INTERVIEW: The Tribe UG Chats With Blixxack.
It’s always refreshing (the conversation and music) whenever Blixxack is active on the scene. Over the years, he has become a name that is synonymous with when skill meets hard work. It’s 2021 and although he has an indisputable catalogue to comfortably back him up, we are seeing him at his best – YET AGAIN! There is a lot to unpack from his recent releases and we caught up with him to have a chat.
How have you been? Mentally, geographically, life and in terms of what you are trying to do with the music now?
I’m doing pretty good, man. Grateful for life, good health and the family. Creatively in one of the best zones, and staying lowkey as I tend to do. I moved from the US to Canada about 2 years ago and I’m adjusting to the change. Life’s pretty alright
How different is the music creation process now? Recording and releasing hip-hop as an artist working in Uganda is quite a challenge. How is it now, especially since we mostly assume you have access to resources in a more open market and culture?
My music creation process hasn’t changed much. I’ve always just written on my phone or pad, and you know, just hit the booth. The main difference now is that most things are closed or hours are weird due to lockdowns or restrictions.That means access to studios isn’t as simple, so I have had to go back to the home studio. I tend to keep to myself though, so I cannot speak much on how different the culture is; I really haven’t done a lot of networking here.That said though, I know that the hip hop scene here is active, and Canada’s been exporting some dope talents over the years.
You have been actively in touch with the industry. You jumped on the #42DaysOfUGHipHop and you have been on the scene since. What brought you back? Normally, you come quietly, drop your fire and leave like you are not the one that did it.
I’ve never really lost touch with the UG industry, and my Ugandan people, in general. I spent many years there, so I am fortunate to have friends and family that keep me updated on what is going on. The past three years or so, I had a lot going on in my personal life, but still managed to drop a mixtape in 2019, a collab EP with Tucker, and a 2021 EP. Writing, recording, releasing and promo kinda drained me, and I needed to just post music and get back into my world. Not sure there is a “special” reason I returned,…I just think towards the last half of this year, I finally was in a place where I could return to writing and dropping music, and I went with my gut. And here we are.
You’ve been dropping weeklies (weekly tracks) on your 52 weeks #WeeklyintheStudio series, a first of its kind in our industry. A few of us know the inspiration, but for the rest, where is this coming from?
The #WeeklyintheStudio series was directly inspired by one of my favorite rappers of all time, Kxng Crooked (1/4th of the Slaughterhouse). He was the first rapper to do this, and he had a “hip hop weekly” series between April 2007 and April 2008, and I believe he has done a few more of these.
On my debut album, I had a line that goes “I could drop weeklies like Kxng Crooked did”, and always hoped to deliver on it. I have had a few friends and fans ask once or twice if that was actually going to happen, but I never wanted to do it out of pressure.
I finally felt ready around mid-2021, about the same time the #42DaysOfUGHipHop was being discussed during lockdown. Long story short, I reached out to Koz N Effekt, and asked him if he’d be down to supply beats weekly if I had the bars. Thankfully, he was down to work and excited about it, and that was the inception of the series.
Dropping a track weekly is quite a task, besides the beats from KozNEffekt, are you a one man army, or there is an incredible team in the background working as hard as you?
I wish there was, but at the moment I remain a one-man army for sure. From the writing, recording, video shoots, edits, website and all. But these are things I enjoy anyway, and as I said, it is a challenge and I never expected it to be easy.
After listening to your “LORD I NEED YOU” freestyle, a lot came to mind. I followed the conversation on some platforms and you dug deep for this one. It reminds me of “WYK” on Afroppuccino, and these two songs portray you utilizing your platform to create mental health awareness. What can you tell us about mental health especially when you are doing art that is openly criticized, sometimes unjustly?
This is a tough one to answer, because when I make songs like WYK, and Lord I Need You, I do not have any fans or listeners in mind. It is just me writing sort of like in my “diary”.
The reception for them has been nothing but great. It is always bitter sweet though when listeners reach out and tell me they relate to such struggles, but you know…it has created room for some great conversations and friendships.
Rarely do I think twice about being criticized or judged for my vulnerability, but that is because over the years, I got comfortable in my skin and my abilities, so there is little anyone can say that will sway the topics I decide to discuss in my music.
