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"When They Reminisce" presents-"20 Questions" with Ill Poetic

by Eric on July 2, 2007

Regular visitors of “When They Reminisce” already know what time it is with Ill Poetic’s new album “The World Is Ours” (Dove Ink Records). I’ve literaly been on this album’s “bozack” (that’s for you Jaz!) for the last month or so. I remember the first time I gave “The World Is Ours” a listen from start to finish, I was stuck in traffic leaving Little Rock about 4 weeks ago this Friday. The smoldering tempature rising up from the hot concrete had commuters “heated” (no pun intended). In what was a usual 30 minute commute to my home, turned out two be about a 2 hour ride. Acompanying me through my journey was Ill Poetic’s instant….uh oh….CLASSIC (yeah, you heard it here first!!) “The World Is Ours”. I mean, prior to that dead “sit-still” in traffic I had skimmed through “The World Is….” a few times, stopping only to engage in the irresistable neck-snapper “Cincilluminati” (an ode to the city in which Ill resides) and sometimes the opening track “Home”. What was so different on this day? Well, to state it plainly as I let each track “play out”, I slowly came to the realization that Ill Poetic wasn’t just crafting a “song” for the sake of filling 15 slots on the album, rather Ill has created an experience for us, the listener.As I sit here pounding away on the keyboard, I can honestly say that for the last 3 weeks my day would not be complete without taking in “The World Is Ours” front to back, beggining to end at least once (okay, maybe twice). Not since Jay’s “Black Album” or “Madvillianary” have I cherished the originality, masterful production and clever wordplay that is showcased on “The World Is…”. It is truly difficult to pick a defining track from this album…one day it’s “Cincilluminati”, tommorow it may be “Ride Thru It”, the day after “The Beautiful”. That’s a sureshot sign of some dope shit people! Even more impressive, Ill blessed me with his debut “Illumination” (released in 05′) late last week and now I can’t get that out of my headphones (You’ve GOTTA’ hear “Suicide Note” and “Yellow”!!)..Damnit dude! Before “The World Is Yours” I’d never even heard of Ill Poetic nor did I care to, but damn would I have missed out on something special! In closing, as incredible as “The World Is..” and “Illumination” are…Ill himself has been just as friendly and cooperative in granting “WTR” a favor hitting him up with our version of “20 Questions”. Oh yeah, do yourself a favor and support those that are truly making “Great” music. Pick up Ill Poetic’s “The World Is Ours” (and don’t forget the tee) HERE and you can find Ill’s debut “Illumination” HERE . I hope you all enjoy the interview as much as I did doing it!

Tha ?’Z

WTR: First of all, you represent Cincinnati to the fullest on your second full length “The World Is Ours”. What was it like like comin’ up as a yougsta’ in the Nati’??

Ill Poetic: Actually, I didn’t grow up in Cincinnati. I grew up in Dayton, OH, just north of Cincinnati. I moved here about 7 years ago to go to college, but then I dropped out. Now I’m still here. Cincinnati’s kind of a love/hate city (I guess all cities are), so as much as I want to leave… it is equal to as much as I want to live here.

WTR: Admittedly, the first time I heard “The World Is Yours” I was blown away by the masterful production. Who were and still are some of your production influences and why?

Ill Poetic: My major production influences would be: Organized Noize and Outkast,Dilla, Madlib, Pete Rock, Just Blaze, Kanye, and a (few) others here and there. Outside of Hip-Hop, my major influences come from studying to understand 70′s soul/jazz/rock and how it was constructed, as far as bridges, chord structures, etc. So I get a lot of my inspirations come from the original compositions I sample, I guess.

WTR: On that note, what do you consider to be your best “attribute”, your production talents or your microphone abilities?

Ill Poetic: I started out rapping in the 3rd grade, and got tired of making pause tapes, so I started making beats on a cheap (reeeeall cheap!!!) keyboard in the 7th grade. So rhyming was always forefront to me, but now they even out. Half the people say, damn, I didn’t know you rapped too. The other half say, damn, I didn’t know you produced too. I just like doing the shit, so I do it. They’ve evened out for me over time.

WTR: Wordsworth’s “Mirror Music” was one of my favorite albums from 2004. How did you two link up for the beautiful collabo “One More”?

Ill Poetic: I met Words at a show we had together in Ohio. J. Rawls introduced us, I stayed in contact and threw him some beats. I asked him to trade me a verse for a beat, so when I sent him the original “One More” (which was featured on “Illumination”) beat, He liked it enough to want to keep it for his record. So the actual beat for “One more” isn’t really the one I wanted. It was my substitution beat. He has the original “One More” beat for something totally different.

WTR: As you’ve read from my initial impressions on “The World Is Ours”, I commented that your voice sounded almost similar to Peter Gunz (of the Lord Tariq..”Deja Vu” fame, whom I’ve never been a big fan of) and that was the only “knock” I’ve had on the album (which after each listen, I’ve completely overlooked). Have you ever heard that comparison before?

