Illbotz are a comedy/ hip-hop/ acoustic group from Roanoke, VA who have been making music, touring, and telling terrible jokes since 2004. They've released 5 albums including their newest "Pudding Is Delicious." Illbotz are known for their high-energy and hilarious live shows. They have shared the stage with Slick Rick, Bubba Sparxxx, Captured! By Robots, Young Sinclairs, Eternal Summers, Juan Huevos, Hammer No More The Fingers, Bastards Of Fate, White Cross (including members of GWAR), and most recently played the annual Nerdapalooza Festival in Orlando, Florida!
Illbotz were featured on the nerdcore compilation, "Nerdcore Now Volume One" with other high profile Nerdcore artists such as Beefy, Adam Warrock, Death Star, Random, Emergency Pizza Party, ThoughtCriminals, and Ultraklystron. This compilation went viral and got over 10,000 downloads in just a couple days. They have also been featured on Public Enemy's Enemy Radio, the Radio Free Hipster podcast, and Gettin' Pixelated podcast.
Illbotz have also made a tradition of getting out the shell toes and performing as Run-DMC every Halloween since 2007! Love them!
Stevie D - MC
Big Perm - MC, Guitar
DJ Samson - Turntables, Keys
"Nothing Rhymes With Engine" Full Length Album, 2005
"Illbotz 2: Electric Boogaloo" Full Length Album, 2006
"Ringtones For Rotary Phones" Full Length Album, 2007
"5-4-Whoa!" Chimney Sweep Records Compilation, 2008
"All Bot And A Bag Of Chipz: The Best Of Illbotz" Full Length Album, 2009
"Pudding Is Delicious" Full Length Album, 2011
"Nerdcore Now Volume One" Compilation, 2011
"Nerdcore Now Volume One: B-Side" Compilation, 2011
Music for the Hard of Hearing
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Up first is Illbotz’s Pudding is Delicious. This actually came out way back in February. Yeah, I’m a...Up first is Illbotz’s Pudding is Delicious. This actually came out way back in February. Yeah, I’m a little late to this party, but the good news it was still going strong when I arrived. There’s almost no way it couldn’t have been with Stevie D, Big Perm, and DJ Samson bobbing and weaving with nerd references galore. Even if it was just nerdy, Pudding is Delicious would still be an excellent Hip-Hop record, as Stevie D can open up like Roadblock’s .50 caliber and Samson puts together some great beats. A perfect example of the two coming together is “Stank Ass Rappas (feat. Sarah G)”, which has Stevie moving at Warp 3 over a beat made up of Men Without Hats’ “Pop Goes The World”. Excellent stuff all around, you can find it for a mere $5 (a steal!) at the Illbotz bandcamp page.
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Blow up the Small Stage: Illbotz/Adam WarRock and Tribe One/Dual Core/Mega Ran and K-Murdock Like ...Blow up the Small Stage: Illbotz/Adam WarRock and Tribe One/Dual Core/Mega Ran and K-Murdock
Like its predecessor, Nerdcore 2011 boasted a pair of stages: the larger NOS-sponsored main stage and a smaller GeekDad stage set around the corner from the main conference hall. The big stage was, for the most part, home to the more rock-centered acts while the GeekDad stage boasted the hip-hop. A few acts, however, seemed wholly unaware that they were on the "little stage." Roanoke's Illbotz, comic shop hip-hopper Adam WarRock and perennial favorites Random and Dual Core blew that fucker up with energetic sets that could scarcely be contained by the room's meager geography.
Nerdapalooza 2011: A Community-Building Event (With Music)
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Hindsight being what it is, I find myself looking back at the thoughts I shared regarding Nerdapaloo...Hindsight being what it is, I find myself looking back at the thoughts I shared regarding Nerdapalooza 2010 with a knowing grin. When speaking of the dissatisfying elements of that year’s festival –- the scheduling woes, sound issues and overall setup –- I referenced the challenges facing Hex and his team of organizers. I spoke frankly (but hopefully) about the uncertain future of the event as it continued to grow into its adult form. While I stand by those words, even the less-than favorable ones, I am man enough to admit that my alarmism was unfounded.
Contrary to my concerns, the Nerdapalooza crew did find its way; it did manage to walk that fine line between concert and convention. If Nerdapalooza 2010 was an experiment, then this year’s festival put all that collected data to good use. With a two room layout – the larger of which featured the main merch area, vendor tables and the NOS-sponsored stage while the smaller boasted the art gallery and the GeekDad stage – properly engineered sound/visuals and the instantly endearing Schaffer the Darklord and Nelson Lugo as the event hosts, Nerdapalooza 2011 was the best of all possible outcomes.
It offered an impeccable cross-section of geek music. Sure, the lack of regular headliner MC Frontalot led to a bit of consternation from some in the nerdcore set and specialized elements like Wizard Rock certainly lacked representation, but the sheer distance spanned between acts like the high-octane aggression of Metroid Metal and the off-kilter humor of Rappy McRapperson speaks volumes about the extent to which the organizers went with regard to inclusion.
From blistering small stage sets from Adam WarRock and Illbotz to massive main stage productions from I Fight Dragons and The Protomen, there was certainly no shortage of amazing performances. This event introduced me to new acts like Beebs and Her Money Makers and the Math the Band-esque Koo Koo Kangaroo, but it also afforded me the chance to again witness the musical majesty of heavy hitters like The BossFights, Marc with a C and Mega Ran.
Let there be no mistaking, the thirst for quality nerdy music was easily slaked as fans flocked from room to room to see their old favorites rock out and to discover other amazing sonic flavors. Acts like My Parents Favorite Music and HDNinja managed to expand their sounds in new and satisfying ways, while the crew from the Funny Music Project once again drove home how amazingly competent, how uncannily enjoyable, a proper blend of music and comedy can truly be. Hell, Dual Core and Arm Cannon even managed to attract crowds of pleased onlookers during their sound checks!
Therefore it strikes me as rather odd that at Nerdapalooza 2011, the festival’s biggest, most immaculate iteration yet boasting its most eclectic and satisfying array of geeky music artist, I finally became convinced that the music was not the crux of the event.
Palling around with Adam WarRock was just as enjoyable as watching his performance. Shooting the breeze with VGM legend Mustin was the perfect lead-in for vibing to his Saturday evening set with The OneUps. But more to the point, many of these same artists stood shoulder-to-shoulder with me watching other acts on the bill. Nerdapalooza 2011 was that kind of event; camaraderie and support was in no short supply between the featured artists.
When New York’s head-banging hip-hoppers Shinobi Ninja brought MadHatter and his Scrub Club cohorts on stage during their set, I simply assumed that the groups had some longtime connection of which I was unaware. It was only later that I found out the two crews had been introduced mere hours beforehand. Similarly, as I stood in awe at I Fight Dragon’s festival-closing performance I found myself next to Illbotz frontman Stevie D. When asked what he thought of the band he said, without taking his eye off that stage action, “These guys’re great.” He then proceeded not to reflect on their major label success story, but instead to mention that his bandmates Big Perm and DJ Samson had been partying with them all weekend. Sharing beer and jokes and stories from the road.
I’ll remind you all again that this is a major label act, one that chalked up an early victory at Nerdapalooza 2009, but that was more than willing to come back for more. The dragon-fighters also managed to capture this weekend of merriment with their own camera, and they recently uploaded their personal highlight reel to YouTube. It truly drives home the sense of fun and friendship that permeated the event. (But be forewarned: Klopfenpop drops an f-bomb during his hotel room freestyle.)
For me, though, the defining moment of Nerdapalooza 2011 was also the most unexpected. Around lunchtime on day two I (once again) abandoned Curtis at the GeekDad booth to check out my new pal Inverse Phase – a guy that, along with OverClocked ReMix community staples Larry Oji and Stevo, had been providing me with a ceaseless stream of entertainment since the earliest hours of the event – on the second stage. Brendan pulled off a killer set of mostly chiptune cover tracks with a dash of originals, not to mention some “Name That Tune” for good measure. But as great as the performance was, the magic wasn’t just limited to what was happening on stage.
