Native Chalmation, competitive gamer, and New Orleans battle rap champion Billsberry Flowboy can probably rhyme faster than you. After dominating the battle scene for four years in a row, he released his fi rst album with 8 Bit Anatomy and DJ Scratchamo called Battlefl ows. With his second production in the works, Where Y’at caught up with the Flowboy to learn about battle rap, Marvel versus Capcom, and all the different ways you can carve a pumpkin. Whether you’re into underground hip-hop or not, you have to admit he has pizzazz.
WYAT: What got you started in rap battles?
Billsberry Flowboy: I actually did my fi rst rap battle to impress a girl. She invited me to a battle and so I entered without telling her. I won the battle but she didn’t show because she was too hungover. I ended up dating her for six years.
WYAT: Were you nervous the first time?
BF: Yes. I still get nervous, but battles have a lot of energy, and I feed off that. The better the other rapper is, the better I am.
WYAT: What’s the worst diss you ever heard in a rap battle?
BF: Usually, the battles aren’t that personal. Everyone is a really good sport. I shake everyone’s hand after. There was one heated battle though. He called my girlfriend out by name and said he had sex with her.
WYAT: How do you prepare for a performance?
BF: I memorize stuff, like anytime I’m driving, I’m practicing. I can do “Mental Giant” by Tech 9. It helps me get hyped and is a really good exercise in how to breathe.
WYAT: How has gaming inspired your music?
BF: Gaming inspires my music because I always try to write what I know. Gaming is a part of my life, but I’m not a “Gamer Rapper.” It’s not my main focal point.
WYAT: What game are you playing right now?
BF: Marvel vs. Capcom
WYAT: Who’s your favorite character?
BF: Deadpool. He’s known for breaking the “fourth wall” and talking to the audience.
WYAT: How and when did you start playing competitively?
BF: There was a Madden tournament down at the Riverwalk, and I entered that. I lost in the fi rst round but someone found out I rapped and organized a battle with one of the other contestants that was also out. I ended up performing in front of the whole audience and they gave me one of the Madden challenge jerseys that are reserved for contest winners. The relationship between rapping and gaming can be really poetic.
WYAT: Are you still gaming competitively?
BF: After I went to Evolution last year [placing in the top 100 out of 700], I decided to stop “training” and put the energy I was using to game into my music. Competitive gaming takes a lot of time and dedication. That is time I could be using to make music. It would be a shame not to let the rap develop.
WYAT: Have you ever incorporated an element of gaming in your shows?
BF: Just once. It was for good friend’s birthday party at Republic. Since we are both into gaming we set up some head to head battles and I did a performance. It was a really fun event.
WYAT: Has that been your favorite performance to date?
BF: Actually, I got to perform at House of Blues and that was epic. The whole time I was thinking, “I saw the Deftones here!” I’m a big Deftones fan. The video shoot for “My Own Summer” was cool too. All these fans came out to Rockin’ Rumors; it’s a good feeling to see a bunch of hands up during a performance.
WYAT: Is it intimidating to be a white rapper out of New Orleans?
BF: No, not at all. I’m kind of an outsider. There are local cats who go out to shows with a crew, but I think my music speaks for itself.
WYAT: Do you have any local mentors?
BF: Before I started battling, I was timid. I did slam at Café Reggae through the Baton Rogue Poetry Alliance and that helped me get experience. After that, Impulss was the MC that encouraged me to keep battling in the beginning. Also, Jeff from Media Darlings. I took a couple year break after I fi rst started battling and then DJ MoKro invited me to battle at Off the Dome. I won every battle except one. People were coming up to me with business cards, and I knew I had to make a CD.
WYAT: Your first album Battleflows is with 8 Bit Anatomy and Dj Scratchamo; what’s next?
BF: My new album will be released sometime in January or February. It’s a collaboration with DJ MoKro.
WYAT: How would you say your music has changed from when you first started battling in 2004 to the tracks on your next album?
BF: At fi rst battle rap was all I did. It can get old. With my new stuff, I want to steer away from complaining about mainstream music. I want to expand the topics of mainstream hip-hop and speed it up a little. I’ve realized if you can focus more on yourself, your music becomes more individualized. I want to get to that next level.
WYAT: What sets you apart from other rappers?
BF: Being able to freestyle. If you can allow yourself to go over a beat with no restrictions it reveals your style, it reveals your fl ow, even if what you’re saying doesn’t make sense. My experience battling has made me a better writer. Freestyling is like eating your Wheaties.
WYAT: How do you describe your style?
BF: It is my personal belief that style outweighs subject: It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Either way, you should make it apparent that your verse took thought. Like swag for example; swag is an adjective. I’m not really a fan of swag. I prefer razzle-dazzle or pizzazz.
WYAT: Do you find balancing your day job and being an artist difficult?
BF: The only thing that is hard is fi nding time to take advantage of every opportunity. Also, getting on a regular sleep schedule. I’m usually not inspired to do greatness until between 1 - 4 a.m.
WYAT: How do you combat writers block?
BF: I have to be in the right mood. Sometimes I can’t write a verse or anything for three months and then it comes to me and I will be up all night. I listen to instrumentals to get hyped; like, Aesop is good. Right now I’m also feeling High Jacked by Tyga. I’d like to make my own beats but there is a lot of pressure when you have to pay per hour for studio time. You’re trying to create something and it’s like “Holy shit, I owe you how much?”
WYAT: Do you get feedback from anyone?
BF: When I fi nish a verse there are three or four people I call who will tell me if they think it is awful. But I haven’t heard that in a while.
WYAT: Any closing words?
BF: Sometimes I try to be so ridiculous that I can’t be taken seriously. But people still take me seriously. Oh, and follow me on Twitter @ Billsberryfl ow, where I can teach you how to carve a 1971 Dodge Challenger out of a pumpkin and unravel the mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle.