Cinematic is an apt title for an Illy album. The evolution of Illy as an artist certainly lends itself to the idea of film. It’s the tale of a smart and idealistic hip-hop storyteller who put everything on the line and, through honing his craft and sheer hard work, made it work; going from, as he himself so succinctly puts it on Yoyo, “The ground floor to the top tier”.
Now the Illy tale is expanded further, another link in a musical career that started with 2009 debut Long Story Short, where Illy collapsed 21 years of life into an album. It continued in documenting the struggle for success on 2010‘s The Chase, and Bring It Back’s return to Illy’s musical roots in 2012. Now with Cinematic — released through his own label ONETWO (via Warner Music Australia) — Illy offers a deft statement that music is his life, and that won’t change any time soon.
Recorded at executive producer M-Phazes’ studio in Melbourne, alongside producers, Jan Skubiszewski, Stylaz Fuego and Cam Bluff, Illy has also pushed forward and enhancing his unique musical vision. Cinematic is a genre-skipping record that pushes and sits outside of the usual musical boundaries — it’s full of buzzsaw synths, soul, glitchy pop hooks and epic beats — while also delivering Illy’s trademark biting lyricism.
Displaying a musical range that people might not expect from a hip-hop artist Cinematic is a record that moves, like a film, through different moods, scenes and locations, with a revolving cast of characters adding their voices to the overall narrative. Boasting hip hop legends Hilltop Hoods (Coming Down), and Drapht (Yoyo), as well as Daniel Merriweather (on the epic soul of Save Me), and Kira Puru on Talk, it’s a guest cast to envy.
Second single Youngbloods features The Amity Affliction’s Ahren Stringer, adding a different flavour to the script, and providing a unique mashup of hip hop and hardcore. It’s a pairing that might seem unlikely, but its inimitable chorus speaks for itself. Similarly unforgettable is One For The City, a melodic yet bombastic tip of the hat to the creative processes enhanced when you’re surrounded by a sea of humanity and culture.
As a result, Cinematic is an imposing musical statement from an Australian artist. And now, having taken charge of his own career path with his label ONETWO, it’s just the beginning of the rest of the saga for Illy.