For those not in the know, Sci-Fried are, in addition to being fast friends of mine, the very definition of geek rock. They are both a collection of convention floor miscreants with a love of Stargate and a raucous rock ‘n’ roll collective with a passion for Kiss. Equal parts nerdcore and hardcore, the Sci-Fried guys can be a bit of an imposing force with their long hair and iconic red and black bowling shirts, but never will you meet a more approachable, endearing group of fellows.
Even with that said, they are not exactly the crew that you’d expect to see wigging out to a performance of minimalistic electronica. And yet they were. I watched them as they weaved their way through the crowd toward the stage, smiling and talking and totally enjoying Inverse Phase as he deconstructed Nine Inch Nails. It was a strange sight to the uninitiated, but those of us who were there simply accept it as another prime example of the trademark Nerdapalooza spirit.
As an event, Nerdapalooza brings people together. It collects disparate outsiders and self-described loners, and it reminds them that, at least for one weekend a year, they are all part of a broader tribe. This year more than 1000 of us came together, and though I previously foretold of doom should that many souls venture into the event, I am happy to report that I couldn’t have been more wrong. The magic of Nerdapalooza – the festival’s saving grace during even its most trying hours – endures.
With minimal sound issues and no scheduling snafus worth mentioning, even a die-hard critic like myself finds it hard to complain about Nerdapalooza 2011. So I won’t even try. Easily the most enjoyable, most exhilarating iteration yet, I’d gladly put this year’s event toe-to-toe with any other fan convention or specialty festival.
Where previously I warned Nerdapalooza could never revert to the casual community event from which it had grown, I now realize that it doesn’t have to. In moving forward it hasn’t sacrificed any measure of its vision of unity, it has merely expanded its scope.
So here’s to next year, my friends. I hope to see you there.
Illbotz makes the bill for Nerdapalooza, in Orlando, Fla.
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This gig sounds just about perfect for the Power Glove fetishists of Illbotz. They are on the bill f...This gig sounds just about perfect for the Power Glove fetishists of Illbotz. They are on the bill for Nerdapalooza, in Orlando, Fla. The ‘botz Stevie D is uber-psyched for it. Here’s the announcement, from Nerdapalooza’s home page:
> Also for ya, we have two artists for announcing! First up, we have the comedy rap group Illbotz, newcomers to Nerdapalooza, but ready to rock the place. They’ve been cranking out hilarious rhymes for a while, and while skits are usually more filler than content, Illbotz really captures the middle ground between hip-hop and comedy. Check out their latest video to Your iPod Sucks for more on that!!
We would have posted the vid for “Your iPod Sucks,” but it starts out with DJ Samson sitting on the toilet. There is only so far we can go here, but the video is classic Illbotz.
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If Nuclear Bubble Wrap puts you in mind of punk's classic pranksters, from the Milkmen to the Minute...If Nuclear Bubble Wrap puts you in mind of punk's classic pranksters, from the Milkmen to the Minutemen, then surely Virginia's Illbotz are their spiritual kin from just the other side of the rock 'n' roll dividing line. Known for mining hip-hop's oft-forgotten comical past, the boys go so far as to show their old school roots in the very title of their latest LP. Pudding is Delicious, itself a classic LL Cool J reference, further takes strides to keep funny rap alive.
It's "Fair Eastside" intro is a soulful slice of surreality that segues nicely into the bombast of "Illbotz Rock the Spot and Go Crazy," a veritable party jam already unleashed on an unsuspecting word as part of the crew's All Bot and a Bag of Chips collection. Still, as weird as it is it can't hold a candle to the eastern funk-rap of "Throw Me That Eggroll." While not exactly an example of Poe Mack's most groundbreaking production, it's a solid banger to help kick the album off in style.
"Dinosaur, Dinosaur" on the other hand shows both Stevie D and Poe at their best on a dirty club track that's almost too ridiculous to be believed. The "What's That All a Bot?" skit doesn't exactly stand up to many of their best segues, but it does pave the way for the stellar "Bot Life." "Stevie D's iPod" brings back the Illbotz charm in spades, and partners perfectly with "Your iPod Sucks," a song which I've already fervently praised. The one-two punch of "True Love and a Fat Boys Record" and silly soul number "Baby Bot" also keep the dream alive by showcasing the crew at its finest. (Though these too were included on the band's previous career retrospective.)
Stevie and the boys switch shit up with 50s-style pop "Zombie Girl," and then bring things back to the 80s with "The Power Glove (Lucas' Theme)." The "Scenester Joke" skit is mercifully short and it doesn't do much to setup the fierce sex rhymes of "Can I Put it on a Sandwich?," but it's certainly no stranger than spontaneous hardcore punk number "Stupid Lazy Eye (Get Off the Couch)." The punk rock-style lingers through both "Enter Marshall" and "Marshall (the Friendliest Punk in Town)," which are rather middle-of-the-road tracks that mostly serve to add a new character Illbotz mythos. They also lead us to the only real disappointment of the album "Perm's Poem," a great gag from the group's co-MC that lingers entirely too long.
"Give a Little Love," a song previously shared on the first Nerdcore Now comp, is another genuine standout that helps wind the album down, but the down-home gospel of "Jesus Gave Me Water (But What I Wanted Was a PBR)" surely succeeds as both the biggest surprise and the strongest joke on the entire album. It showcases the wholly bizarre chemistry between Stevie D, Big Perm, DJ Samson and Poe Mack by taking them as far away from their core hip-hop element as imaginable. "Perm's Got Bad Breath" gets the giggles, but seems a tad superfluous save to setup the excellent "Stank Ass Rappas," and Poe and Stevie again shine on closer "My Crown," which gives the producer a rare chance to rhyme on an Illbotz joint.
Of course an Illbotz album never ends without a hidden track, and this time around you get two-for-one. The first is a goofy New Age joint about 2012 that gets points for skillfully working in many of the album's recurring comedy motifs (specifically ODB and the all-important Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts.) But of course the real knee-slapper is the impromptu cover of Billy Joel's "For the Longest Time." It finishes up the boys' best album to date, not to mention one of my new personal faves, in true Illbotz style.
With notable exceptions like The Lonely Island, Tenacious D, Flight of the Conchords and, of course, the indubitable Weird Al, the idea of a successful, respected purveyor of comedy music is all but unheard of. At least in the mainstream.
But out on the periphery, on an internet where memes reproduce like tribbles and a funny tune doesn't need a the love of some shitty drive-time DJ to make it a stick, countless acts toil away stacking silly puns and bawdy one-liners atop skillfully crafted instrumentals. And as inspiring as it is to think of artists combining the strengths of their twin passions of music and comedy in an indifferent world, it's even more so when you realize that, rather than apathetic, much of the surrounding musical landscape is downright hostile.
But the true funnyman doesn't care if you're too cool to get the joke, nor does he worry that his efforts will be branded as insincere. Instead he plies his craft and makes the music he wants to hear without fretting over whether his efforts will merely land him in the novelty bin.
Pudding Is Delicious - Album Review
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Musical comedy is a tough shtick. The right balance of humor and songcraft is essential, but some of...Musical comedy is a tough shtick. The right balance of humor and songcraft is essential, but some of the better-known comic bands are severely lacking in one or both areas. Tenacious D was funny as an HBO sitcom, but not as a band; Flight of the Conchords is too busy layering foundationless in-jokes, Jenga-style, to be anything but tedious anymore. Illbotz, from Roanoke, Virginia, has the proper mix of clever and goofy. These aren’t joke songs, but songs with jokes in them. The production references hip-hop, from the Reagan years to the present, courtesy of non-comic rapper/producer Poe Mack.
