Illustrate - The Stuff LP [Headcount Records]

Stuff is great. It’s anything, anyone, any place, any time. Kind of like hip hop… How Illustrate has managed to take such a juvenile term and make it into a genuinely thought provoking, yet entertaining collection of tracks, is beyond me.

Having featured on various Headcount Records compilations, won various freestyle battles, supported the likes of Skinnyman and Phi Life Cypher at shows, released his own solo EP “Bedroom Productions” and mix CD “Get The Picture” (via Escape Route Music); he is now releasing his album… "The Stuff".

‘The Stuff’ is has a varying flow that keeps you engaged when in the right state of mind. ‘You Haven’t Got A Chance’ boasts some snare rolls and instructive lines – “you haven’t got a chance with your weak paragraphs”.

The female vocal sample has to be one of the most used in hip hop, but it still works nicely and the cutting and pasting you can almost see all over this track is brilliant. What really makes this album such a pleasure to listen to is Illustrate’s fantastic editing skills. He’s thrown in more samples and additional little bits and bobs than most artists would dare.

But all of them are relevant, fun and cleverly laid out. The Outro is brilliant. With some perfectly picked speech samples, thrown over some charming beats. And probably the most hilarious final line any British MC has dared to come out with… “It’s like I’m in the mind of an addict playing the role of somebody who takes the drugs… He just asked me one question… are you a scallywag?”

Sick Of It” has a touching little beat under some apathetic lines – “I’m sick of racism, people judging by colour as if it makes a difference”. I’m a bit torn as to the impression this track gives, on one hand its like, yeh, the stuff in the world that is messed up, we are so messed up. But I wonder how many demos he’s been to, or how many MPs he’d tried to approach? And if he’s sick of his lifestyle. Erm. Shut up and do something about it?!

Do What You Like” has this snare click, snare roll, hi hat choke pattern that’s proper on point. And I like the whole, your life, your limits attitude. Which contradicts and darkens the previous track both at the same time. “Killing Celebrities” is a definite marmite track. If you take it with that Team America, South Park, it’s just a joke attitudes, it’s a very amusing track. I’m amazed and slightly disturbed at the creative lengths he’s gone to when thinking of celebrate slaughter.

Sweet Dreams” is on a completely different state of affairs. It proves that this guy is open to anything, and can pull of pretty much anything. If his mind was a model, it’d be a damn good one. The beats of this track I can’t even separate to describe. Seriously. You need to listen to this track to see what I mean. It’s mint.

Winter Lady” is a sad British truth track. It’s basically the story of a neglected woman, who falls in the storm to a lifestyle of theft and drug abuse, which eventually leads to no life at all. The way the track is arranged and titled makes the whole concept eerily beautiful and almost makes pain appear graceful. Again. Listen to this one. Illustrate is Illustrate’s best critic.

Where we thought other MCs were getting personal, and staying pure, we clearly didn’t even know the meaning of the word ‘real’. That’s the steel foundation Illustrate has got. He’s real.

By: Nino

Illustrate - The Stuff LP [Headcount Records]

Track List:

01. Intro  1m 37s
02. My Hat  2m 40s
03. Sick of It  4m 5s
04. Do What You Like  3m 58s
05. Beat (Skit)  1m 0s
06. Work  3m 5s
07. The Stuff  3m 1s
08. Broke  3m 8s
09. Killing Celebrities  3m 53s
10. Sweet Dream  3m 56s
11. Winter Lady  4m 28s
12. Relax  3m 25s
13. You Haven't Got a Chance  4m 9s
14. Outro  4m 25s

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