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Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Duo Hip Hop R&B




"iLLism inspires with ‘iLLuminate’"

iLLuminate, released Jan. 31, is the second full-length studio album from iLLism. The group’s August 2017 release, Love and Loyalty, immediately landed on the North American College and Community Radio chart and peaked at the number five position. That album also earned them the honor of performing a Tiny Desk Concert for Minnesota Public Radio. iLLuminate is set to rise just as swiftly. The album is filled with empowering lyrics that are accessible to people from any walk of life.

Admittedly, I am a 30 something Midwestern white guy and am not highly tuned in to the hip hop and R & B scene, be it locally or nationally. To that effect, a request to review iLLism’s new record was met with some trepidation on my part. However, listening to Envy and Fancy, the married duo behind iLLism, convinced me to start paying attention.

iLLuminate jumps out of the gate with the synth-heavy “Life.” This track sets a good tone for the album. The synthesizer moves the song along nicely and “Life” features a message that promotes living the one life we are given to the fullest. This track also does well to prove that Fancy is more than just a hip hop songstress. Using the placement of the first track to prove that Fancy can rap right alongside her husband is a smart move and provides a nice jumping off point for the rest of the record.

“Who You Lovin’” is another standout track. An intelligently utilized horn section highlights the music and a drum beat featuring a heavy amount of snare only serves to enhance that effort. “Who You Lovin’“ asks an important question in the lyric, one that many would do well to ask themselves. When asked ‘who you’re loving,’ how long would it take for you to say: yourself? Some people in today’s culture are so afraid of being categorized as selfish that they never take any time to focus on themselves, and this track serves as a good reminder that it is important to worry about yourself sometimes.

Other tracks on the empowering iLLuminate include messages about black pride, spreading love and doing good, promoting Minnesota nice, betting on yourself, and being in love. The powerful messages behind iLLuminate are complimented by beats that, at times, force you to move and, at other times, make you feel incredibly relaxed and completely chill. The album is definitely worth a listen and I am convinced it may turn some on to a genre of music that they might otherwise never dreamed of enjoying.

iLLism will host an album release party for iLLuminate Jan. 18 at the Amsterdam Bar and Hall in St. Paul. The show will feature special guests J’Mere, Mariah Mercedez and the Bendz, and Reel Smoovv. Doors open at 8 p.m. for the 18+ show and tickets are $7. - Music In Minnesota - By Jason DeMoe

"The Social Dig: “BLK Magic”"

“BLK Magic” by iLLism speaks to the intrinsic value of Black culture just in time for Black History Month.

Black culture, via an American lens, is rich. It can be argued that American Black culture: a blend of eurocentric standards, western religion, antebellum southern traditions and remixed genres of music, etc is simply American culture. Many American inventions, cities, institutions and sub-cultures were created by Black people.

The first African indentured servants arrived in the American colonies in 1619. As long as the country has flowed and ebbed, so have Black people and the culture we create. Every moment in our country’s history is marked by a poignant response, comment or story from our Black sisters and brothers that reminds us how rich and interwoven Black history is with American history.

“What would this whole world be if they loved black people as much as they love black culture?” This line opens the smooth R&B and hip-hop fusion track on the album Illuminate. iLLism, being from the Twin Cities area, draws much of their inspiration from other midwest legends like Prince, Morris Day and The Time Band and Mint Condition. And like these Black artists, iLLism wastes no time celebrating their melanated roots.

The hook bops along: “My melanin drip- it drip like this,”. Melanin is broad term for a group of pigments found in organisms. It is found in skin, hair and eyes in human beings. Darker individuals have more melanin in these areas while fairer individuals have less. Recently, the term has been used in Black empowerment speech to celebrate and uplift darker-skinned folks.

The hook is not the only place for a melanin celebration. Every verse in “BLK Magic” aims to honor Blackness. Envy raps a line about loving his “nappy hair and dark skin that [he’s] proud just to be in,”. He goes on to ask “Why they uncomfortable?” referring to anti-Black sentiments.

The question comes early in the song and leaves room for iLLism to expand on why there is no need for uncomfortability with Blackness. The duo also expands on how Black people will revel in themselves regardless of the space that anti-Blackness takes up.

Fancy sings some lines: “I’m so proud of all we’ve done….they want to separate us and make us feel the opposite.” Her commentary echoes Envy’s multiple bars celebrating their culture- from fashion to phenotypic features. She also comments, like Envy, on anti-Blackness tropes of uncomfortability, separation and othering.

