Sometimes an emcee comes that changes the way that one listens to hip hop. An emcee that manhandles the English vocabulary to a point where one can almost forget all that’s been heard and said before. We have had a few poets in our generation (Nas and Rakim ) who
have clearly shaken up the hip-hop community with their visually enticing lyrics and polished
intonation. Those such as Nas and Rakim have been heard before but the name Illogic may not quite ring a bell to the average hip-hop head as of yet. The weightless emcee first casted his line into the ocean known as hip hop four years ago with the criminally slept on Unforeseen Shadows. An album which was gracefully executed and showcased an aspiring talent with a penchant for ripping the mic with his poetic technique and a stunning way with words. What is even more impressive is that it was written when the man was barely able to drive. Then came the battle laden follow up EP Got Lyrics, where the emcee showered the listener with metaphors galore. The problem was that there apparently weren’t enough ears to take heed of
what this amazing emcee had to offer. He became the greatest emcee nobody ever heard of. The kid from around the way who becomes the fairy tale of an emcee who never existed outside of his own circle. Illogic’s only downfall was and still is a lack of material, but that cannot possibly downplay how gifted he is. So as the Weightless machine has continued to build steam
with Unforeseen and Got Lyrics producer Blueprint’s emergence on the scene, it would only seem right that his third release Celestial Clockwork would take all captive and stamp Illogic’s name all over hip hop’s pecking order. But a tale like that is only folklore. Apparently since Got Lyrics, Illogic has withdrawn from the underground scene leaving his fans hanging awaiting his third work. A hubbub started about what was next, a spoken word album possibly, or maybe the project 8076 collab with Walter Rocktight, because Celestial Clockwork seemed to be pushed to the back of peoples minds. Illogic has now gone out on a limb and has given to his faithful a side project expected by none, Write to Death Vol 1: My Hand Hurts. By making each CD unique with his signature and artwork (hence the name My Hand Hurts) he attempts to draw those in by making his work personal and distinctive, showing no attempt to reach out to those who do not want to be reached. But sometimes something like this has to be heard.
Illogic without a doubt defines his place among giants with Write to Death. Right off the bat Ill disperses the brilliant “Write For What”. This track alone will make a believer out of all with his introspective look at why he chooses to bless mics. Clearly a write up does no justice for how striking this work truly is. But a sample of how impressive he is will have to do: “For the call girl, single mother that never sees the sun/ and when he sleeps is the only time she sees her
son/ for the night crawlers, empty alley walkers and chain smokers/ students-slash-strippers trying to maintain focus/ for the life lovers and mic huggers, wax spinners/ and graf spitters, beat crafters and windmillers/ I write for the cracked pavement/ for my ancestors stacked in the basement of slave ships/ for the plot where my grandfather’s grave sits/ and for the fact that destiny’s sealed with a kiss.” He also explains reasons more close to home with “I write for my wife’s eyes and my son’s smile/his hair her lips/every step he takes/her stare her hips/for learning to deal with the hand I’ve been dealt/ shows me that all that matters is that I write for myself/.” Ill is astoundingly diverse as well, tackling subjects from his first experience with mushrooms (“Possible 666″) to the perception of the war overseas by a youth (“War”) to what his day consists of (“Centered”) . Ill substantiates the old adage that “it ain’t about what you say it’s how you say it.” and how he says it all the more extraordinary. With a work that is so intensely passionate and providing vivid imagery not seen since the work of Nas, Ill stands head and shoulders above many who have arrived before him and sets the bar for those to come. Even though he may lose a few new listeners with his endeavors in abstract, Illogic still can rip a mic with the best of them as seen on the flute driven “Severed Fingers”. Check how he goes for the jugular: “Punch you in your chest with duck tape and smash glass on knuckles/repeated blows to your torso till your chest plate buckles/and blood waters my garden of skill/I’ll snatch out your vital organ and plant it so your heart’s underground for real…”
Not only do the lyrics hijack your sense of hearing but producer in tow, DJ Eyamme, wholesome production provides the perfect backdrop for Ill’s nouns and verbs. Eyamme provides some of the more innovative production (think Anticon) this side of the world. Although it may not be for everyone, it more than serves its purpose. Many may holler “Where is Blueprint?” but this is not an album meant for Blueprint, it is meant for Eyamme, who does it justice as seen on the lovely “1992″. As the adrenaline filled production pumps through hip hop veins on “Centered” it contrasts sharply with the spaced out sounds of “I Am Not Strange” which reflects exactly what Illogic is trying to transmit through the listener’s headphones.
Write to Death falls somewhere in between his battle driven Got Lyrics and poetically sound Unforeseen Shadows. It is a work from an artist who continues to grow and takes his fans along for the ride each and every step of the way. It seems that this is only an appetizer to whet the appetites of those who cannot wait for his next work. Clocking in at barely under 30
minutes Write to Death gives the listener a taste of what he has to offer only to cruelly rip it away just as it is being enjoyed. Hopefully Celestial Clockwork will win over more than a few because a talent like this should not be sheltered. But until then his fans will have to deal with Write to Death and those who have never heard of him will continue to live their lives as scripted. Until then nothing will change because those who know, know, and those who don’t will not be affected.
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