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by Fat Tony
20 April, 2004@12:00 am
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     While he’s teased us with appetizers such as Ill Bill Is The Future and Howie Made Me Do It, Non-Phixion’s “cult leader”, Ill Bill, steps up and delivers his first full length solo album: What’s Wrong with Bill. Backed by the demented production genius of his brother Necro, who produces the entire album), Bill takes the same neck-snapping formula he’s perfected over the years in Non Phixion, and expands it in his debut.

     While Ill Bill’s presence on the mic is one of the strongest in Hip-Hop, there is no mistaking the importance of what Necro adds. Together the two brothers generate a deadly chemistry that demonstrates equally the power and fury of which both are capable. It is the consistency of Necro’s tracks that are the real gems here, and not only is the standard fare of string-laced creepers present, but on Bill’s album Necro opens himself up with a few tracks that sound nothing like any of his previous works, and the results are fucking bangin’. By adding some touches of R&B, some soul, and some straight-ahead fire, Necro constructs an almost telepathically perfect soundscape for Bill to tear through.

     Known for his savage, blasphemous imagery and equally vivid delivery, Ill Bill has made a living by absorbing the gritty reality that is his life, and spitting it back in the form of rapid-fire, precision rhymes. This time he takes his writing deeper, encasing some really personally insights within the scope of his rhymes. Catharsis, when done right, can be a most powerful form of artistic expression, and Bill and Necro both tap into those dark places within themselves to bring forth an album that is as much exorcism as it is narrative. Musically it cracks your spine; lyrically it gouges your eyes out. Bill’s blood-thirsty penchant for brutality is certainly evident throughout the record, but, being that it is a solo joint, he is afforded the time and the creative space to delve further into topics only touched upon in his work with Non Phixion. Themes of violence, paranoia, alienation, and a host of other dysfunctions are all heavily laced throughout the songs. The opening track “What’s Wrong” is an unflinching and introspective documentation of all the seedy influences that shape and mold a person like Bill. The listener is given a highly personal glimpse into his life, while Necro supports Bill’s bleak vision with a dramatic backdrop. Bill opens himself up by pondering “Tell me where the fuck I went wrong/took the wrong turn, wrong path/what’s wrong with Bill? Inspired by songs to kill/cold-hearted/how can a person be taught to feel/thoughts concealed by a shield of alcohol and pills…” In another verse he offers up what amounts to the reason behind his desire to do a solo record: “I made this album to reveal my inner thoughts and discuss truth…Picking up the pieces of a life shattered/I never knew my life mattered…”

      Meanwhile, “The Anatomy Of A School Shooting” is a clever piece of first-person narrative, where Bill slips inside the fatal black trenchcoats of the notorious duo Klebold and Harris and delivers chilling verbal insight into the mind of the outcast. Necro’s accompanying beat is a trumpeted fanfare that almost celebrates its dark subjects. As one would expect, Non Phixion members Goretex and Sabac Red represent throughout the album, as do Q-Unique and Mr. Hyde. Gore, Bill, and Necro light it up on the ode to their home turf: “Glenwood Projects”, and Gore’s verse is especially vicious and his delivery is rhythmic perfection. Without a doubt Necro’s shining moment is “Unstoppable” a bass-heavy, almost commercially tinged joint that is a real departure for him. The closing track, “The Final Scene” is a continuation of the adventurous concept song “Swordfish”, which appeared on Necro’s Brutality Pt. 1 album last year. In it, Isaac, Ishmael, Jesus and the rest of the cast return for more clandestine, covert operations.

     Just about every track on What’s Wrong with Bill is heat. Bill and Necro consistently bring it with an energy and a passion that are not often felt on most Hip-Hop records. Bill forces us to acknowledge that life is never simple by exposing its darkest sides. His interpretations of socio-political themes like poverty and violence are as necessary and as valid as any historian’s, while his verbal self-examinations have the ability to touch a universal nerve in all of us. By relying on his strengths, Bill proves that he is more than capable of carrying the weight of a solo album. As an MC he is dynamic and, more importantly, as subject matter he is definitely fascinating.

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