Illbotz’ Stevie D, Big Perm, and DJ Samson are very, very funny, even on the skits. They reference numerous artists on Pudding is Delicious without being derivative. “Stupid Lazy Eye (Get Off the Couch)” is frantic punk-rap comparable to the Beastie Boys’ “Time For Living.” When Perm and Stevie shout back and forth, we’re reminded why we loved the moshers on Check Your Head and Ill Communication. But what they’re shouting – “Get off the couch / We work for money in this house!” – reminds us of exactly how juvenile License to Ill was.
“My taste is exquisite / Your taste is yuck,” Stevie D rhymes in the Run-D.M.C.-referencing “Your iPod Sucks,” which pits his playlist against an inferior one. “I got Tom Waits songs that he ain’t even done yet.” Though Stevie D’s lightning-wit verses dominate the record, Big Perm’s vocal force balances Stevie’s consciously nerdy delivery. Exceptional variety and quality keep all 24 tracks engaging, even if, at 70 minutes, Pudding is Delicious can be too long for one sitting.
Pudding Is Delicious - Album Review
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Roanoke’s rap comedy legends are back with what could be their greatest release to date. “Pudding is...Roanoke’s rap comedy legends are back with what could be their greatest release to date. “Pudding is Delicious” features an onslaught of hilarious hits full of 80's culture reference, egg rolls, iPods, pudding, comedy sitcom gags and skits, an amazing/ deep poem by Big Perm and of course PBR. The album showcases the Illbotz comedic and genre-venturing range from the philly d00 wop sounding homage to the Fair Eastside to a punk song for one of Roanoke’s friendliest punks, Marshall Hicks. Stand out hits (for this writer) are “Illbotz Rock the Spot and Go Crazy”, “Your iPod Sucks”, “Perm’s Poem” and “Jesus Gave Me Water (But What I Wanted Was A PBR)”. My favorite quote of the album is “I’ll bust Dan Fogelberg in the clavicle with the quickness!”
Check this album out right now on their bandcamp account right HERE! Pick up their CD at their next couple of shows opening for Bubba Sparx and again opening for the legendary Slick Rick.
1. Fair Eastside (Intro)
2. Illbotz Rock the Spot and Go Crazy
3. Throw Me An Eggroll
4. Dinosaur, Dinosaur
5. What’s That All Abot (Skit)
6. Bot Life
7. Stevie D’s iPod (Skit)
8. Your iPod Sucks
9. True Love and A Fat Boys Record (Skit)
11. Zombie Girl
12. The Power Glove (Lucas’ Theme)
13. Scenester Joke (Skit)
14. Can I Put It On A Sandwich?
15. Stupid Lazy Eye (Get Off the Couch)
16. Enter Marshall (Skit)
17. Marshall (Friendliest Punk In Town)
18. Perm’s Poem (Skit)
19. Give A Little Love
20. Jesus Gave Me Water (But What I Wanted Was A PBR)
21. Perm’s Got Bad Breath (Skit)
22. Stank Ass Rappas (Featuring Sarah G.)
23. My Crown (Featuring Poe Mack)
24. Not So Hidden Track
Geek Music Review: Recent Releases For April 2011
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Combining absurd humor and geeky references, the skits on Pudding Is Delicious remind me of the kind...Combining absurd humor and geeky references, the skits on Pudding Is Delicious remind me of the kinds of tapes (yes, tapes — I know I’m showing my age) my friends and I used to put together in high school. Illbotz, however, have taken it to another level. We never really wrote anything down or did any editing or revising. It’s clear that that’s not the case here. Although very silly, the skits do have a cohesiveness that indicates at least some planning while still feeling spontaneous. Actually, that pretty well sums up the music, too: very silly, but clearly well thought out. In many ways, it reminds me of early Beastie Boys (there’s even punk rock tracks and a reference to “Brass Monkey”) or the Fat Boys (who get name-checked as Stevie D’s favorite band). If you’re a fan of intelligent silliness, this album is for you.
My Taste Is Exquisite
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My long-delayed review of Illbotz's latest Pudding is Delicious should be available shortly. Hopeful...My long-delayed review of Illbotz's latest Pudding is Delicious should be available shortly. Hopefully. But in the meantime the boys have released yet another strangely fantastic music video.
This one is for standout track "Your iPod Sucks," simultaneously a loving tribute to Stevie D's musical tastes and a passionate condemnation of rampant wackitude. Keen listeners will likely note that the beat is cribbed from Run DMC's iconic "My Adidas" while the lyrical structure parallel's Mickey Avalon's "My Dick." This should give newbies a fairly good idea as to the unique hip-hop headspace of Roanoke's finest.
As with most Illbotz video productions, this one goes to some weird places. (Not the least of which is into the bathroom with Samson.) Still, it's a ton of fun and a great introduction to the newest disc.
Also, I can't help but think that Church is gonna love the finishing line about the Zune.
Hip-Hop In The House
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It's not exactly official, but March sure feels like hip-hop month at Awful Arthur's, Towers. The ve...It's not exactly official, but March sure feels like hip-hop month at Awful Arthur's, Towers. The venue is bringing in a rap legend, an underground star, a former hitmaker and high-quality local acts throughout the month.
Slick Rick, Murs and Bubba Sparxxx come to Roanoke with national, even international credentials.
Roanoke rapper/producer Byron "Poe" Mack starts things off on Saturday, when he brings his Shoe String Budget Tour to Awful's Towers. Along for the show is one of North Carolina's celebrated rappers, Big Pooh, formerly of Little Brother. Also on Saturday's bill -- Chaundon, Bo Jankans, Big Hop, Lazurus, Swerve 36 with Black Liq and disc jockey Case "DJ VanGundy" Jones.
Mack is celebrating the latest of his many CD releases. This one, "Moving Mountains," was mixed by Jones, who is often his partner in rhyme but who has recently spent more time behind the turntables.
Sparxxx, whose 1996 hit "Ms. New Booty" featured the viral chant, "booty, booty, booty, booty rockin' everywhere," performs March 11. Roanoke's own Illbotz, whose album "Pudding Is Delicious" is a sometimes hilarious return to form after a hiatus, opens the show.
Murs returns to Awful's on March 16, with supporting acts Tabi Bonney, Whole Wheat Bread, Ab-Soul and DJ Foundation. Murs has been performing recently as part of Whole Wheat Bread, a hard-hitting rock act from Jacksonville, Fla. Awful's Towers owner Barry Caldwell said that they will perform together on the 16th, too, adding another dimension to the festivities. Coincidentally, Murs has worked with producer 9th Wonder, who worked with Big Pooh in Little Brother.
The capper happens March 30, when a living legend of hip-hop, Slick Rick, hits Awful's stage. The rapper born Richard Walters is best known for his album "The Great Adventures of Slick Rick" and singles "Children's Story" and "La Di Da Di" (with Doug E. Fresh "The Human Beatbox"). The British-American Walters influenced such performers as The Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg and Black Star.
Walters saw his career cut short by a 1991 conviction on an attempted murder charge. Then-Gov. David Paterson of New York pardoned him in 2008, scuttling a years-long attempt by federal immigration authorities to deport him to Britain, according to The New York Times.
HIP-HOP AT AWFUL ARTHUR’S, TOWERS
Awful Arthur’s, Towers Shopping Center, Roanoke. 777-6474, awfularthurseafood.com
Poe Mack with Big Pooh and guests: 10 p.m. $5. mackjones540.com, myspace.com/rapperbigpooh
Bubba Sparxxx, with Illbotz: 9 p.m. $15 advance; $18 door. bubbasparxxx.com, reverbnation.com/illbotz
Murs, with Tabi Bonney, Whole Wheat Bread and more: 9 p.m. $10 advance; $12 door. mursworld.com, myspace.com/tabibonney, myspace.com/wholewheatbread
Slick Rick, with Illbotz: 9 p.m. $18 advance; $22 door. myspace.com/mcrickyd1
Illbotz and Puddin', Wrestling, PBR (and their new album)
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Roanoke’s IllBotz’ just released their fourth album “Pudding Is Delicious”. “Pudding is Delicious” ...Roanoke’s IllBotz’ just released their fourth album “Pudding Is Delicious”.
