iLLspokinn/Spokinn Movement
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iLLspokinn/Spokinn Movement

Brooklyn, New York, United States | INDIE

Brooklyn, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Hip Hop Jazz


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



""Dope shit sans the bullshit""

Wed, January 10, 2007

It was 2am on the fourth night of last November’s CMJ Music Marathon in New York. I’d spent the entire day eating Sicilian pizza, drinking Brooklyn Lager, pretending to like indie rock, and ogling hipster chicks with dramatic bangs. I was in desperate need of something rap-related: a breakbeat, a freestyle cipher, a drive-by shooting, whatever. A train seat across from a handlebar-equipped mulatto goddess with bamboo earrings would have done the trick.

And then I got the call about after-hours at R&R in the Meatpacking District. Quick geography lesson: The Meatpacking District is a cobblestone-clad old-world corner on the Lower West Side of Manhattan that was made famous by Western Beef’s flesh cellars, and more recently made unbearable by horrid yuppies, Euro fucks and phonies who’ve swarmed there in the wake of the neighborhood’s prominent role in Sex and the City.

Exterior flaws aside, R&R is a sincere subterranean music pit. If the surrounding streets weren’t gentrified to the teeth, it would be frightening to descend the club’s piss-stained staircase. Especially on this particular night—the joint was crawling with cigarette-bumming thugs, old-school rap cats, egomaniacal hip-hop insiders and several grossly polluted kids who were taking advantage of R&R’s noticeable absence of concerned chaperones.

Most heads were there to check out the legend-heavy lineup, which included Juice Crew ringer Craig G, Digable Planets oddball Doodlebug, Dres from Black Sheep, and the Awesome Two. The wasted sect was there to do the opposite. Their mission was to boo every trailblazing MC in the room off the stage. One dude’s exact words: “Nobody gives a fuck about you fucking assholes! Everybody here wants to see iLLspoKinN.”

He wasn’t necessarily wrong. Despite the notable headliners, the spot was brimming with Spokinn Movement fans. Even when the crowd was halved, the remaining troopers weren’t leaving until iLL and his group plugged in and served a nightcap. Still, it seemed like the host kept finding other acts to put on in front of them—almost as if the club were pulling people off the street just to enrage the band’s shithoused cheerleaders.

“That was a wild, wild night,” iLL recalls. “We were supposed to go on at 11, and we started with about 300 people who were there just to see us. A lot of them couldn’t take it after a certain point, but it was dope that a lot of them stuck around to the end.”

At around 5am, iLL—along with drummer Yoni, bassist Chris and guitar man Dave—surfaced through the cloud of illicit cigarette smoke. “This is supposed to be our record release party,” iLL told the hangers-on. “So I guess we can say that all of those guys opened up for us.”

I’d be optimistic, too, if I had skills like iLL. Unfazed by having waited six hours to perform, he channeled his band’s energy and spiked it on the crowd. Between the booze IV I’d tapped into nearly four days earlier and the discombobulating trance brought on by deliberate insomnia, during their first track, “Delicious,” I actually saw iLL’s fluttering vocals surf the waves roaring off Dave’s Stratocaster.

“You can call it hip-hop because I’m rapping, but there are so many different aspects and elements involved that the only thing you can really call it is good music,” iLL says of his group’s live approach. “My band is talented; these guys aren’t just laying down loops.”

For the past decade, iLL has worked with organic rap outfits, originally fronting The Unknowns alongside Awkward Landing MC Normal in Boston. But since incorporating expert musicianship is no longer enough to distinguish hip-hop groups, Spokinn Movement employs a tactic that effectively separates it from the posers: They truly walk the walk, playing more than 10 gigs a month, including a weekly “Freestyle Monday” residency at Sin Sin on the Lower East Side.

“It’s an all-freestyle experience,” iLL says. “The band makes up the beats while I make up the rhymes. It’s kind of lovely. So that’s pretty much how we made the album, too. We recorded it entirely live with me in a sound booth and the band playing where I could see them.”

Since moving to New York via Boston via Taunton nearly five years ago, iLL has established an underground-wide rep as a positive wit with acrobatic improv abilities. Despite his live band affiliation, he keeps his hand in traditional boom-bap through his Semantics family, which he’ll be joining Friday night at the Boston release party for 60 Min. Spin Cycle. This being lame-ass Mass. and all, the show won’t push past 2am; but while the timing might be different from the New York release, two things will likely be the same: iLL and company will get heads jumping like a wet toilet seat, and there will be a gaggle of hip-hop drunkies on hand to watch him do it.

by Chris Faraone
- The Digg (Boston's Weekly)

"iLLspokinN Artist of the Week"

You may have heard his work on the album 60 Minute Spin Cycle, and you may have seen him hosting Freestyle Mondays at Sin Sin in New York City, he’s iLLspoKinN and he deserves your attention. After moving to New York from Massachusetts five years ago iLLspoKinN quickly became a fixture in the city. He’s been hosting Freestyle Mondays, a running open mic featuring a live band and some of NY’s top MC’s, for the half decade he’s been in the city and it was during those events that he met the folks who would eventually become Spokinn Movement. Not limited to the Sin Sin stage, iLLspoKinN’s also done shows with the likes of Run-DMC, KRS-One, Digable Planets and Black Sheep. Today he's sitting down with me to discuss his group, his music, and what makes him unique in this crowded rap game.

Adam Bernard: Help me out here. There's iLLspoKinN and Spokinn Movement. What's the difference?
iLLspoKinN: I’m glad you asked that. Some get confused during introductions and say "iLLspoKinN and The Spokinn Movement." I'm iLLspoKinN and all of us together are Spokinn Movement. Spokinn Movement consists of Dave Cinquegrana / Guitar, Chris Cuzme / Bass, Yoni Halevy / Drums, and myself.

Adam Bernard: Being an MC in New York City is sort of like being ice in Greenland, there's a lot of ya'll. What do you feel sets you apart from your peers and makes you an artist people should listen to?
iLLspoKinN: Quality! Hearing a dope album and seeing an equally impressive live show seldom happens. I'm usually disappointed in one or the other. You can hear the energy in the tracks I record, because the booth is also my stage. The live show speaks for itself, check out my MySpace page and you'll see what I'm talking about. Other than that, just straight untarnished, no preservatives, out-the-box raw skills man. You can have all the glitter and pretty packaging, but if you aren't a lyricist it'll surface and cats like me will be waiting at ground level, hungry!

Adam Bernard: If you were to choose one of your songs to be THE song to put you on which would it be and why?
iLLspoKinN: That's one question I hate to answer because I'll change my mind by tomorrow. Today the answer is "Delicious." Why? It's dope! It's one of those songs where I'm just talking shit and the beat is ridiculous. It's also a crowd favorite at live shows. There's something about seeing heads react to an intro to one of your joints, it makes it all the more worth it.

Adam Bernard: When it comes to collaborating with other artists what qualities draw you to an artist and who have you linked up with recently?
iLLspoKinN: The three things you have to have are energy, uniqueness, and compatibility. You got to rock with someone who compliments your style and vice versa. Two artists I've recently linked up with are my younger brother Jaelle Haze and Chicago emcee Presence. Jaelle Haze is a talented young singer with a distinct sound His vocal range and ability to adapt to melodies makes for easy recording live or in the studio. Presence and I have been rhyming side by side at Sin Sin for three years now. There are some people that just click together when on stage or in the booth, Presence and I compliment each other during both. When you go to battle you want someone next to you who’s skilled and can hold you down if you get hit, Presence is that dude. Both Presence and Jaelle are featured on 60 Minute Spin Cycle bringing their individual flavors and raw talent.

Adam Bernard: Finally, if listeners were to only learn one thing from your music what would you hope that thing would be?
iLLspoKinN: Hip Hop is ALIVE!

For more on iLLspoKinN you can check him out at & You can also take a listen to 60 Minute Spin Cycle at - Adam's World

"Familiarity in Hip-Hop"

“The backdrop of great instrumentals, skillfully created from a combination of guitar, bass, drums and turntables, appealed to the classic rock fans who gained a sense of familiarity with the live instrumentation of the band. A couple of tastefully composed hard core rap-rock songs, which are very difficult to make correctly, appealed to the punk rock chick who gained a sense of familiarity with the aggressive rhymes and rhythms of the band’s sound. And front man iLLspOkinN’s lyrical presence, defined by a unique delivery, intellectual depth, and storytelling skills combining humor, wit, experience and emotion,
only a very short, elite list of hip-hop musicians has accomplished that task.”
—Hip Hop Linguistics (
- Hip Hop linguistics

"Spokinn Movement"

"Spokinn Movement, a hip-hop collective reminiscent of the Native Tongue's sound, brings lyrical freshness combined with driving melodies to two tracks on the album."
—Audible Treats (
- Audible Treats

"Songs from The Underground/Spokinn Movement"

“Songs from the Underground: NYC Subway opens on the able shoulders of Spokinn Movement. The vocal freestyle approach of Spokinn Movement's wordsmith, iLLspOkinN, washes over the body, and you suddenly realize that your head is bobbing and your body is swaying to a Digable Planets'-like groove -- a funky jazz/rock exposition that allows Dave Cinquegrana's guitar work, Chris Cuzme's bass line, and Yoni Halevi's drums to stretch and blend with iLLspOkinN's rhymes.”
—Pop Matters (
- Pop Matters

"Songs From the Underground/Spokinn Movement"

“The first act is also the compilation's best. Spokinn Movement, a four-member hip-hop collective, features iLLspOkinN rapping over jazzy, guitar-based tracks. As the title "Flows" suggests, iLL moves at a quick, steady pace. He rhymes cleanly, with a bit of conscious in his background. The group references De La Soul as an influence, and that connection makes sense, even as Spokinn extends themselves with their smooth instrumentals.”
—Stylus Magazine
- Stylus Magazine

"CdBaby Review"

Trying to nail down an accurate description of the brand of hip hop
these cats bring is proving to be a noodle scratcher. Intelligent,
for sure, but that word can only slowly get rolling the inevitable
avalanche of words that must follow. So I'll take the easy way out
and just say that if you consider yourself a hip hop "purist"(such a
dirty word these days) this will warm up your headphones in an
instant. The MCing on this album is lyrical b-boyism personified, a
classic display of style and knowledge that would make Prince Paul
want to schedule a sit down. Slap that on top of a trio of musicians
who have the groove on lock within 4 bars and you've got yourself a
record. Finally, some confident artists who stare you dead the face,
drop the self-aggrandizing posturing, lay it on the table and say "so
there it is." That's the way it should be. -

"Special Quote"

"We're REALLY picky about what goes on the front page. We get about
100 new albums a DAY coming in here now, (about 100,000 total), and
yours is one of the best I've ever heard."

Derek Sivers
President, CD Baby & Hostbaby - CDbaby


"60 Min. Spin Cycle" Spokinn Movement

"Songs from the Underground" Headset Productions
2 Tracks: Flows & Apes



*Chosen Rawkus Records (50)disk

Spokinn Movement is the live band today’s hip-hop world has been waiting for. Currently recording their second album, Spokinn Movement has already gained critical acclaim for their full-length album: “60-Minute Spin Cycle” released on their own label, Chocolate Marauder Records. This release displays a quality array of individuality, style and talent from all members, but more importantly: as a collective entity. They are truly a ‘band’. The four piece conglomerate regularly brings their dynamic live show throughout the UK with great success, and continuously hones their skills at classic venues amidst their hometown such as NYC’s Blue Note and Webster Hall, all without any major record company support. Early in their formation (2005), they contributed 2 songs to the New York City Subway “Songs From The Underground” compilation CD. Those songs, “Apes” and “Flows”, held the #1 and #2 spots for over a month for all compilations on iTunes, giving them a huge online, commercial presence. Spokinn Movement is four gifted musicians doing what they do best: making dope music.

iLLspoKinN (vocals) commands the stage like a pro with the competitive vigor of a natural star. This multi-faceted emcee has the charisma to engage any crowd, with lyrics that are humorous, witty, and thought-provoking. iLLspoKinN is renowned for his freestyles, while the lyrical intelligence of his penned works take nothing away from his ability to rock a crowd.

Dave Cinquegrana (guitar/guitar synth/loop-sampling) has honed his unique art of making sounds to a science. Well versed in many styles of music including R&B, jazz, hip hop (of course), rock, etc…, Dave brings it all to the table and creates a completely original soundscape. During live shows, fans often wonder where all those sounds are coming from… it’s Dave, doin’ his thing.

Chris Cuzme (bass) provides the solid harmonic foundation necessary in hip-hop. Adept at laying it down, the powerful rumble of Cuzme’s instrument keeps Spokinn Movement anchored. He is also a world-class saxophonist, and brings a fresh perspective to the bass from his extensive experience on sax. Giving the solid foundation he has always craved as a soloist, Cuzme is the heartbeat of Spokinn Movement, pumping its life’s blood: the groove.

Yoni Halevy (drums) is energy personified. An amazing combination of time, feel, chops, and taste, Yoni rounds out the lineup with authority. No hype-man necessary in this hip hop band, Yoni has a virtually telepathic connection with iLL’s phrasing and accents his lyrics with precision, while laying down beats to keep the heads noddin’ and the bodies moving.

The creativity of these four musicians will make timeless changes to the face of music. Their compositional skill and studio prowess is only rivaled by their electrifying live show. They draw from the strong heritage of hip-hop, giving a nod of approval to the masters before them, while looking off into the future, prepared to make their own personal contribution. Music the youth can relate to and the mature can respect, Spokinn Movement is a revolution prepared to make things right in a music that may have lost its way.