HIP HOP ARTIST ILLY & A SWAG OF ACTS VISIT US FOR AUS DAY FESTIVITIES
Lyricism is what rapper Illy loves about music, the chance to express thoughts on life through a web of words.
His latest album Cinematic, which was recently re-released with new material, is what he calls his most non-standard work. “It’s not your standard Australian hip-hop sound,” he says.
“This album’s stepped out from me just being a rapper.
“I really like writing melodies and hooks.”
The continual rise of the ARIA award-winning artist perfectly illustrates the arrival of Australian hip-hop into the mainstream and not as a pale imitation of its US roots.
The young man, who combined writing and recording and touring with studying for his law degree, had grown up on a heavy diet of Hilltop Hoods, sneaking into their pub gigs when he was a teenager.
Now the Hoods are on his album, lending their talents to Coming Down.
So is soul man Daniel Merriweather, rising vocal star Kira Puru (Talk), and WA hip hop artist Drapht (YoYo).
It is an eclectic and unexpected selection of guests.
But what is somewhat shocking, in this new era of collaboration among the genres in Australia, is that some vocalists rejected his request. He won’t name names.
“Nine out of 10 times, you get a knock-back,” Illy says.
“Sometimes it’s schedules, but you never can tell. So you do the song with someone else and if it’s a hit, you get to think, ‘Well, you missed out.’
“I’m not bitter about it, but there is still that hesitation from artists who are established in other genres. And then you meet them at a festival or somewhere and everyone’s cool.”
He says the barriers between genres will be completely dismantled by the next generation, who have grown up with the borderless internet.
“No matter how many records get sold, there remains a snobbery towards Australian hip-hop because some people still don’t see it as a legitimate genre,” he says.
“But I’m the last generation that will matter to. There are a lot of kids growing up now who identify with Australian hip- hop whether they are rapping over Flume or a house beat.
“Labels don’t matter to them, genres don’t influence them and they are exposed to everything that has ever been in popular culture.
“Their influences are so far and wide, and that’s reflected in the music they are making.”
Like the Hoods, Bliss n Eso, Drapht and 360, Illy has become sought after for festival line-ups as well as big event gigs.
Australian hip-hop star Illy has always loved the lyrical aspect of music-making.