“Pudding is Delicious” is available at www.illbotz.bandcamp.com
Illbotz are opening for Bubba Sparx, here’s the facebook event
We talked with Stevie D about pudding, wrestling and PBR.
1) The new album is “Pudding is Delicious”. Why pudding? Why not ice cream or jello, and I know y’alls affinity for chicken nuggets and PBR?
Pudding is the most delicious of all foods. Jello is yummy. Chicken nuggets are scrumptious. And PBR is the most wonderful drink in the world. However, I think pudding gets slept on. It’s time for pudding to get it’s comeuppance. It’s a huge metaphor: pudding gets slept on, Illbotz sometimes get slept on. Sometimes we sleep on things. Illbotz are by far the greatest rappers in the universe except for maybe Tag Team, Shaquille O’Neal, and Brian Austin Green, so we deserve our props…and snackpacks. We’re delicious and it’s time for the world to know!
2) Not to be racist, but I’m guessing you’re talking about chocolate pudding. If so, why’s it gotta be
chocolate? If not, doesn’t everybody know once you try chocolate pudding there’s no going back.
Actually, we prefer chocolate and vanilla pudding mixed together, “mulatto” pudding if you will. Much
like the pudding we enjoy, we like being a mixed group. I, Stevie D, commander in chief, am white. Big
Perm is black and DJ Samson is actually from Melmac.
3) You versus Big Perm in a Pudding -Wrestling Match, how does it play out?
It depends what kind of pudding it is. Is it tapioca pudding? We all hate tapioca pudding. We wouldn’t even wrestle in if it was tapioca pudding. That stuff is just stupid. But I think I could beat Big Perm if he wasn’t wearing his lucky pudding wrestling M.A.S.K. underoos. Those things make him invincible but if I
were to replace his M.A.S.K. underoos with say, Captain Planet underoos, he’s over!
4) If I were to say Puddin-Tang how would you respond?
Sa da tay.
5) How would you describe the album in the great scheme of things?
We recorded it with producer Poe Mack in Salem and were fueled creatively by pudding, PBR, and
listening to a lot of Kris Kross and the Smiths. With this album, we have more ridiculous yet completely
brilliant rap songs. However, we had a lot of fun singing on this record as well. We’ve got a gospel song
on it called “Jesus Gave Me Water (But What I Wanted Was A PBR).” We’ve got a Beach Boys style song
called “Zombie Girl.” We’ve got a punk song and an acoustic song as well.
I think it will go down in history as one of the greatest things ever to exist ever. I think it will one day
become just as important as the light bulb, the cotton gin, or the slap bracelet. It’s that good.
From the weekend: Illbotz with Bastards of Fate
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Illbotz was celebrating the release of its new CD, “Pudding Is Delicious.” The ‘botz, always going f...Illbotz was celebrating the release of its new CD, “Pudding Is Delicious.” The ‘botz, always going for the goofy, were giving away pudding at the merchandise table.
It’s been about a year since the band got back together, and it has shown improvement since a fun but loose set I caught at the Underground Melodies Festival last year. The ‘botz did plenty of music from the Poe Mack-produced “Pudding …”. “Dinosaur,” “Illbotz Rock The Spot and Go Crazy” and “My Crown,” with producer Mack sitting in, were highlights. They also brought out a aluminum-foil-and-cardboard-box robot, worked from the inside by their friend Marshall Hicks. More fun than a barrel full of monkeys on a meth bender.
Big Perm and Stevie D were flowing, and DJ Samson was grooving the digital tables.
Richmond band Craptain Jack and the Shmees — punk/metal purveyors dressed as pirates — were fun, but the Bastards of Fate‘s opening set was great. The Bastards are unappreciated here in their hometown, but the group gets tighter and tighter with every show I’ve seen, without losing the freak edge that sets its music apart.
Show Review: Joy In Red, Illbotz, Fujiyama Roll At BSC
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The Jim Carey of hip hop, Stevie D of Roanoke's Illbotz delivered the song and stage version of thei...The Jim Carey of hip hop, Stevie D of Roanoke's Illbotz delivered the song and stage version of their blushingly hilarious youtube library of music videos. Illbotz can be taken seriously for not taking it seriously and they borrow (and occasionally steal) from old school hip hop and rap turning every verse into a one-liner. The music videos of their songs are nothing short of late-night cable TV variety show satire quality and Illbotz on stage at Broad Street Cafe was riotous.
Nerdcore Now Volume One Review
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Nerdcore hip-hop, like most music genres, has had a complex history filled with peaks and valleys an...Nerdcore hip-hop, like most music genres, has had a complex history filled with peaks and valleys and going through many face lifts. Traditionally, the online commons for nerdcore has been Rhyme Torrents, but as with every chapter, it had to come to an end when the community transformed into the recently opened Nerdcore Now. A focal element of the community was the compilation albums. Rhyme Torrents featured 9 self-titled albums and a number of other albums. They have always been a figurative finger on the pulse of the scene, which is as much a compliment as it is a condemnation. As with the passing of the torch, it’s now Nerdcore Now’s turn to continue the work that Rhyme Torrents started.
Nerdcore Now Volume 1 kicks off with none other than the crowned prince of nerdcore, Mr. Keith A Moore himself. Beefy really sets the bar for what the listener can expect. He gives a full annotated history of nerdcore from his experienced point-of-view. This track is very powerful as it’s been a while since Beefy had a track on a Rhyme Torrents album, pointing out the lack of quality control the albums have had. The track itself is classic Beefy, giving a solid delivery over a phenomenal beat.
The next track is Robot Party by Supercommuter, featuring Wheelie Cyberman of one of the greatest nerdcore groups and oldest contributors to RT, Optimus Rhyme. As an amateur historian of the scene, I commented to myself how much it has changed while still holding true to its roots, and this track seems to represent this. OR was always a prominent reason to love nerdcore, and while they are sadly no longer together, it’s good to see Wheelie is still making good music, still contributing to the compilations, and still delivering genre defining quality.
With the Thoughtcriminals comes a new face to nerdcore for this compilation. In the past, RT albums seemed to be stuck in a quagmire of insularity, only featuring tracks from forum members. To me, that seemed to be the antithesis of what Rhyme Torrents was all about when the community was first founded. Fortunately, this seems to not be the case with this compilation. A great track from when I first heard it on Still Standing,Warp Zone (1-2) is a solid representation of the Thoughtcriminals and a good track to make you bob your head.
The next track is the first band I had yet to be exposed to yet, The Future, with Teleport, a chippy and fun track that feels like it’d fit in well in a club setting. I couldn’t really find their website, but am curious to hear what else they’ve produced.
Soup Or Villainz’s track Live in the Arcade is another new track for me and has a very unique feel for me: kind of like a stadium level track… about love of an arcade. THIS is nerdcore hip-hop. The track itself left me wanting more from this artist. Definitely bookmarking SOV for later perusal.
Next on the queue is Milk-Plus, one of my favorite nerdcore cats of recent. I Can Be Your Supervillain features Lady DXK, and while Milk-Plus shines like always, I CANNOT wait to hear more from Lady DXK. The track is VERY dancey and classic rock infused, a trait of Milk-Plus music with which I quickly fell in love .
Next track is Nightcrawlin’ by my VERY favorite nerdy rapper of 2010, Adam WarRock. He uses the comic mythology and the symbolism of Nightcrawler to build a story of discovering pride for one’s uniqueness. You all already know how much I love this man, so I’ll just quickly point out how much I appreciate the reach out for new artists on this compilation for those that were unaware of Mr. WarRock.
Death*Star step in with their shadowy Social Apothecary and the listener realizes why these guys are tearing it up in Seattle. This duo come at you laden with video game references without overdoing it in a comfortable style.
