iLLPHONiCS | Reality Check EP (s/r)

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cd illphonics“Sound: Check” created the perfect balance for all of the instruments from the keyboard to the bass and guitar to the drums, so rightly appropriate for the closing of this EP.

 

As soon as I press “play” in iTunes, I am greeted with the wailing electric guitar solo as a voice loosely quotes Frederick Douglass: “Without struggle, there can be no progress.” The voice quickly begins spitting lyrics and immediately the MC Larry Morris pours his heart out about life and its choices.

Along with featured artists Joaquin and Scripts ‘N Screwz, Morris reiterates how important it is to be authentically yourself: no one can be you, or do you better than you. The hook reminds us that we all have “One life to live when it all boils down/ and live my fears, I’ve got to stand my ground.” And we have to live the cards we are dealt to the best of our ability, no matter what.

As the intro plays for “Arrogant Mannequins,” I feel as if I am live in the front row of the concert and I can’t help but bob my head and sing along: “I’m not about to listen/ I’m paying no attention.” My head has yet to stop bobbing. The music is certainly a mix of rock, punk, and hip-hop; with such an odd combination, you can’t help but want more. It’s different, it’s new, it’s absolutely iLLPHONiCS.

Think Insane Clown Posse meets Fall Out Boy mixed with rap, and as a result you get “Attack of the Groupies.” Transitioned into time, you can feel the aggression of ladies. I don’t think I’ve ever heard seduction told through such a lens of horror, but I want to get out of the nightmare, too, as soon as possible. On “Get Ugly,” you hear the tale of how you would like to react to foolishness while intoxicated—maybe you even would if there were no repercussions, but of course, because we have one life to live, you don’t, and proceed with your night.

Since prior release iLLPHONiCS presents Sound, I have been waiting to hear what the next project would be like from the group. I thoroughly enjoyed Sound from beginning to end. It had the perfect mix of all elements, from R&B vocals to perfectly perched rap metaphors to rock out songs. This album totally doesn’t disappoint when it comes to highlighting pop culture’s influence on the youth and real world issues; I can always count on Morris to hit that nail on the head every time.

However, what I was disappointed in was the fact there was not enough differentiation in the tracks. The guitar and the drums took over the songs a little too much until the last track, “Sound: Check.” While I appreciate the punk rock influence, it distracted from the power of the lyrics. It was almost like I had been transported into a rave: I desperately wanted the loudness to end so I could hear the words, but it didn’t. I would have loved to hear a track or two dedicated to one instrument.

“Sound: Check” created the perfect balance for all of the instruments from the keyboard to the bass and guitar to the drums, so rightly appropriate for the closing of this EP. Welcomed by the anticipation of the song, Morris spills a bit of iLLPHONiCS history and “groove” is exactly what you do to the sound—the iLLPHONiCS sound, that is. “Sound check one two, one two/ this live little message being brought you/ from the creators of the sound iLLPHONiCS crew/ as we climb to the top, what they gon’ do?”

And to the top is where they’re going, carving a path that has certainly not been traveled before, but will only open the door for more: authenticity, originality, and creativity. And that I can dig wholeheartedly. B-| Ashley White

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