HHS: When did hip-hop grab you, and when did you know that this is what you wanted to do with your life?
Illogic: Well it grabbed me when I was six, or seven, just watching videos and listening to music. I did not really know it was what I wanted to do until high school. I started rhyming when I was very young, but I did not think about it from a career aspect until I was fourteen.
HHS: Who are some of the artists that influenced you?
Illogic: Biz Markie, Fat Boys, Kane, Rakim, KRS, Black Thought, Common, so manyâ€¦ Nas, Jay-Z. The list goes on and on. I mean there are emcees to this day that are influencing me; Aesop, Slug, Eyedea, and Sage Francis.
HHS: Your debut, Unforeseen Shadows, was overlooked; do you feel Got Lyrics is a better example of what makes you tick, and where you’re musical ambitions lay?
Illogic: Not really. Got Lyrics was a project that we kind of threw together, I did not expect it to do as well as it is doing. Unforeseen is more me, and the next LP, Celestial Clockwork, will be more me. Got Lyrics is a collection of songs, which we thought were really fresh, and we (Illogic & Blueprint) thought we would put out an EP to bridge the gap between Unforeseen and Celestial. It (Got Lyrics) just happened to reach more people, which is fine with me.
HHS: It’s obvious from Got Lyrics that you and Blueprint take a much simpler approach to the craft; no studio-wizardry at work here, just a sample, a drum track and you let it rip. With hip-hop entrenched in so much glamour and glitz do you feel that there is a market for emcees (like yourself) that still adhere to an old-school mentality?
Illogic: Definitely, I think that market is opening back up. For a while everyone was so into Master P and the Hot Boyz and all of that but that’s dying out. It’s cool when you can hear Common and Outkast in heavy rotation. Even in R&B, you got Bilal, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Alicia Keys getting recognition and Destiny’s Child is not as big in people’s mouths anymore. The commercial aspect of music is dying down and people with actual talent that can write, play instruments are getting recognition. The time is really now for artists like myself because the door is being opened again.
HHS: The emcees who work exclusively with one producer has dwindled, but you have developed an undeniable yin/yang chemistry with Blueprint. Is it your goal to continue developing that chemistry with Blueprint in the future? Or will you eventually branch out and work with other producers.
Illogic: Well, I really want to work with a lot of other producers. Blueprint produced all of Celestial Clockwork, but for future albums I am really going to be looking outward for production. I really want to work with Blockhead and Gel; I have worked with them in the past, but nothing official. In the more distant future I will do that, but Blueprint and I have such a good chemistry and he is so easy to work with.
HHS: It seems that underground hip-hop is really in need of heroes right now, as the original boom-bap production and starving artist mentality that was so prevalent in the late 90′s, has been supplanted by emcees whose main ambition is to spit verses so complex, that forensic linguists would have problems deciphering it. While you are a complex emcee, your topic matter is still down to earth. How do you go about creating a healthy balance in that regard—-i.e. still being complex without alienating other fan bases?
Illogic: Honestly, I really don’t know. It just happens to be my style of writing. I have grown up on so many different kinds of emcees and I’ve learned a little from them all. Common does it the best I think. But listening to the most complex emcees like Aesop, Monche, Kool Keith and even the simplest straightforward style, I take something from everything and it’s just how I express myself. I don’t know how I balance it; it just comes out like that.
HHS: What is the most challenging aspect of being an underground artist? And what is your take on the underground hip-hop scene right now?
Illogic: The most challenging aspect is being heard. Most underground emcees start out with little or no money, so being heard usually becomes more difficult, because you have to shop around for distributors and get in people’s ears. But once you do that its usually smooth sailing. Hip-hop is flourishing right now. I mean when you got Jay-Z and Nas coming out with albums that are just hardcore, down to earth that everyone from Master P to Afrika Bambatta can appreciate, that means hip-hop is in a good place.
HHS: Some have labeled your style too abstract, how do you react to that? And how would you describe your lyrical style?
Illogic: I don’t think I am too abstract, some people may think that and that’s cool, just as long as they buy my album (laughs). The abstract part of me is basically; I know what I mean when I write something. But if someone else that listens to my album does not exactly know what I mean, it may not even be for him or her to know. When I write, it’s for the person that’s listening interpretation, whatever you get from it, is what I meant for you. The abstract part of my writing is really up to the listener to understand. If they want to understand it, I don’t think they will have a problem with it. If they shun it because they have no idea what big word I am saying, they may be missing out on something that may have touched them in some way.
HHS: On the flipside, it may even make them want to discover what you’re discussing.
Illogic: Exactly, that’s the whole goal, for my music to actually inspire cats to look up a word if they did not know it, or find out what I’m talking about if I’m talking about something historical, or a historical figure they did not know about, or a movie they did not know about. Hopefully, my music will inspire people to do that.
