Artist: Iller Than Theirs
“We’re not better. .we’re just iller; and there’s a difference.”
This is the story of when Tone Tank met Kray. This story starts in Pheonix Arizona, where Tone once led a happy life; but after a bizarre tragic trifecta- losing his job, his girl, and his house-found him knocking on the door of his boy, Kray -all the way in BK. In the meanwhile, having just been fired from his job, Kray was still trying to find his purpose. So the two joined forces and formed the Brooklyn-based duo, collectively known as Iller Than Theirs; drawing upon the tales of their unlikely journey for a self-titled album.
Together with Nuclear Family, consisting of Baje One and DJ Snafu Kray, along side Nuk beatmakers J. Howells Werthman and Scott Thorough, Kray and Tone have created a dope album, which strikes an enjoyable balance between well-produced tracks and cleverly rhymed couplets (you’re train of thought caught a transit strike- It Is What It Is). The flows are real simple, not a lazy Mase flow, more of a 1-2 step. This is organic rap at its best, much close to the essence of what hip-hop is supposed to be than Kingdom Come will ever be.
I have to start off by saying that “After All” is one of the best produced tracks that I’ve heard all year. Let me repeat that: one of the best produced tracks of the year. The ill jazz café ambiance and bittersweet rhymes could have me vibin to this for a minute. I can’t even speak on this greatness of this track enough, you’ve gotta just hear it. “Razor Bumps” is also a sharp track, to say the least. Clearly they are too ill for an intro, ‘cause this one jumps right in; the electric guitar is a little harsh on my ears so early in the morning, but still well-produced track, with a skillfully structured bridge interpolated with a familiar childhood melody which they ride perfectly in both lyric and rhythm.
Something to be appreciated by ITT is the honesty in their lyrics. For that check out, “The Same,” where outline Tone and Kray outline the gentrification and capitalization (or in their own ill word, the “Manhattanization”) of Brooklyn over an instrumental, jazz-influenced brass section. I get the strong sense that they will not be on the welcome wagon for the Nets in ’10. And with tracks titles like Wash, Rinse Repeat and Lo-Top Sneakers you’ve to appreciate the light-hearted approach that they have taken to this record.
Iller Than Theirs is a perfect example of the diversity that hip-hop needs, humble self-expression through music. By keeping all the production and lyricism in-house, this duo hasn’t allowed their message corrupted by clichéd banter. This album is like an acoustic cipher, the kind you and your boys used to do back at school-bitchin’ bout the realities of life, yet comically introspective. You could try to compare them to their obvious predecessors, but honestly, they’re iller than that.