"I dream bigger than I reach," Ill Poetic told me once, and I only half believe him. In some ways, this 25-year-old MC reminds me of Peter from Office Space — either he's frantically biting his nails over his work or he's found true Zen instead of just pretending everything's all good. For example, when his notebook of unreleased rhymes got rain-soaked, he thought it — and he — were ruined. A litany of other misfortunate events made him want to put the mic down altogether. Instead, he turned to friend and poet, Fatal Prose, who told him, "God doesn't hate you. He won't give you a gift then chastise you 10 years later." Ill Poe says he realized his friend was right. "Man, I can't really complain about shit!" he thought, as he lay in the sun and cooled his feet in a pond.
It's moments like these that finally push him beyond his insecurity. As heard on "Ride Thru It" from his new, self-produced CD, The World is Ours, he makes distinction as an MC wanting to be relevant: "I ain't worried 'bout the 'Snowman'/I'm worried 'bout this young kid whose thinkin' he's a grown man." Maybe you've seen him, slack-faced, boarding the No. 33 to his gig as a telemarketing manager and wondered, "God, when's this kid gonna get signed?"
But judging from his seamless production on The World is Ours and beat contributions to other spit-kickers, including Punchline, Wordsworth, Piakhan, Illogic and Living Legends' Aesop, the Dove Ink artist already works like a major label is telling him, "Uh ... today is not a half day."
Recently, he booked a no-frills tour to push The World is Ours (which meant driving a rental car cross-country, National Lampoon's Vacation style, minus a mutt and dead aunt) with label-mates Illogic, Young Zone and Green Brothers. The road trip left him feeling initiated into a higher echelon of indie MCs.
But while he's telling himself, "Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta," he ain't trippin'. He's too busy obsessing over the next show.
Ill Poetic celebrates the release of The World Is Ours this Friday at Annie's, with a live backing band and special guests Illogic, Young Zone and The Nati Kid (among others). There will also be a fashion show, a Cincy Soul/Funk history showcase and the event also serves as the release party for the new DVD documenting last year's immensely popular Hip Hop summit, Scribble Jam. Cover is just five bucks and the show is open to those 18 and up. For more on the new CD, check doveink.com. (Mildred C. Fallen)
More Local Notes
· There's a ton of great local music at the Taste of Cincinnati this weekend (see the official Taste insert inside this issue for the impressive lineups). One special note: The recipient of the Michael W. Bany Scholarship (an award of college tuition to students pursuing music, in the name of late local musician Michael Bany) for 2007 will be announced on the Fountain Square Stage on Sunday at 4:40 p.m. The annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards honoring achievements in local music is a primary fund-raiser for the Bany Scholarship. (bany.tv)
· Northern Kentucky high school student Kayla Spelling has organized a big benefit concert called "Artists for AIDS Awareness," taking place Friday at 7 p.m. at the Lakeside Christian Church in Lakeside Park, Ky. The event is raising funds for Forgotten Voices International (forgottenvoices.org), an organization that helps orphans in South Africa with HIV. Along with regional performers like Grammy nominee Kim McLean and Louisville rockers The North, the show will also feature local acts like promising up-and-comers Seabird and acclaimed Pop Rock crew Ellison.
· The Ohio Valley General Membership Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World organization is hosting a benefit Friday at the Southgate House for workers in New York City who are fighting union-busting, slashed wages and other questionable labor practices (for more on their struggles, check iww.org). Members of the Day Labor Organizing Project will also be there to lend support and offer information. Napoleon Maddox of local Jazz/Hip Hop experimentalists IsWhat?! will perform a solo set, while Bakou & the Image Afro-beat Band, great, rootsy Indie newcomers Cut in the Hill, rockers Madras Lounge and the dynamic Latin/World-flavored Made In Brasil (with members of Terra Azul and IsWhat?!) also perform.
· Drummer Keith Fox, formerly of local greats Thee Shams and currently of Detroit's The Sights, is working with fantastic, raucous Northern Kentucky Blues/Garage crew The Lions Rampant. Fox is recording with the band for an EP release due in August. Friday, he'll join the group live when they play The Mad Frog with Buffalo Killers and Norust. (myspace.com/thelionsrampant)
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)citybeat.com. Visit: blogs.citybeat.com/spill_it.