Ill Bill – “Billy” review

This is the 8th full-length album from Brooklyn underground veteran Ill Bill. Rising to prominence as a member of the seminal quartet Non Phixion, he would become one of the most hard working dudes in the underground whether it be his solo discography or his subsequent output as part of groups like La Coka Nostra & Heavy Metal Kings. Last we heard from the Cult Leader was during the COVID-19 pandemic when he formed the Gorilla Twins with NEMS & dropped their self-titled debut, following it up with his previous effort La Bella Medusa that same fall. But after 3 years in the making, the east coast MC/producer is returning in the form of Billy.

“Alpha Futura” is a 2-minute opener with a whimsical boom bap instrumental & Bill referring to himself as a supreme guillotine whereas “Hell Awaits” over a futuristically eerie instrumental from Furio with some kicks & snares talking about holding a rifle to someone’s head while holding the Bible at the same time. “Jordan 3s” speaks on chilling in the projects rocking the titular shoes over a nasty boom bap beat courtesy of Stu Bangas, but then the Boston beatsmith sticks around to helps him tell “The Ballad of Billy®” over a solemn loop attached to some more snares & kicks.

Moving on from there with “Know My Name”, we have Skam2? tagging along over an organ-laced beat with some claps cooked up by the former Old World Disorder member promising y’all gon’ know who they are once it’s all said & done leading into “Canarsie Koresh” returning to the boom bap courtesy of Lord Goat talking about keeping your weapon loaded. Immortal Technique & Sick Jacken both come into the picture for “Prophets of Doom” making it clear we could only be a second away from taking our last breaths with a cataclysmic instrumental from Farma Beats just before “The Mandalorian” fuses boom bap with some guitar licks calling himself the lone bounty hunter of Canarsie.

“Supreme Magnetic” by the Heavy Metal Kings & Lord Goat finds the trio over some string sections coming through with them aggressive battle raps we all know & after the “Higher Power” interlude, “Smarten Up” by the Gorilla Twins talking about all you know not being enough over a soulful Little Vic instrumental. “Once Upon a Time in Canarsie” with Lord Goat sees both Non Phixion members looking back on the days growing up where the sharks be over booming yet nocturnal beat while “Yallah Yallah” by La Coka Nostra & O.T. the Real talking about getting your face shot off.

Meanwhile, “This is Anger” weaves some more pianos on top of kicks & snares thanks to DJ JS-1 delving into lividness prior to the Heavy Metal Kings returning alongside Kool G Rap on “Root for the Villain” to cheer on the bad guys over a morbidly raw DJ Muggs beat. “Sunday at the Tunnel” hooks up a classy sample provided by Statik Selektah paying homage to his influences in hip hop while “Leviathan” with Tragedy Khadafi talks about murder making summer colder over a grisly instrumental.

Lord Goat & Q-Unique come together for the mellow “Chubb Rock” making it clear they treat ‘em right kin to the hometown veteran of the same name with the flamethrower until Tragedy Khadafi returns alongside Ransom to deliver the crooning “Casino” overdosing on confidence. OMB Jay Dee’s verse on “Willis” has to be the weakest feature performance on the album even though it’s still cool nonetheless to see Billy give props to the Brooklyn drill scene. On top that, I love the churchy C-Lance production along with the Gorilla Twins & Rittz’ performances wanting to know exactly what the fuck they talkin’ ‘bout referencing Diff’rent Strokes.

After the “Wrong Place” interlude, the penultimate track “Time to Go” makes it clear that the grim reaper lives in every violent soul there is with a foreboding beat featuring co-production from Scott Stallone & the closer “Omega Therion” referencing the iconic Swiss extreme metal band Celtic Frost’s timeless sophomore effort To Mega Therion of course as every Bill fan should know that he’s a metalhead wrapping the album up with an eerie boom bap heater Body Bag Ben cooked up streetsweeping everybody.

Obviously given the title, I went into Billy expecting this to be a more personal effort & lo & behold: That’s what we got & one that I would say is an improvement to La Bella Medusa as dope as that album was a few Halloweens back because Bill never disappoints if we’re being honest here. Some people will complain about the 71 minute runtime, but he definitely he has the lyrical prowess & the gulliest batch of beats to pull it off as he does here.

Score: 4/5

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