featured interview

Illite Crème de la crème rap OK, we ain’t sayin nuthin new if we say the Detroit scene is one of the most blooming rap scenes of the world, but after almost every release from that area we have to underline that statement. Especially with the release of Illite’s debut release ‘Crème De La Crème’ that was issued last July. Attentive fans of the Subterranous crew, have obviously bought Illite & Octane’s ‘The Forgotten…Chosen’, the album that anticipated Illite’s solo record and already showed us a piece of the latter’s talents. Forget Black Milk, Phat Kat or Guilty Simpson for a minute, here’s Michigan’s latest sensation…

At first the album was supposed to be a mixtape right, how did it turn into a full debut album?

Basically, I decided ‘why wait?’ I had been going real hard in the studio for a minute and I finally got the confidence in the work I was doing, enough to put it out as people's first look at me as a solo artist.

Are you still looking for any distribution for the record or you gonna keep pushing it independent?

I'm always looking for more ways to make my music more available but in the meantime we're gonna keep pushing it as hard as we can until someone takes notice.

The album is entitled 'Crème de la Crème': do you think you are making the best music you've ever made right now?

Yeah, but it’s funny because I feel like the best is yet to come. It’s by far the most personal I've been.

Is it your purpose to become the best rapper in the game?

Nope, just the best me.

According to you, who's the crème of de la crème of today's rappers, why?

Man, that’s a good one. Off top I like Common, Jay-Z, Nas, Elzhi, Kanye, Black Thought and Little Brother. I tend to lean towards them because I can tell they put effort into their music, or even if not, it sounds like it and they say some pretty thought-provoking things in my opinion.

Living the best way is that making a lot of money, or in case you'd have to give up your credibility in exchange for the money, would you settle for less?

Nah, I wouldn't say it’s just making a lot of money, I mean don’t get me wrong I like money, who doesn't?! Especially in today's climate! But I believe that integrity should stand above all as an artist. Me personally, I wouldn't give up my credibility in exchange for money. I mean as I've grown I can honestly see why some people do. You never know anyone’s situation or what they even got into music for in the first place. It just depends what you in it for. I think about this ‘ok, so after the money is spent, things are bought, recognition, etc. etc. then what?’ I think who you are leaves a much bigger impression on the world than what you have, granted it does enhance it in some cases, but money doesn't play a part when it comes to my morals and values, things like that. I don't see myself ever settling, I believe being yourself is priceless and long as you have a strong sense of that everything else will fall into place.

At the end, what would you like to have accomplished as a rapper?

To be known as someone who had a dream and followed threw with it.

Is Subterraneous still a crew, since most members went on to make solo recordings?

Sub is where I got my start, that’s where I learned the basics, everything from writing complete songs and concepts to the performance aspect of the game. We'll always be a crew in my eyes even though everybody's doing their solo thing right now.

How would you compare Illite the emcee of then with Illite the emcee of now?

I'm older, I've experienced a lot more of life and I think I've expanded my horizons a little more. I listen to different kinds of music. You might catch me bangin’ some Hall and Oates, some Phil Collins or even some Jon Secada now (laughs)! The 80’s is the shit!!! I've always liked different music man but I'm embracing my ‘inner-nerd’ these days, ha! But seriously, I know a lot more and I'm not afraid to try new things musically anymore either and I'm always open to hear what cats think good or bad, I'll listen but when I'm in my zone, I'm in my zone, I don't care.

You and Octane have been working/performing together since years, how was it like to make an album on your own?

It wasn't too bad actually. Of course it’s pressure because it’s just me on record this time out. But it wasn't bad because everything I did I ran it by him and the rest of the crew to see what they thought. Everybody had their favourites.

Like you mentioned before, you actually got more personal on this album, to what extent can you get personal on a record if it's with Octane?

I can get pretty personal but it’s only so much you can say within the time span we allow ourselves when we do songs and anyone who knows me knows when I something hits home hard enough I have a lot to say about it.

'Tryin to rap my way back to sanity'; do you write therapeutically or does the writing come much later (after the ups and downs)?

Everytime I write it’s therapeutic but it just depends, I can’t call it, sometimes it comes right then and sometimes it doesn't come till later. Sometimes waaay later.

'Can't Give Up': where there any times in your career that you wanted to stop with the rap game?

Yep!

Some rappers travel, some rappers take a dictionary, some rappers read the papers, some rappers have a very good imagination, what are your techniques to put more depth into your themes and texts?

I would say a little bit of all that. I kinda eased up on the dictionary thing though. I used to do that in high school to ‘sound’ clever (laughs)! But now I just do, watch, and listen a lot. I'm reading more these days though.

