The Way Live Should Be

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Tag Archives: Ill By Instinct

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.

Solitary:

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!

-Heather

-edited by Kim Morrison

Sandbag’s New Album Sloppy Jays; the first in our list of 5 2012 Albums by Maine Artists You Must Own!

5 2012 Albums by Maine Artists you should own:

Sandbag; Sloppy Jays

Line of Force; Symbiotic

Running Gags; Yeah, No

Ill By Instinct; Second Wind

Restless Groove; Self-Title EP

The first album in our 2012 “Albums from Maine Artists You Should Own” list is Sandbag’s Sloppy Jays. It is named for the two producers that worked on the album; Slop and Jay Caron. Additionally, the album features the vocals of Kristina Kentigian on the track Mundane Lives.

Of the two prior albums I have heard from Sandbag (Rappers Are Emotional and the mix tape, Pay Attention; available for free download here) this album really demonstrates the potential and skill of the group; not just as a Maine hip-hop group, but as eclectic and intellectual musicians. The best bands lead you to discover other talented artists and Sandbag does not fail to offer that key element.

Sloppy Jays, more than their two prior releases, sounds truly complete. It stands on its own as a creation, to some extent, separate from the band. Sloppy Jays is essentially greater than the sum of its parts. If you are a Sandbag veteran, familiar with Rappers Are Emotional and Pay Attention like we are, then perhaps you will at first be taken aback by the raw emotionality that is more evident on this album than in the past.. One could argue that the ratio of emotional and relationship commentary to political, social, and philosophical analysis is higher on this album than on the prior two. Although at first I wasn’t sure how I felt about the increased emotional element, the more I listen to the album the more I love it exactly as it is. I think it is important, as a music fan, to recognize when our passion for a specific aspect of a musical group keeps us from evolving with the artist in question; inhibiting us from recognizing the strengths in their change and growth.

Growth is definitely a key aspect of Sloppy Jays. This likely is in part due to the influence of the two producers. The song to song flow is spot on, and far surpasses that of either of the former albums. Additionally, each individual song sounds perfectly composed down to the artful, instrumental beats, the choruses, the secession and synchronism of the four emcees, and even the vocals seem better matched to the beats themselves. A phenomenal example of this is the song M.Y.O.B.

This is not to argue that each prior album is not absolutely awesome. We are huge Sandbag fans, the intellectual and enlightened lyrics are like old friends; blunt, honest, challenging our preconceptions, and still oddly comforting.  If one only listens, they could easily find several common themes many of us could identify with; struggling with the status quo, struggling to “succeed”, societal oppression, and the role of people power. Specifically though, Sloppy Jays brings the best overall sound experience of any of the Sandbag albums so far.

Sloppy Jays is available at Bull Moose Music and should soon by downloadable via Itunes. Keep your eye on the Sandbag facebook page for more information! Also, keep an eye out for our reviews of the other 4 albums on our list; coming soon!

Track Listing:

Intro

Well Laid Plan: “We wrote this so you would take notice” a sort of treatise on the power inherent in the Sandbag crew.

That Was Then: A short history of the individual members, an introduction to their love of hip-hop and the history of the band as a whole.

Book of Verse: One of our favorites; lots of heavy lyrics addressing the questionable integrity of popular music and questioning the potential for more legitimate artists.

Playmate: An interesting perspective into what it may feel like to be in the public eye, primarily about females… or a specific female.

M. Y. O. B. : Mind Your Own Business… one of our favorite tracks for its overall perfection. A track that delves deeper into the idea of constantly being in the public eye and encouraging people to, well, MYOB.

Forgive (Forget): Another more emotional song regarding relationships.

Mudane Lives ft. Kristina Kentigian: We really enjoy Kentigian’s vocals in this song, they make it really full and complete; the song is important to the success of the album as a whole. A definite favorite for its subject matter; themes that most creative or intellectual individuals trying to make their way through human society can identify with.

Downward Spiral: A perfect concluding track discussing judgment, deeper meanings of life, and final reckonings. Where can this crazy human existence be headed?

Flat Trumpets: This song is harder to summarize; some themes include inner strength, insanity of human society, and personal struggles.

Some of our favorite excerpts:

We write rhymes to right wrongs, bygones are bygones, but I’m gone with no retrieval, medieval dark ages, contagious thoughts breaking,  restraints at the round table, sound save you, play for the imaginations make for a new breakthrough, disdainful cause painful regret and false label, Strip the page through for the faithful like sacred songs of angles that we play you.

Got that inner focus so it isn’t hopeless, doing my thing to little or no notice, I’m less concerned with the outcome than the motives.

Small world still so many suffer, earth’s mother
Must we heed these sins, and take back our land?
Stand firm demand answers of the faculties of man?
3 bodies of the government, souless husks
Of a ponzi-scheme heirarchy going bust

Yea I’m in this rat race, I’m praying that I’m at least a tortoise, I’m at my poorest just to live in a house owned by corporate bank investor lobbyists with an American dream portrait, but as I gripe I think of the less fortunate, from the hungry to our soldiers being sent to wars for shit , pretending I know what horror is but I could never understand the mental baggage of shooting some armed foreign kid.

I just brave what I hate and I see what life has to offer.

Isaac Newton I’m assuming, is natural law defined by the guy that proves it?, that cycle stifles movement, we can fly but they got us staring at the sky asking (why) asking.., I work 28 hours a day, 9 days a week, 40 days a month and evade sleep, remain skeptical to western medicine, guess I’m just more Tesla than Edison….. Fascinated by the synchronicities, and the sick twisted histories of those who live in this city, get busy, make amends, sing with me break bread while we face the end.

-Heather

Rap Night! Every Wednesday at The Big Easy

Rap Night has welcomed me with open arms, so I’m feelin’ the need to extend an invitation out to ya’ll. It seems as though I’ve stumbled upon some of the hardest working kids on the scene, delivering intellectual content over beats to kill.

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