Album Review: ILLZsential by The ILLZ

Posted: July 3, 2011 by eptarheels23 in Album Review, Music
Tags: , ,

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Don’t pass up this review just because you have no idea who it is, just give it a chance. We are going to switch it up today and introduce a new artist and do an album review at the same time. The ILLZ, the stage name for Delgis Jose Mustafa Rodriguez. He was born in the Dominican Republic of Lebanese decent, however he is a native of New Jersey and has that New York sound to him. I’ve heard of him for some time now and listened to like one or two of his songs before. They were pretty dope, but I decided to give him a chance when he released ILLZsential. If you can’t tell by the title, it is a full length compilation of his best work, accumulated from his four other projects. One thing I have noticed about The ILLZ, are his song titles. They aren’t about money or drugs or sex, they are very creative and innovative. When I was going through my first listen to the tape, I thought he better be pretty good if he is going to name himself ill. Well, come get an introduction to The ILLZ below and see what makes him so ill!

1: To Know Your Place In the Universe 4/5
Right off the bat you can tell The ILLZ has that gritty NY sound to him, and that is a great thing. It doesn’t seem like he is trying to emulate someone, he just does it so naturally. It is a very good intro to the compilation and it get us used to The ILLZ sound. The beat is very dreamy, but at the same time it has that dangerous feel to it.

2: Amnesia, Forget It All 4/5
The first true replay-able ILLZ cut has him rapping over a beat that starts off real mellow and then picks up speed. The slow intro really gets you hooked and then once it picks up speed, you’ll be nodding to the beat. I have no idea who is handling the background vocals, but she is pretty dope.

3: Heaven (Higher) 5/5
Over a soulful, smooth beat The ILLZ drops lines of wisdom left and right. His flow on here is top notch and it shows his talents as an emcee. Again, another nameless person handling the hook and such, and once again they kill it. It will make want to just sit back and listen to it over and over again.

4: The Sun Doesn’t Know It’s a Star 4.5/5
The record starts off with an intro from Jay-Z where he speaks on how you don’t have to be the most technically sound rapper to be great. Its sets the stage perfectly for The ILLZ to rap over, complimented with the best beat so far. It is very similar to the previous one but it just feels more perfected. The track is over seven minutes, however The ILLZ stops rapping at about the three minute mark. The rest is an interview with German filmmaker, Werner Herzog and a calm outro.

5: ILLYTAL (Portishead Remix) 5/5
This was the first track I ever heard from The ILLZ and it was a great one at that, it got me hooked right away. Over a beat that straight knocks The ILLZ drops lines such as “I start blasting but no bullets cause, truth hurts more than a bullet does”. This is a must listen.

6: Faded / Los Angeles (Existen) 3.5/5
This track features two completely different records (the second starts at 3:46). The first has a very promising start, but once the beat dropped I really wasn’t feeling it. The hook is dope, but isn’t enough to save the track. I would have given it a 3/5. The second cut has The ILLZ once again rapping over a smooth beat and he proceeds to body it pretty well. I would have given it a 4/5, so I averaged the two to come up with 3.5.

7: Cover Me (I’m Going In) 5/5
As the title states, The ILLZ goes in on this track. The beat is crazy and The ILLZ just demolishes it.
I take back what I said on The Sun Doesn’t Know It’s a Star, this is the best beat on the compilation so far and it samples La Roux’s In for the Kill. Best track so far, you need to listen to this.

8: In Between Us 5/5
The most powerful ILLZ track so far. He speaks on the problems of domestic violence and tries to shed light on the problem. The beat is a very soulful, calm one again but it still knocks in a way. It sets the stage perfectly for The ILLZ to paint the perfect picture of whats going on. I would highly suggest watching the video for In Between Us as it is very creative and really paints out the story.

9: Come IN 4.5/5
The beat on this one is almost kind of eerie and it really makes the mood of the song top notch. The samples on here are also dope, wish more artists would do the same. Once again, The ILLZ’s flow is on point and he just seems to rap for almost four minutes straight.

10: Energy In Motion 3/5
The weakest track so far. The beat is the most calm so far, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. I’m really impartial to this song. I want to like this song, as it feels like The ILLZ put is hard work into every single bar. But I just can’t.

11: MPA (My Public Apology) 4.5/5
The track starts off with a long calm, smooth intro that goes a little past the minute mark. It sounds like a beat left off of So Far Gone which isn’t a bad thing at all. Then the real tracks kicks in and The ILLZ raps over a jazz influenced beat. All in all, a great listen.

12: Melfi 3.5/5
Another track that is really just a pass for me. The beat is back and forth in means of the pace. Sometimes it’s all up in your face and at others it’s almost not even there. Not a fan, skip.

13: Dark Side of the Room 3.5/5
This track almost feels like an extension of the previous track. Despite the two not having anything in common, they just seem the same. So once again, I’m going to have to say it’s a pass.

14: The Dreams of Life & Beth 5/5
The second track I heard from The ILLZ is possibly the best ILLZ track to date. The one word that should be used to describe this track is powerful. The beat is very minimal and composed almost entirely of the piano. The unnamed female singer really adds that soul on the hook that is needed to take this track to the next level. You can really tell the passion that The ILLZ pours into this record as it is apparent in every single bar.

15: November Sky 4/5
This is a solid overall track from The ILLZ. While he drops two verses and then lets the beat close out the last two minutes of the song, those two verses are dope. A good track was needed to close out ILLZsential to leave a good taste in the listeners mouth. And this is that track, great outro.

The ILLZ has set the bar for underground rappers coming out of the New York area. And that bar has been set very high. He can drop the bangers and then go to a lyrical standout in the matter of a track. I can also tell he has the desire and the grind to keep up the pace for some time to come. While he will probably never reach the Billboard charts, The ILLZ will always be ill.

Download: The ILLZ – ILLZsential

The Dreams of Life & Beth

ILLYTAL (Portishead Remix)

Come IN

The Sun Doesn’t Know It’s a Star

MPA (My Public Apology)

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