Brooklyn native Ill Bill, keystone of critically-lauded luminaries Non Phixion, original member of La Coka Nostra, one-half of Heavy Metal Kings with Vinnie Paz, and prolific solo artist in his own right, announces the release of his most personal and realized album to date, The Grimy Awards, slated to drop February 26th on Uncle Howie/Fat Beats. Tangential and biographic, the album sees Bill addressing the formative touchstones of his life, offering “what-ifs” and describing historical events, many gruesome, that shaped the suspicious, futurist, political, analytical persona he’s been putting on wax for the better part of three decades. Here he effortlessly enlists a reverent squad of super-notable collaborators, who not only sign their approval but round out a grand Boom-Bap vision sonically and thematically.
It’s imprudent and largely impossible to discuss Brooklyn rap in the last decade without acknowledging Ill Bill who, along with his fellow Non Phixion members, carved out a distinct niche in the hallowed temple of Brooklyn rap near the turn of the century. Non Phixion’s The Future Is Now is a certifiable classic of the genre, championed by major labels like Warner Brothers and Geffen early on before being released independently on Bill’s own Uncle Howie Records. Rife with political critique and paranoia, the album sits nicely among Behold A Pale Horse-era classics from Company Flow, The Goodie Mob, and Immortal Technique. There’s a comparably dark through-line to his solo and collaborative work since, much of which is heavily informed by years as an avid fan of punk rock and heavy metal (diehards will spot an esoteric Exodus reference in “Paul Baloff”, a standout on this record).
Ill Bill is a cult-rap fixture, an idol to fans across the globe and a direct progenitor of the whatever-wave of New York rap that’s currently en vogue, though there’s a stark difference in his approach. Bill lyrically postulates, provokes, praises and reminisces alternately. The Grimy Awards is as much about what happened in Bill’s tenure on earth thus far as what might have actually happened, and why. It’s extremist in an attempt to overshoot reality and find a spurring medium between what we’re led to believe is the truth, the actual facts, and terrifying potentiality. His prodding is a call to thought, and he uses chronological reference points to frame each verse- but the picture may not always be pretty.