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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


Cypress Hill – Cypress Hill

This was a tough one, because part of me wanted to pick one of a number of Ice Cube albums, or even Ice Cube proteges The Lynch Mob, but I feel like the Cypress Hill album was one that stayed in my rotation for a long time at high school. And I feel like, Cube albums, as I remember them, would all too often confront me with like, ‘I can't fuck with the content of this song.’ Which is saying a lot, because with 90s gangster rap misogyny was taken for granted, right? There would be some wild songs, and ‘Black Korea’ was just a little too much. And I didn't always love the production throughout a record; Cypress Hill was one where I loved the production throughout the whole record. Also, with B-Real's voice I was like, ‘Is this guy serious?’ But then I really loved it. It’s another one that I was introduced to by Rap City, but that record got popular fast because I feel like I didn't even buy it. I caught a dub off somebody. I really messed with that first single. ‘How I Could Just Kill a Man’.

The production style was different from the stuff that I heard up until then. An influence? Definitely. That was the first album where I really was like, ‘Oh, this is weed everywhere.’ Although it didn't make me go smoke weed, it did make me more intrigued than I'd previously been. it was one of those albums where, like, none of these guys are the best rappers out, but the album is really good. Also it was political in ways that I think people don't see as much in retrospect. I was on the East Coast and West Coast music was big at the time, but I'm not ear to the ground or anything. I'm finding these things out as they're coming out. I don't know who is who. I don't have any real view of the scene or to know who begat who. But ‘Pigs’, ‘How I Could Just Kill a Man’, ‘Hand On the Pump’. I messed with it. It felt quirky for a rap record, but a light-aggro quirkiness.