The spook who sat by the door: Ex-Gov. Agent

Mar 8, 2000 at 12:00 am

1998 - Drove out to Nation Studios in Southfield one night to sit in on one of Royce the 5’9"’s fledgling recording sessions. A few members of his crew, Wall Street, were seated in the waiting area, talking among themselves about nothing groundbreaking. At one point, the topic of musical ambition came up and each took turns mentioning what he intended to do once the opportunity to shine presented itself. Again, no one said anything earth-shattering, except one cat.

His name was Billy Nix. He called himself the Ex-Gov. Agent. He told me the meaning of his name that night. He felt that, at his age, he could easily become a pawn in a system designed to give black men a helping hand as they headed for self-destruction. Ex could have made a quick name for himself by rapping about women, clothes and cars. But he would not be serving as anyone’s "agent" in this life. He felt another calling.

"Knowledge of the time, and what must be done," Ex-Gov. declares. "That’ll be one of the most accurate ways to describe my style. What must be done by us, as a people." While the rest of his collective deal heavily with the rah-rah side of hip hop, Ex, 26, brings balance to the set. But why take this approach, when the other is so lucrative?

"Strong belief in God, and being a part of the Nation (of Islam). That’s what geared me toward this, y’know. I was rappin’ on some real thugged-out stuff for a while, till I really started realizing that’s not what’s needed."

Since that day two years ago, Ex’s views have evolved from concern about black people to compassion for all downtrodden people.

Your firing squad ain’t fit to fire at God / Who you tryin’ to rob? / Assumin’ that dying is hard. / Hold on tight / The ride gets rough / Nines get bust / Cops waitin’ to bind us up in line with cuffs.

Billy Nix, the father of three, wants to help people see that they have the power to change the condition in which they live. He may help to change the direction of rap music in the process.