billy woods

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New York-based rapper billy woods is highly praised for his complex, literate rhymes and inventive flows, accompanied by boundary-pushing production. The enigmatic rapper frequently obscures his face in press photos and issues all of his music on his own label, Backwoodz Studioz. He began releasing albums in the early 2000s, with two solo efforts preceding material as part of supergroup the Reavers and duo Super Chron Flight Brothers. However, he was largely unknown until his 2012 solo album History Will Absolve Me began receiving attention. His profile has continued rising, with albums appearing nearly every year since. 2019′s Hiding Places (with Kenny Segal) and 2020′s BRASS (with Moor Mother) are two of his most praised releases, in addition to numerous albums with E L U C I D as the duo Armand Hammer. In 2022, woods addressed subjects related to history and religion with the full-lengths Aethiopes and Church.
Originally from Washington, D.C., woods lived in Zimbabwe and the West Indies as a child (his mother was a literary professor from Jamaica, and his father was a Zimbabwean political refugee). After moving to New York and briefly attending Howard University, woods became involved with the underground hip-hop scene and started rapping in the late 1990s. His debut album, Camouflage, was released as a limited CD-R through woods’ own Backwoodz Studioz, and contained several guest features by Vordul Mega of Cannibal Ox. This was quickly followed by The Chalice in 2004. He then participated in the Reavers, a collective which also featured Vordul Mega, Dom Pachino (Killarmy), Spiega (Monsta Island Czars), and many others. They released the album Terror Firma in 2005, as well as two singles and a mixtape. Super Chron Flight Brothers, a duo consisting of woods and Priviledge (a collaborator since Camouflage), formed and began releasing music in 2007. The debut full-length Emergency Powers: The World Tour featured the single “Dirtweed,” which was produced by MF DOOM, based on a song by his earlier group, KMD. Super Chron Flight Brothers released two more albums, Indonesia (2009) and Cape Verde (2010), before calling it quits.
Returning to his solo career, woods released History Will Absolve Me in 2012, with Roc Marciano and E L U C I D making appearances. It became one of his most acclaimed projects to date, and was followed by 2013′s Dour Candy, produced by Blockhead and featuring guest verses by Aesop Rock and Open Mike Eagle. The same year, woods and E L U C I D debuted their duo project, Armand Hammer, with the mixtape Half Measures and full-length Race Music. In 2015, woods released Today, I Wrote Nothing, and Known Unknowns, also produced mainly by Blockhead, appeared in 2017. Armand Hammer released Rome and Paraffin (2018), as the two members continued making frequent appearances on their respective solo releases.
In 2019, woods released Hiding Places (with producer Kenny Segal) as well as solo effort Terror Management (featuring guests such as Mach-Hommy and Pink Siifu). Armand Hammer’s Shrines and woods’ collaboration with Moor Mother, BRASS, both appeared in 2020. Haram, Armand Hammer’s collaboration with the Alchemist, was released to much acclaim in 2021. Two woods albums appeared in 2022. Aethiopes, produced by Preservation, focused on the history of the Black diaspora, while Church, produced by Messiah Muzik, addressed faith and religion. ~ Paul Simpson