I’ve been rocking Black Materia for the last week, so I was expecting to hear some Random on the compilation, but a collab with Dale Chase, one of the best new guys on the block? Pretty excited for this one! Sweeter is more of a chill and lighter track than its compilation predecessors, and it’s a nice reprieve. Both Ran and Dale deliver pretty solidly together on this track. I hope this is a sign of more collabs to come from these two.
Rap Cliche by PovertyMan is a fun track filled with some nice metahumor and punchlines that are very reminiscent of the stylings of my pal Wordburgie, except with a touch of a Rat Pack crooner in his voice, giving him a very interesting feel. This is another exciting find for me, and I’ll definitely be adding PovertyMan’s RSS feed to my reader.
Jake bit‘s Redundant Me, while alone is pretty good, doesn’t really stand out amongst the tracks that came before it, which I would imagine is hard to do at this point. I look forward to returning to listening to this track by itself later when it’s out of context, though, so please don’t think I’m talking it down.
Another track I’ve been favoring over the past week has been Pudding is Delicious by Illbotz, and one of my favorite tracks was Give A Little Love. I started smiling with the starting bars because I remembered what I was getting myself into again. The cleverness hidden throughout this track makes it something I’m really glad to hear on this compilation and kept me chuckling from beginning to end.
Wow, jumping into A Seed Grows in Brooklyn after Illbotz may have been a bit much for me to handle. I don’t know if this track is a representation of XoC or not, but it may be a bit too ambient and experimental for me to really dig it for listening. I definitely appreciate what he’s attempting with this track, but it’s just not my bag.
I’ve heard a lot of Emergency Pizza Party over the years, so I may be a bit biased when I say that their music is getting pretty formulaic to me. Never Going Back is a perfect example of this for me. I kind of yawned my way through this track.
Bizarro X-Men’s Character Select was another track that I didn’t really feel. I couldn’t really get behind the premise and was wondering where it was going the whole time. It kind of felt like someone following in the steps of Scrub Club’s front man, Mad Hatter, a bit too much.
Another longtime contributor to nerdcore contributions, Ultraklystron is an inspiration to many in the scene. However, I haven’t seen much development in his music over the years. The hook in Bromance Dance was pretty grating to me and I felt the track seemed overall pretty bland.
I was starting to lose interest in the album, but fortunately the next track was a super collaboration from Torrentz with Nerdcore International reminding the listener that nerdcore is NOT an exclusively American phenomenon. A dynamic track with a fluid beat, this track definitely revitalized my faith in the compilation.
Don’t Panic: these two words immediately invoke a wave of nerdiness based out of the mind of Douglas Adams. I hadn’t mentioned it yet, but Klopfenpop has been involved with a large portion of this compilation on the production side and has really been subject of a silent showcase. This is another track that really makes him stand out and reminds the listener that Klopfenpop is a strong member of the new generation of nerdcore. I fully enjoyed this track and appreciated the larger than life feel it had.
One of the things I missed most from previous compilations was the presence of members of the FuMP, but it’s definitely nice to hear a parody by MC 117. A clever Pokemon-infused parody of some Flobots is something I can ALWAYS get behind. Bulbasaur is one of my personal favorite tracks from this album.
I really dig the instrumental of Untested Methods’ Little Crow, but don’t know how I feel about the vocals on it. It feels a bit off for me.
The album wraps up with a VERY chippy remix of Fly by Random, mixed by Klopfenpop. I kind of feel that combo speaks volumes for itself.
This album was a lot of things, but more than anything else – it was a snapshot of nerdy rap today, here and now, and that is both a compliment and condemnation. This album has successfully grabbed the torch from Rhyme Torrents, but more than that, it has attempted to revitalize the scene by introducing some new talent to the scene, fighting the stagnation that had previously been a theme to compilations and the community. For this, the album is a success. Musically, I enjoyed listening to tracks to which I had already been introduced, was introduced to new tracks and artists which I look forward to hearing more from, and made my head bob and smile on more than one occasion. Not every track was a winner, but that’s a pretty insurmountable goal with 21 tracks. This album is released on February 8th over at Nerdcore Now for free, and it’s something I fully encourage you to give a listen and make your own opinion of the current face of nerdcore hip-hop.
Nerdcore Now Volume One Review
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The history of nerdcore hip-hop – particularly as an online movement – is nigh inseparable from the ...The history of nerdcore hip-hop – particularly as an online movement – is nigh inseparable from the checkered past of the Rhyme Torrents community. And while the BBS and its titular compilation project conjures up mixed emotions from most of us who were there for nerdcore's first tentative baby steps into the pop culture consciousness, it doubtlessly remains the dawn of its very own era of geeky rap.
It was responsible for increasing the visibility of first generation artists, launching the careers of second genners like Beefy and Ultraklystron and, in one way or another, coloring the styles of practically all acts to come along thereafter. But it is likely most remembered as the source of countless flame wars, beefs and staggering examples of artistic cannibalism.
Rhyme Torrents defined nerdcore for many creators and listeners, and it returned the favor by defining RT as a less-than savory corner of the internet where generations of nerdy musicians cut their teeth. Yet the fact that I am still talking about Rhyme Torrents so many years after its inception and subsequent destruction speaks to its enduring importance, its cultural legacy.
Recently, however, Danger Aaron and a small cadre of the nerdcore faithful have set themselves to rebuilding the embattled nerd rap Holy Land. Ill content to simply re-colonize its ruins they have instead constructed a new community from the ground up, even going so far as to cast aside the recognizable (if somewhat notorious) name.
Nerdcore Now wears its mission statement on its sleeve. Its very moniker leads one to believe that it represents a new stage in musical evolution, a kinder, gentler, more contemporary approach to digital community building. Only time will tell whether it is ultimately successful, but the team is off to a solid start with its first compilation album.
Nerdcore Now Volume 1 kicks off with a brand new joint from scene staple Beefy. Simply entitled "Nerdcore Now," it pays homage to the roots of RT without ever whitewashing its various problems and shortcomings. Between Beef's high octane lyrics and Klopfenpop's frenetic production, it makes for a solid start.
From there we are treated to a studio version of Supercommuter's "Robot Party," a song that was previously only available as a live cut. It's another amazing selection that Stenobot assures me is a hint of things to come from the band's sophomore release. This is handily followed by "Warp Zone (1-2)" by my local homies The ThoughtCriminals. The band's trademark dark, dense sense of production and lyricism is present in spades, and it makes for a suitable nerdcore anthem from a crew that typical only operates on the scene's musical periphery.
The Future's "Teleport" is an eclectic charmer with a nice glitch/chiptune melody that floats just above the beat, and the flow manages to excite throughout despite the over-processed vocals. Soup or Villainz follows up with the fierce "Live in the Arcade," which kills it on the verses but sadly loses me a bit on the muddy chorus.
Thereafter Milk-Plus & Lady DKX ably represent nerdcore's European contingent with "I Can Be Your Supervillain." From top to bottom it is an amazing cut, and one that caught me totally unaware. It's follow-up is Adam WarRock's "Nightcrawlin'," which I won't fawn over too much as A) I've already had my say and B) there's a fairly prominent shout-out to me in the intro. Still, I have to state that Adam is an incredibly talented cat and this one should be particularly enjoyable for comic-loving heads.
If memory serves, my pals Death*Star leaked "Social Apothecary" when they appeared with me on The Bonebat Show. While C0splay and MC-3PO may not have hip-hop swagger in the traditional sense, their writing is always top-notch. And though this certainly isn't my favorite Death*Star track, it's a fun enough diversion – especially with the auto-tuned bridge. Follow-up "Sweeter" boasts the vocal talents of two of my favorites, Random and Dale Chase, and both bring the goods. It's a smoothed-out jam that's title says it all.
PovertyMan's "Rap Cliché" marks the compilation's half-way point, and it's yet another track that shocked and amazed. It's a musical departure from practically everything else on the album, not to mention one of the smartest, most unapologetic salvos against both the fickle mainstream and its equally apathetic underground backlash. By comparison Jake-bit's "Redundant Me" kicks off like a more traditional and noticeably shaky example of nerdcore, but an approachable narrative and some spot-on production (once again by Klopfenpop) carry it throughout.
