Blixxack talks making of Afroppuccino, Blackmail; So Severe, STRAP, the diaspora and more
About two weeks ago Blixxack released his third mixtape suddenly and disrupted our ears with lyrical tracks some of which are close and personal paying homage to rappers like Enygma and a standout for So Severe. He breaks down the whole process of writing Afroppuccino and Blackmail.
Blixxack is currently in the USA and we had this chat over WhatsApp.
The following interview has been edited for clarity.
Ayella: I have listened to the tape and I am not sure if I know what is going on in the mind of Blixxack. First I would like to congratulate you on the tape; besides what we might know, what exactly is going on in the mind of post-Afroppuccino-Blixxack ?
I don’t see challengers on the mic.
Blixxack: Much appreciated, man. Post-Afroppuccino Blixxack is just in rap mode, to put it simply. With the album, I was experimenting with a lot of singing and was more focused on making that music that speaks to different listeners, hip hop and otherwise. I carried that on to projects that are yet to be released and it got a little repetitive, so I figured, why not return to the gritty stuff for a minute to take my mind off other things?
Ayella: Sort of thought like that. You often do get on rap challenges and you reference that on the tape that there are no emcee challenges. Is this what the rap mode, you mean?
Blixxack and Black are one and the same.
Blixxack: I do like participate in rap challenges. But in this instance, this was more of me challenging myself. The mixtape was unplanned, I just decided to give myself 7 days and spaz out. On the song Last Born Sinner, when I said “I don’t see no mc challenge,” I was just saying when I get in my zone, I don’t see challengers on the mic. You know how it gets with braggadocio rap.
Ayella: I know. Even in your braggadocio you take time to pay homage to So Severe my big brother too. Tell me, the story here
Blixxack: It can’t be all brag rap, that gets boring real quick. So Severe has been like a big brother since day one. Not just music-wise, just everyday life. We have been through a lot of life experiences together and have a lot of things in common that many people don’t know about. Seeing that he recently graduated and I wasn’t present to congratulate him, the next best thing for a gift was a song. And “Big Brother” is one Kanye made for his “big bro” Jay Z, so it was only right I did it justice to talk about mine on it.
Ayella:That’s amazing. It feels like this tape was everything happening at the time. And somewhat conceptualised in the moment. Is the Blackmail actually Blixxack’s mail or blackmail?
Blixxack: Blixxack and Black are one and the same. It’s just that the former is what I tend to associate more with album songs and the latter when it comes to that old Black that likes to go nuts on beats. I’m still yet to figure it all out myself but I think people can tell us apart…Sort of like Eminem and Slim Shady
Ayella: Which you harmonised on Afroppuccino. That LP touched very sensitive issues especially mental health. We had a short chat about it but I never got to ask: do you feel rappers have touched topics like depression, anxiety and the like to encourage people to stay afloat instead of submitting to these disorders. And thanks for the permission to use WYK last year at our event.
Blixxack: I think there are two groups of rappers, artists, and people in general…when it comes to such issues. Some choose to take the positive route and show others the better path while others do the reverse.
I think what I try to do is be part of the group that shows, takes the positive route. My way of doing it was first establishing it with the “QLC” (Quarter Life Crisis Interlude) which opens that chapter of the album, followed by “WYK” (What You Know). These talk about the dark times. They are followed by “Intoxication” and “Poison”, which show that the path of submitting to these disorders is not the best solution as it tends to lead nowhere, if not a worse spot.
I like to think my message was well received. And I appreciate you for using your platform to push for open discussions on mental health issues, which have been more or less taboo in our culture.
Ayella: WYK is forever my track. QLC too. How is it like being away from home and still have loyal fans at home that actually wait for releases. At this point you a diaspora artist. How is it like?
Blixxack: Man, it’s a blessing. It means a lot more than many understand. Being a diaspora artist has its ups and downs. Like, I couldn’t get the chance to appear at the hip hop awards where I had multiple nominations and a win. But at the same time, I think it gives me an opportunity to put Uganda (and East Africa, at large) on the map. I have a steadily growing fan base out here as well and it is nice when people from different parts of the world realize that we are just as skilled and capable as artists elsewhere.
But the most difficult part would be just not being home. At the end of the day, there’s no place like home
Ayella: As the GLOAT (I hope you meant Greatest lyricist of all time) should we anticipate for more?
Blixxack: I wouldn’t make such statements without having to back them up. There is more in the works for sure.
Ayella: Just to wrap up, you as a middle child and I as one, I loved that you chose that beat what agenda did you want to push since “everyone is King,… King of the trap…”?
STRAP is an extremely smart dude and like a big bro as well
Blixxack: There was no agenda. The tape was made in a week and there was no way I’d have had time for that kind of drama. I was just writing and rapping.
All it is is the fact that whenever I have been online in the past, I have seen people (fans, rappers, the media) proclaiming themselves or others as kings of the genre or sub genre… and I don’t know man, too many cooks tend to spoil the broth. But everyone is entitled to feeling like royalty if they please, a single line from me shouldn’t deter them from this. At the end of the day, I am supportive of most artist out there, and they know it’s all love…this is just like the NBA where players are kicking it like family after the playoffs are done. That is why no mcs have come to me with any complaints following the mixtape dropping. In fact, they have been nothing but supportive.
Blixxack: And I’m actually a first born. The title just so happened to be a play on words, you know, after Cole’s Born Sinner and Middle Child.
Ayella: You and Strap have found away of keeping fans home in sync buy being part of the moments here while you are away. I’ll be honest the day I listened to your verse on “UG On My Chest 2“, I felt the persona there. I always look back and think of that track when I see we don’t miss a moment from you like a music release.
Blixxack: Thanks a lot man. We try and do all we can to keep with out roots. STRAP is an extremely smart dude and like a big bro as well. Before Afroppuccino came out, I actually got to visit him and we I learned a lot as far as new ways approach this whole music, so he is one of the people to thank for how the project came out sounding.
Ayella: Did he co-produce or talked about angles for the LP?
Blixxack: No, he did not co-produce the album. But I actually got to use his studio to record some ideas that ended up on the album. What he mostly shared was knowledge about how to purchase exclusive instrumentals, registering music for royalties, and a lot of other information that most artists tend to overlook. And just getting to sit in for his recording sessions was a learning experience. Just seeing how he works and invests a lot of time from the writing, recording, to sitting with the producer and going over every single vocal…that was a great experience
Ayella: He is Uncle like he says on “Uncle Strap”
Blixxack: No doubt about it. He’s good peoples
Ayella: Yeah. I look forward to one time meeting him in person and you too.
Blixxack: No doubt my guy. When I get to UG, we shall. I’d love to meet you, get to talking hip hop and a lot of things that we haven’t got a chance to yet.