Ill Bill has been putting it down on wax for almost two decades now, first making noise as a part of Non-Phixion, which was birthed officially in 1994. He survived the fall of the indie hip-hop movement by carving out his own niche for himself, and over the years has musically branched out from his equally talented brother, Necro and his Non-Phixion crew. We’ve seen him collaborate with artists outside his NYC backyard, such as DJ Muggs on the Kill Devil Hills LP and Jedi Mind Trickster, Vinnie Paz, for the Heavy Metal Kings record, not to mention a few records for La Coka Nostra’s revolving door roster. With so many trustworthy brands to his namesake, Bill goes for ‘delf on The Grimy Awards, his fourth solo LP, and as usual, delivers another satisfying product.
The Grimy Awards pulls back from the overly agressive tone of his last few records, by varying the production styles throughout. While still unmistakably hardcore, the team of different producers allow Bill to bob-and-weave throughout the LP, rather than continually bludgeoning the listener with brutal beats of some of his other releases. We get a somewhat more personable version of Bill here, touching upon his diverse musical interests (“Paul Baloff”) and thanking his decades of supporters (“Acceptance Speech”).
Bill’s earned a level of respect in which he can pretty much assemble a dreamteam of collaborators for each record. While this can feel like the major-label-style “collaborator checklist” at times, the difference is that here, it’s done for the love, not for 17 attempts at making a hot single. For instance, “Power” is a DJ Muggs beat that features both O.C. and Cormega, while “Vio-Lence” is a block-banger featuring Lil Fame of M.O.P. and a truly resurrected Shabazz The Disciple, who almost steals the show. Couple that with some classically produced beats by guys like DJ Premier (“World Premier”), El-P (“Severed Heads Of State”), Pete Rock (“Truth”) and Large Professor (“Canarsie High”, “Acid Reflex”), and it’s hard to argue with Bill’s taste.
Pete Rock’s other track isn’t wasted either, as the Soul Survivor-esque “Truth” is an extra smooth track where he weaves an ultra visual tale to remember him and Necro’s fallen Uncle Howie. And Bill’s own production doesn’t falter, such as on his technology-fearing “Exploding Octopus”, or the unsettling “Forty Deuce Hebrew”, which takes a cue from Heavy Metal Kings’ “Leviathan (The Spell of Kingu)”, utilizing another Ghostface Ironman sample to the fullest. If ain’t broke, and all that….
Bill’s a deep thinker with a twisted, yet grounded mind (see the cheeky “How To Survive The Apocalypse”) and all of those things come through on The Grimy Awards. Like Non-Phixion’s debut, The Future Is Now, Bill has continued to work with many of the same producers of Nas’ Illmatic, even if a decade later it’s no longer fashionable to do so. Now that’s grimy.
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