Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Origin Story: Billy Woods’ Favourite Albums

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

Photo by B.A Stubbs

The worldview of Billy Woods is digressive, bordering on dizzying. Not exactly a youngster, with an incisive perspective on world history, a small window of conversation with the NYC rapper, who finds time to talk in between West Coast shows, can quickly get eaten up with a forty minute prologue on the timeline of Brooklyn’s gentrification, or which CIA-backed foreign insurrection was closest to being justifiable at the time, before the topic of favorite albums is even broached.

While the world has been steadily catching up with his expansive vision, it’s some small degree of justice that Maps – Woods’ new album with Kenny Segal – is turning out to be the most well received entry in the rapper’s catalogue. Over Segal beats which – while maintaining the haunted jazz groove of the pair’s previous collaboration, 2019’s Hiding Places – go even further into esoteric vibeology, Billy Woods goes bird’s-eye ham over both the literal geography he’s been traveling over, and his own personal topography.

Although the rapper, with a jeremiadic boom to his tenor, has overly been portrayed as an end times preacher, on the new album he sounds almost playful, making the most of the hotel life, trading verses with Quelle Chris about the pleasures of showing up late to one’s own show. What might have in lesser hands been a self-indulgent cry-athon about having to travel for work, a hip hopera version of old hair metal tour bus videos, is instead a series of bopping meditations on ineffable destinations, as performed by a relentlessly nomadic thinker at his charismatic peak.

By his own admission, for his Baker’s Dozen, Woods leans heavily on albums from the 1990s. But, averse to cliche as he is, his list isn’t merely an overview of the so-called “golden age.” When asked whether some fans might be surprised at some of the albums that make the cut, Woods points out that any pigeon-holing that’s been done regarding the totality of his influences is neither an issue, nor his problem.

Billy Woods’ new album with Kenny Segal, Maps, is out now via Backwoodz Studioz. To begin reading his Baker’s Dozen, click the image below.

First Record

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