TAK­ING THE RAP

HIP HOP KING ILLY GETS COASTAL

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - KATHY MCCABE

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

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