We Plug to You... The Illersapiens - Elevate
Reviewed by TemiY
Hi GOOD folks, here's a story for you! A friend of mine heard this UK Hip-Hop group by the name of The Illersapiens while roaming the shops of London late last December and she was ever so kind to send me one of their songs (have no fear, I'll be sharing it later on in this feature). After listening to it and more songs by the group, The Illersapiens have fast become one of the few UK Hip-Hop acts that I find myself constantly looking out for.
I plug to you The Illersapiens, a seven-piece band hailing from South London, UK made up of Mr. Man (MC), Louis (drummer), Ollie (stringer), P-Riddimz (bass), Callum (sax), Dom (percussionist) and Katy B (female vocalist). Some of you might recognize Katy B from Rinse FM and popular hits such as "Lights On" and "Broken Record" to name a few and her very excellent solo debut album On A Mission. In a recent interview with Heads High Music, the group's lead eMCee - Mr. Man described their sound as an eclectic mix of genres that span Afro-beat, Hip-Hop, Garage and Reggae with basically no limits in creativity.
This diverse sound that cuts across different cultures has often earned them comparisons to US acts like The Roots, Arrested Development and Digable Planets amongst others. In 2009, the group released their debut mixtape Soul Jam Slaughter Volume 1, a compilation of live tracks and improvisations that has become a cult classic amongst their fans and music heads alike. That year was a busy one for the band as they also released their debut EP Elevate; five tracks of which open up an entire window into the group's alluring sound.
The word 'Illersapiens' when translated literally means “better knowing” and with a forthcoming EP titled Change, we wait to see if this band from Brixton can continue to leave their indelible mark on underground UK Hip-Hop music but before then, we delve into their 2009 debut EP to remind ourselves of the goodness that is The Illersapiens...
"The Sweetness" is the first track I plug to you from The Illersapiens, it is off of their Elevate EP and is also the song (as I mentioned earlier) that introduced me to the group. This song takes on a romantic path and as introduced by Mr. Man, is for the lovebirds that are clearly in the early butterfly stage of a relationship. Mr. Man handles rap duties on the verses of the song delivering a few notable lyrics relating them in such a playful manner that some might consider a bit cheeky. The band's use of horns, drum kicks and keyboard chords matched with Katy B’s harmonies on the mellow chorus add an extra soft touch to the already euphonic track.
“you are to me what Bob [Marley] was to reggae”
"In a Daze" - another track from the Elevate EP - takes a slight detour from the previous track as this song holds more thought provoking lyrics. Once again Mr. Man delivers exceptionally on the verses showing diversity in his craft, this time using a different and rather switched-up quick fire flow over this musical milieu. Katy B, with her vibrant voice, powers a sweet harmony on the chorus over a backdrop of bass drum patterns, snare injections and horn arrangements which are apparent throughout the song. I can see where the comparisons to The Roots come in since both bands largely employ and infuse live instrumentation in their music; a trait which is very noticeable on this song. It’s a great track overall and probably one of the band's most popular ones.
"In a Daze":
“I’m fresh like lucozade glucose”
“Elevate” - the EP's title track - starts off with an old school rap flow similar to that of The Fugees for example. As you can tell by now and with this song holding an edgy underground feel, the group takes their chosen Hip-Hop genre and culture very seriously. Mr. Man's thought provoking lyrics touch on varied life topics ranging from poverty to religious morals to music, giving a truly comprehensive meaning to the song's title "Elevate" - a clear intention in the first place. It seems to be a personal one for the group and educational if you will, creating a conscious awareness to life through music in your mindset. A good combination of the bass and lead guitar is apparent through out the song with sax and drum toms coming together to bring this track to a beautiful end.
As a bonus, we've also included a live version of this song culled from the Soul Jam Slaughter Volume 1 mixtape underneath for your listening pleasure. Although it's shorter than the original, it gives you an idea of how the band sounds live on stage.
"they exaggerate and fabricate, its ok they’ll tell the truth when they’re at the gates”
The two other tracks on the EP are "Bap Bap" and the aptly titled "Brixton" which is inspired by and an ode to their hometown. With seven different musical personalities in the group, it is no surprise that the band has the ability to create a unique blend of music and interpretation of traditional Hip-Hop music. If you’re reading this blog, it is safe to assume that you also have an appreciation for GOOD music that's not entirely mainstream and The Illersapiens fit right into that description. Considering their multi-faceted talent, witty lyrics, consistency and a bizarre name like ‘Illersapiens’, who wouldn’t be compelled to listen?
If you’re now drawn to the group just like I was and still am, then download their mixtape below and cop the Elevate EP on iTunes (link below) PLUS the Illersapiens have quite a number of shows and gigs lined up for the Summer. Check their website for shows and dates near you and definitely GO catch one and enjoy some GOOD music in anticipation of their sophomore project Change.
Purchase: The Illersapiens - Elevate (iTunes)