The song actually concludes in what sounds like a Juneteenth celebration and commentary. Juneteenth marked the last day of enforced slavery in the United States; enslaved people in Texas were told that they were emancipated months before after officials brought news from the east coast. I believe iLLism acted with purpose by releasing their album in time for Black History Month.

Each song, much like “BLK Magic”, acts as a form of cultural commentary. The duo makes solid music, making use of well-written songs and instrumental backing from award-winning producers. But they also tell solid stories, ask important questions and speak on relevant themes from the Black community. - WVAU - Chanell Noise, Web Staffer

"iLLism ‘Illuminates’ on duo’s new album"

Frontrunners of the new Minneapolis Sound, hip-hop group iLLism ( returns with a new album, “Illuminate.”

The new 15-track sophomore release follows up 2017’s “Love and Loyalty” album. The married duo of soul singer Fancy and rapper Envy balance R&B grooves with introspective bars and soulful beats.

The group describes the new album as “a reflection of their personal and musical journeys … evok(ing) passion and emotions that listeners all over the globe can connect with.”

Standout cuts include “Outta My Head” where Envy raps, “it ain’t good to feel weak in the place I grew up, where the men here are taught to be tough.” Fancy later sings, “I have a tendency to overthink things, that destroys all the good in me.” The song touches on the anxieties of personal growth from a male and female perspective.

The production on the album is a step in the right direction building off of the momentum of past projects. “Illuminate” blends live elements with traditional hip-hop studio production. Producers Blu Majic, Dope Boyz, Dreamlife, Illuid Haller and Tone Jonez join the iLLism band in shaping their signature sound. A perfect example of this is “Who You Loving” with the dreamy saxophone accompaniment of Willie Moore.

iLLism has accomplished a lot in the past few years including being a top three finalists in Paisley Park’s Battle of the Bands, performances at Super Bowl Live and NPR’s Tiny Desk, and charting on the North American College and Community Radio chart and coming in at No. 34 on The Current’s Top 89 local of 2017.

The duo says, “this album is using full music form. It’s our blood, sweat, tears and heartbeats. That’s how special it is. It’s therapeutic. It’s a release. It’s a celebration.” - Insight News - By Toki Wright


Sometimes I forget that the Twin Cities has long history of RnB and a shorter but deep history of Hip Hop, especially positive Hip Hop. Then I get a chance to see a band like iLLism and I remember that Minneapolis brand of RnB is world famous for a reason. They released their new album illuminate at the Amsterdam.

We walked into a crowded, swaying room. Envy and Fancy, the duo known as iLLism are on stage with a full band, nearly too full for the physical space and pleasantly abundant sounding– horns, drums, keyboard and more. And it is hot. It’s a smooth funk with rap entwined. Envy has a solid, cool rap and Fancy has a sweetness in her voice that broadens the appeal. They share a sassy vibe between the two of them that’s very fun to watch. The crowd broke out in what I can only call a line dance, in sync, in step. Such a fun atmosphere!

BLK Magic is a song for the times. (In fact I plan to the Women’s March MN podcast later this week.) It’s an important message wrapped up in a lot of sugar. It’s a tribute to a friend who died. Despite the solemn theme and reason it sounds like a celebration. The horns are great. The song starts cool and ends like an anthem. It’s the combination of rap and smooth sweetness that gives the songs a quality that feels like it’s going to be big.

iLLism was top three finalist at the Paisley Park Battle of the Bands. The polish of Paisley Park is evident. They’re tight. It is clearly commercially viable, it has a wide appeal. It build on the history of the music of the area but it brings a freshness too in the pairing of Envy and Fancy. They’re a band for the times! I suspect Bet will be an album highlight. It’s very dance-able; their voices really mingle and blend so smoothly. Again, very positive message – about betting on yourself. - Mostly Minnesota - By Ann Treacy

"Farewell, For Now, From The 2018 Tiny Desk Contest"

I was personally enamored of Lau Noah's poetic beauty at our New York show. The Denver concert at Globe Hall was my favorite night, and I loved all that I saw, including Ivory Circle, Audible and Los Mocochetes. The band that lit up the The Twin Cities for me was iLLism — Naia Izumi was even inspired to call on the band's drummer to join him for a number.

