It’s one thing to say a lot on an album; it’s quite another to actually have something to say. Drawing from artists who are equal parts entertainer and activist, Ill Bill uses his new solo album, The Grimy Awards, as a platform to both tell his story of growing up around drugs and violence in Brooklyn and sound the alarm against blind acquiescence to authority.
The former Non Phixion MC, coming off recent collaborations with La Coka Nostra and Vinnie Paz, teams with a host of collaborators and producers — including Large Professor, Pete Rock, El-P, HR of Bad Brains, and more — to showcase both the scars and the life lessons that come from being a hip-hop heavyweight with nearly three decades in the ring.
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During his 10 years of deejaying, DC the MIDI Alien has racked up an impressive résumé. He’s worked with Immortal Technique, AZ, and Wordsworth as well as remixed Nas and others. In 2008, he formed the group East Coast Avengers with MCs Esoteric and trademarc, and their gritty, politically charged debut Prison Planet garnered them national media attention with its lead single, “Kill Bill O’Reilly.” DC returns this February with a semi-solo LP, Avengers Airwaves, which further cements him as a force to be reckoned with in the hip-hop world.
DC produces the record and brings in a gaggle of rappers to provide the rhymes — from his East Coast Avengers bandmates to Jedi Mind Tricks’ Vinnie Paz and DJ Premier acolyte Termanology. DC’s production style is decidedly old-school: the songs are built on steady, mid-tempo drum beats with only a few looped samples. Standout track “Man Made Ways” exemplifies DC’s old-school skill — an echoing, droning organ loop creates an atmosphere of paranoia and foreboding, punctuated by bursts of loud, crunching guitar. The production doesn’t falter throughout, recalling early RZA with DC’s ability to create maximum effect with minimalist beats. Although DC doesn’t speak a word on the record aside from skits, the album has every right to bear his name on the cover.