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Baker's Dozen

Origin Story: Billy Woods' Favourite Albums
Zachary Lipez , May 24th, 2023 08:25

As he releases acclaimed new album Maps alongside Kenny Segal, underground hip hop mainstay Billy Woods takes tQ through the thirteen records that have defined his life, from Goodie Mob to Ghostface Killah


Capone-N-Noreaga – The War Report

I'm living in Harlem and there's a dude on the ground floor who my roommates got to know. And so subsequently, I kind of knew him. We'd smoke weed together and stuff. He was a wild dude. First person in New York City to show me a firearm. He had a MAC-10 in his closet. And he lived there with his daughter and his girlfriend and eventually his girlfriend's brother, who was home from prison, which turned into its own story. This dude, later on, would try to rob me, I guess successfully, but that was all later, way down the road. At that time, he was the one who put me on to Jay-Z’s Streets Is Watching. I hadn’t really checked for Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt that much, like, I heard the singles, I knew he existed, but we’d watch the Streets Is Watching DVD in his apartment and it kind of was like, ‘Oh shit. Maybe this guy is dope. He has a whole movie.’ And that was really a moment where Jay-Z became more of a thing, for me. But more important than that, he had The War Report.

Maybe a year before, I was with [photographer] Alex Richter, and we went to the record store in Maine where he lived. And I was trying to choose what tape to buy. At this point I'm not plugged into radio or anything. I'm nowhere near New York, just going to record stores and just trying to buy stuff off of the cover and who's affiliated. I remember being like, ‘Killarmy or War Report, I'm not going to buy two albums with guys in camouflage on the cover,’ so iinstead I bought Killarmy’s Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars. That is an underrated record, but it was a mistake. So, War Report I heard later. He’s playing the record with this cat who lives in the building and we'd smoke and listen to it. And then I started to be like, ‘This shit is crazy. Crazy!’ I start listening to it more. You know, not the most wholesome of content, but as far as New York City street shit, that album is the very best of all time for me in that category.