This year, there was an energy in many of the bands who entered the Contest that reminded us of — and perhaps was inspired by — last year's winner, Tank and the Bangas. iLLism had that energy — and we felt it in Philly, too, especially from the band &More, who mixes R&B, poetry and hip-hop. Petaluma had a similar feel from the rousing and infectious La Misa Negra and SOL Development. And then in Seattle, I was stunned by the rock band Among Authors and its original take on music that's akin to Radiohead and explosive art rock. - NPR - By Bob Boilen

"DayGlo vibes, mad props, and psychiatric breakthroughs in this week’s Top 5 MN music videos"

iLLism—“iLL Vibes”

On January 27, Twin Cities hip-hop/R&B duo iLLism will play a Super Bowl party on Nicollet Mall (a.k.a. Super Bowl Live), but before that gig, they’re making sure everyone around town knows the kind of vibe they bring. In the new video for “iLL Vibes,” emcee Envy and singer Fancy host their own pregame, dipping through neon smoke as they demonstrate their skills. Envy and Fancy also directed the video, so cast no doubts on their ability to host every element of a good time. - City Pages

"5 for '18 Minnesota's best new hip hop artists"

The dynamic duo of Envy and Fancy absolutely crushed in 2017. with the incorporation of a strong band for their live show they've received critical acclaim. Combining hip hop and R&B their sound has a lot of replay value and throw back appeal. In September they won night two of the "Musicology 2017" contest. Their "Love and Loyalty" album has been in heavy rotation. - Insight News

"Meet the bands set to battle at Paisley Park's Musicology event"

Prince liked to work with new artists. Over the years, his protégés included the Time, Liv Warfield and 3rdEyeGirl.

In the spirit of giving new talent an opportunity, Prince’s heirs are staging a battle of the bands this weekend at Paisley Park in Chanhassen. The winner receives recording time at Paisley and a mentoring session with former members of Prince’s New Power Generation.

More than 125 acts submitted videos to Paisley Park’s Facebook page in July to enter the competition, called Musicology — Battle of the Bands. Nine finalists were chosen by Paisley staffers.

The emphasis was on “real music by real musicians,” as Prince used to say. In other words, this isn’t “American Idol” or “The Voice.”

Starting Thursday, three acts will perform on each of three semifinal nights, with a winner chosen daily. Then the three finalists will vie again on Sunday night.

Four of the candidates are from the Twin Cities. Indeed, Prince long supported hometown talent.

The Twin Cities finalists are Pho, iLLism, Radiochurch and Purple Funk Metropolis.

The other competitors are Cosmos from Seattle; the Nightowls from Austin, Texas; Black Alley from Washington, D.C.; Le’Asha Julius from New York City, and Anonymous Da Band from Atlanta.

This competition is inspired by the 1970s battles of the bands in which Prince, Sonny Thompson, Jellybean Johnson, Morris Day and other Minneapolis teens participated at community centers and city parks.

The event takes its moniker, Musicology, from Prince’s 2004 album of the same name that earned him two Grammys. The title song discusses how different generations of music makers are connected musically.

Musicology — Battle of the Bands is open to the public. Tickets cost $100 daily and include a tour of the Paisley Park museum plus an hourlong dance party after the live music, which runs from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets are available at

Some of Prince’s discoveries had successful careers, including the Time, Wendy & Lisa and Sheila E. Others such as Jill Jones, Ingrid Chavez and Bria Valente disappeared.

We’ll see what happens to the winner of the first battle of the bands at Paisley Park. - Startribune

"WLUR 91.5 FM Music Review"

Following Young RJ from a couple weeks ago, another wave of midwestern hip-hop/R&B has flooded into WLUR. Minneapolis’ dynamic duo iLLism brings us their latest release, Love and Loyalty. Smooth interchanges between clever lyrics and flowing harmonies define this brilliantly mellow record. Songs like “Drapetomaniac” and “Weather” are a prime example of the casual yet emotional backbeat that defined 90s/00s. There really is no peak of this album – it’s a steady stream of these echoed vibes that doesn’t’ fail to let you down in the slightest. - WLUR 91.5 FM

"Two Midwest Music Talents, Envy and Fancy, Collaborate Again to Reimagine Mariah Carey's Song “Breakdown” in Sizzling New Single"

