TAKING THE RAP
HIP HOP KING ILLY GETS COASTAL
As the title of Illy’s latest track Swear Jar suggests, there are a considerable number of F-bombs dropped in the name of art. In fact, there are 18, though it sounds like a heck of a lot more.
“There were a lot more f---s, probably between 40 and 50 swear words. When I played it to everyone here, they said there wasn’t anything they could do with a track with that much swearing,” he says.
“Normally, when people make these kind of suggestions to me, my response is naturally, ‘F--- off!’ but this was a bit OTT, a little too much, so I didn’t put up much of a defence.”
The truth is Illy probably could have scored a top 10 hit with the song had it featured excessive bad language because chart history proves we are the only country in the world who will send a mediocre song with wellplaced expletives to the top of the charts. Mumford and Sons, I’m looking at you.
“We do it so well, we use them as terms of endearment, it’s part of our national psyche to be potty-mouthed.
“But I’m catching enough heat for other things I’ve been saying so I am not going to be the spokesman for encouraging kids to swear.”
Swear Jar’s “f--- yous” serve a purpose. As Illy states, it is a lighthearted shot across the bow of two serious topics – entitled artists who begrudge the attention of their fans and cyber trolls.
He took the message further by partnering with BeyondBlue to create a virtual swear jar, encouraging fans to contribute when they cursed.
Australian hip-hop is probably leading the charge of musicians addressing the big issues, from bullying and addiction to political and environmental calamity.
Illy says he prefers to use humour to call out cyber bullies. “I don’t want to make a serious song about it even though it is a serious subject ... making a serious song would give them more attention than they deserve,” he says.
“I’m a grown man and I’ve had to deal with this for a long time now. It sounds cliche but if one person hears Swear Jar and it affects how seriously they take what someone is saying about them ... it might just help them out.”
Illy is helping out rising star Dylan Joel by giving him one of the coveted opening spots on his Swear Jar shows. The other goes to Ghanaian via Canberra hip-hop star Citizen Kay. “The only thing I care about with Dyl or Citizen Kay is that they are both more than up for the gig and can get the crowd really going. I am on my toes, man,” he says.
Illy, Dylan Joel & Citizen Kay play Coolangatta Hotel on Saturday night
Award winning Australian rapper Illy (left) and newcomer Dylan Joel.
Picture: NICOLE CLEARY