I was really happy to discover that "Give A Little Love" – one of my favorites from Illbotz's new Pudding is Delicious LP – was also included on Nerdcore Now Volume 1. A breezy, smart-ass slice of humorous hip-hop from the Botz and Poe Mack, it injects some much-needed comedy into the project's latter half. Consequently XoC's "A Seed Grows in Brooklyn" doesn't showcase his strongest flow, but the combination of his acrid rhymes and a minimalist beat help it to stand out.
With the recent Shine Avenue serving as their strongest effort to date, I had high expectations from Emergency Pizza Party's "Never Going Back." It's a definite success as a cohesive track, although there are some hit-and-miss rhymes throughout. Still, between a hot beat and tons of energy, it's hard not to dig it. "Character Select" by Bizarro X-Men is the perfect follow-up with some amazing vocal contributions from Dynamo Dash, King Pheenix and Maros, and the beat (also by Dynamo) is a perfect fit.
Ultraklystron's "Bromance Dance" isn't about anime. What the fuck?! Seriously, though, Karl's spent a lot of time out of the game of late due to school and the rigors of real life, but he manages to add his own unique flavor to Nerdcore Now Volume 1. I can't quite decide if I like his artificially aggro chorus, but the verses punch hard and his production is, as always, tough to beat.
One of the last cats I expected to hear on a contemporary nerdcore comp was The Ranger, but he Fatback Supreme, Milk-Plus, and a the rest of Torrentz come through with the self-explanatory "Nerdcore International." A fine contribution, it adds an important element to the proceedings. Another posse-style cut is the Klopfenpop-helmed "Don't Panic." Alternately delicate and jarring, MC 117, Milk-Plus (again) and Scrub Club's Diabeats make their musical tribute to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy memorable, even if it's not nearly as flawless as some of the collection's other contributions.
MC 117 winds down the album with Flobot's parody "Bulbasaur." Though humorous and certainly enjoyable, it's kind of a strange selection for this late in the album. The same can be said for Untested Methods' "Little Crow." It's complex and intense, and while the vocals don't always grab me the production shines throughout.
In case 20 tracks wasn't enough for you, Nerdcore Now Volume 1 concludes with a bonus remix from Klopfenpop. It takes Random's "Fly" into interesting new territory. I'm never quite sure how to gauge admitted bonus cuts alongside an album-proper, but its delicate fade-out does manage to bring proper closure to the compilation.
I am a bit of a hard ass when it comes to album reviews, and that's likely because I've done so many of them over the past few years. Still, I only endeavor to judge artistic output based on the merits of the source.
In that regard Nerdcore Now is an untested property. Sure, I already know the bulk of its contributors thanks to shared history or, at the very least, by reputation, but if we are truly to accept it as a different animal than the Rhyme Torrents of yesteryear… well, then we must judge it on its own virtues.
While Nerdcore Now Volume 1 would stand up as a great RT compilation – combining the eclecticism of those early efforts with a more stringent brand of quality control and astronomically higher production values – I have to keep reminding myself that it isn’t. It is its own thing. And while that thing may not exactly be groundbreaking, it is enjoyable and worth the time it takes to explore and digest.
Illbotz release new CD, “Pudding Is Delicious”
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Roanoke’s kings of goof-rap, Illbotz, tried to break up once, but they didn’t know how to quit each ...Roanoke’s kings of goof-rap, Illbotz, tried to break up once, but they didn’t know how to quit each other. The act is back and has just put out a new CD, “Pudding Is Delicious.” You can stream the disc at http://illbotz.bandcamp.com/, or be a truly social human and head down to The Bazaar, 675 Brandon Ave. S.W., Roanoke, and buy the damn thing.
Here’s what the ‘Botz Stevie D has to say about the new record:
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!! Happy “Pudding Is Delicious” Day from Illbotz!…and also Groundhog Day eve…and Rex Manning day too! Illbotz new album “Pudding Is Delicious” is finally available as of today! This album will make you laugh, cry, smile, frown, gasp, fart, sneeze, snart, shart, question your sexuality, call in to work, buy a hula hoop, sign up for hula hoop lessons, forget to go to hula hoop lessons, believe in dinosaurs, and want eggrolls and pudding at the same time! It’s that good! It also has some songs and skits and stuff on it.”
The Proof Is The Pudding
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I am often reminded that I don't have to understand something to enjoy it. Seriously. I have n...I am often reminded that I don't have to understand something to enjoy it.
I have no idea how Silly Putty works, but I love that shit. I mean it's pliable and bounces, and yet it also lets me transfer pictures from the Sunday funnies. What the fuck, Silly Putty?!
Equally baffling are Virginia's Illbotz. Are Stevie D, Big Perm and Poe Mack a comical hip-hop group? A crew of rap-minded musical comedians? Three hobos rhyming for meth money? I have no idea.
What I do know is that their latest full-length Pudding is Delicious is set to drop on February 1st. Sadly, that's pretty much all I've been able to deduce from the guys' recent barrage of YouTube promos. I mean, in the first spot we see… Stevie's kitchen? His cat? Some puddin'? Okay, I guess that last part's relevant, and we do get to hear a bit of the album's title track.
In the second promo video we watch Stevie D enjoying some delicious pudding. (Presumably the same cup he found in the previous installment.) We're also treated to some shots of Perm dancing. But again the important thing is another teaser clip from a new song. This one appears to be about asses. And Pop-Tarts.
Okay, honestly there are seven of these and they all continually cast our Illbotic heroes as unlikely pitchmen. You can peep my favorite below or watch 'em all at Stevie D's YouTube channel. Either way just prepare yourself for the impending pudding apocalypse.
Illbotz: The Cure For What Ails You
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Richmond - Despite being one of my favorite bars in Richmond, Strange Matter is a photographer’s nig...Richmond - Despite being one of my favorite bars in Richmond, Strange Matter is a photographer’s nightmare. I won’t get into the details, but black ceilings and low lighting do not make for an easy shoot. Luckily, Roanoke-based Illbotz had me giggling through their set instead of cursing the non-reflective walls.
Stevie D (“white guy with halfway decent mic skillz”) has long since been creating rap-parodies and self-recorded cassettes of his work. In his college dorm he met Big Perm (“black guy with better than most mic skillz), and asked him to record a verse for one of his songs. This was new for Big Perm, but his verse turned out to be “fantastical” and the two became a pair. While touring on the East Coast they inspired DJ Samson (“half Arab/half white guy with excellent mixing skillz”) to mix for them. The blend proved too good to give up, so they became a trio.
Part hip-hop, part old-school rap, and mostly stand-up comedy, Illbotz definitely know how to mix up a great time. After taking the stage, Stevie D gave us the rundown of how Illbotz operate, doing a few intros, a few songs, and a few interludes. He declared, “We’re going to try to do it with rhythm but we’re white, so…”
Opening with their Simon and Garfunkel intro, Stevie D and Big Perm sang lovingly to each other, while DJ Samson mixed up the old herbal classic. Then they proceeded to each take a turn with a bit of belly dancing. Big Perm and DJ Samson were impressive, but skinny little Stevie D is lacking in the belly department. He found himself losing power and had to turn to his etch-a-sketch medallion in order to re-energize. Emblazoned with “Sammy Hagar”, he hung it jauntily around his neck and asked the members and fans of White Cross, “That’s a punk-rock reference right?”
The comedy continued with the song “Me and You and a PBR”, in which Big Perm managed to sing with conviction, despite being brought a Colt 45 because the bar was out of PBR. Down off the stage with the crowd, Big Perm showed us his vocal prowess, hitting those loving high-notes in devotion to Richmond’s most celebrated beer.