You and Tucker HD have built a rapport that gives birth to two sides of an argument; some say it’s genius what you bring out of each other i.e the Open Time EP. Others think it’s a cheat code that’s been applied too often, and it’s no longer special. What don’t we understand about this crucial combination?
Tucker HD and I are way past just music…he’s like my brother, and that is the part some people do not get. We can out-rap anyone if we wanted to, but when we link up to make music, we are having fun and vibing. There is no formula…we send each other demos, ideas, and if we find something we both like, we execute.
I understand that our collaborative style isn’t for everyone, but at the end of the day, if we are happy with the product, that’s what matters. Those who gravitate to our art will always do, regardless. Can’t please everyone, and we do not attempt to.
You have solidified yourself as a very diverse artist. On tracks like “Samandari” & “Around your Finger” you sing and it’s epic, then when you rap, you are right within the comfort zone we all respect you for. In terms of collaborations, which artists are you hoping to work with to maximize the potential of when you sing and when you rap?
Thank you for the kind words on that. There are lots of people I am yet to work with, man. I’m just taking a break from collabs until I’m through with doing the weekly releases (other than a pre-recorded collab effort that I cannot speak much on…yet)
But there are too many to name, and some of the talks are already happening. It will be a lot of the newer faces on the scene though. I see a lot of refreshing talent.
We have noted a shift in the industry, making music for streaming platforms doesn’t cut it anymore. There is a shift to merchandise, licensing music for film and ads and a whole lot of other avenues. As a “Ugandan” artist, how do you view this space and how are you creating diversity for your brand?
There’s a strange way I have managed to “step out” of the industry standard, by sort of just doing things following my heart, not what the market dictates, so I may not be the best person to answer this. I will say that it is extremely important to diversify in any field one is in, more so to keep up with changes happening in the industry or the world.
We’ve seen the likes of HD have Vroom gear, Flex with the Rapaholix, Navio with Navcorp, The Mith with the SO Ug, etc. I think that’s a solid move and these guys have built a loyalty of sorts and it makes sense. The thought has crossed my mind and most of the caps I wear in the weekly releases are Blixxack merch samples whose production came to a pause during covid and put a stop to that plan. It is possible that I will have some merch or product for the fans, but it will be further down the road. If you are reading this and it is out, go cop it.
We are often very curious about your “private” but public life. Hardly any face in videos or photos, a very mysterious person and some say that you are Batman. As an artist that is on a path to a breakthrough that will throw you deeper into the limelight, how do you plan to manage the mystery?
Well, fingers crossed on the breakthrough. I am fortunate to be an independent artist so, really my image is mine to do as I please. For the most part, I like people to focus on the music, not the artist that makes it. Never understood the fascination with worshipping stars and wanting to know what goes on in their day to day lives. In a time where everyone is quick to post good, bad and everything in between online, for whatever reason, I prefer to enjoy the peace of mind that comes with a life of solitude and privacy. And I intend to keep it this way even when said “breakthrough” because that’s just how I am as a person.
Before I let you go, a few things we need to understand in a rapid fire sort of questioning. The fans wouldn’t forgive me if we didn’t cover these. Where did the name Blixxack come from?
Blixxack actually came from Black, when I used to go by Benny Black. Mainly started with Enygma just adding the “zak” to the end of it when we’d link up, and just all around studio. So, when I was rebranding, I realized someone else went by Benny Black, and Blizzack was trademarked, I opted to go with Blixxack, while also giving a nod to Crooked I who had also just rebranded to Kxng Crooked. You know, and in hopes that I’ll be two times as nice some day. Haha
Do you plan to return to UG and chase a career here? Can we count on you to make an appearance when the outside is fully opened and we can do concerts?
I cannot say much about returning to a full-on career but I definitely plan on returning and getting to share the stage with some of the artists I have been working with digitally, over the years. That would def be a dream come true and I’m working towards it.
And that concludes our interview with Blixxack. We appreciate him taking the time to talk to us, and for the fans, go to his YouTube and check out his weekly releases now that you know the backstory of #WeeklyintheStudioSeries link below: