Daily Archives: January 12, 2016

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Album Review – Illa J

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The Hip-Hop idiom tends to emphasize history.  Practically every rap show is going to feature the phrase “F*ck da police” and there are often shout outs to the likes of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. In interviews artists are almost always asked about the music of the late seventies to the turn of the century and the answer often times determines their credibility among listeners.  Sometimes the subject of history can be the source of controversy; last year Vince Staples received a lot of backlash after suggesting that Ms Lauren Hill was the only voice he cared about in the nineties.  Staples went on to make a decent point on the subject by tweeting, “Bet none of these [guys] arguing about “Hip hop history” are pushing college or education in general nearly as hard to our black youth.”  Staples certainly understands Hip-Hop today and his music is very good, however, I believe that Illa J has proven the importance of the past with the release of his self-titled album.  After hearing him speak at the Hip-Hop You Don’t Stop Conference (a CKUT co-presentation), it was clear that Illa J has a deep understanding of the roots of his art form and this knowledge certainly comes out in his songwriting.  His songs emulate the soul grooves of the likes of D’Angelo and Snoop Doggy Dog in a contemporary manner finding a splendid balance between old and new. Continue reading