TOMMY ILL: Tommy Ill
By Adam Burns
The self-deprecating side of Tom Young, aka Tommy Ill, can be summed up by a singular question mark. Winning? (‘Do you think that we’re winning? / I don’t think that we’re winning’). This is one of the more highly-wrought numbers from Tommy Ill’s eponymous long player, and not to imply that the inventive Wellington MC/producer is a total killjoy. Far from it actually. If you have cosied up to Ill’s three EPs in the past you will know that he distances himself firmly, both aesthetically and musically, from the bulk of local hip hop stalwarts. One minute playful (Cheap Wine Bender), the next emotionally charged (Dead Horses), Ill has done exceptionally well to not play too heavily on the tongue in cheek delivery he does so successfully, offering up a fully rounded hip hop selection with 10 engaging tracks. He is referential to a range of different stylistic influences, from lead single Robot which sounds more like early electro rather than the Beastie Boys’ Intergalactic. With Susan it is hard not to think of ‘Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde’ or A Tribe Called Quest, and Archie baits a drum break very akin to Fix Up, Look Sharp’s Billy Squier sample. There’s a little bit of genuinely lovable Ill for everyone here.