Billy Pilgrim
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Billy Pilgrim

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Established on Jan, 2013
Solo Hip Hop Punk



The best kept secret in music


"Billy Pilgrim: From hip-hop to hardcore"

When Rashad Jamaal says, “I try to stay productive,” he’s putting it mildly.

The Point Breeze native and Pittsburgh CAPA and Slippery Rock University graduate became a fixture at the former Shadow Lounge working as rapper Billy Pilgrim (a nod to Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five”) and fronting “funk-punk-psych-hop” band Mega Def.

Junk Foods
With: Devin West, Lazy Blackman, more.
Where: Belvedere’s, Lawrenceville.
When: 9 p.m. Sunday.
Admission: $5
Now, as he’s about to embark on a solo tour of Brazil, he’s taken on two new wildly different projects: He’s paired up with DJ Thermos for a hip-hop duo called Junk Foods, and he’s signed on as the new frontman for hardcore punk band Killer of Sheep.

When he isn’t doing that, he’s working on murals at Whole Foods or Belvedere’s or finishing paintings for a two-day show this weekend at Percolate in Wilkinsburg.

Junk Foods, releasing its debut EP “Cheap Music” Sunday at Belvedere’s, is a brighter jazzy-funky departure from the “Big Empty Things” record he released as Billy Pilgrim.

“It’s definitely way more up-tempo, with more electronic influences, whereas the other one was darker with more instrumentation,” he says. “This project has more future sounds on it, and I’m trying to bring some fun back to the content, like a throwback to De La Soul when they were working Prince Paul with a little bit of MF Doom.”

‘Adios, amigo! Art by Jamaal & Ziller’
Where: Percolate, 317 S. Trenton Ave., Wilkinsburg.
When: 6-9 p.m. Friday and noon-4 p.m. Saturday.
The appeal of working with Thermos, whom he met at the Shadow Lounge, he says, is that “he’s down to perform, whereas a lot of producers are not necessarily performing, they’re just in the background. This is more like a group thing.”

Requiring a completely different skill set is his role replacing Ollie McClellen in Killer of Sheep, a rare all-African-American hardcore punk band led by Pittsburgh scene veteran Oyo Ellis of Battered Citizens. The group has a vinyl album due in the fall, for which he also painted the cover.

“I would never have considered myself a punk, but I have [punk] friends, and I’ve been to my share of shows,” he says. “I’m definitely using my voice in a different way. You gotta learn how to control it like an instrument, ’cause it’s very easy to say, ‘It’s loud, so I have to scream,’ and then you blow out your voice. But it’s definitely like a controlled chaos and requires different breath control.”

Mr. Jamaal says he’s always been eclectic in his music tastes, starting with the first tape he bought on his own: Biz Markie’s “Ultimate Diabolical.”

“And I remember around seventh grade, summer camp, one of the counselors gave me a mixtape, and on one side it had Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Band of Gypsys’ and the other side it had Funkadelic. There was no turning back after all that.”

As for why he wants to juggle so many projects, at 35, he says, “Ain’t getting any younger but gradually bringing everything together. I just want to do it on my own terms in a way that makes sense. I definitely feel like my best work lies ahead of me. I certainly don’t want to check out as an ‘old rapper.’”

Scott Mervis:; 412-263-2576. Twitter: @scottmervis_pg. - SCOTT MERVIS Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"The Local 913: Junk Foods"

Junk Foods is a Pittsburgh hip-hop duo made up of rapper Billy Pilgrim and producer DJ Thermos, who’s real name is Amos Levy. The two met through the hip-hop scene that surrounded the East Liberty club, The Shadow Lounge and eventually began collaborating. According to DJ Thermos:

“We’ve got a similar ear for what we like to hear in music and a lot of similar reference points; especially the late 90s early 2000s independent hip-hop scene. We connected over our love of similar underground creative approach to boom-bap. We’re not interested in being stuck in the past and redoing the same style over and over again. We’re trying to do a creative version of that sound and stay true to our interests and roots while continuing to push things forward and try new things.”

Their approach to creating fun, accessible rap music that lies outside the box is one rooted in their independent spirit.

“Less than a month ago I went out to do some shows in Germany and France with him [Pilgrim], which sounds glamorous. It was really like going to squats and youth culture centers and doing a lot of DIY shows. We love that, too. We have a punk ethos wrapped up in what we’re doing. It’s very DIY built off of community. We’re not gunning to be stylish rappers with expensive bottles of liquor in the club. It’s a different goal and a different approach.”

For more on Junk Foods, check out Billy Pilgrim’s Bandcamp. - Wyep 91,3


Still working on that hot first release.



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