After “The Opposite of Abstinence” they received a request for “Can’t Use the ‘N’ Word” in which Big Perm helped Stevie D sing the parts that the white boy can’t sing. Later, they brought in some Beatles sounds with “Chick-Fil-A”. Set to the tune of “Yesterday” they sang, “Why it had to close I don’t know, cuz it’s Sunday. I smoked 15 bongs, now I long for Chick-Fil-A!” Deciding to end it on a religious note for our Lord, Jesus Christ, they went out singing, “Jesus gave me water, but what I wanted was a PBR.” There were no PBRs to be had, but the laughter tided us over for the night.
Rap icon Chuck D to play Illbotz song on Public Enemy’s online radio station
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Illbotz member Stephen “Stevie D” Davies says he is on cloud nine today, and “not because of the met...Illbotz member Stephen “Stevie D” Davies says he is on cloud nine today, and “not because of the meth brownies this time! Haha.”
Instead, it’s because one of Illbotz’ songs is soon to be featured on Public Enemy’s Enemy Radio, a player launched from the rap act’s website, publicenemy.com. The song in question? “I Love You Just A Little Bit Less (Than I Love Public Enemy).”
How did that happen? Let’s turn it over to Mr. Davies, who said in an e-mail today:
> I went to se PE in Raleigh a while back and Chuck D shouted out his email address at the end of the show. So you know i had to hit him up. Haha. I sent him an email about a month ago I guess right after the show and just told him how much they’ve inspired me and Illbotz over the years and all that and I sent him our acoustic jam “I Love You Just A Little Bit Less (Than I Love Public Enemy)” to check out if he wanted. I didn’t expect to hear back. He’s a busy dude. But I checked my email this morning and saw an email from Chuck. I was like “who the [EXPLETIVE DELETED -- cns] is chuck.” Haha. That rhymes. But it was him and he said he liked the song and wants to put it on Enemy Radio, which is available through Public Enemy.com and he wanted a picture to put on there with it. So I sent him our album cover and a few other pics and links and stuff. Gyeah!!!!!….Stevie D
Nice initiative, Stevie D. Let us know when they’ll be playing the song.
Roanoke Revolution Article On Illbotz
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Spit that shit Stevie D, Big Perm, and DJ Samson! Illbotz are a comedy rap trio with old school hip-...Spit that shit Stevie D, Big Perm, and DJ Samson! Illbotz are a comedy rap trio with old school hip-hop influences. Forget that new rap crap – this is a time warp to 1993. Ballsy beats, outlandish movie references (like Halle Berry's boobies in Swordfish), and songs about every show go-er’s favorite beer PBR. Illbotz were one of the headliners at Underground Melodies, where they seriously rocked the spot and went crazy. The entire crowd throbbed with the bass, and Big Perm waded through the audience with girls swarmed around him. Sexy robots eat Chick-fil-A.
Funny Is As Funny Does
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While the aforementioned Insane Ian disc is brand-spanking new, Illbotz's Ringtones for Rotary Phone...While the aforementioned Insane Ian disc is brand-spanking new, Illbotz's Ringtones for Rotary Phones actually dropped way the hell back in 2007.And yet the album holds up well. Casting themselves firmly in the comedy rap vein, it kicks off with a legitimately amusing skit in which Stevie D receives a fax from Nas informing him that hip-hop is dead. The Illbotz solution? Buy a bread machine.
Yeah, it’s that kind of album.
From there the guys take us on a musical journey from distinctly old school hip-hop to contemporarily-colored radio rap – with brief detours into styles as contrasting as guitar pop, white-boy funk and pub rock. It succeeds in this odd musical experiment by relying on two unifying elements: well-metered verses and a wholly off-kilter sense of humor, both of which are firmly intertwined throughout some great songs and totally enjoyable interludes.
In the first musical track alone ("Clap Your Hands and Stuff"), rappers Stevie D and Big Perm manage to channel Sugarhill Gang, Glenn Quagmire and Zoolander into a proper comedy rap explosion. This continues through classically slanted hip-hop jams like "Gyeah" and "Doo Doo Def," both of which skew heavily toward the Biz Markie school of absurdist rhyming.
Hitting all the customary themes of the truly refined artist such as fucking ("The Opposite of Abstinence," "Naughty Party") and drinking ("Me and You and a PBR," "The Pub That Had No Gin"), Ringtones for Rotary Phones is genuinely fierce throughout its first half. Although, admittedly, throwing in an unexpected curve like "Here Comes the Predator," a Replacements parody about a certain 1987 sci-fi action flick, is an easy way to woo me as a reviewer.
Sadly, the album falters a bit around the half-way mark. "Transform" suffers from weak production and an inelegant beat, "Unclean Jellybean" seems far too repetitive, "Gettin' Cocaine for Papa Smurf" fails to live up to its epic title and "My Favorite Things" (a rap parody of the Sound of Music classic) is a far better idea on paper than on wax. Luckily the crew manages to right shit in the waning moments.
Their acoustic-backed tribute to the late Ol' Dirty Bastard is positively inspired, and the album's closing couplet remind us that Illbotz have more to offer than their distinctive humor. No sooner does the "Ghostface Got Fish" skit present Perm's outspoken opinion concerning backpack rap than Stevie seemingly defends the same underground aesthetic (over the Pet Shop Boys "Domino Dancing," if you can fuckin' believe it!)
Already I've begun to see Illbotz much in the same way I see Seattle duo Metaforce or art-rock-rappers Zombies! Organize!! – as a group that I probably enjoy far more than the rest of you. And that's okay. All I can do here is offer my own opinion, and in that opinion Ringtones for Rotary Phones is humorous rap at its finest. I can forgive a few bum tracks when paired with some top-shelf material, and anyone who's still willing and able to keep hip-hop loose, funny and patently disrespectful in the modern context of holier-than-though MCs is aces in my book.
Oh, and as a bonus, Ringtones for Rotary Phones also contains a hidden cover of The Outfield's "Your Love."
Yeah, it’s that kind of album.
Illbotz: The Best Band You've Never Heard of That Reminds Me of Bobby Jimmy & the Critters
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A rock-solid claim on my part, as this awesome Roanoke Times profile of the band and rapping co-fron...A rock-solid claim on my part, as this awesome Roanoke Times profile of the band and rapping co-frontman Stevie D (who looks a bit like Ewen Bremmer) attests:
During the day Stephen Davies works at the Brandon Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center where he is the activities director. Some residents... are unaware of his night gig as a rapper. Others think he's doing "African chants," he says.
In "1000 Shades of Awesome" he raps about "doing the sexity sexity" (and rhymes the word "scrotum" with "quote him"). Illbotz work in parody. "Chick-Fil-A" is set to the Beatles song "Yesterday." "We Mo' Gangstalikish" and "It's Illbotic" spoof self-aggrandizing rap songs.
$8 gets you the new Illbotz disc at their homepage here. Check out their MySpace page, in which they cite as influences -- among others -- Dr. Demento, The Smiths, LL Cool J (though only "up until '93"), Skid Row, Richard Hell, and Tiny Tim here.
Illbotz got me thinking about the great Bobby Jimmy & the Critters. YouTube has a hysterical Jheri-curled video of Russ Parr (aka Bobby Jimmy) whooping it up for the camera in 1985 here. More info here. Get Bobby Jimmy stuff on eBay here.
The Double Life Of An Illbot
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Stephen Davies leads a double life. By day, he is the activities director at a local nursing home. ...Stephen Davies leads a double life. By day, he is the activities director at a local nursing home. By night, he tranforms into Stevie D: the loud, sarcastic, foul-mouthed MC leader of local hip-hop trio, the Illbotz. The residents of Brandon Oaks have no idea about the extent of his secret identity. But this type of paradox has followed Davies from the beginning: while growing up the son of a minister, he somehow developed an obsessive love of Public Enemy. He recorded his first novelty rap “album”, Songs 2 Poop On, in 1997 on a karaoke machine. It was this same year that Stevie D was to meet his future partner in make-believe-gangsta-crime, Big Perm. The two Ferrum College students collaborated on Davies’ third comedic endeavor, Pass the Biscuits. In 2004, local musician Jay Wilson (of The Violent Spectator and The Young Sinclairs) convinced the duo to try their hand at an actual studio album and agreed to help produce. Stevie D and Big Perm argued for a while of what name they should assume (Jheri Curl Experience, Wackadamian Nuts, and Bathroom Iconz were passed on), before settling on the Illbotz. They entered the studio with Wilson, a.k.a Tony Ghoomba, and local hip-hop producer Dred to record their debut, the hilarious Nothing Rhymes with Engine. Shortly after they began gigging out locally and they enlisted the help of Truenoke Music’s DJ Samson.
