Sometimes I forget that the Twin Cities has long history of RnB and a shorter but deep history of Hip Hop, especially positive Hip Hop. Then I get a chance to see a band like iLLism and I remember that Minneapolis brand of RnB is world famous for a reason. They released their new album illuminate at the Amsterdam.
We walked into a crowded, swaying room. Envy and Fancy, the duo known as iLLism are on stage with a full band, nearly too full for the physical space and pleasantly abundant sounding– horns, drums, keyboard and more. And it is hot. It’s a smooth funk with rap entwined. Envy has a solid, cool rap and Fancy has a sweetness in her voice that broadens the appeal. They share a sassy vibe between the two of them that’s very fun to watch. The crowd broke out in what I can only call a line dance, in sync, in step. Such a fun atmosphere!
BLK Magic is a song for the times. (In fact I plan to the Women’s March MN podcast later this week.) It’s an important message wrapped up in a lot of sugar. It’s a tribute to a friend who died. Despite the solemn theme and reason it sounds like a celebration. The horns are great. The song starts cool and ends like an anthem. It’s the combination of rap and smooth sweetness that gives the songs a quality that feels like it’s going to be big.
iLLism was top three finalist at the Paisley Park Battle of the Bands. The polish of Paisley Park is evident. They’re tight. It is clearly commercially viable, it has a wide appeal. It build on the history of the music of the area but it brings a freshness too in the pairing of Envy and Fancy. They’re a band for the times! I suspect Bet will be an album highlight. It’s very dance-able; their voices really mingle and blend so smoothly. Again, very positive message – about betting on yourself.