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The Rhyme Perspective: ILLUS Part 2

Hello ILLUS how have you been?

I’m great. A little more tired than usual but I guess that is all part of being a new dad.

Recently you utilized a powerful fund raising program to generate interest for your upcoming project, called Family First. Would you mind telling the masses about this fund raising program?

Of course. It’s called Kickstarter and it’s a great tool that allows creative people to connect with fans and individuals that are interested in being part of projects ranging from music, art and film to new inventions and gadgets. It’s basically a way to pre-order goods and be a part of a project from the beginning stages. It allows the creator to connect directly with their supporters and offer great incentives and build a community of like minded people who believe in the projects they choose to fund.

Did you meet the target goal that you set?

I did. This is the second album project of mine that was funded through fan support and Kickstarter, the first being my album For Adam. Thanks again to everyone that made a pledge!

Congratulations on meeting the goal. Could you give us more insight on the Family First project? Who will be featured on the project?

My wife and I recently had a son and the album is a tribute to and celebration of the family spirit. Not just in regards to blood but the larger, global community of HipHoppas. I decide to make this a collaborative project to show how individuals from so many various backgrounds in HipHop could come together and create a positive collection of music that celebrates family and unity.

I also decided on the title because I feel it may be time for me to step away from music and refocus. As a father I have to be able to provide, not only financially, but in regards to quality time. I’m not sure music as a career is the best use of my time for either. I’m not saying I am quitting or retiring because I know I will always need to make music in some way to express myself but I am not sure if I will continue to pursue it as a business because truthfully the business sucks and I would rather do something that allowed me financial and personal freedom to be with my family.

What makes this album very special and unique is that each guest lyricist is also the producer of the track they are featured on. The album features Blueprint, Ill Bill, Apathy, J-Live, Phashara from the Beatmonstas, Esoteric, Erin Barra and possibly a couple of other guests I will hold off on announcing. I have a few songs to finish and will be announcing those soon. But the album is almost complete. The entire album is also executive produced by Dj Johnny Juice from Public Enemy. Juice will be adding scratches as well as mixing and bringing it all together.

I am glad that you sent me the title track "Family First." I love the guest appearance by ILL Bill and the lyricism that was presented. What did you try to convey with the song?

I love that track as well. Working with Bill was an honor. I really wanted to convey the passion we both have for our family and that being a family man is a lot more hardcore than these guys who only rap about killing, dealing and other negative imagery that is always associated with being "real". There is nothing more real than family and being a responsible parent. Ultimately what I wanted was to create a song that our kids can look back on and feel the love we have for them. Really the whole album is about that. I hope my supporters dig the music as well but really I made this album for my family and as long as they enjoy it and can feel the love I have for them than the music is a success.

I respect your stance as an emcee, father, husband, artist etc and I embrace the honesty that you exude in your music. Is your honesty a byproduct of your maturation as a man?

I’ve always been a very honest and passionate person. I wear my heart on my sleeve and that can sometimes be a fault. As an emcee I definitely have grown over the years. I would really suck if I didn’t. Like most emcees I’ve written all kinds of songs from boasting to the ridiculous, the political to the humorously angry and while the passion for the art was always sincere I have definitely become more comfortable with who I am as I’ve grown older and can now articulate ideas, emotions and experiences better.

2011 was a great year for you in musical terms. Would you mind providing a recap of pivotal moments in 2011?

In 2011, I release my full length album For Adam which was produced by J.J. Brown and featured some incredible collaborations with legends like Freddie Foxxx and Craig G as well as Eternia, Reef the Lost Cauze, Homeboy Sandman, Block McCloud, Wordsworth and Gift of Gab. That was a great experience and because of the success of that album I was able to do Family First. We also got to shoot a lot of great videos to promote For Adam as well.

I also released a maxi-single with the Krate Krusaders out of England, called "The Mask." This is one of my favorite tracks and the video we shot for it is very special to me. "The Mask" also got remixed by my good friend Phon-X from Regenerated Headpiece and we shot a special remix video for that as well.

What are some of your goals for 2012?

My goal is to release Family First and push it as hard as any independent musician can with no budget. Haha. I’d love to see it reach a larger audience that connects with what I do. I’m not looking to cross over but I am looking to connect with like-minded people who appreciate a more mature Hip-Hop. I know they must be out there somewhere.

As the years pass by emcees must evolve to remain relevant. Has your style changed throughout the years?

People always tell me I sound "old school" even when I like to think I am flexing different styles. Maybe it’s just because of what I fell in love with and grew up on but I guess it’s just part of my whole vibe. Like we talked about earlier I would say I have matured in regards to content and I definitely believe my skill continues to improve. In regards to style, I guess that is something for the audience to determine. I’m always trying new things to keep it interesting for me and hopefully that comes through in the music for the listener. I never follow current trends however - you won’t hear me trying to rap like Drake to stay relevant. I think the best thing an emcee can do to really stay relevant is to stay honest and passionate and stay connected to the audience, grow with them and hopefully they will grow with you.

When do you plan to release Family First?

I had wanted to release it in December but I got a few more songs I am working on so I am shooting for a late December release. You can pre-order the project HERE.

What do you enjoy the most about the holiday season?

Being with family and enjoying laughs and good food.

How can fans get in contact with you?

I definitely recommend they subscribe to my blog but they can also connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook by liking my Illus page or by emailing me at illus@americanmule.com

Any final words?

I really appreciate you taking the time to interview me and I’d like to thank your audience for reading this and getting to know me. I appreciate the love and support. Peace!


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