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Pilla B (Photo: Supplied)
Pilla B (Photo: Supplied)

Interview: Q&A

Pilla B talks “Careless (Freestyle),” his next EP, drill music & more

After teaming up with Moula 1st and Pvrx for the New Years Day single “Repercussion,” Toronto artist Pilla B remained relatively quiet for a large part of the 2020 campaign. That all changed in early October when he started promoting his single, “Vanilla.”

The Burd & Keyz-produced “Vanilla” marked the debut of a new stream of music from the Rexdale-native which will culminate in 2021 with the release of his next EP. Along with a fresh sound, “Vanilla” also introduced a vibrant new animated series featuring characters inspired by Pilla himself—the good and the bad. Powered by director and animator Andre Barnwell, the video for “Vanilla” has been viewed over 50K times on YouTube since it’s release on Oct. 22.

After dropping visuals for his “Rags to Riches (Freestyle)” on Nov. 22—jumping on the instrumental for the popular Rod Wave single—Pilla B leaned on Barnwell once again for his latest visual offering. While “Vanilla” was animated from start to finish, the “Careless (Freestyle)” features a real life Pilla interacting with the animation, and even morphing into the characters at various points of the story. Overall, it makes for a really interesting and unique dynamic.

“I met Andre through Jamal, a member of our team over at Public,” Pilla B explained during a recent e-mail based interview.

“He’s mad creative and I think I’m going to have him around for a while.”

Pilla B

Pilla B (Photo: Supplied)

While the beginning of the year might have felt a little quiet for Pilla fans hungry for new material, there seems to be no stopping him now as he works towards his next EP. And he might only have two new official releases under his belt this year, but he’s also been extra busy supporting albums and singles from other artists in the community.

In fact, Tizzy Stackz, Cheffie, Moula 1st, and Kin Crew all featured Pilla on an official release, while 6ixBuzz tapped him for an appearance on their popular Northern Sound (Deluxe) compilation.

Along with discussing his latest releases, our interview with Pilla B features the “You Ain’t Outside” rapper discussing the impact of signing to a major label, drill music, his next EP, connecting with fans, and more. You can find the Q&A below.

“Careless (Freestyle)” is HipHopCanada’s Song of the Day. The track is available on various digital streaming platforms including Apple Music and Spotify via Public Records / Universal Music Canada.

Q&A: Pilla B

HipHopCanada: Pilla B, welcome to the HipHopCanada community. 10-15 years from now, what do you think you will remember the most about this crazy year?

Pilla B: I think I’ll remember how much people started waking up this year. A lot more people are aware of what’s going on in the world and I feel like it’s about time.

HipHopCanada: Let’s get into your latest releases. I’m really feeling the “Vanilla” single and video. I wish it was a bit longer to keep it 100 but overall I think it’s one of the strongest and creative releases to come out of Toronto in 2020. A lot of people are feeling the animated characters you introduced. Have you given any more consideration to turning it into a larger series?

PB: I have decided that we’re going to turn it into a series. I’m just trying to connect all the dots with the team to make sure it’s something worth watching.

HipHopCanada: How did you connect with animator Andre Barnwell? Are there any more collaborations with Andre in the works?

PB: I met Andre through Jamal, a member of our team over at Public, he’s mad creative and I think I’m going to have him around for a while.

HipHopCanada: The “Careless (Freestyle)” is really dope. What inspired the track and how did it come together?

PB: When I made “Careless” it came from me being at a really weird part of my life. I was watching Drake perform and I was feeling mad discouraged like, ‘how the fuck am I gonna get there?’ and I was just down on myself. So, I decided to point out the careless things I do.

HipHopCanada: How did signing to a label impact you as an artist?

PB: Signing to a label helped me make a name for myself and not worry about paying for certain things that an independent artist would have to 6.

HipHopCanada: You recently connected with the good people at We Love Hip Hop for their 200th episode (shout out WLHH!). During the interview you mentioned “cracking the seal” before really feeling like you can do what you want as an artist. How do you define cracking the seal and getting in your own lane? A lot of people would argue that there’s no one else like Pilla B on the Toronto scene. So is it based on sales / numbers? How do you measure it?

PB: I define cracking the seal as accumulating the right amount of money and fans to make my own moves and do exactly what I desire with my music and my creative expression of said music.

HipHopCanada: It seems that more rappers are being impacted by gun violence more than ever, with each generation being wilder than then one before them. The bottom line is fans are eating it up and there’s big numbers associated with the drill sub-genre. Do you ever see drill music and the drill scene losing its appeal? Why or why not?

PB: Drill music will die just like every other genre. People will wake up and realize it’s not as cool as it seems when people they love are dying over music at that.

HipHopCanada: What can we expect from your next EP?

PB: My next EP is a compilation of different times throughout my lil’ adventure that I’m on. A lot of expressive lyrics and catchy melodies. You know me, baby.

HipHopCanada: Will there be any more singles before the project drops?

PB: I have a couple more freestyles to release but no singles, we’re getting to the big bag next year.

HipHopCanada: Any upcoming collaborations you can let out of the bag?

PB: I ain’t even really been in my collaboration bag. I’m tryna establish myself as an artist. You might see some of the mandem on my joints but that’s it for now.

HipHopCanada: In that same WLHH interview, you mentioned exploring the idea of doing parking lot performances, and possibly even IG Live. As the pandemic continues on, have you and your team given more thought to how you can better connect with fans?

PB: I’m trying to do everything I can to connect with fans but man this pandemic is fuckin with us. But we’ll figure it out.

HipHopCanada: Are there any new artists or producers in Rexdale that really excite you?

PB: I’m actually working with my young demon right now. He’s almost ready to come out and take over. But we still have some fine tuning to do.

HipHopCanada: What do you do to step away from the stress and workload that comes with being in the music industry. Do you have any hobbies you can share etc. that people might not expect from you?

PB: I play a lot of Xbox. Catch me on that 2K. Maybe a little Call of Duty. I also love spending time with my kids.


Pilla B performing in Ottawa Sept. 2018

HipHopCanada: I first met you in Ottawa during a listening party we set up in collaboration with your label Public Records. Public (aka Gavin Sheppard) introduced us to your music before the release of 1YTD and spoke on how highly he believed in your talent and potential. How did you first connect with Gavin? What kind of role is he playing in your day to day movements?

PB: Gav is just great. I met him at a time where everything was going to shit, spiraling out of control. He has a way of blocking everything out and focusing on goals. Which I feel like I’ve adapted from him. We chop it up about everything. He’s more of a brother than a label-head / manager. Shout out broski.

HipHopCanada: Are you satisfied with what you’ve achieved as an artist this year?

PB: This year as an artist I’ve gotten a few accolades not as many as I’d have liked to have due to some legal issues and this pandemic. But next year will be better.

HipHopCanada: And as a part 2 to my previous question, what do you hope to achieve in 2021? What would make the year a success?

PB: Next year a bigger bag. More records and progress all around.

Artwork for Careless (Freestyle) by Pilla B

You can follow @_PillaB on Instagram.

Interview conducted by Jesse Plunkett for HipHopCanada

5 Ways to Support HipHopCanada:

Jesse founded in 1999 and is currently the organization's Co-President & Editor-in-Chief.

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