I write stuff on my hands, like “I’m going to win”.
Mr. Elliott Bill Phillips aka “E.B. Phillips” or “Mr. Phillips” is an emcee based out of Brooklyn, NY and very much based in the sub-genre of conscious hip-hop. His lyrics are poetic, creative and inspired. E.B. Phillips is confident in his artistry but humble in demeanor, he is raw and real- as in he doesn’t feel the need to hide anything and it reflects in his music as well. That can be hard to find in the hip-hop scene where artists are constantly trying to make themselves sound better on paper. This skilled underground rapper uses language to make what’s happening in real flesh appealing to hear about in song.
While on tour with Orgone as a “pro merchandise hustler” I invited E.B. Phillips out to a show at Brooklyn Bowl in NYC. I was posted up at my merch booth for most of the night but the few times I checked in on him during the show I could tell by the huge smile on his face that he was thoroughly enjoying himself. Phil is the kind of person that really appreciates the work of other talented artists. He intentionally pays attention to what’s happening in the hip-hop/R&B music scene around him and consciously seeks out other artists to collaborate with on projects.
After the show was over and the crowd had dispersed I pulled him aside and was able to conduct a short interview amongst the array of T-shirts and CDs at my merch booth to ask him about his creative process and recent undertakings. The following dialogue between us highlights the process of someone who is seeking constant growth in his art form through participating in heated Beastmode NY Battles with other emcees and displaying a willingness to step outside the boundaries of his comfort zone with songs that are edgier and angrier such as newly released track, “Ricochet”.
Sara Tiberio: So I’m here with E.B. Phillips. I’m gonna ask him a few questions here…
E.B. Phillips: (I’m here!)
ST: get to know him; get to know what he’s all about.
EBP: Get to know me!
ST: Okay, Mr. Phillips…Can I call you Mr. Phillips?
ST: What I would like to know is what project or upcoming collaboration (I know you’ve been collaborating with some different artists) you’re most excited about right now.
EBP: Um I made a song with Josh Russel of the Numm Skulls, “One Step”, and it sounds really cool. I don’t know when I’m going to drop the song but I think people will like it.
ST: Can you describe a little bit what that’s going to be like?
EBP: It’s very empowering and positive and jam-y.
ST: Ohh Jam-y. I like that. So we’re going to stay tuned for when that’s going to come out.
ST: Now over the years you’ve sort of been inspired by different things, different artists, and I’m wondering currently are there any artists that are inspiring you or anything in particular that’s driving your music right now?
EP: The way Alex Claire sings. I really, really like it. Um. I’ve been battling a lot. That’s very inspiring. Trying not to have other Emcee’s eat my food.
ST: So does that sort of push you to be a better Emcee?
EBP: It pushes me to be more angry and mean to people.
ST: And how does that contribute to your music career?
EP: I just dropped a song called Ricochet that’s really mean. (Get the song here).
ST: And is that showcasing a different side of your talents?
EBP: Usually I’m making like love songs and conscious songs. But like I heard the beat and I was like, “Yeah, hit him in the kneecap with a brick”.
ST: Okay, so you’re breaking out of your box a little bit and that’s a good thing for artists to do because if you get too locked in a small box then you’re not going to grow. So it’s good that you’re putting yourself out there.
ST: So I saw you battle in a video and it seems like your concentration was not broken at all, like you just didn’t flinch at anything. What kind of mental state are you in or what is going through your head when you’re doing that?
EBP: “Don’t forget your bars.” “Be mean.” “Eye contact.” I actually forgot some bars, but I pretended like I didn’t!
Me: So you’re just sort of you know… reminders in your head.
EP: I write stuff on my hands, like “I’m going to win”. And like the first couple words of each rap.
ST: Pumping yourself up. That’s good.
EBP: It looks bad on camera. I have to do it more discretely.
ST: Right you’re going to have to figure out- like, mantras in the head.
ST: Alright. Um so what would you say you’ve improved upon the most in the past three years?
EBP: Hmm I definitely battle rap a lot better. I would proly go with that.
ST: So your freestyle game?
EBP: Um when I battle I don’t- like I’ll freestyle if I forget my shit or like if a really cool idea pops up but it’s mostly written.
ST: So prewritten but memorized.
EBP: Yeah. I would say my presence is better, my understanding of melody, I sing better, I rap better.
ST: What about your writing process? Do you like set aside time to sit down and write music or is it just sort of as inspiration comes then you’ll start, ya know, working on something?
EBP: A lot of times I just get hooks or melodies in my head. Um I recorded a bunch of them and I have one of my friends reverse engineering them, like just making melodies with the melodies I came up with. But usually I’ll set aside like an hour and loop a beat and just sit there free-styling in the corner.
ST: Alright so we’re just getting into the mind of Mr. Phillips a little bit.
ST: Now what I want to know about is how living in Brooklyn has affected your music, what the scene is like here and why you’re choosing to stay here and be a part of this music scene.
EBP: I run into people who can rap better than me here. That doesn’t really happen in other places. They’re not nice enough.
ST: Good point. Do you think that you will ever try and go somewhere else or just stay here?
EBP: I’ve been wanting to move to Colorado. For obvious reasons… beautiful scenery…
ST: Haha. So you may be moving to different places both musically and physically.
Here are the different places you can find the music creations of Mr. E.B. Phillips: