The ILLusionists
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The ILLusionists

Eugene, Oregon, United States | INDIE

Eugene, Oregon, United States | INDIE
Band Hip Hop Punk

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"ILLusionists Debut New CD"

The alternative hip-hop group the ILLusionists are releasing “Death Proof” today at the Oak Street Speakeasy, 915 Oak St. It’s the third independent album for the group, which formed in 2008.

In its biography, the group quotes a local radio station as saying “if you want to (tick off) your parents, then this is the band for you.” That observation makes sense, considering the group mixes many of the genres that upset and baffle parents: punk, hard rock and hip-hop.

Despite some unclean language, parents could find some relief in the fact that the ILLusionists don’t make simple, mindless raps. A certain level of concentration is required to absorb the rapid rhymes of this five-piece group.

Another redeeming factor is that they avoid genre clichés such as skits, rapping about sex and money.

The Cave Dwellers open the show at 9 p.m., followed by Black Delany and finally the ILLusionists. - The Register Guard


"Real MCs Just Rhyme"

What is the definition of wack? Urbandictionary.com says this: “weakly executed flashy moves in place of true substance.” Eugene hip-hop outfit The ILLusionists adorn their new release Death Proof with a sticker declaring the album “anti-wack,” as well as name dropping some hip hop heavy-hitters like the Roots as comparison. The Roots are seriously anti-wack, so these guys are setting up some high expectations for themselves. And for the most part they deliver.

The ILLusionists’ brand of rap is what most would call “underground” these days because, well, it sounds like rap — mostly just beats and rhymes — as opposed to the over-marketed, R&B hybrid that often passes as hip hop. Death Proof’s second track, “Real MCs (Just Rhyme),” begins with a sampled voice stating rap is “just about marketing now” and launching a manifesto on how the ILLusionists are about bringing rap back to its roots.

A real band backs these MCs up, mixed with tastefully used samples and sampled strings that provide the album with a heightened sense of drama — but unfortunately dull some of the raw fury the ILLusionists bring to their live shows. This is aggressive, in-your-face music revealing MC Sam Wartenbee’s background in punk and hardcore. Lyrically these guys don’t exactly break new ground, with plenty of rap’s prerequisite hubris and references to inserting male genitalia into all sorts of places, but they do elevate the discourse a bit with themes of nonviolence and being true to yourself, which are two things that, by anyone’s definition, are not wack at all.

The ILLusionists celebrate the release of Death Proof with Black Delaney and The Cave Dwellers at 9 pm Friday, Sept. 17, at the Oak Street Speakeasy. Free. 21+. — William Kennedy - Eugene Weekly


"ILL Is Well"

Those familiar with pre-hip hop Beastie Boys are well aware of their punk rock roots. Their style, both before and after their genre-hopping in 1986, heavily influences the sound of The ILLusionists, a punk and hip hop group releasing their new album ILL IS ALL.

With three original members consisting of Sammy Warm Hands (Sam Wartenbee, vocals), Web the Free Range Human (Gabe Morley, samples and arrangements) and E Ville (Evan Vaught, vocals), the trio put together an album after being together for only two months, titled Sleep Rocking and given away for free. Then the band added new members Crosby Kneale (bass and synthesizer) and Mike McCarthy (keyboards, synthesizer and guitar), filling out their sound and creating new layers for live shows and their most recent album.

And for those worried this could come off as some horrid amalgamation of genres like the rap/metal phase America experienced less than a decade ago from bands like Limp Bizkit, Wartenbee assures listeners this isn’t the case. “Killing in the Name,” originally performed by Rage Against the Machine, is the ILLusionists’ only performance from that era.

With all the sampling and quirky lyrics, the band’s sound can also bounce between early Zebrahead (like their song “Diarrhea Fight”) or thrash and blister (like their song “Robert Pattinson Can Suck My Dick”). Either way, their sound is fast, never boring and almost always funny.

— Shaun O’Dell - Eugene Weekly


Discography

2010:
Death Proof (CD)

Real MCs (Single)
(Limited quantity)

2009:
ILL IS ALL (2CD)

2008:
Sleep Rocking (CD)
(Out of print)

Photos

Bio

The ILLusionists are an “aggressive, in your face”* hip-hop band from Eugene, OR.
Proclaiming "Anti-Wack" status since their inception, their voices remain outspoken
against the shallow, generic hip-hop that plagues radio waves today.

The beats, arranged by Web The Free Range Human, rely on old school sampling techniques,
adapted for the stage by multi-instrumentalists Thunder Money and Dirty Jerz. The result is a fresh
sound with nods to innovators like the Bomb Squad, Dust Brothers, and RJD2. Add a splash of
hardcore punk attitude—à la Guttermouth or Sick of it All, and there you have it.

Sammy Warm Hands and E. Ville bring irreverence to the mic by drawing on their punk rock roots.
With vicious diatribes, peppered with punch lines about comic books and standup comedy, it's easy
to see how they captivate an audience one show at a time. KNRQ says “if you want to piss off your
parents, then this is the band for you.”

Commonly referred to as The ILL, the group gained local notoriety by opening shows of all kinds,
from hip-hop to punk, and even death metal. Last year, they performed alongside Dark Time Sunshine (Fake Four), Ecid (Fill In The
Breaks), Type (The Let Go), Dosh (Anticon) and Eyedea & Abilities (Rhymesayers).

Web had been producing remixes for E&A up until Eyedea's untimely passing in October. The
band has since made numerous tributes to the late MC and regularly performs a cover of “Junk” in
his memory.

Originally formed as duo in early 2008, The ILL has released three albums independently. They are
currently supporting their latest release, "Death Proof."

Its first single, "Real MCs (Just Rhyme)," was selected by KRS-One for a compilation CD,
released nationwide at Guitar Center stores in October 2010. The video was filmed at CD World,
Oregon's largest independent music store this side of Portland.

On the album's closer, “Break It Down,” the band takes a remarkable journey through hip-hop's
artistic evolution, from LL Cool J all the way to Sage Francis. Other artists may have attempted
similar topics, but the difference is clear in the band's meticulous execution.

The second single, “No Survive,” continues the Anti-Wack theme, calling for a “hip-hop
holocaust” where only the most honest of MCs are left standing. The CD version also contains a
remix of the track and an unbelievably dirty B-side, featuring Type of The Let Go.

*Source: Eugene Weekly “Real MCs Just Rhyme”