'I'm an ace when I face the bass'; do you start off of a beat or do you start with the writings?

Yeah, I like to start with a beat. Every once in a while I might have an idea and then come across the beat later but 90% of the time, the music inspires me.

Like for example the collabo with Nick Speed, how do you start to collaborate, I suppose both of you know each other well, so Nick lets you hear some beats, or you pick a beat from his beat tapes,..?

Both, We use to just record for the sake of having something new. I was times I'd be going threw something. Go over Speed’s crib, he'd play a beat or something and I'd just drop. We got a lot of ruff/unfinished songs and one versers (laughs).

With this rap shit, stack chips independent'; you're launching your new label Movement Kicksounds, how's everything going?

Yeah, Kicksounds got a crazy roster, Octane, Fes Roc, Leef Mayfield, Zhao-ski and myself. Everything is going good. Tryin’ to get everything off the ground and gain this momentum. We'll see what happens. Shout out to D-Roc behind the scenes!

Why did you decide to start a label and what are your goals with it?

I mean basically we've decided to put ourselves on. We needed organization. It was a brainchild me and Fes had. The goal as of now is to put out quality music and make people realize what we have over here as far as the talent is concerned.

Could you tell us more on how you got Vitamin D to work with you?

Basically it was a hook up through Speed, like I said earlier I would come threw there and he would play me joints. One day he was playin me some vitamin D joints and he said dude was tryin to hear more Detroit over his music and dude had some heat so I just dropped to it.

Can we ever expect Black Milk, Guilty Simpson or Elzhi on your album?

Definitely!! We had El on the last joint. I didn't get to work with him this time around because he was recording ‘The Preface’ at the same time but we got some things brewing. Black is down to work on the next project and I'm a get at Guilt when the times right. That’s Detroit right there, so it’s inevitable!

The Michigan scene is blooming more than before, Dilla would be proud right? How would you explain this 'boom' of good producers and rappers coming out of the Michigan area?

Yea, I know Dilla would be proud and I can't explain it, man...I think it’s something in the water or something! (laughs)

You was on Now On's 'Eye Level', how did you connect with Now On?

That’s been fam since day one. I remember them cats from back in the day. They were in a group called Funktelligence that had a crazy buzz in the Ann Arbor area and overseas. We always vibed, so they hit me with the track and it was natural. They killin shit now too!

You are 'Forgotten…Chosen', in what way do you link God with your music? Do you think God chose you to rap?

I link God directly. I know without him there is no me period. As far as him choosing me, that’s funny, I don't know, I know a lot of times I was real close to hangin it up and I'm still creating so....I don't know.

'The Forgotten': do you feel neglected by the crowd sometimes?

Not necessarily, but I do feel the music we do is not accepted by the masses the way it should be, not just me but my circle, Detroit for that matter! But I'm done complaining about it, all I can do is everything in my power to try and get it available as best that I can and see what happens.

Do you wish you'd be an artist releasing records outside the Internet era or with the Internet? In other words how supportive is Internet, and at the other hand what are the disadvantages of it?

I'mma start with these Myspace rappers first! It’s wack to me. The thing is, its easy to ‘rap’ these days and I say that because, everything is so digital, all you need is a couple dollars and a hot beat (if it’s your own) and you can basically put yourself out here as a ‘rapper’ on Myspace (one of the biggest sites around right now). And it’s really false advertisement because you’re not that hot! On the flipside for me and cats like me the internet is providing a lot of opportunities to get exposed to people who probably wouldn't have a clue otherwise. I'm glad I'm in the era I'm in though. And as far as downloading...I don't mind if you download my music, I mean I wanna make money, so please support if you can, I’m nowhere near having as much as I would like right now (laughs), but getting the music out there is my main priority at this point.

What was the first rap album you bought?

I think it was ‘Resurrection’ by Common Sense.

What was the last rap album you've uploaded unto your iPod?

Don't have a iPod yet, need one, I'm horrible with CD’s but I think the last album I got was Nas' last one.

When was the first time you heard a Dilla joint?

I had to be in high school. Either Speed, ML, or Leef, play me some shit. Little did I know then, that that guy would literally change the way I heard music!

What's next for Illite?

More shows, tours, and Kicksounds.

Shout-outs?

To everyone who ever came to a show, bought a CD, gave words of encourage, left a comment, gave a pound etc etc. Thank you, yall keep me at this! And shout-out to PLATFORM8470.com for a dope interview. Peace.

Peace man.

 

POSTED 10|01|2008
conducted by cpf

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