Wednesday, 10 April 2013
Ill Bill - The Grimy Awards Review
This is the fourth studio album by Non Phixion member Ill Bill and is the follow up to the 2008 Hour of Reprisal. Ill Bill has always been a hardcore underground emcee with impecable taste in producers and this album does not vary from that route. In fact the album’s production credits could read as a who’s who Hardcore Hip-Hop’s best producers; DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Large Professor, El-P, Psycho Les of the Beatnuts and DJ Muggs from Cypress Hill. The list of guests is pretty impressive too; Lil Fame of M.O.P., Jedi Mind Tricks, O.C., Cormega, Shabazz the Disciple and A-Trak. A small point though before I progress on with the review if you are easily offended by bad language, conspiracy theory’s and or hardcore Hip-hop beats then this album is not for you.
The album kicks off with the Ill Bill produced intro, “What does it all mean?”. This is very a typical Hip-Hop intro with vocal samples from government info records, old radio shows and scratches of various Hip-Hop artists saying grimy. Straight to the point and does its job. Following that is the MoSS produced “Paul Baloff”. MoSS always comes with the nice drums and this does not disappoint in that way coupled with the heavy guitar riffs and Ill Bill’s hectic word play and metaphors you are left with an impressive track. The song is named after the late Exodus lead singer Paul Baloff who passed away in 2002. Up next is a quick Uncle Howie skit, anyone with knowledge of Ill Bill will know all about Uncle Howie and what to expect from one of his skits. Track 4 is “Acceptance Speech” and is produced by Junior Makhno who I have not heard from before. The beat is interesting and features a nice strings sample that sounds like it may have been taken from an Indian film soundtrack. As you would expect A-Trak shows off his skills on the turntables supplying a nice mini scratch routines for the chorus and an extended one following the last verse. A strong track impressive for a producer I had not heard off before this album.
Pete Rock supplies a more mellow beat for the fifth track, “Truth”. I can’t place the exact sample used but it is very familiar featuring a horns sample (for a change Pete) alongside a vocal sample and nice snare drums. Ill Bill drops three verses around the idea of truth with references to drugs, The Exorcist and some subjects that may offend some more sensitive people. A nice track although Pete Rock does not break any boundaries at all on it whereas Bill’s lyrics and flow are impressive. ”Exploding Octopus” is the sixth track and first of the two tracks that Bill produces on the album. Nice bass and drums alongside a keyboards sample, simple but effective. The first verse is the story of a child genius who goes AWAOL similar to the Unabomber, second verse focuses on another society drop out who turns to violence however the underlying theme of the track is the dangers of technology and not handing ourselves over to it entirely. The seventh track is “Forty Deuce Hebrew”, the second full track produced by Bill and you can hear the influence of Necro, produced al lot of Bill’s earlier works. it is harder than the previous track and features a dark guitar sample of crisp drums.
“How To Survive The Apocalypse” is the eighth track on the album and is produced by Psycho Les from the Beatnuts. Its features a harpsichord sample over a marching drum break. Bill returns to the subject of society failing when let down by technology in particular the loss of power. The chorus has some dope scratches on it and Bill’s lyrics are interesting to say the least. I expected more from a Beatnuts beat but its not bad just not as good as I had hoped. The album’s ninth track is “Vio-lence” featuring Shabazz the Disciple (where has he been ?) & Lil Fame from M.O.P.which is produced by DJ Skizz. Fames drops the first verse which is very typical of him which is cool as I’m an M.O.P. fan. The second verse comes from Bill and the third from the old Wu affiliate Shabazz. Shabazz still has a nice flow even after all these years and the beat is good enough to allow the emcees to showcase their different styles.
The album’s tenth track is called “Acid Reflux” and the is the first of two tracks produced by Queensbridge legend Large Professor and it doesn’t disappoint. Its harder than Large Pro’s recent efforts and its laced with nice organs, snares and cymbals along with a cool Gravediggaz sample. Bill goes all out on the totally sick lyrics, referencing killing pigs, Timothy Leary, Satan, taking contaminated acid and the Grateful dead. The beat is a little similar to Gza’s “Fourth Chamber” which is not a bad thing. Up next is another Queensbridge producer Ayatollah, who I have not heard from in a number of years. The track features Q-Unique from the Arsonists and someone called Meyhem Lauren who both drop nice verses reminiscing back to the NY of the eighties as does Bill. Next up is a DJ Muggs produced track called “Power” which features OC and Cormega. The track is hard and upbeat with some nice scratches alongside the tight snares. OC drops a dope verse and Cormega sounds hungry and focused dropping a nice 16 bars before Bill come sin with another heavy verse sounding even hungrier than Cormega. Muggs shows he still has dope beats in him and all three emcees represent nicely.
Pete Rock provides another beat this time for “When I Die” featuring Tia Thomas. Its starts off with a sample from a Bob Marley interview with Alan Wicker, I think. A touching track featuring verses about those Bill has lost over a mellow Pete Rock beat featuring flute samples. Bill shows another more honest and mature side on this track especially when talking about his feelings about a friend who used crack. However the track itself is let down by the lacklustre singing from Tia Thomas which is not only unnecessary but actually detracts from the joint and Bill’s lyrics. ”Severed Heads of State” featuring and produced by El-P is next. It’s not the crazy production that El-P is capable of but a more dark journey into the minds of both Bill and El-P. Its heavy with strong electric samples, scary drums strange noises that match the nocturnal nature of their lyrics. Both emcees bring their A-Game on this joint matching each other in their deeply disturbed lyrics.
As we head towards the end of the album Jedi Mind Tricks join Bill for ”120% Darkside Justice” produced by C-Lance. Tight drums and another harpsichord sample make up this track. Jedi Mind Tricks work well alongside Bill to make up this energetic track, their aggressive and at times rugged rhymes sit well together. ”Canarsie High” is the penultimate track on this album and its produced by Large Pro. A dope beat with a mid tempo flow and a nice strings sample. Bill drops some socially conscious lyrics displaying a real talent for telling stories that focus on those in the ghetto who have fallen on bad times. Its touching especially following the new flash intro about two abandoned little girls in the Bronx. This is a strong track with good interesting lyrics and a dope beat.
With this album they definitely saved the best to the last with a fantastic DJ Premier produced joint called “World Premier”. A superbly produced joint with equally dope verses from Bill. The beat itself is quite fast and features crisp snares with vocal and strings samples alongside that signatures Premier scratching for the chorus. Bill’s rhymes are great telling us how he loved many of the producers he has worked with on this album although he never though he would ever get the chance to make music with them. The pays due to Pete Rock, Large Pro, Psycho Les, DJ Muggs and above all DJ Premier. A great track to finish a very strong album off.
In summary this is an album with an incredibly strong list of producers working alongside side a very talented emcee, Ill Bill who has chosen a very interesting a list of guests to feature on these impressive tracks. I enjoyed almost all of the tracks on here and will find myself listening to them again and again. I would however say that the track “When I die” was spoiled by the unnecessary singing but other than that I have no complaints about this album. Strong tracks include “World premier”, ”Canarsie High”, ”Acid Reflux” and ”Severed Heads of State”. I give this 5 out of 5 stars.