Black Camillion brings to us the essential African roots of the Griot (historian, storyteller, poet, musician); someone who keeps the people informed, educated, entertained and aware. His life experiences – being shot, being a hustler in the street, being imprisoned – are what some would see as very negative. However, for B.C., it was only by walking through those dark doors and choosing to step into the light that he could awaken to his true calling. He is someone who is genuine and real enough for people to recognize him as a Griot and Artist. He knows us, tells us about ourselves and we can truly hear him. He does this not only through song, but through his hands on work with young people. Black Camillion calls us into the truth – to turn our own darkness into light. “Where you be?”
How did you get started on this journey of music and telling stories through rhyme and rap?
Well I started rhyming after I was shot to help me remember and then it became the way I released my pain.
How old where you when you got shot and what impact did that experience have on your life, your thinking, your art?
I was 16 and it changed me completely. It made me angry and bitter towards life itself. I didn’t care for anything at that time, but, music saved me because it let me express my feelings without fear of judgement.
Where did the name Black Camillion come from and what does this mean to you?
My name came from me always having a different hustle and being bad but never showing my emotion. My name means black c-a-million because I was about my hustle and my grind since I was young.
We don’t want to talk about genre. Instead, we want you to talk about the nature and the backgrounds of the stories that you tell. What are some of the things that you talk about?
My music is a reflection of my life, my trails and tribulations that I’ve faced in life or witnessed. I’m very emotional. I wanna touch your soul through my pain to let you know that you’re not alone in this world. Many of us go through the same things in life; the difference is so small.
Some artists are content with staying the studio and creating. Performance is also a part of what artists do. How important is performance for you as an artist?
I love to perform because my fans, or those who don’t know me, have a chance to really get to connect with me and also they can feel the energy from each song. So to me it’s major.
How did serving time change you as a human being and an artist?
As I got older it became harder and harder because the time was longer which made me focus on where my life was going and how it affected the people I love. But my hardship in life has made me stronger and I know I can make it through anything because of what I’ve already gone through.
You do a lot of mentoring with young people. What is the name of the organization that you work with and what do you do with the kids?
“Capital Punishment Harrisburg Boxing Club” is the name of the program that involved. It’s called “THE YOUNG PRO’Z PROGRAM” we teach life skills, conditioning, boxing and work on the kids being a better and more self-aware person.
What is most prominent on the minds of these children? And, what kinds of thoughts, activities or conversations do you have to steer them away from the most?
Well, real life is what everyone has on their mind but, for the most part myself and Coach Abdullah work with them on the aspect of being different and following what’s right, not what the norm does, not giving in to peer pressure, and things of that nature.
The fact that you are known as a recording artist and these kids are familiar with some of your work, how does that impact your ability to interact with these kids?
My music helps me relate with the kids a lot more because although I’m viewed as an adult, my music let’s them know that I understand what they go through as well. It more or less levels the field.
You seem to have that “something” that attracts people or other artists to you. They want to work with you. As a result, you’ve become internationally known because of your work with people in other countries. How do you feel you are perceived in other countries versus here in the U.S.?
As of right now, I’m very grateful for the love and support I receive from any and everyone. I think hip hop is more appreciated overseas. But again I wanna thank everyone who has taken time out to listen to me and support me.
Not only are you an artist, but you’re a working man and a dad. Is it challenging to balance everything — you sons’ needs, working to pay the rent, finding time to write and record, etc.?
Yes, it is very challenging but without sacrifice we will never truly understand success. “HARDSHIP BREEDS GREATNESS” is what I was told by a dear friend.
Where do you hope that we find Black Camillion in three years?
Honestly I hope that I’m able to continue to do music and that this music business is my full time job also affecting the lives of others for the good in them.
We all die. At some point our lives are over. What will be your legacy for your fans and your children to look back on?
I want them to see me as a man of many mistakes, but no regrets and as someone who has the courage to fight even when the odds are against me. I want them to learn from my mistakes and be better than me, to surpass me mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. I want them to never settle for less, always be yourself and dare others to be different.