Determining a single cause for the spread of “Chill Bill” is probably onerous and futile. Its spread likely takes roots in its reliance on a catchy, instantly recognizable sample that plays off of the title of the film that helped popularize it.
“One morning Spooks, J.Davi$, Thommed Cruz & I had a run-in with the police, but were let go,” says $tone of the song’s origins. “After that we went to Spooks’ house & J.Davi$ put on the beat he found. I was feeling that shit & we all started writing. Payed for a few hours in the studio & went & knocked it out. I guess you can hear the relief of being let go in my lyrics.”
“Chill Bill,” a sort of happy accident, arose from the stoned musings of an aspiring rapper who’d realized at a young age that the world of regular responsibility held little for him.
“I went to Atlanta to go to college, but that shit was weak—I was meant for this rap shit,” $tone says. “I was bigger than the classroom and I knew it. I wasn’t really a part of the music scene because Atlanta is where I started even teaching myself how to rap. I was just a kid straight from Daygo [Editor’s Note: San Diego] with no idea how to rap good yet but knew I would be ill one day.”
For $tone, there was no formula, no magic vision that led to an overly engineered, finely tuned ear worm.
“Make a certified banger & put it on the internet. I feel like forced shit be weak. Just let it do what it do. If it’s meant to blow the right people will get behind it naturally.”
“Chill Bill” belies the background and perspective a young rapper from a city that rarely gets much shine in the hip-hop landscape.
“I grew up on almost all of the best old school classics,” says $tone. “From E-40 to Snoop to Master P to HOV to Yeezy, Too $hort, my dad even put me on The Comrads. Growing up in Lemon Grove [Editor’s Note: Lemon Grove is a city within San Diego] I was put onto bands like Sublime, Tribal Seeds, & Rebelution. My dad showed me old roots reggae like Steele Pulse & Barrington Levy as a kid & reggae grew to be my favorite genre.”
I’m a really big Pink Floyd fan as well,” he continues. “You already know black moms in the 90’s had all us youngn’s on the 90’s R&B. I even like Spanish music, like ‘Sabor A Mi,’ shoutout my latin mamis. Man, my influences are everywhere.”
Though “Chill Bill” doesn’t owe a debt to a particular region or style, it signals a community coalescing gradually around $tone and his extended crew.
“There’s a scene no one knows about,” he says. “We’re trying to help build it up though, man. Ever since 1207 started there has been a sense of unity in the city & I love it. I really take pride in being from a city where we never get the light for music. I would keep an eye out for Spooks, Malik Burgerz, & the rest of 1207 first & for most. But there’s another San Diego artists that I am a really big fan of named Bdotwatt. Keep up with his music amd look for us to work together in the future.”