Posted on March 31, 2013 AT 08:29pm
Uncle Howie Records CEO and New York Rapper Ill Bill has been no slouch throughout his solo career and output with La Coka Nostra. The Hour of Reprisal was an absolutely solid release with dark and gripping subject matter and really solid banging production. His releases with Vinnie Paz and DJ Muggs, Heavy Metal Kings and Kill Devil Hills respectively, were also incredibly well done releases that featured well placed aggression and thoughtful lyricism. However, it’s a new year and with that, Ill Bill graces us with a new album, The Grimy Awards.
The Grimy Awards is 17 tracks of Hip-Hop featuring production from heavyweights like DJ Premier, Large Professor, Pete Rock, Psycho Les of The Beatnuts and El-P. All of them providing a fair bit of head nodding, east coast, boom-bap that stays rather constant throughout. It’s definitely less heavy-handed compared to The Hour of Reprisal but enjoyable all the same. From the start, the album feels like a bit of older Bill with some of Bill’s newer sound. Particularly in that you hear a bit more of Ill Bill’s old higher pitch vocal delivery that he performed with in “What’s Wrong With Bill” and “The Future is Now” with Non-Phixion. In a good deal of this album, he uses these beats to express his appreciation for those that have influenced him throughout his career. Whether it be his uncle in tracks like “When I Die”, DJ Premier in “World Premier” or the aptly titled “Paul Baloff”, dedicated to late, former, Exodus vocalist. He also gives thanks to all of his friends and family in the song “Acceptance Speech”. Gratitude isn’t the whole of his album though. Long time fans of The Cult Leader can still expect well done storytelling and conspiracy raps in the form of Exploding Octopus, the story of the infamous Unabomber and the self-explanatory How to Survive The Apocalypse. The Grimy Awards, while not as dark and foreboding as The Hour of Reprisal, packs a mean punch. (Seriously, listen to “Only Time Will Tell” on The Hour of Reprisal and tell me that won’t shake you to your core.) The way he makes it a point to seriously give instructions on How To Survive The Apocalypse really invokes thoughts of worry and makes one really consider taking his words to heart.
This album is also very heavy with its guest appearances. With at least eight tracks featuring someone contributing a verse or chorus. None of them really come off as bad though I’ve gotta admit, Lil Fame on Vio-Lence was barely recognizable. H.R. from Bad Brains makes a return on the track Forty Deuce Hebrew and even though it’s not a favorite, it’s definitely better than his last appearance on Reprisal. It seems like even if the guest appearances were kind of forgettable they didn’t really hurt the track too much as Ill Bill seems more than happy to pick up the slack and keep a track from being boring. FAR from boring however is the collaboration between Bill and El-P titled Severed Heads of State. This track is the first collaboration between them in a long time, the last time being God is An Atheist in which El-P handled production. It sounds like classic, dystopian, Blade Runner influenced Producto and sets a nice gritty platform for both Bill and El to absolutely slay the track. Overall, listeners will find a fun listen that won’t take long to warm up with a few listens. Older and more recent fans will enjoy the veteran grade production and solid verse work from Bill. If I had to give it a score I’d give it the Anthony Fantano brand Strong 7 to Light 8.
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