ILLAH DAYZ – THE ILLAHSTRATOR LP Review

By SUNEZ

 There are sounds, moves, views and words that became family in my resurrection. New York City’s early eighties, I tested the elements. Four, three, two, not one will work as mine. So a spectator to the art becomes a commentator/creator beyond the chart. You learn music, the only signals equalized to provoke the illness. The illness of illahstration that are alerts to my realest, sacred words others can hold linked in phrased beads. The mantras men can chant in revolt. Check one, two, a voice for the expressions being quieted by pop overbite. Three, four, fight to devour the meekness of singing pastries selling mills. Five, six, seven, Almighty in my own element’s heaven.

And so it U-n-i-verse turns to my brother, the author of the worded wheels of Divine Mecca. The real Detroit, for the toughest that really weather the elements, miles beyond the eight with roads misnamed Joy.  The love, hell and even right events pile into the heart of Illah Dayz and now a new Wisemen paperback of audio is authored, The Illahstator, for this element I perform.

The purest Boom Bap MC of Bronze Nation, Illah Dayz, is an MC that rhymes with an live-stage intensity that keeps him driving ahead of the break, rarely letting it catch up unless Bronze Nazareth and (RIP Remembered In Perfection) Kevlaar 7’s breaks reload with ill drum rolls, snare resets or Soul’d and Funk’d horn blasts. His verses are strongly phrased couplets that declare himself and journal a struggle most of humanity will never have the power to deal with. Paralyzed in an accident after a studio session with the Wisemen, he is the honored symbol of the enormous hells that my brothers have gone through over the years making music.  Through the crimes of media dismissal, downplaying and degrading they have elevated Hip Hop with one of its crucial movements in the 10’s.

The Illahstrator is sparked by the love of his ol’ Earth on “Mama Firstro,” free versing, “composition book/opens with my mother/her thoughts, her life/ my life, I love her…I was a young kid but I still love my Moms…” and propelled by the honoring of Kevlaar 7, the Wisemen brother that introduced him to the family.  This album is a record introducing us to Illah’s techniques and content intentions. Sadly, it also is the first Wisemen work after we lost Kevlaar.  Nowhere is there a more perfect line that captures Kevlaar 7’s heart as on “Brother In Law” where he rhymes, “Lifting the skies to a top tier position/my niggas climbed and became God in prison/Willie Lynch in the Beast/my last supper became my brother’s first feast…”  The feast is passed to Illah Dayz and fuels the Wisemen MC closest to Kevlaar in technique and style.  Out of the Wisemen, Phillie will soulfully stay behind the beat, casually proclaiming and smoothly revealing inflections and fluctuations of insights wrapped in deep emotion.  While there is so much more we await of Salute (#FreeSalute), he stays on the beat with the most minimal energy required.  With Bronze Nazareth’s unique blend of wordplay and layered lyricism absorbing techniques of tempo and altered pace pausing, he is nearly waiting and moving for the beat wherever the content takes him.  June Mega, powered by his immense baritone, who starts his verses with great energy has the group’s best clarity, never losing enunciation even when he doubles his rhyme scheme.  The newest Wisemen Jessiah Allah, easily one of the top debuting producers of this decade, is usually on beat but will slide well off it fitting extra verbiage into bars. But, he is still ascending toward his signature styles.  Kevlaar 7 was such a dense lyricist with an equally passionate vigor to express the jewels that inspired him so to us he often started behind the beat and would race ahead of it. It made his verses so complex and almost always mandatory of rewind for our mind to catch up with his ideas even if our ears might have.  Illah Dayz is an A-Alike to Kevlaar on many of those respects and brings mid tempo tracks to an up tempo level with his rhyme patterns on The Illahstrator.

As Illah Dayz rhymes, particularly with Bronze’s “I Roll A Route,” he rhymes pure B-Boy with a 1, 2 bounce in his phrasing that lets the light tambourine snares become our timing patterns.  See, MCing is hard to follow without flow especially when MCs are ahead of the beat.  Ahead but not off, he verses with perfect syllabic matching on his bars, “Sweatshirt sweat and I need a squirt of super soaker/double barrel trouble in the air and I can smell it/inhaling deep, jumping out the jeep and don’t sweat it…”  Still, on rewind, which is nearly a given, the wordplay of homonyms and perfectly phrased couplets of stream of conscious drifting blends into Bronze’s soul woos illah.  It is a stream of conscious style (“Culinary Gensu”) that constantly drifts into battle bars as it holds the underlying theme of prevailed struggle.  It leads to incredible lines from chorus to verse as on “Bleeding Journal” over Kevlaar’s twanged guitar licks and pounding marching drums. “Styles like my temperature/the higher I diminish ya/yo, I perambulate…” sets the chorus off into lines as, “my rap journal bleeding true stories…leaving words on walls in precincts.” Or “Black Bottom” with its beautiful horn sequences, Illah drops, “reverse savage/parole papers gotta have it/havoc and madness/bleeding this whole world with sadness/older dudes lace me alright/listen to older Blues…” While Illah Dayz’ enunciation has not caught up to his word choices and content fluctuations that take his bars to so many ideas in the quickest of phrases, there is too much to capture here as “been through tribulations/some life moments I was facing/embrace my will/this street life is real/holding my fate/I, sit, relax and I meditate/but with the crime rate/I’m living in the states of Illah Dayz/got me brighter/I’m more than laid back/pumping the Wise cause of all that shit from brave cats/I’m saving stacks, stay on fire, ‘til I’m laid flat…”

Beatwise, Bronze gives all we expect, a soulful Boom Bap with incredible precise drum work.  Bronze’s gift is matching the right drums with the sample loops and chops.  The more popular imitators use the same snares, handclap and droning bassdrums for a monotonous grafting.  The Illahstrator is a unified sound with distinct differences matching Illah’s content and tempos.  From Bronze’s fluted lullabies behind the loved wail on “Cinnabunz” on a sharp, simple 1, 2 break, the stuttered thud break of Kevlaar’s “Ken Griffey” with a distant string loop all rebooted by a live prepared drum roll or Bronze’s long stringed symphonic hell of “I Still Aim” with a high and thick snare and distant bass drum thuds, the distinctiveness of tracks is Boom Bap done properly exciting.

These all become the narratives of my extended family.  From “No Names” street pictorials to the workout bars of fury of “Crazy” or the beautiful ode to Kevlaar 7 of “Obvious Destiny,” the potential of Illah Dayz is at a superior level with his accomplishments at an incredible level of mic controlling exuberance and deft lyricism.  Bronze and Kevlaar’s sound unites The Illahstrator’s  theme of loved ones and love through these hells to accumulate into song as the more reasons for Hip Hop’s existence.  As with all the Wisemen catalog, as we learn to love more and prevail through more hells into right, we will see even more jewels out of this LP.

Now, nine, ten, a pen texts most high honors and the worst of sins.

And these books become the binding of many pages from these Illah Dayz.