August 28, 2018
When it comes to facts or interesting stories, this is a great one. How do you get taken seriously as a rapper in the music industry? The answer for two young men from Scotland was to pretend to be two American rappers from the West Coast. A brazen move, the lie was soon out of control but it makes for a great story…
Gavin Bain and Billy Boyd had met at college in Dundee and loved rap. They wanted to be the next big thing in the industry but due to their accents were derided by executives as ‘The Rapping Proclaimers’. Despite the fact their demos were good enough to earn them record company meetings, within 20 seconds of performing their first track live they were laughed at because ‘real’ rappers did not come from Scotland.
Heartbroken but undeterred, Bain and Boyd decided to fix their image and have another go. Within just a few weeks they were now going as Silibil N' Brains (Boyd and Bain), two obnoxious rappers from Huntington Beach in California, who had met over a rap battle contest in San Francisco. Playing up their invented personas, the two men became monstrous, obscene and egotistical, which the industry absolutely loved, seeing them a new version of The Beastie Boys or memorably describing them as '"Two Eminems".
They were quickly signed up by Jonathan Shalit, the man who had discovered Charlotte Church. From there they were signed to a record deal with Sony who negotiated for them to appear on channels like MTV, got them attending the BRIT Awards and had them supporting Eminem’s rap super group D12 on tour. The only problem with the plan was that Bain and Boyd had to keep up their act almost 24/7, lying to fans, fellow musicians and all of the business people they came into contact with.
Silibil N' Brains managed to keep going for three years, a few times almost coming unstuck in their lie, most notably being when they saw Proof and the rest of D12 for the first time. Having previously bragged that they were friends of the rapper, and with all eyes on them, they went straight in for a hug when they saw him, explaining how great it was to see him again. Suitably confused and not wanting to be rude, Proof went along with everything because hey, maybe he had met them before?
As with any lie, the longer it went on the harder it was for the duo to maintain their deception. They absolutely hated the characters they had created, even if some in the industry thought they were the next big thing, and the understandable stress of being someone you aren’t each and every day began to take its toll. Incredibly even Bain’s Texan girlfriend never suspected a thing.
When Sony’s merger and subsequent job losses left them strung out to dry – with their first single being delayed by six months – Boyd decided to call it a day and return to his wife in Scotland, where he was expecting a child. Bain continued for a little while but also finally called it a day, revealing the hoax. The wasn’t the last of the rappers however; they reunited for The Great Hip Hop Hoax, a documentary of their story in 2013, and released an EP to celebrate the film titled Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
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By Henry Fosdike