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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week - ILL
Monday, February 19, 2007

Some folks describe ILL as an emcee, others call him a battle rapper, but in actuality he is the embodiment of the title of his latest album, ILL is an Unknown Species. He’s lived through more than his fair share of struggles as he’s been homeless, shot at and robbed at gunpoint, but through it all he’s never lost his lyrical fire, in fact, the flame has only intensified. His first TV appearance was in 2000 on The Queen Latifah Show. He battled C-Rayz Walz on NYC's Metro Channel in 2001, was one of BET's 106 and Park Freestyle Friday champions in 2002 and was a finalist on MTV's MC Battle in 2003. 2003 also saw ILL sign a production deal with Ruff Ryders producer DJ Shok. The accolades kept coming ILL’s way as in 2004 he was voted best independent artist of the week by Connecticut’s KC101, which came as a bit of a surprise to the hardcore MC who unsure whether the Top 40 audience would embrace his style. ILL’s battled at the famous Monday Night Fight Klub in NYC and won numerous showdowns and battles put on by Connecticut’s Hot 93.7. Today ILL’s sitting down with me to talk about the differences between being a battle MC and a songwriter, his feelings on his home state’s Hip-Hop scene, and what exactly makes ILL ill.

Adam Bernard: Let's start this interview right. Tell everyone what you bring to the table musically that should make them want to give you a listen.
ILL: What I bring to the table musically is completely different than anything you've ever heard. I've conjured up a lot more concepts than guns, women and cars, that's for sure. The songs will take you somewhere your mind has never been, the subject content ranges vastly, and really makes you think. But at the end of the day, the best word to describe it is that it's ILL. Listen and find out for yourself.

Adam Bernard: In the past you were known strictly as a battle MC, winning a number of high profile events. How difficult has it been to make the transition from battling to creating songs?
ILL: Actually, I am a songwriter at heart and basically used the battle scene to get my name out there and bring interest to my music, so there was really no transition it was only a matter of time after being recognized that people would hear my songwriting talents. Don't get me wrong, I am a raw lyricist that loves to let off frustration in a good battle from time to time. I will also continue to do what ever it takes to be recognized whether it's battling, freestyling, making tracks, or performing my high energy shows that I consistently deliver.

Adam Bernard: OK, so it really wasn’t a transition for you, but how has it been trying to get fans to make the transition from seeing you as a battle MC to a more well rounded lyricist?
ILL: There is always the factor of people expecting to hear something crazy coming out my mouth, but when they hear my variety of songwriting talents I enjoy the fact that they are pleasantly surprised. Variety is the key to hitting all audiences so it hasn’t been that difficult for them to transition from seeing me spit crazy battle raps to conceptual songs, it only shows more versatility. Just as I have been recognized on the battle scene, I have become just as recognized for my original sound and songwriting talents, which shows listeners I am more well rounded than they may have thought.

Adam Bernard: People assume Connecticut is a fairly dead state for Hip-Hop, but you perform everywhere, and I know you've run your own showcases. Why is it important to you to make so many connections within the state?
ILL: I think it is important to have the support of your hometown and also show them that you support them, too, and that is why I have thrown showcases in the past to help other artists shine, which has helped me build good business relationships within the state which has connected me outside the state on several occasions. It is also important to show that you are willing to work as a team with your state to put your state on the map. Unfortunately, hate still exists between artists in Connecticut and that is why I discontinued my own showcases, but I still perform at as many as I can in and out of state. I found that when I was running my own it was more like a competition than artists trying to network and collab together. Every man for himself, I guess, but I tried. There are real connections with real people and fake connections who are snakes, so watch who you roll with. Finding connections within your state can find you the team you need. If you cannot connect with people from your own state, that is a problem. Stay on your grind!

Adam Bernard: Finally, you recently released an album, Unknown Species here's your 30 seconds to hype it up and let people know what it's all about and why they should give it a spin.
ILL: Unknown Species is one of the most well rounded albums you will ever hear, there is something on it for absolutely everyone; ladies, gents, true lyricists, thugs, club-goers, parents, everyone!!! One minute, you’re experiencing parts of my life with me and the next minute a heart is getting ripped out. 24 tracks, go cop it!

For more ILL check out myspace.com/ill4life and jamwave.com/ill4life. You can purchase ILL’s Unknown Species at uglyradio.net.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:11 AM  
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