The Way Live Should Be

Your source for show and CD reviews, festival previews, and interviews with your favorite artists playing around New England and beyond!

Tag Archives: El Shupacabra

Ill by Instinct’s new album Second Wind; Review # 4 from our list of 5 2012 Albums by Maine Artists You Must Own!

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.

Track Listing:

Look Around:

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.

After All:

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.”

Hometown Hero:

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.”

Town Crier:

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


2011 Rap Radar

We wanted to take a minute to mention some of the albums that have hit our radar throughout 2011. Not all of them came out in 2011…but most of them!

This album is great! The thing I love most about a lot of these songs is Kirby Dominant’s willingness to address both the potential absurdity of interacting with people (“Weed Man”), and the typical insecurities that often preoccupy our minds. Kirby basically introduces himself as a whale in the second track (“Orca”): “I feel like a whale, I look like a whale/I drink like a whale, can’t you fuckin tell?/I’m drownin in the sea of life…” (Watch the video Here). This is an interesting claim…but a little self-deprecation is always amusing, and helps to create some balance in terms of the tone of the album. The next track is “Feeling Inside” and it makes me want to celebrate life for a minute or two. (“This song is beautiful, oh my god!”) They released the video for this track earlier this month.
Check it out:

While some typical aspects of rap and hip hop can be found on this album (testosterone driven wordplay, bangin’ beats, & swagger), they are all filtered through the Paranoid Castle perspective. Which consists of a pleasant balance between honor and mockery.
To thoroughly enjoy this album: Buy It, Appreciate Satire.

  • TrailsTrails &Co. EP – November 2011

Trails consists of rapper Syn The Shaman and producer/DJ theLin. The chemistry is spot on between these two, and it really creates a seamless delivery both on stage and on the Trails & Co. EP. Four local artists are featured throughout the EP: O.D., Ill By Instinct, Kristina Kentigian, and ALT (who is featured on three out of the six tracks) all make this EP extra enjoyable! Get some Trails tunes Here!

Here’s the Trails video for the track “It Goes On” which is not actually on this EP…It’s on their full length album Fits & Starts (2010), but it’s one of the stronger tracks on the album, and really represents the evolved style that is displayed on the Trails&Co. EP.

  • El Shupacabra (The Floppy Disk Jockey) – Shupe’s Back – 2011

El Shupacabra is personally a trusted source within the Portland scene. Shupe is approximately 25% of the local group Sandbag, and holds down the weekly Rap Night at The Big Easy. He seems to be constantly contributing to the local scene, yet manages to stay a bit elusive…which is why I have no links in this section, and I can’t really tell you where to get this album, other than come to Rap Night sometime and see if he has any left.

Hell, we’re lucky there’s video of the performance at Geno‘s the night he released Shupe’s Back:

I’m pretty sure he took some material he had kickin’ around and threw the whole thing together in under a week. And it’s damn good. Ill By Instinct prays on Track 5 (“IBI’s Prayer”), and MC 22 is featured on Track 8, “Eat Your Dinner.” Go find Shupe’s Back. It’s sentimental and progressive. And probably like, 3 bucks.

I saw his Homeless performance back in September when he was on tour with Aceyalone, and I really dug it. I hadn’t listened to any of his recorded stuff yet though, and I think he’s still working on capturing his live energy in his recordings. Homeless has a style of his own, but he’s feelin’ things out still. He makes a lot of direct references in his songs that seem to carry his weight. I wanna know what effect these references have directly on his perspective. It’s interesting to know what influences someone, but it’s more interesting to find out why. I really like the song “Sophia Loren.” It’s personal. First person narrative revealing some truth.

Here’s the video for the song “Dream World”:

MC Homeless is working closely with some great artists…I’m pretty excited to see how his sound evolves. Keepin’ an eye on this cat!

Stay posted about Homeless stuff on Facebook, Check the album out Here

  • Adeem – Made in New Hampshire – Adeem & DJ MF Shalem – 2011

Sooo…I haven’t actually listened to this album yet, but I got to hear this song off of it: “Get It
I dig this track, and I’m into Adeem in general. Plus, he’s representin’ NH, and so am I (for now). You can grab the album Here. (This is also a Note to Self)

  • Lady Essence – Right Now – Aug 2011 – P. Dank. Check out the interview and album review Here

Check out some of this stuff if you haven’t! I made it super easy for you. Links and videos galore.
I’d also like to mention that I’ve seen all of these acts live at Rap Night in Portland at The Big Easy. Wednesday Nights.