The supporting cast of the Illbotz may embody the group’s sense of irony even more so than their leader. Big Perm is the only person you’ll ever meet who is able to sing along to every song on CMT’s Greatest Southern Rock Songs Countdown while sporting a pair of immaculately preserved Bo Jackson sneakers. Meanwhile, the tattooed, tough-guy appearance of DJ Samson is a clever guise that hides the fact that he is actually deathly afraid of feet. Together, these three quirky characters have spent the last two years establishing themselves as one of the more entertaining live acts in the area. Earlier this year they released their second album, Illbotz 2: Electric Bugaloo.
The kind of life that Stevie D and his cohorts lead coincides perfectly with the kind of music they create. Taken at face value, the lyrical work of the Illbotz may seem like nothing more than a well-conceived bathroom joke. But there is some ingeniously clever satire here. They manage to simultaneously poke fun and pay homage to their genre by taking jabs at the machismo and materialistic ideals that have saturated the rap game more and more in recent years. It’s a genre that once thrived on controversy, but now the ideas have become redundant to a point of safety. Davies explains: “In mainstream rap music right now, there are only a few subjects that are ever touched on: money, sex, hustling, and gangsta life… Rappers are afraid to take chances. They know they can make money talking about money, etc. so they continue with these same formulas. I think in music, it's very important to be original, do something different, and take chances.” He then goes on to say, “If Mountain Dew never took chances, we wouldn't have Code Red and that stuff's just frikkin' awesome.”
One of the best examples of the Illbotz’ wordplay is their boasting gangsta rap anthem We Mo’ Gangsalikish. When asked about it, Davies says “N.W.A was amazing, but so many people have taken that style and bit it and cashed in on it… It definitely got out of control over the years. So, we had to make fun of it. Big Perm and I are probably the two must un-gangsta people in the world. So I think it's funny seeing two people (one being a 160 pound white guy with an Etch-A-Sketch around his neck) calling themselves gangsta and saying 'We comin' out rough and raw/ y'all comin' out like Ellen.'”
Of course, not everything in the Illbotz’ repertoire is meant as satire, as Davies points out: “Personally, I think a song that you can enjoy and laugh at the same time is awesome. We try and hit you with that double whammy. Honestly, I think midgets, crack, boogers, ALF, and farts are funny as hell. So, we rap about deep subjects like that sometimes."
While the music is certainly a breath of fresh air to an overly formulaic hip-hop scene, perhaps even more refreshing is the group’s attitude. Hip-hop is arguably the most territorial of music genres, but you wouldn’t know it from the approach that the Illbotz have taken. If you’re a weekend regular at Roanoke’s Green Dolphin Grille on Campbell Avenue, then there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve caught some of the Illbotz hijinks live. There’s also a great possibility that you’ve seen at least part of some of the most eclectic bills of original music this town has ever seen. The Illbotz have not only shared the stage with local hip-hop groups such as Truenoke Music, but they’ve also rocked out with Roanoke punk faves such as Stations and the Makeout; retro-garage rockers like the Young Sinclairs and the Lobsters; the indie rock acts of Doug Cheatwood, The Wading Girl and a slew of others. And they don’t just set up shows for everyone in town; the Illbotz are also some of the most supportive fans of regional music. Stevie D frequents shows of almost every original band around and chances are, if he has your phone number, he’s going to call you and ask you to come along as well.
The Illbotz varied tastes don’t limit themselves to live shows, however. The guest list on their release Illbotz 2 features a wider variety of local musicians than most issues of Inside/Out. Members of the Makeout, Secret Squirrel, A Fine Line, The Wading Girl, The Violent Spectator, and the Treacherous Ism Twins all lend their talents to the album. The end result is something more than just a sophomoric comedy rap album. It’s a well thought-out satire, and it provides a window into a local music scene that, thanks in part to the Illbotz, is becoming stronger and ever more inclusive.
You can listen to and buy Illbotz albums online at www.illbotz.com or at www.myspace.com/illbotz. For the full Illbotz experience, check out one of their upcoming live shows: Saturday, September 16 with The Lobsters, Nancy and 2 Meteors, and Friday, October 20 with Doug Cheatwood,The Bastards Of Fate and Treacherous Ism Twins, live at Roanoke’s Green Dolphin Grille.
Rest Home By Day, Rapper By Night
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Stephen Davies is 27 and has worked in nursing homes for eight years. At one, he met a resident's...Stephen Davies is 27 and has worked in nursing homes for eight years.
At one, he met a resident's granddaughter. He had seen her picture before, they got along, went to a party. And that night she heard him rap.
"She liked this side of me," Davies said, walking the halls of Brandon Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. "But not the rapper side."
They did not go out again.
These are the separate lives of Stephen Davies: During working hours he's Steve the activity director. On stage, as half the rap duo Illbotz, he's Stevie D.
They could both cut it at Catholic school. Davies wears polo shirts, has good posture and a sensible haircut. But when he raps, in his aerobic, sometimes potty-mouthed, often amusing way, Davies makes the girls blush.
Let's linger a moment at Brandon Oaks, where he is calling a game of Bingo. There are seven players, all women, most in wheelchairs.
Davies grew up around Virginia and his voice has Southern edges. When he calls B-5 it sounds like "B-Faahve." He could sing bluegrass baritone, except that when he makes music it tends to be rap.
He started at 12, when he put together his first song on a Casio keyboard (it was called "Come on Dance to This").
At Ferrum College, Davies linked with Marvin Fowlkes (stage name: Big Perm, though Davies said he more closely resembles "American Idol" star Ruben Studdard). Illbotz had formed.
On stage, Davies is the showman, hopping around in oversized toy medallions. He is a thin and enthusiastic yin to Fowlkes' plentiful and subdued yang. Davies raps in staccato bursts of lyrics, Fowlkes flows.
At the end of June, Illbotz headlined a show at Greystone Tavern in Salem. The crowd was light, but eager.
Illbotz had just completed its second album and offered new material but some typical themes. Davies can be vulgar, a word he sometimes uses for his music, but his lyrics always wear a coat of humor.
In "1000 Shades of Awesome" he raps about "doing the sexity sexity" (and rhymes the word "scrotum" with "quote him"). Illbotz work in parody. "Chick-Fil-A" is set to the Beatles song "Yesterday." "We Mo' Gangstalikish" and "It's Illbotic" spoof self-aggrandizing rap songs.
On stage, Davies extends his arm and motions toward the audience as if he is driving an invisible car.
The folks at Brandon Oaks are curious to know what their activity director does at night. Davies warns them that the shows are late and the bars are smoky.
But once, he prepared a rap for the residents to give them a little taste. "They thought it was an African chant," he said.
For now, Illbotz travels Virginia, pushing for more exposure. Booking can be a problem because rock clubs don't want rap and the rap clubs say Illbotz is more comedy than hip-hop.
Still, they send out the e-mails and let record labels hear their music. Steve the activity director explains this during a break in bingo. But even if it all happened, he says, "I'd probably still like to do something with the elderly."
Then it's back to the cards and a final game of blackout. The winner takes a Hershey bar and the players head to their rooms.
Except one woman, who waits in her wheelchair in the hall. She calls out, "Steve, give me a ride."
Illbotz usually do an hour show with mostly original songs from their four albums. We will often do 1-2 covers during a set including ones by Biz Markie, Beastie Boys, Run DMC, etc. We usually do anywhere from 12 - 16 songs.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.