There’s no question about it. This is Illy’s fourth independent album, and needless to say, the boy can rap. He has been honing his craft for some years now, both flying out with mixtapes (The Illy Mixtape, Vol 2. 2008) and making swift moves in the Australian underground Hip Hop scene. The only question I do want to ask however is, Cinematic as an album, is it too soft to be considered true Hip Hop?
Lyrically, the content on the first four songs on the album can’t really be faltered. Illy is a very credible rapper. An artist who should be spoken about highly when talking about the Australian rap genre. Nonetheless, where I think the album is let down early on, are the beats and melodies themselves. Opening Night is a very promising start; Illy is on point and the track production leaves you bobbing your head feeling more of this is on its way, and rightly so. One For The City, Youngbloods and On And On then follow, and this is where I can’t help but feel a sense of disappointment when listening to all three of these tracks.
It does actually feel like the beat, pardon the pun, does go on and on, and you almost forget you’re listening to a rap album. Coming Down brings the focus back onto the primary genre at hand, and how could it not with Hilltop Hoods featuring? The album seems to continue in this manner for the first part of the album, inconsistent both in sound and direction, and I felt I was left wanting.
Fortunately however, some of the latter tracks of Cinematic appear to redeem its status, and we start again to hear the calibre of songs we expect to come from Illy, even if they are still few and far between. Talk and YoYo (in particular) are catchy beats, which only prove to show glimpses of what Illy is capable of when given the correct platform to perform.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I can see the potential is there for a more coherent sound to Cinematic; which in turn would of made it a more well-rounded album to listeners. I don’t really place the emphasis on Illy himself. He is a consistent and polished performer, comfortable in his own lyrical ability and happy to prove himself to the sport they call Hip Hop. What does frustrate me however, is the feeling I have that Illy himself is almost strangled, musically, by the incongruity over the thirteen tracks. As an artist he has a lot to offer, but as a listener we are not always allowed to hear his quality.
It feels like you’ve waited hours on end for the scariest rollercoaster ride of your life, but when that up and down journey is finished, the sense of anti-climatic disappointment starts to kick in, and you begin to wonder what all the fuss was about. Of course with Cinematic the excitement and suspense of this new record is there, but you might find, more often than not, that after a few listens it might just fail to deliver.
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