HHS: One of the interesting aspects at work with all of your endeavors, is that they are LP’s that you can actually let your little brother listen to, without worrying about what new curse-words he is going to pick up. Is it a conscious effort on your part to make your projects PG-13?
Illogic: In my opinion, in hip-hop if you have a vocabulary then cursing is not necessary. I mean, sometimes it can accent a line, or maybe necessary if your trying to get a certain point across. But, I have never really cursed on my records because I don’t feel its necessary. I mean there maybe a curse here, or there, spread out, I just don’t feel it’s needed. Even when I was younger and I did my little Gangsta rhymes, I never cursed. It’s not really conscious, it just does not come to me like that.
HHS: If a major label were to approach you, how do you plan on blurring the fine line between “artistic integrity” and “accessibility”?
Illogic: I think getting radio play is all in the beats. If you have a beat that’s hot, people can dance do and is catchy people don’t care what you’re saying. That’s what I think accessibility is. Usually, on the radio most of the beats are in the category of I can dance to it, or makes me get up out of my seat. I think that’s all it will really take, is a dope enough beat to where it will catch cats and make em wanna sing along to the melody. It’s the beat and hook that makes a song catchy.
HHS: On “Pure Form” you defined contemporary hip-hop as “the Anti-creative movement.” Can you go more into depth on that?
Illogic: That song “She Gets It From Her Mama”, that’s not creative to me; that’s “Anti-Creative.” All that song is is a long hook. I think anyone could have come up with that. Most of the Hot Boyz joints are extremely uncreative. Three Six Mafia, I don’t think they’re creative at all. Silkk The Shocker, Master P, Ying Yang Twins, all these people that are making all this money are making songs that my little brother could have written. There not being creative, there not being clever. That’s the thing I like about Jay-Z, he’s very accessible, but so clever that he keeps his rhymes elevated. The cats I mentioned don’t do that at all. There’s no way, in my opinion, that they can be considered emcees. They just have a beat that people wanna hear and say whatever comes to their mind over it and there is no thought involved. I can’t appreciate it, because it does not touch me in anyway.
HHS: But don’t hip-hop fans have to take some of the blame for supporting that?
Illogic: True. If people like Aesop and Can Ox went Platinum, then that’s what the labels would want to pickup. Because of people like Three Six Mafia and all those cats going triple Platinum, people buy that stuff, but why would you buy something that’s so anti-anything. Its anti-hip-hop, its anti-culture and anti-human in some fashions. Why would you support that, I don’t understand? You’ll say my album is wack, but bump Three Six Mafia, its kind of offensive to me (laughs).
HHS: The Internet has changed the music industry, as it is an invaluable promotional tool. Being that you are in the fledgling state of your career, what are your thoughts on fans merely burning CD’s, rather then supporting their favorite artists by copping there records the conventional way?
Illogic: The Net has been good for me as a promotional tool. But as far as people burning my music off the Net, I don’t think you can consider yourself a true fan if you take money out of an artist’s hand. Especially artists who aren’t selling crazy amounts of LP’s in the first place. I can see if I was going Platinum. I mean burning Jay-Z’s LP off the Net, he’s not going to care, because he is still going to sell 3-4 million records worldwide. But burning El-P’s record is a completely different story, because he may sell 100,000 units. If you’re completely poor OK, but other then that it’s a real cop out. I mean I have done it before, but then once it comes out I buy it. If you have an LP early, that’s cool, just buy it when it comes out. At least be enough of a fan to want the jacket, the artwork, that’s a true fan. If I can get an LP early, I’ll get it trust me, but once that LP comes out, I will support that artist by buying the record.
HHS: While your material speaks for itself, Ohio is not known as a hip-hop Mecca. With that in mind, do you feel that your locale has prevented you from getting some of the same shine that has been bestowed upon camps that reside in NY, or LA?
Illogic: No, I think it’s actually made it allot easier, because there are not as many people here. I mean the only people that have really been recognized are Megahertz, Weightless, RJD2, Lil Bow Wow and Lone Cats that I know of from Columbus. There are artists coming out of NY everyday, dope or not. Same thing with Boston, LA, Chicago, Philly as they have so many artists that they really don’t catch your eye. Being here, when you get some shine, it’s allot easier to get recognized. Its good that I am in Columbus, because I am becoming one of the pioneers that is setting the pathway for other cats here. It’s really cool.
- Uncle Murda – “Hands Up” (feat. Maino & Jay Watts)
- T.I. – “Don’t Tell ‘Em (Remix)”
- Jermaine Dupri – “Pull Up” (feat. Ty Dolla $ign + Migos)
- Bobby Shmurda – “Hot N***a (Reggae Remix)” (feat. Mavado, Junior Reid, Popcaan & Jah X) / Fat Joe “Hot N***a (Remix)”
- Tree – “Columbia (Remix)”
- Lil Kim – “Fancy (Freestyle)”
- BBC Fire In The Booth: Danny Brown Freestyle
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