music. A process of refinement that is perceptible in listening and that has kept Billy Woods above relevance, that is, without stagnating in the idea of “reference” and creating music with a will to exist in the present. It could only be this way. AS