Two rising music artists, Fancy and Envy, from the Midwest Hip Hop and R&B scene have come together to create a sizzling new single, “Breakdown,” available on iTunes for download. The duo has previously collaborated on albums with 2010's He Say, She Say and 2012's Two4One. Now with each artist on the cusp of major success in the music industry, Envy and Fancy have joined once again for “Breakdown.” Breakdown is an original take on the Mariah Carey song featuring Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. Fancy credits Carey as one of her biggest musical inspirations, and was driven to “reimagine” the song with Envy. A musical video for “Breakdown” recently finished filming, and the duo promises it's a “controversial love story.” “I can't say enough how happy I am with how it turned out,” said Envy. “I can't wait for all of our fans to see it,” said Fancy. Fans of both artists will be elated to see the dynamic duo team up again for something new, after taking a break in 2013 to work on their respective careers. “The treatment we put together for the video was pages and pages long of dialogue and script. It’s going to blow people away,” added Envy.
Fancy is known for her hit “Fancy” which was featured in the ABC comedy Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23, as well as VH1's Basketball Wives; the single was later featured on He Say, She Say. Her most recent album Curls, Pearls and Lollipops was released in 2013, and cable network HBO will feature the album's single “Slo Mo” on their 2015 television series, Flesh and Bone. Envy hit #1 with his 2008 single “Ringtone” on the Billboard charts, and has had his music appear on television's Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Orange is the New Black, and Married to Jonas. He began taking his music seriously at age 17, when his sister tragically passed away. Envy credits his sibling as one of the driving forces behind his music, and after her death, he began competing at open mic nights and rap battles, working his way up in the Minneapolis rap scene. Fancy too overcame a troubled past, after a life as a troubled teen mom, and found herself embracing music as a way to make a better life. At the 23rd LA Music Awards, she was nominated in two categories and was nominated in the 2nd Urban Music Awards in her hometown of Minneapolis. Fancy has experienced a new audience worldwide, with fans in Togo, Africa and Europe.
The two are dedicated to the industry, spending hours writing and composing. Fancy and Envy's vocal collaborations are the result of years of work, gauging each other's talents to create a captivating combination.
“Breakdown” can be streamed on the duo's Soundcloud pages, and is now available for purchase for $0.99 from iTunes.
As 2015 approaches, “Breakdown” is only a hint of the musical gifts Envy and Fancy are ready to share with the world. -

"Hip Hop Duo iLLism Releases New Music Video for 'Talk About It'"

What happens when Envy and Fancy come together? The answer is iLLism, a dynamic Hip Hop music duo from Minneapolis who have released their first single and new music video, Talk About It, a song which is already attracting major attention from fans as their Facebook hit count climbs over 28,000 views.

"We're all about creating feel good music again," says Envy. The single is full of iLLism's trademark whip smart lyrics and catchy hook. Envy and Fancy both take lead on the song while listeners can hone in on their intimate conversation through the lyrics of the song.

"We are changing the industry," said the group today. "We are a male and female hip hop group. Our lyrics tell stories that depict real emotions: it's sex, desire, fear, triumph and the whole range of human emotion. Our music-our rules."

iLLism's, "Talk About It," is fitted to be a summer hit. The music video finds iLLism members, Envy and Fancy defining the meaning of chemistry and conversation, all while showing off some impressive slow motion eye catching smoke scenes.

Fancy and Envy have both had success in music before in their respective solo careers: Envy's 2008 hit Ringtone charted on the U.S. Billboards, while Fancy has found success with her music being picked up by hit TV shows on VH1, Starz and ABC networks.

Talk About It can be viewed on YouTube ( or streamed on iLLism's Soundcloud page and Apple Music, and fans can purchase the song from iTunes and Google Play.

About iLLism Hip hop group iLLism is a male-female band that has a strong focus on the vibe and lyrics that explore humanity at its best-and sometimes, its worst. For more information, please visit iLLism's website - Broadway World

"Out Now: Hip Hop Duo iLLism Releases Debut Album Definition of iLL: A Side"

MINNEAPOLIS - Nov. 26, 2016 - PRLog -- Hip Hop duo Envy and Fancy, now known together as iLLism, define themselves as being rooted in the art of being so dope, so fly, so SICK (iLL) that those actively involved in the movement (ism) cannot possibly be stopped.

In October iLLism dropped their debut double-EP "Definition Of iLL: A Side" and now the whole damn world can't stop listening. "We came together as a group because it just made sense" says Envy. "And now we have this dope project that really captures who are individually but also who we are together. You can hear it and feel it" adds Fancy. "Our music our rules."

It was no secret that when solo-artists Envy and Fancy began to collaborate in 2015 that each core-member of the duo brought extreme talent to the game. With multiple chart-topping singles throughout their careers and features on TV networks like E!, MTV, VH1, ABC, Starz & more – both Envy and Fancy have earned their stellar reputations for bringing true entertainment straight to the people.

