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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Vinnie Paz – “Tortured in the Name of God’s Unconditional Love” review

Vinnie Paz is a 45 year old underground veteran from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania known for being the MC of Jedi Mind Tricks & the leader of the Army of the Pharaohs collective. He put out his first 2 solo albums Season of the Assassin & God of the Serengeti in 2010 & 2012 respectively, but returned in 2016 with The Cornerstone of the Corner Store. The Pain Collector would become my favorite of his since his first 2, but as above so below & Burn Everything That Bears Your Name were both almost as great, so I had no worries going into his 7th album considering his consistency.

“Pistol Opera” is a creepy boom bap opener with some piano chords talking about respecting violence & what he was purposely designed for until Method Man comes into the picture for the unsettling “Invisible Ether” produced by Stu Bangas talking about what happens when they start to flow. “Faith Healer” goes into trap territory thanks to longtime Enemy Soil Entertainment in-house producer C-Lance cautioning that shit’s all fun & game till the drum-magazines are empty, but then “Be Wise as Serpents” is a rap metal boom bap fusion with a ghostly hook & Vinnie acknowledging that motherfuckers think it’s cool to behave stupid.

Continuing from there with “Heroin on a Harpoon”, we have Geechi Suede talking about becoming rich as soon as his mom gave birth to him & Pazzy referring this as the oldest trick in the book over a boom bap instrumental with a blaring guitar & some jazzy undertones until “Curse of Canaan” with Kurupt finds the 2 talking about keep pushing the lines & the main loop throughout sounds like video game sound effects to me, I don’t know why. “Rambo Knife” however has some amazing vocal samples throughout speaking on cutting coke & causing panic, but then “3 Levels of Hikmah” is a triumphant jazz rap cut laced by Oh No with some incredible ad-libs talking about people shooting at him like paparazzi & a lot of them being yadda yadda.

“Killpoint” returns to the boom bap with some horn sections courtesy of Vic Grimes as Vinnie & M.O.P. get malicious lyrically while the piano-trap joint “Deadman’s Hand” calling himself the most ignorant of all-time while “Winged Assassins” with Boob Bronx & Ras Kass ruthlessly compare their rhymes to black hand-grenades. “A War Chest & a Propaganda Machine” has a more delirious quality to it provided by DJ Muggs being straight up & telling anyone who wants smoke with him to say his name while “Gunpowder Plot” with O.T. the Real spit some drug trafficking tales.

“Slight Rebellion Off Madison” is a woodwind/boom bap hybrid talking about how his shooters don’t die while “Father Yod” by the Heavy Metal Kings & Lord Goat finds the trio over some grim piano chords to spit that gun talk. The song “Spoils of War” with Big Twins aggressively talk about stomping on motherfuckers heads when they be outside over some ominous production while the penultimate track “Loro Pianas Robes” with Thirstin Howl III discuss being the upmost & being left cut in half over a glistening boom bap beat. “Zafiro Añejo” with Boob Bronx & Recognize Ali ends the album with the 3 referring to this as beautiful architecture with a flute hanging behind them.

Ikon the Verbal Hologram has always remained consistent with his music & even though God of the Serengeti is my personal favorite album of his, I definitely think this is the most I’ve enjoyed since The Pain Collector. The production has some more trap undertones to it this time around surprisingly, but best believe Paz & nearly every feature are absolutely catching bodies with their pens the whole damn time.

Score: 4/5

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Vinnie Paz – “Burn Everything That Bears Your Name” review

This is the 6th full-length album from Philadelphia underground mainstay Vinnie Paz. Coming up as the MC for Jedi Mind Tricks & the leader of the Army of the Pharaohs collective, he also started building an impressive solo career off his 2010 debut Season of the Assassin & the 2012 sophomore effort God of the Serengeti. His previous album as above so below just came out last Valentine’s Day & a little over a year later, we’re already being treated to Burn Everything That Bears Your Name.

“Socrates Drinking the Hemlock” is a 2-minute opener with Boxcutter Pazzy spitting that disrespectful shit over an old west-sounding instrumental & then Billy Danze joins him for the horn/boom bap infused “Machine Gun Etiquette”, where both of them comparing their lyricism to that of LMGs. “Body Bag Philosopher” brings out the horror vibes from C-Lance’s piano instrumental to Vinnie’s lyrics about a rat going rogue whereas the Stu Bangas-produced “Papi Wardrobe” talks about letting the TEC spray over what I assume to be a 70’s sample.

We then get on some mafioso shit as Ill Bill & Lord Goat hop on the orchestra-laced “Witches Teeth” while the song “Latka Bravas” talks about murder over some trumpets loops. Things go into a more jazzy direction on the Oh No-produced “Danger’s My Business” with lyrics detailing a war going on outside, but then Vinnie details his woman having an abortion on the track “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” & the way Farma Beats flips “Don’t You Ever Dare” by Dean Friedman is immaculate.

“Guilty Remnant Cigarettes” is a short yet effective cut about being out for blood over a more vintage instrumental from Esoteric & right after funny enough, The Czar-Keys cook up what could possibly be the darkest beat on the album as The Verbal Hologram reminds us of being an old school shooter on the song “Don Eladio”. Meanwhile on the overawing “Warhead”, we have Chino XL coming through to help detail how dirty people are before talking about bodies being stacked up on the sepulchral “Excuse All the Blood”.

The song “White on White Crime” kinda has some trap & rock undertones in the production as O.T. the Real & D-Boy Flowski come together with the Pazmanian Devil to talk about how they rap what they live, but D-Boy’s verse at the end doesn’t hit me like the first 2 did. This is followed up with the powerful Islamic ode “Battle of the Camel” featuring Willie the Kid & the sample Giallo Point uses is just so comely.

