‘Sikka’—remember this name, because a few years from now, this rapper’s going to take over the music charts.
Bill Okeya Stanislaus is wickedly talented. A lyrical genius, an excellent storyteller and a heavy hitter, Bill (stage name ‘Sikka’) hails from Fond St. Jacques, Soufriere. The 23-year-old,who discovered his love for rap music at the innocent age of nine, constantly listened to the ‘forbidden’ sounds of rappers like 50 Cent, Jay Z and Kanye West as a child.
If you ask him, he’ll tell you he had no business listening to these rappers at that age; still, his love for the genre increased every day.
“My uncle bought me a Discman when it just came in style and I needed CDs for it. I went inside my dad’s van and he had a whole case of CDs in there so I got a 50 Cent one (‘The Massacre’) and I started listening to it. From there I just got hooked and turned into a music junkie,” he said to me in an interview on Tuesday (November 13).
His dream came to fruition at 16—an eager Sikka recorded his first song(a reggae-rap fusion) with fellow artiste Bobby Williams entitled ‘One More Chance’.Later, the budding artiste joined a music group called ‘The Militant Soldiers’.
“I was the only person in the group doing Hip Hop music; everybody else was doing Soca, Dancehall and Reggae. I used to do a little bit, but that’s not my thing,” he said.
The group dissolved years later and the members went their separate ways.
“They started losing interest in the music, I guess they didn’t want to do it anymore, but I was still into it and kept on doing it. I started going to Anse La Raye and other places to record music and better my craft and then after I got a scholarship to attend the Saint Lucia School of Music which helped a lot,” the artiste shared.
“I learnt how to read music, how to enhance musical performances, how to play the drums, stage organization, engineering and more,” he added.
Thanks to the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF), Sikka was able to take his love for music to another level. At graduation, he received the award for engineering, which, according to him, “was amazing.”
“The song I got the award for is called ‘All Day,’ he said, adding, “I was kind of inspired by Kanye West, so I used a lot of samples in the song and that’s what got me the award.”
Later he would record more singles, most, with personal ties.
“I have another song called ‘Ayana.’ The song is about someone however I changed the name as I did not want to get sued. It’s about someone disrespecting me: you know when people think they’re rich and you don’t have enough money, so they look down on you,” he said.
An ‘old sneaker’ diss would cause him to pen another song, and soon, he had another masterpiece under his belt. (Thanks ‘Ayana!’)
‘Aaliyah,’ (my personal favourite) a three-part song, tells the story of his summer in the studio with producer Keville Placide, the struggles he faces as a Hip Hop artiste in Saint Lucia and the saddest part: losing a friend to drugs.
“I had a pen pal from Canada on Facebook and after a while she just disappeared for a long time.A year later I got a message from a friend telling me she died six months ago; I think she overdosed,” he revealed.
If you have to listen to one song by Sikka, listen to ‘Aaliyah’. Produced by Keville Placide who truly brings his story to life, (he also produced ‘Come Alive’ and ‘Ayana’) this one is a gem.
‘Come Alive’, (featuring Riley Krantz from South Carolina) his latest single, too, is mesmerising.
According to him it’s “spoken word mixed with trap”— the two make a beautiful pair.
A 2017 ‘Youth Fest’ finalist, Sika encourages Saint Lucians to embrace rap.
“Here, people often tell me to do Soca or another genre and they also tell me to ‘go to the ‘States’ as well; my response to them is why don’t you support it? Why does it have to be in the States for you to support it? That’s the only problem I have,” he emphasized.
The artiste hustles hard and shared that he even sold his CDs on the street at one point.
“The first mixtape I dropped, ‘Mind of a Winner,’ was like a little demo with five songs. I used to sell them $10.00 a piece and I also used to give them to my music teachers free just for them to play it,” he said.
Sikka, whose name was inspired by rapper ‘Currency’ (according to him “his name is ‘Spitta’ and I wanted something similar”), names Kanye West as his greatest musical influence.
“Despite his rants and ego, he’s responsible for rappers out right now who are big without having to be ‘gangster’. Everyone can be themselves and just rap; he also takes music to places people have never even seen— he’s never afraid to push the boundaries,” the young rapper said.
Sikka’s a beast with the pen and his music is certainly a game-changer. His ‘collar-up swag’ and poetic flow is indelible. Best of all, he’s free-spirited and as humble as they come.
In closing he said: “Before I used to say I can’t wait to be rich, but after a while I checked myself and said what am I doing it for—because I love to do it or for the money? I said to myself you know what, just making a little living off of music would be okay instead of being rich—that’s a more realistic dream for me.”