Bullet Wilson distances himself from gang life, honors his grandfather and his city
Denver's Bullet Wilson, formerly known as Kevin Pistols, has accomplished a great amount since entering the rap game in 1998, recording songs and videos with the likes of Bun B, Snoop Dogg and E-40. But after a personal epiphany and after visiting some of the biggest record labels in the game, Wilson takes on a new persona to not only help Denver develop an original sound but also to help change the social atmosphere as well and get away from the gang mentality.
The jewelry he wears is not usual for a hip-hop artist, but Bullet Wilson rocks the silver and turquoise on every finger, with a Bolo around his neck and a big silver belt buckle. This is an interesting change for him as an artist.
"I'm a veteran of a war too, You know? I'm a veteran of the American Blood and Crip war. It's the longest and bloodiest war in American history," says Wilson. "Blazing on the streets since 1970s to present day and I served from 1996 to 2010. This is a real war now, but what good is it doing anybody?"
And that's exactly what Wilson thinks has hindered Denver from developing its own sound and capitalizing on a pay day in the music game. "Until we get out from under that gang mentality Denver will never develop our own sound. Once we shake that, then we can be comfortable and creative. That's where you can create something original."
But Wilson also says the LA migration in the 1990s was one of the influences and that Hollywood played a bigger part in hyper-imposing this gang culture into kids. "It was the movies. I remember life before C.O.L.O.R.S. and after. Don't tell me half of these guys were thirteen or fourteen at their most impressionable state and break out [into gangs] after watching C.O.L.O.R.S.," says Wilson. "They were already seeing bloods and Crips now in their neighborhoods and then a blockbuster movie comes out? The handbook to it? [Laughing] That's what it is the gangbang handbook."
He says this misperception of L.A. helped push Denver into a gang culture that it was not ready for and still suffers from, "And a lot of people started doing it because they thought it was fun and they had nothing to do. And then real problems started to come from it, people started getting hurt. Once people started getting hurt, real vendettas started and Denver already had this shoot 'em up mentality," says Wilson.
Although he was a participant in the mentality for a long time, a conversation with his grandfather E.J. Wilson helped to create this transition in his mind, "He looked at me and said, 'You know what? I'm hurt man, you know the original you? The real you is a cowboy. You got involved in that L.A. gang shit and that's not who we are, that's not Denver.'
"And he laughed and said that's why none of y'all ever make it. Colorado ain't gonna support that, no matter how much you think you running shit the whole rest of the state are cowboys and we don't feel that L.A. shit, that's their way of life," says Wilson.
"Maybe we need to flip that shit around, I'm tired of people acting like ghetto is better. The ghetto ain't shit, I'm from a hood and been to the ghetto," said Wilson explaining.
Wilson thinks taking pride in being the hood mentality is what is wrong with the gang culture, "Stop trying looking down on me because I ain't as ghetto as you. Chances are your air is polluted, your water is polluted and you half sick. Me being from country ass Colorado with fresh water and air, I'm probably bigger and stronger than you."
"I don't know why hip-hop wanted to shit on people like us I don't know 'oh you old country cowboys, hillbillies' But I don't like it," said Wilson. "Listen, I don't live in no crowded ghetto, with people all around me and beneath me, my hallways don't smell like piss. I walk outside on green grass and fresh water and I'm proud of that shit. I'm glad my family had the sense to move out of that and not stay in the cesspool forever."
As far as the music is concerned, Bullet Wilson's delivery is slower and different than Kevin Pistols, and the topic matter is slightly different too. "I got a song coming out called 1000 Horses," said Wilson. "I mean you come out here and see a horse or two for nostalgia but then you see a bunch of Ford Trucks and tractors. We riding 1000 horses at a time."
"The saddle, that's what I call the car now," laughs Wilson pointing at his silver saddle ring on his right hand. "I just wondered 'what would Wyatt Earp rap about today in 2014?' without all the outside influences."
His aspiration is that the trend will catch on and he can pull some of the country music fans along with other former gang members who are tired of the gang culture, and hopefully the labels like it too.
"We're cowboys. Wilson is my grand-dad's last name. I took that name to honor him for being the man who taught me to tie my shoes, rake the leaves and work. The image and the style and the sounds are based around what I believe a Denver artist would look and sound like if not influenced by outside influences."
Wilson has a video out for "Str8 In the Eye" already on Facebook and will be releasing the video for "1000 Horses" very soon.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.