Vic Grimes takes shit back to boom bap territory on “Torch Bearer”, which I think might be the Paz Man’s response to the diss tracks both King Magnetic & Doap Nixon put out towards him last year. The song “Affairs in Order” incorporates some synths as Jay Royale accompanies the mic to talk about how you don’t wanna be around when the feds start getting on your ass.

Lord Goat returns for “Tell Gold to Hold the Boneyard” alongside Crimeapple to deliver them gangsta bars over a guitar-driven instrumental from Hobgoblin before incorporating an organ & some sputtering drums tor the track “Duppy or Gunman”, where The Sicilian Shooter says anyone who wants it with him is out of their goddamn minds & rightfully so.

“Angels with Dirty Faces” is a gospel-like homage to everyone Vinnie’s family was enamored before he & Eto talk about acting right around them on “Murder Takes Time”. The penultimate track “Lloyds of London” is a bilious acknowledgement of telling when people don’t want the smoke, but the Boob Bronx verse is another low-point for me personally. Finally to round it off, M.A.V. tags along to get in battle rap mode for the flute-backed closer “Digital Veil”.

In comparison to as above so below, I actually happen to prefer Burn Everything That Bears Your Name a bit more. Did it need to be 22 songs? Not necessarily. However, the dude’s pen-game remains unmatched as does his ear for production almost a quarter of a century deep making music.

Score: 4/5

Vinnie Paz – “as above so below” review

Vinnie Paz is a underground veteran from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania known for being the MC of Jedi Mind Tricks & the leader of the Army of the Pharaohs collective. He put out his first 2 solo albums Season of the Assassin & God of the Serengeti in 2010 & 2012 respectively, but returned in 2016 with The Cornerstone of the Corner Store. Last time we heard from him solo-wise was with The Pain Collector in 2018 & with Valentine’s Day arriving, he’s back with his 5th full-length album.

It all starts with “Crime Wave Tehran”, where Pazzy talks about shooting someone over a minimalist yet intimidating instrumental from Giallo Point. The next song “Scorched Earth” with Estee Nack & Jay Royale sees the 3 spitting some vicious mobster-style lyricism over a Stu Bangas beat with some prominently harmonious vocals while the track “I’m the Chaos” reminds us of Paz’s place in this culture over a boom bap/rock fusion from Vic Grimes. The song “Mabuhay Gardens” talks about how nothing other than death is guaranteed over a somber beat while “The Conjuring” compares himself to that of a magician over a Bronze Nazareth beat with a relaying vocal sample.

“The Black Hand” with Demoz sees the 2 talking about murder over a cavernous beat from C-Lance supplied with a hook delivered in this weird faux-Jamaican patois while the song “Mock Up on Mu” sends a message to his competition over a suspenseful instrumental. The track “Ankle Bracelets” talks about wanting to be alone over a calming beat & a stellar hook with Queen Herawin while “The Conpleat Witch” with Nowaah the Flood finds both MCs painting some vivid street imagery over a boom bap beat with some creepy keyboards.

The song “Hannibal” is laced with gun talk over a boom ball beat with a luxurious pianos lead while the track “Silician Bull” compares himself to just that over an ominous beat. The song “Cero Miedo” gets confrontational over an eerie beat. The song “Spilled Milk” is a tear-jerking tribute to his father with a piano instrumental to enhance the emotion while the track “Vahid Moradi” with Rigz sees the 2 talking about staring into Satan’s eyes over some strings.

The song “I’ll Buy All the Uranium You’ve Got” talks about being strapped over a boom bap beat with a prominent vocal sample while the song while the track “Doomsday Machine” with Demoz & Vast Aire sees the 3 talking about how ruthless they are over an instrumental with a beautifully dark atmosphere to it. The song “Serve the Creator” with Recognize Ali sees the 2 talking about Allah over a soul sample & some horns then the closer “The Gone-Away World” gets conscious over a killer rock instrumental Vinnie made himself with co-production from Scott Stallone.

Paz’s discography has always been known for being consistently hardbody & this is no exception. A couple of the features could’ve been better to me personally, but his lyricism has gotten sharper over time & the production is as equally gritty.

Score: 4/5

Ill Bill – “Pulp Phixion” review


Ill Bill is a legendary MC from Brooklyn, New York who rose to prominence as a member of Non Phixion. He eventually made his solo debut in 2004 with What’s Wrong with Bill? & would follow it up in 2008 with The Hour of Reprisal. 2 years later, he teamed up with DJ Muggs to deliver Kill Devil Hills & came back in 2013 with his magnum opus The Grimy Awards. He then took a break from music until Septagram in 2016 & now just 4 months after the release of the Stu Bangas produced Cannibal Hulk, he’s returning with his 2nd EP with Sunday producing it in it’s entirety.

The EP starts off with “Warlord”, where Bill compares himself to just that over a grimy beat. The next song “Axe of Abarxas” with Goretex & Sick Jacken sees the 3 getting confrontational over a Godly boom bap beat. The penultimate track “Debbie Abono” is a vicious Heavy Metal Kings reunion while the closer “Shoot First, Die Later” with Goretex sees the 2 getting bloodthirsty over a decent rap metal instrumental.

All & all, this is a decent EP from the cult leader. The production is just ok & Bill’s lyricism remains raw but much like that Cannbial Hulk album, there’s an overabundance of features. Nothing against everyone who was featured on the project AT ALL, but I’d just love to hear new Ill Bill joints where it’s just Bill. Regardless, it’s still a good listen.

Score: 3/5