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Billy Chapata On Why This Generation Struggles With Love

#xoMan

There's something about a man who's not afraid to be vulnerable.

Mask off. Walls down. Baring all, including the soul that the former tries to protect. With vulnerability comes an honesty so refreshing, it's like water—it's truth unwrapped. It's love personified, for to be vulnerable is to be selfless.


Though in the case of Billy Chapata (also known as iambrillyant)—author, writer and poet extraordinaire—that same vulnerability that's written and released for the world to receive, is actually a form of selfishness on his part. I first became introduced to his poetry and affirmations in a series of tweets that came across my timeline.

I decided then and there that I wanted to know the man behind the words. One of the first things I asked him in our interview was about his confidence and his fearlessness in his writing. I learned then the true purpose behind the self love poet. "I get people all the time who are like I'm so scared to let my writing out," he says. "When you write from a selfish place, you're not thinking about what people may think or anything like that. That's how I overcame that fear. When it becomes a selfish intention, you stop caring about what people think and what they may say.

At the end of the day, a lot of my writing is really for my inner child, for me to heal, and affirmations for my future daughters."

If selfishness produces words of wisdom where hearts are healed and wounds are restored, then by all means, we encourage him to be selfish—as f*ck.

Through Billy's writing, many have been able to delve deeper into the concept of love, challenging their own perspectives, and forcing inner reflection that becomes the foundation of freedom. His words hit home and they hit hard, so it's no surprise that he's grown a massive following—over 340,000 across his social channels—that makes his many affirmations go viral.

With three books under his belt, his life lessons become our instruction manual on navigating matters of the heart. But there's more to the teacher than powerful prose. So, we dug a little deeper to learn about the man behind the musings, how he overcomes fear, and his perspective on love.

How did you first get into poetry?

Billy Chapata: I started writing when I was like eight or nine, ever since I could hold a pen or pencil. I've been writing for a very long time. Anything that pertains to writing just came really natural to me from that age, and I was so musically inclined too from that age. I write to heal, I write to survive, I write to learn, I write to reflect. And through poetry, I'm able to do that. Writing became a means of survival.

We often see a lot of men who are afraid of vulnerability. What made you open to it and able to share your vulnerabilities with the world?

Billy: My dad passed away when I was like three years old, so in terms of energy, I've been surrounded by female energy for a very, very long time. My aunts, my mom, my sister, they kind of just raised me, and I got to see many sides of the feminine condition. Even as a man, I had to teach myself certain things in terms of the cliché stereotypes that a man has to adhere to in society, but it became so much easier to me because I realized how much power there is in vulnerability. It's kind of weird how not having a father figure in my life emancipated that side of me, and emancipated my writing.

I'm just able to be so open and so vulnerable and not feel judged at all.

Would you say this generation has a false perception of love? What's your perception of the current state of love?

Billy: I think this generation of love is just very skewed, and it's very misleading. I don't necessarily feel like it's this generation's fault, I feel like the media has a lot to play in it. But it's very skewed, and this generation, we base love on the premise of it being a feeling, and the problem with feelings is that feelings are fleeting. So if you feel happy or you feel sad, whatever the case may be, feelings are fleeting—they come and go. And the problem with basing your idea of love on the fact that it's a feeling is that you're also giving me the permission to just come and go as well.

Love, in all honesty, is a choice.

And that's the thing that this generation doesn't really understand. When certain obstacles happen, when certain things happen, we have this tendency of just giving up because we feel like this person doesn't stimulate me anymore, or this person doesn't do this for me anymore, or I don't feel this way. And instead of just choosing to try or continue loving this person, we're basing it on feelings. And I think that's the biggest issue. I think that's why it's so skewed.

And not to say that you should stay in a relationship or connected with someone when it's getting bad or poisonous, but it's like any small thing that happens now it's like, "Nope, this person's not for me." Or, "I don't want to be with this person anymore." And it's just based off feelings of the choice. And I think that's the biggest difference between this generation and older generations.

Do you think there's a lack of accountability that's causing the disconnect? That people aren't willing to look at themselves and what they contributed to the problem?

Billy: We have this tendency of taking accountability of all the great things. When something good happens it's like, 'Yes, this is what I've put in work for, I just spoke this into my life, I manifested this, this is what I deserve. This is meant to be. I did this.' And then when something bad or undesirable happens, we tend to shift the blame onto other people. We tend to shift the circumstances and that lack of accountability is the reasons why we feel like we're very scared to peel that surface off and dig deeper. And really look at our wounds and see why we behave the way we behave or why we react to certain situations that we react to it.

And I think that's a big issue, there's a lack of accountability when anything undesirable happens.

We're just very scared of what we may discover. I think we're very scared of not being in control. This generation, we lack faith in ourselves or in a higher being, whatever your religion may be. We don't trust our intuition as much, we're not as vulnerable, we're not as honest with ourselves. We just like to play on the surface. We don't like to dive deeper because we're just scared we'll drown, and I think that accounts for a lot of relationships that go bad because we just kind of insta-Relationships or connections without really doing the work on ourselves. We haven't taken our wounds out on a date and just really explore them and see why we behave a certain way we behave, and when something bad happens we shift that blame on someone or something else. Sometimes that's not necessarily the case, sometimes it's just the case of really knowing ourselves before getting into a connection.

In your piece "An ode to a future lover," you say that there are things that past lovers taught you that you are trying to unlearn. What are some of those things and what did past lovers teach you about yourself?

With time, I've learned that love and attachment have nothing to do with each other. I think a lot of the people that I used to be with they were very attached to the idea that I had to be around for the love to mean anything, or that I had to be calling you all the time to be in love with you. I had to learn that the person that you're with has to understand that if I'm not around at certain times, that doesn't make my love any less present, or if I'm not calling you back after two hours it doesn't mean I don't love you any less.

What's the sexiest thing about a woman to you?

Without a doubt, her mind. It's not going to be the same for every woman, but the majority of women the thing that really turns me on is her mind and her way of thinking. At the end of the day, I view everyone as just a vessel, but if your mind is on another level that you can think about things so beautifully and view life on a much more intricate level, or you just have this innate colorfulness about you where you're just very kind, sweet or very caring, very involved in anything that improves you spiritually and mentally, and you're all about your growth, I think that's so sexy.

I think women who are just all about improving themselves are just beautiful women.

And that all starts with the mind and the way she shapes her thoughts and the way she thinks about herself. I think women who know their self-worth are so beautiful. And that's something that comes from the mind, it's all how you shift your perception about yourself. Nothing beats that. I feel like that's sexier than any curves or body part or anything like that.

What does being a man mean to you?

I have this duality about me that's able to empathize with men and women. I think what being a man means to me is being able to be vulnerable, and really put my thoughts out there, because not many men will do that or are too scared to do that because of how society views them for being vulnerable.

I think being a man for me is just about really tapping into my self worth and understanding that regardless of how vulnerable I am that doesn't make me less of a man. Or regardless of how soft I can be, that doesn't make me less of a man. And I think that's something I want to pass on to my son, just be emotionally intelligent and vulnerable. I'm giving myself the opportunity to be the man that a lot of men are afraid to be.

Take a moment to view some of our favorite selections by the poet by clicking through the gallery below.

For more of Billy Chapata's wise words, follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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