A Great Jock ‘n’ Roll Swindle?: Film fame for Scottish Hip Hop Hoaxers

It was the author of Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie, who said it best:

‘There are few more impressive sights in the world than a Scotsman on the make.’

As a Scot, I believe this to be often the case, and am pleased, therefore, to report the premiere of a film at SXSW, which tells the story of 2 Scots on the make with their very own Jock ‘n’ Roll Swindle.

The Great Hip Hop Hoax tells the story of friends Billy Boyd and Gavin Bain, who duped ‘everyone from Sony Music to MTV into believing [they] were LA-born rappers Silibil N’ Brains, tipped for the top in the hip hop industry.’

As blog site Arbroath reports the would-be Hip Hop duo were:

‘Angered at the sneering from London record industry executives searching for the British Eminem, the duo set out to fool the music business into believing that they were brash Californian rappers. The deception began after a disastrous audition in London in 2001. Speaking in the documentary, Dundee-born Mr Bain, 31, aka Brains, describes how “the vibe just changed horribly” the minute they started “talking in a Scottish accent”.

Getting nowhere fast, Mr Boyd, aka Silibil, adopted an American accent as a joke, and the lie began. “Out of spite we decided to develop these characters and that’s when Silibil ‘N’ Brains were really born.” Taking their inspiration from MTV music videos, they prepared for “the biggest role that we’d ever play”. The Great Hip Hop Hoax, which has its world premiere at the South by South West (SXSW) Festival in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, tells the story of their rise and fall. By 2003, the duo were back in London with a spot at a music industry showcase. A management deal followed and they soon had a six-figure recording contract with Sony. Tipped as the “next big thing” by MTV, they played with Eminem’s D12 band at Brixton Academy, and partied with Madonna and Green Day.

Their plan was to make it before coming clean, to show that if you have talent, your nationality shouldn’t matter. But in the world of hip hop, which is all about “keeping it real”, they forgot who they really were. They lived in constant fear of being exposed. “We believed that if we got found out that we’d have to pay all the money back …. We didn’t know if we’d go to jail for fraud,” said Mr Bain. “We completely forgot that we were Scottish ... I was definitely going a little cuckoo.” They were trapped – never releasing a record in case their lies were exposed. “It drove us from being best friends to hating each other,” Mr Boyd recalls. Things came to a head in June 2005, when the pair had a furious fight. The next day Mr Boyd returned to Scotland. There was no big announcement and no outcry, as they had never released a record.

The resultant film The Great Hip Hop Hoax was made in conjunction with the BBC and Creative Scotland and is described as:

Californian hip-hop duo Silibil n’ Brains were going to be massive. What no-one knew was the pair were really students from Scotland, with fake American accents and made up identities.

The Great Hip Hop Hoax (92 minutes) is a film about truth, lies and the legacy of faking everything in the desperate pursuit of fame. The American dream, told by people who’d never even been to America.

The Great Hip Hop Hoax a film by Jeanie Finlay will premiere at SXSW, more details here.

Via Arbroath and The Courier, with thanks to Tara!

Posted by Paul Gallagher
08:30 pm