Krip-Hop Nation ((KHN): Hey Billy Saga thanks for doing this interview. I want to start with the Hip-Hop scene in Brazil and your city Sau Paulo. Tell us all the ups & downs in the mainstream & underground Hip-Hop scene there.
Billy Saga: The scene in Brazil has been renewed constantly. Several new groups often appear innovating both in rhyme style, as in productions. The trap, like boombap, is the head of the new generation. Of course, the old crews maintains a strong presence, serving as a reference for beginners, but the new school has surprised the ability to innovate. Perhaps globalization has contributed to that process, facilitating the production. In the graffiti and break, it is difficult to see as much innovation as in rap. The old school still dominates these two elements.
KHN: As we all know the Olynpics just finished in Rio. Tell us in your view what did the Olympics do for the people in Brazil especially poor and disabled people.
Billy Saga: Brazil still has a very retrograde vision of people with disabilities. Sometimes, segregating, excluding and hurting the rights, sometimes treating us in paternalistic ways.
In paralympics its not different. The Olympic spirit has always had the aim of promoting peace, friendship, unity and inclusion between people. Here in Brazil, the route of the Paralympic torch was predominantly in assistance entities, it emphasized the stereotype that people with disabilities exists only in these ghettos. Aside from the fact that the performance of our Paralympians is considerably higher than the performance of Olympic athletes and the media when disclose such information, do it timidly.
Time passes but the culture insists in not democratize our access to what are our by rights.
The Olympics, due to its visibility in the media, turned over a billboard for sponsors and major brands, like everything in capitalism, distorting its main objective of promoting peace and friendship among peoples.
In 1936, the Berlin Olympics, Adolf Hitler, moved by his stupid idea of the inferiority of the black race, didn’t went to the award of the black American athlete Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals.
Do not give proper coverage of the games in the media and the lack of sponsorship to Paralympics athletes reflect the same violence and prejudice that Hitler committed once.
KHN: I saw a video, convida o grafiteiro, that displays an artwork outside, of you. Please explain this piece of art, where is it and why is it there?
Billy Saga: This work illustrates the cover of my first album “Me jogue aos lobos e eu volto comandando a matilha” (in english: “Throw me to the wolves and I’ll be back leading all of them”) and was made by my dude, the graffiti artist Chivitz. It was made into a skating lane in the neighborhood of Pari, by referral from a friend, the graffiti artist Markone. In fact there was no special reason to be there. We needed a wall to make the garfitti that illustrate the cover and this was what appeared to accomplish the job.
KHN: I read that you are also an advoate for people with disabilities. Tell us the stituation for people with disabilities in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Billy Saga: According to statistics from IBGE / 2010 Census, Brazil has about 45 million people with some form of disability, ie 24% of the population.
I’ve Created an non-governmental organization that through its events sensitizes and draws the attention of society to the rights of persons with disabilities in Brazil, as well as promotes the role of people with disabilities as actors in this inclusive process.
KHN: I also read that you became disabled after a motorcycle accident take us back and tell us what happen and how is your music/work helping spread awareness.
Billy Saga: I acquired my disability due to a motorcycle accident (I was hit on my bike by a police car that overran a red light, whose driver had their driver license expired) and i believe that the Rap saved my life. Today I see my rap like a hoisted resistance flag, able to raise awareness and lead to a kind of collective consciousness about the fundamental reflection on the duty to fight against social exclusion, historically emphasized by racism, prejudice and violence to disadvantaged minorities.
KHN: Tell us the meaning of your new album, Streets is Watching.
Billy Saga: “As ruas estão olhando” (in english “the streets are looking”) talks about rap roots, the rap that born on the street and is made for the street, for those who are on the streets living day-by-day rap, who has rap in their blood. And the street is a place that failures are not forgiven. The street has its own law.
KHN: I read that you are working with many Britian organizations like Unliminted and more. Tell us how did you make these connections and what are or did you work on?
Billy Saga: I have friends there that I met in Brazil. One of the projects I have there is BR2UK – a cultural exchange project between Brazil and the United Kingdom, created in November 2013 when, on his visit to Brazil, met the graffiti artist and Newcastle DJ Mudfoot Blaps. Within hours of talking, the musical and ideological line was established.
In the same month, we idealized and implemented two projects: HipHop Workshop for students of the Guri Project and Collective Graffiti and DJing at the First Meeting of Culture and Inclusion – Musical Differences here in Brazil. From that spark came the musical and cultural exchange project, uniting the hip hop scene of the two countries.
Conceived by Mudfoot Blaps and myself, the project aims to articulate Brazilian MC’s that record with British DJ’s and British MC’s that record with Brazilian DJ’s. We have released 2 EPs.
Another project is called Kid Campbell. My 2 friends Bem Glass (dub DJ from the great British band Dubkasm) and Dj Frenic (Hip Hop DJ) have teamed up to prepare remixes for my new album for the tour and launch of my album in September 2016. The name is a reference to Dj Kool Herc, who actually was named Clive Campbell. Campbell Kid means metaphorically Campbell’s son.
KHN: In your workshops what will participates learn?
Billy Saga: I talk about my experience in rap, and how the rap is important to me. About writing techniques and flow, metrics, etc. But I talk mostly about music to life.
KHN: I just finished interviewing another disabled Hip-Hop artist, Moyese Martins from the same city you are in, Sau Paulo. Have you two and other disabled Hip-Hop artists there ever hooked up and perform together?
Billy Saga: Moyses is a master. One of the main components of a São Paulo rap group, that now started a new career. We talked recently, but we haven’t opportunity to work together yet.
KHN: Do you feel that the Hip-Hop sceen there are open to have and support disabled Hip-Hop artists?
Billy Saga: It is cultural. Brazil is not prepared. And this is reflected in cultural events. But I want to see my rap recognized, regardless of my disability. There are fat MCs, high, low, wearing glasses. I am one who uses a wheelchair. It is not to deny my condition, either do not address the issue. Who listen to my lyrics know that I am what I am, with my pains and pleasures, but my rap is not limited to my physical condition.
KHN: What is next for you and how can people buy your new CD?
Billy Saga: Live one day at time. The seeds are planted and the planting is optional, but the yield is required. Streets is Watching! My disk is free through the site www.billysaga.com
KHN: How can people stay in contact with you and listen to your music online?
Billy Saga: In all social networks. All songs on the album “Streets is Watching” were launched on your channel YouTube – www.youtube.com/billysaga and are available for free download on the site www.billysaga.com and digital platforms: iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Youtube, Soundcloud, Deezer, ONErpm, Beats Music, Rdio, Radio UOL and Xbox Music.
KHN: Any last comments?
Billy Saga: I’m here for love and by my choice.
Pic: The graffiti artist Chivitz. It was made into a skating lane in the neighborhood of Pari, by referral from a friend, the graffiti artist Markone. It is graffiti of Billy Saga in his wheelchair with a pack of dogs. Background colors are orange and red