Ill Poetic: Its funny, I’ve never heard that comparison. I don’t think I’ve heard Peter Gunz since “Deja Vu”. Now I gotta go back and see if I can hear the similarities. Any similarity is totally accidental, lol.

WTR: What would you say your favorite cut from “The World Is Ours”?….why do you have those feelings for that particular track?

Ill Poetic: It’s hard to say. I have (more than one) favorite song for different reasons. Plus I’ve ran the course of the record. After mixing and mastering a record, I’m usually pretty tired of it. “The Beautiful” will always be a personal favorite. I always like “Home”, that might stay my favorite actually. Ummm, I’m sick of “Move” because I perform it all the time. I still like “What Ya’ll Want” a lot.

WTR: You have a few tracks on the album (i.e, “Inside Lookin’ Outside”, “Beautiful” & “Ride Thru It”) that fade into another beat/song, which totally pushed this album over the top for me and are some of the best moments on “The World Is Ours” for me. Why did you chose to cleverly “place” those endings admist particular spots on the record?

Ill Poetic: With the reprise after “The Beautiful”, I re-dug up the original “World Is Ours” sample and put it over another sample. I liked how it sounded but I didn’t wanna rap over it, so I just tried to feel out where it would fall in the record. And then, “Shinin” (the “reprise” to “Inside Lookin’ Outside”) worked because I thought it’d be

cool to end the record with the same sample to give the LP some kinda ending. Same with the other pieces. I like putting little secret areas in a record to kinda’ add to an experience that’s not just a collection of songs.

WTR: Do you listen to much “current” music nowadays? If so, what are some of the albums/artists that you’ve been (for lack of a better word) “feelin”?

Ill Poetic: I listen to a lot of current music. Diggin’ Lil’ Wayne’s shit heavy right now. We listened to the El-P record (“I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead”) in and out on tour, over and over again, so that’s a fly one. Anything from Detroit..Phat Kat’s record (“Carte Blanche”) is fly, the Black Milk mixtape (“Pressure”). I still gotta check out the new White Stripes, I heard that was live.

WTR: If your were making a cross-country road trip to Los Angeles, what five albums would you take along with you for your listening pleasure?

Ill Poetic: Five Albums? This is Hard!!! Sade, either “Lovers Rock” or “Love Deluxe, Outkast…either “ATLiens” or “Aquemini”, J Dilla’s “Donuts”, Flora Purim (that “You Can Fly” record) and Wu-Tang’s “Enter The 36 Chambers”.

WTR: With the current “technology” (read:Internet) and accessibility to nearly every album of your choice, what are your thoughts on the rampant downloading that takes place nowadays? Honestly Ill, I downloaded your shit (which I purchased a week later), but my theory is “if it’s dope I buy it”…PERIOD!

Ill Poetic: Downloading is cool ONLY if (like what your doing, lol) the folks downloading do their BEST to spread the music to everyone else. I DO lose money per every download, and I am by “NO MEANS” rich, lol. So I feel every cut when someone downloads. But shit, I download too, though I try and support every download I really love. That’s why I usually tell people, If you downloaded the record, buy a shirt, or blog, or hit the message boardsm clubs and stores and tell all your friends about the record. Word of mouth is always the best promotion.

WTR: What are some of things you like to do besides the music? Married? Kids? Hobbies?

Ill Poetic: I’m into art, though I haven’t been as much lately. That’s actually what I was in college for. I find myself playing pool a lot at shows, so I’m getting good at that, lol. Nothing to extreme like white water rafting or anything, just typical shit; I love movies, seeing/listening to good comedy records, going out to clubs, but not typical clubs, more lounge-style/have a drink and smoke-style clubs. Also, (I’ve been) rebuilding my apt., redecorating…cooking and shit.. No kids, no wife.

WTR: Lyrically, you’ve impressed me more and more with each passing listen of “The World Is…”, how would you describe your “style” and who were/are some of your “lyrical” influences?

Ill Poetic: Lyrical influences are anyone from Andre 3000, Slum village, Nas, Jay-z and all the people on my record..can’t think of too many others….

WTR: You’ve worked with some very recognizable artists thus far (Illogic,Blueprint, Wordsworth,etc.) in the underground forum. Who are some artists/acts that you’d like to work with whether on the mic or with the production?

Ill Poetic: I’d love to work with any of the aforementioned production and lyrical influences..mostly, I would give my left lung and another unnecessary organ to work with Outkast and Sade. Also, Roy Ayers, Art of Noize in the 80′s, J. Dilla’s spirit, Cannibal Ox, Kate Bush, Flora Purim, Nas, Devin the Dude, The Crusaders, and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony…but, specifically Sade. If anyone reading this knows anyone who knows anyone who knows her, lemme know. or

WTR: I’m looking forward to checking out your solo debut “Illumination” (note: Pick that sh*t up!!!!). A there any subtle or obvious differences that I can expect between this album (“The World Is Ours”) and the last (“Illumination”)?

