5 2012 Albums by Maine Artists you should own:
Sandbag; Sloppy Jays (read our album review here!)
Line of Force; Symbiotic (read our album review here!)
Running Gags; Yeah, No (read our album review here!)
Ill By Instinct; Second Wind
Restless Groove; Self-Title EP
Here at the Way Live Should Be we have varied tastes in music, but we tend to gravitate to music that challenges us and is often very intellectual. Ill By Instinct‘s new album 2nd Wind is no exception, but it does stand out as some of the deepest and intensively crafted hip-hop we have heard (featuring 100% production by El Shupacabra). For those of us who prefer a solid beat and a sound that is pleasing to the ear, don’t stop reading; 2nd Wind has that too. The beats on this album will stick in your head as the words work their way under your skin.
Buy the album via Bull Moose or listen here!!
The primary theme and most unique aspect of 2nd Wind is its “great American classic novel” qualities; Ill By Instinct, if nothing else, is a fantastic storyteller. This album is filled with literary verse and craftsmanship using metaphor, drama and theater, climax and resolution. The more I listened to this album, the more every song surpassed my expectations and impressions from the prior listen. The tone of voice, speed, and enlightened lyricism is paired ideally with instrumental beats that really seem to accent the message and style of the rhymes. Additionally, although the beats all tend to be instrumental at their base, many of the songs are layered to create an industrial feel that lends a strong continuity to the album. The combination creates an emotionally powerful sound that is the perfect stage for IBI’s complex and challenging words.
The song concepts vary from outright, intricate storytelling (Room to Breathe, Knowledge of Self) to extensive criticism of Western society and resonating descriptions of the intensity of surviving within that society. My personal favorite was Calm and Collected; which serves to build a crescendo that culminates in the battle in the song Knowledge of Self. Calm and Collected is a great representative of the album as a whole; the beats set a theatric stage for the well versed drama that discusses the complexity of life; ridding oneself of affliction, recognizing our humanity, and “as intimate as it is limitless”. Whether you are a music fan who will hang on IBI’s every word or who will focus primarily on the musical craftsmanship and tight beats you will not be disappointed by 2nd Wind.
This song is difficult to pinpoint a specific topic for, making it a solid introductory track. Discussing hidden evil, sanity, and struggle; the song introduces a lot of the themes that reappear throughout the album. Additionally it introduces IBI’s heavy style in an almost scatterbrained way; engaging interest and easing the listener in for some more seriously elaborate pieces later in the album.
Room To Breathe:
A story that would border on gossip in “real-life”, this song is a wonderfully told tale of overcoming challenges and oppression, disappointment, tragedy and sadness. There are many themes the listener can identify with, including blazing one’s own trail in the face of opposition and falling hard over obstacles. “His demons tried to get him, but his brain wouldn’t let them.” This is also one of the tracks where the beats are almost industrial sounding and work really well to set the story that is told.
A seemingly inward look into the personal trials of the artist and specifically getting back up after a fall. “Voluntary solitary, not solving any problems, yet he wanders unapologetically”.
Bring Back the Love ft. Kristina Kentigian:
Such an awesome song… definitely one to “play on blast”; turn this one up LOUD. Another of my favorites for its layered beats and instrumental accents. The rhymes specifically address being passionate about what you do, controlling your perspective and interacting with your surroundings as an artist. “If I wasn’t doing this I would be a doctor or a lawyer instead of sacrificing my life to do what I enjoy”.
Calm and Collected:
My favorite song on this album; Calm and Collected serves as the build up to the crescendo in Knowledge of Self. The dramatic piano based beat, the use of verbal stage setting and characterization of abstract concepts (“deception lurks waiting to stick its head in”), and especially the breathing in this song creates a strong emotionality and fantastic sense of the theater of everyday life.
Knowledge of Self:
This song is an epic battle story complete with virtue and the great conflict between two opposing brothers. The beat builds the climax and power of this track beautifully.
A heady track that begins the resolution of the album with blatant societal criticism and religion based metaphors; this is another of my favorites. “Keeping it PC and rated G while the world is in a cataclysm, meanwhile just nag at the system and claim to be the victim… Yet he who holds stones should not throw them, instead build a foundation for our people to have a home in… Its our own people who scare us and who have for a long time.”
This track celebrates the individual who works the average 9-5, blending in to their society and yet still spends their passion and energy making others aware of the bullshit we are constantly being fed;
“Somewhere there is a model citizen, bridging gaps to fit in with a system that restricts them to a victim… Subliminal threats they use to fill up your head, do you believe what you’re fed? You’re awake but instead if you obey what they said, then your thoughts are vacant and dead.”
Then lamenting how fucked our society is and avoiding its attempts to diminish our humanity and consciousness via mass distraction;
“When they are only concerned with airing out the dirty laundry from the other side of the dichotomy, how about a bipartisan apology for the invasion of our private property? … Its on the average citizen to arm himself with information for only through education can we change the situation we’re facing.”
The final track of the album offers some concluding thoughts and advice for listeners and lets us back into our own realities as gently as is possible. “You can’t buy it or steal it, If you have it you can’t give it back, It’s the meaning of life and it’s the way we interact with the people we pass… Can’t leave it to the diplomats to keep the planet intact, we need a plan of attack… This is where it all begins because this is where it ends, now I’ve got my second wind.”
Additionally, Ill by Instinct and El Shupacabra are the duo behind Portland’s Rap Night, Wednesdays at the Big Easy. Check IBI out there or like him on facebook to keep an eye out for his next show!
-edited by Kim Morrison