Emis Killa: “Censoring rap will never be the solution”

Emis Killa: “Censoring rap will never be the solution”

More than rap, I am a child of hip hop culture.: for this reason there will be music at the event, but also a second stage with a freestyle contest and an entire section dedicated to writing”. “EM15”, the special show with which Emis Killa will celebrate his 15 years of career, scheduled for September 2nd at Fiera Milano Live: it will be the closing of a circle, the celebration of a world and also the beginning of something new.

Hunger for mainstream

“In some ways it will be the concert that will end an extraordinary live season for rap, an increasingly loved genre, but also not understood by a part of the country for his sometimes crude language. Of course, censorship will never be the solution…”, says openly Emis Killa, whose new manager is Gaetano Puglisialready working with Eros Ramazzotti, demonstrating how the artist wants to underline his roots, but at the same time spread his wings on a more mainstream panorama. “I don’t want to sell myself short, but I definitely want to open up more in the future. The Sanremo Festival? I like Carlo Conti”cuts it short with a joke by Emis, who on September 2nd will be accompanied by a long series of guests: Sfera Ebbasta, Rhove, Neima Ezza, Massimo Pericolo, Paky, Jake La Furia, Kid Yugi and J-Ax, Salmo, Lazza and Geolier. Emis KIlla wanted to present the event in Vimercate, a symbolic place for his career. “I started making music in 2005-2006 right in Vimercate – he recalls – rap has become big in the last few years, here we were three doing it. Every corner of this town means a memory to me, there were years when I lived in Milan but then when I returned to visit my mother and my friends I felt the air of home and so I came back to live here”.

“Words of Ice” for Nina Zilli

In a dialogue with Ensi which was followed by questions from the press, Emis recalled his first steps: “I started doing freestyle, my artistic father was Ensi himself: the first big achievement was the champion cup at Tecniche Perfettewhich I have always defined as ‘the Moto GP’ of freestyle – continues Emis – at the beginning I had no ambition to write albums. Then there was the turning point with ‘Erba cattivo’ in 2012, the album that contains ‘Parole di ghiaccio’, a song that became a hit that I initially wrote for Nina Zilli, but then I kept it. I remember this scene: I was in a van with Marco Mengoni and Giorgia, we had to go to an event for MTV. We got out and there was a roar. People were happy to see me too, but I would never have thought so, I thought they were all there to see Marco and Giorgia, it was beautiful”. Emis’ rap has always been particular, straddling generations, scathing, but also capable of veering towards pop, especially at the beginning. “My points of reference were Bassi Maestro, Fabri Fibra and Club Dogo, in particular those of ‘Mi fist’ – adds Emis – Gué once told me: ‘you are the fusion between Fibra’s irreverence and what we Dogo did’. Everyone, including me, has searched for their own identity. Today, however, it seems to me that all music is a bit similar.”.


Among the guests on September 2nd, for the moment, Fedez is not there, with whom Emis Killa has created one of the summer hits: “Sexy Shop”. “But maybe because he has something to do, he still has to let us know if he will be able to be there, that’s all – underlines Emis – Fedez and I are friends, years ago I would have been much more paranoid about a single like ‘Sexy Shop’. Now, no. I don’t have to prove that I can rap anymore, I can also open myself up to other things. In my career, after an initial success that was more pop, also thanks to TV, I returned to rap because I wanted to build credibility in the environment. Now I’m starting to make more open pieces again, it’s a sort of head-tail. Maybe I could have gone straight on my way and not been too fussy back then. As I said, I want to grow more in the mainstream in the future, without distorting myself”. The single “Sexy Shop”, certainly, on a communication level, was not helped by the fights or alleged fights in which Fedez was involved. “I’m not responsible for what he does, I certainly thought ‘but did it have to end in the middle of all this…?’, but otherwise I’m happy with how the song is going,” he says.

San Siro? No, thanks

“The will is to have a big concert on September 2nd – he admits – after the Milan Forum there was a need to raise the bar, but San Siro, at the moment, I won’t take it on. It’s too risky. Some people have done well, some have done badly. I prefer a location that can host large numbers, but without the anxiety of having to fill it at all costs, like a stadium. I would like to have at least fifteen guests. But working with rap today is not easy. You speak directly with an artist and he tells you: ‘I’m here, but come by …’. And you enter a loop of a thousand calls. It’s normal, let’s be clear, but since money has arrived in this world many dynamics, even between friends and ‘brothers’, have changed. I look back with a bit of nostalgia to the beginning when the love for hip hop culture was enough to unite everyone”.

And it is precisely from the love for this culture that the show’s significant setting is born. “There will be two stages – he anticipates – one dedicated to freestyle with a contest whose judge will be Ensi and an area dedicated to writers. It will be a great tribute to the various disciplines of hip hop, a way to make them known and loved by the new generations too.. On stage, I won’t have a new album to propose, it will be a journey inside my career. The guests will perform with me, but also alone with their strongest pieces. I won’t have a band, even though I love instruments, but the DJprecisely because I want to stage a purely rap performance”.

Violent lyrics and censorship

While on one hand there is a country that embraces rap, as demonstrated by the increasingly attended concerts, on the other hand there is a segment that does not understand it, or in the worst cases represses it. Last winter Emis Killa was prevented, for example, from playing in Ladispoli because some of his lyrics were considered “miseducational”. Hence a reflection on rap and censorship. “Once upon a time, when they attacked me for my lyrics, I took it personally – he concludes – today it’s no longer like that. I don’t like that politics doesn’t question where certain stories related to youth distress come from. They prefer to point the finger, blaming the new generations. Sure, some kids make mistakes, but why do they do it? Why does Baby Gang sing certain things? Why do I sing certain things? These are the questions we should start with. Young people need to be helped, encouraged, we need to give them opportunities where they don’t exist. Pilloriing artists, censoring them, can never be the solution. Young people are the future. Investing in them means investing in the future. And anyway, rap, as a language of expression, can’t be stopped. Trying to block it will generate even more difficult situations. My father used to say: ‘the more you push a spring, the more it jumps’”.