Ill Poetic: There are definite differences to me. I really don’t listen to “Illumination’”anymore. Not because it’s a bad record or anything, but it’s really personal, and I recorded it in 2003-4, which means a lot of the shit on it is old feelings to me. But hearing it again and again constantly drums up shit I don’t really wanna’ hear. I will literally put my fingers to my ears and go ‘lalalala’ over certain songs when they’re played.

WTR: Along with felow Nati’ MC Young Zone (whom is also featured on “City Of Gods” & the super dope posse cut “As I See It” comprised the group Definition. Do you plan on reuniting for another album and what led to you both putting out solo efforts?

Ill Poetic: We’re actually working on another Definition record right now, which I’m really excited about. The people we’re trying to get involved with this record are fuckin’ amazing, and if it goes thru, this will probably be the record I’ll be proud of when I’m 80 yrs. old and my grandchildren think Hip-Hop is lame. I don’t wanna speak too much on it, but It’s definitely a gap bridger, though not the typical gap-bridge LP most folks are trying to make. We’re trying to bridge gaps no one is thinking of. So, it should be interesting. We made a conscious decision in 2002-3 to chill out on Definition. Also, I burnt out on music and didn’t wanna make it anymore (see “Suicide Note” on “Iillumination”). We both wanted the opportunity to develop our own sound/personality/fanbase outside of the group so that when we came together we could bridge our own fanbase’s together, and not be pigeon-holed to one sound.

WTR: Speaking on “City Of Gods” I kept waiting for a booming bassline to hit me in the back of the head throughout the track, but to no avail it never hit me. While I love the track…where’s the bassline Ill??? haha!

Ill Poetic: I wanted “City of God” to have a kind-of Wu-Tang feel, like my interpretation of a Rza beat. It actually had less percussion in it before the final mix, but I added a snare, lol. Changed it all up. I just didn’t find a good bassline to fit the song. I don’t want shit to bump for the sake of bumping..i definitely want it to fit in the context of the song. When it was done, I kinda’ liked the rawer feel of it. It doesn’t sound like the “warmer” joints on the record.

WTR: When you write lyrics, do you have a particular regimen that you follow each time you write?..and what were some of the inspirations for the composistion of”The World Is….”?

Ill Poetic: I never have a set regimen. It’s usually intertwined in the production. I sit at home a lot and listen to records for the sake of listening, then I start writing to the actual songs I sample, whether it be melody, lyrics or anything else. Then I flip the
song into how it would fit into the lyrics/melody I have in my head. That’s really why I end up producing my records. I have a handful of favorite producers in the city, and I love rapping over their shit because it’s not my shit. But when I’m at home with records, it just happens naturally.

WTR: Just surfing the net’ I’ve read some pretty postitive reviews for “The World Is…”. What kind of feedback have you been receiving for the album? What were you initial expectations for it?

Ill Poetic: The initial reactions have been really good , save a review or….actually ONE, but I digress. It’s a grassroots movement on the record, so I’m still pushing really hard for it, trying to get as much press as possible. My expectations will always be higher than I’ll achieve, and that’s what will keep me driving further for the next record, be it Definiton or mine, or whatever project I have on deck.

WTR: Last but definitely not least, what plans do you have for the rest of the year? Any tour dates? Collabos? Featured Production?

Ill Poetic: Upcoming plans include: Recording the new Definition record. Recording and album with Illogic, getting my Instrumental album out on Blueprint’s label ( just waiting on some setbacks from outside sources). Also, I’ll be touring in the fall. As far as the immediate future, I think Illogic and I are headed to New York to record with Hangar 18 and Vast Aire in a couple weeks…which should bee cool! I’m also about to record with J. Rawls this weekend, looking forward to that as well. Finally, getting press piled up for “The World Is Ours” is the biggest thing though. With that said, thanks for the interview:)

WTR: No doubt Ill….Thanks for making the album of the summer…..errr..year!!!

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Big Fonz July 3, 2007 at 6:00 am

Good interview E. You hit on a lot of good points. Damn, he produces too???

Eric July 3, 2007 at 11:20 am

@big fonz…he produces all of his shit, with maybe an exception or two per album

Dan Love July 3, 2007 at 5:17 pm

Great interview Eric – top quality stuff. Feelin’ both the releases, but agree that the most recent is better.

Your album of the year? Don’t know if that applies to me, but we’ll see.

Keep on keepin’ on,


Big Fonz July 3, 2007 at 11:42 pm

E, you know you called the album “The World Is Yours” like 6 times in that piece, when it’s “The World Is Ours”. I’m just bustin your balls man.

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