The story of Sur5ill (@golerflame) is one of a growing trend of emcees from the inner city who acknowledge, but don’t necessarily identify with the street element behind much of Hip Hop. Born in Boston and spending the majority of his youth in the city’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, Sur5ill would attend Boston Public Schools through his elementary years and go on to spend the bulk of his middle school and his entire high school tenure at a prestigious independent school in the Greater Boston area. During this time he began “internet battle rapping” as he terms it, a practice popular in the mid-late 1990s, where you post your raps in chat rooms via instant messaging programs and digitally duke it out for rhyme supremacy; the on-line version of a live Rap battle if you will.
It was also during these years that he came up with his stage name, “Sur5ill”, about which he states, “I was looking for a name that encapsulated my mindset, but it was stupid, I tried to include my favorite number in it.” After working said favorite number 5 into a few different nouns, he settled on “Sur5ill” – or “Survival” if sounded out phonetically. Though in a bit of a self-deprecating fashion he looks back on his insistence to include the number 5 as “stupid”, he also points out that he chose the word “ill” to round out his stage name because simply put, “I think I’m dope.” In one sentence, he admits that if you called him a “nerd”, he “wouldn’t take it as an insult,” and in the next, assessing the current state of Rap music notes that in his opinion there are “a lot of people bullshitting themselves thinking that they’re better than they really are.”
After graduating High School, Sur5ill would go on to split time between Morehouse College and UMass Boston before entering the work force, a period of his life which coincided with his first full foray into music, as a guitarist and vocalist for an alternative local Boston band called The LE Project . The birth child of a group of roommates and friends, Sur5ill notes that his time with the band was as a “good opportunity to evolve musically and not be hamstrung by people who were afraid of failure.” The result of these travels is a man who’s comfortable in both urban and suburban settings, whether among corporate types or in an artistic context.