Two men who duped the music industry with an elaborate scam are set to tell their story to the world. Billy Boyd, 32, from Arbroath tricked everyone from Sony Music to MTV into believing he and his friend Gavin Bain were LA-born rappers Silibil N’ Brains, tipped for the top in the hip hop industry. 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.
Billy, who now works on an oil rig in the North Sea, is set to jet out to Texas for the film’s premiere and said he is ready to let the world know the truth. “We wanted to become the biggest thing in the world and then turn around and say ‘we’re Scottish!’ because it shouldn’t matter where you’re from. However, I didn’t realise how big we were but I’m looking forward to people seeing it now.” The film is scheduled for release in the UK this summer. It documents Billy and Gavin’s instant rise to fame as Silibil N’ Brains and features self-recorded footage from their years of success, as well as animation and interviews.