Combining their skills, talent & experience into a sum-total even more spectacular than its individual parts – iLLism is ready to shake up the entire globe. "Yea I'm Charismatic but I'm also raw and gritty" says Envy when describing his own personal rap style. With a vibrant & smooth blend of dope lyrics, wired beats and flowing, harmonious vocalizations – they bring an all-new & dynamic sound to music through their own sensational styles with elements of 90's/00's-era Hip-Hop and modern R&B in the mix. "I'd like to describe myself as having depth and personality. It's pretty but imperfect" says Fancy.

The Definition of iLL: A Side documents the very beginning of iLLism – through seven tracks full of raw depth and charismatic personality…the movement has started and the journey begins; with plans already in the works for the Definition of iLL: B Side to drop in early 2017…the adventure in sound is set to continue as support for the movement grows and the entire world gets iLL. The album can be streamed on Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music and more. Or downloaded on iTunes, Amazon and all other digital outlets. - PRLog



Minneapolis-based hip hop duo iLLism has always had an artistic way of cutting straight in to the core of their listeners’ emotions and energy. Both Fancy and Envy from an early age have had a deep connection to music and art. Anyone who listens to the married couple of ten years, can easily connect with their relatable lyrics and captivating melodies that help uncover two truly profound artists, which otherwise are more comparably introverted than most in their genre.

iLLism is most Influenced by hip hop and R&B from the mid to late 90’s through the new millennium. “I was all over the place I listened to everything. but Brandy, Mya, Mariah Carey, TLC and Destiny’s Child carried me through junior high. By the time I reached high school, Aaliyah, Musiq Souldchild, Dr. Dre, and Jay Z became staples in my music library,” says Fancy.

Before iLLism, both artists had respected solo careers. In 2008 Envy released his first single, “Ringtone” which charted on billboard at number 1 for eight weeks. Both, since early 2010, have gained much success in the music licensing world. To date, the pair have a combined 125+ song placements on shows including “Keeping up with the Kardashians,” and “Jersey Shore.” As well as movies including Kevin Hart’s “Ride Along” and commercials for Sprint, Forever 21 and Budweiser.   

In late 2015 Envy and Fancy decided to come together as a duo, naming themselves, iLLism. “iLL” meaning dope and “ism” meaning movement. When put together, iLLism by definition means “a dope musical movement.” Their first release came in the form of their double EP, “Definition of iLL.” A side was released in late 2016 and was followed by B side in early 2017.  With two EPs already under their belts, the pair along with their live band was chosen to perform at Prince’s Paisley Park for the first ever Musicology Battle of Bands. They released their debut album, “Love and Loyalty” on August 24, 2017, a week shy of their Paisley Park performances.

2018 rolled in big for the pair. Minnesota became the hosting state for the 52nd Super Bowl. Minneapolis natives, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis who are best known for their work with The Time, Prince and Janet Jackson to name a few, hosted Super Bowl Live, a music festival which took place outdoors on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis the week leading up to the big game. iLLism was Included in their stellar line up along with Rhymesayer’s Brother Ali as well as Prof, The Time, Sheila E, Rae Sremmurd, Mint Condition, The Jets and more. iLLism also performed at SXSW, Red Gorilla Festival, Ted X Talk at the University of MN and became an opening act for the NPR Tiny Desk tour that same year.

On January 31, 2019 iLLism released their sophomore album, iLLuminate. The album received many rave reviews. “It is hot. It is smooth funk with rap intertwined. Envy has a solid cool rap and Fancy has a sweetness in her voice that broadens the appeal,” quotes Ann Treacy from Mostly Minnesota regarding iLLuminate. iLLism began charting on radio charts more than a week before it’s national release. Overall iLLuminate charted for 22 weeks. Six of those weeks at number 1 on the NACC top 30 Hip hop chart. It was also on the NACC Top 200 from January 29 - February 26 for a continuous run of 5 weeks.

iLLism continues to make huge strides as they approach 2020. Most recently a two day residency at the Minnesota State Fair which welcomes more than 100,000 people per day. As iLLism grows fans can expect more music, event appearances, touring and for the pair to spread a hell of a lot of love in the process. Community and family are their grounding tools for success, and with that type of support behind them, it would be foolish to assume that these two are going anywhere other than up.  





Band Members