Soca Sensation – Driven by Spirituality, Grounded in Faith, Defying the Odds
Stepping out on faith and living in your purpose is one of the best decisions one can make. This rings true for Grenadian-born Soca artiste Hollice Mapp, a.k.a Mr. Killa, who embarked on a journey to pursue a career as an entertainer. By the age of 10, Mapp was performing at festivals in his hometown of Gouyave, Grenada and at age 15, proceeded to win the country’s first ever National Teen Talent Search competition, where he delivered an original Dancehall rendition. He won tickets to travel to the US and thought it would be a “bed of roses,” but was quite the contrary.
Though his future seemed bright, life took a turn from music for a period in time and Mapp found himself chasing the streets. This decision deterred him from his dreams, but it is a period that influenced his success. Mapp shared with us, “At one point, I gave myself one week to live, but the thought of me dying and my mother grieving the loss of a son is an image that humbled me. I remembered the values instilled by my mother and I told myself I needed to get back to my dreams and aspirations.”
Mapp initiated his career with Dancehall music, but when he was introduced to Soca and carnival, he shared, “The explosion of energy and freeness captured my heart and mind and I wanted to be a part of that.” He began his Soca career in 2001 and soon realized he was destined for Soca.
Mr. Killa competed in local Soca monarch competitions on the island, winning his first Soca Monarch title in 2004 with his song, “Thunder Rags.” Killa competed locally for 13 years, but opted out because of politics surrounding the competitions, and empowered himself to not look at it as a failure. He decided to use this time to, “Give back to the culture by investing in the artistes.”
He recognized the importance to represent his country on an international level and in 2014, his song “Rolly Polly,” a tribute to plus-sized women, which gained him international recognition, went viral and by the end of the year, Killa was considered one of the best Caribbean performers.
Another viral sensation was his song, “Oil it Up,” which was released in 2018. He created an #oilitup challenge and dancers worldwide accepted the challenge and posted their entries on social media. Though this was another international success, “Rolly Polly” was the pinnacle of his career and is still a crowd favorite.
“Soca embraced me and I embraced it”
His unprecedented success continued in 2019, when he entered the International Power Soca Monarch title, held in Trinidad with his song “Run With It,” and won the title. This was a historical moment as he was the first non-Trinidadian entertainer to win the title.
Killa’s viral moments continued with “Run With It” in 2019, with fans posting videos following the instructions of the song, which states, “Pick up something, start to run with it.” A few celebrities, including Usain Bolt, joined the “Run With It” challenge and the song later made it to mainstream media, where it was played on the Real Housewives of Atlanta’s reality TV show. To witness the energy in a crowd when this song is played is euphoric.
We are given three gifts – Life, Freedom & Happiness and to achieve these gifts we must have Wisdom, Knowledge & Understanding”
Mapp offered, “I want to be boastful about my management team!” He told CEM that the success of his career is attested to an exceptional management team, whose relationship was built on a foundation of trust and mutual respect. “I am always open and honest with my team and I never talk price or negotiate a deal without my management. His team comprises of Nkechi Delves, Brad Hemmings and Walshy Fire who he considers family. “They were hired to do a job and I respect their positions,” he shared.
Mapp is the founder of a local nonprofit, the Hollice Map Foundation, and owner of R Nation radio station and multi-media facility. He reflected on the current state of the industry due to the pandemic and stressed the importance of shifting quickly during unprecedented times. He shared thoughts of the entire Caribbean coming together to discuss the impact and find innovative ways to address the issues as there are methods and measures for the industry to thrive virtually. He used his radio station as a platform for these discussions and partnered with a local business woman, Valda, to provide food and necessities to families in need.
His current gang affiliation is the FFF Gang, Friends, Fans, Family / Freedom Fighters Forever and he intends to keep working to release great music, while ensuring to give back to his community. He remains spiritually grounded in all that he does and is geared to release new projects in the upcoming weeks.