Australian hip-hop pusher Illy slams down a fifth studio record titled Two Degrees. The Frankston, Melbourne-based rap artist has had a major role in the contemporary strengthening of hip-hop in Australia, with his latest celebrated album serving no different.
Impressively larger and punchier production swarm throughout the hard album opener; Forget It. A glossy trap beat builds conjointly below Illy’s crisp rap delivery. Harnessing a distinctive and decent singing voice, the album has an impressive shine on the alternative side that’s become enriched within so much of Australia’s hip-hop statements. This is clear in the cut Looks Could Kill; a Flume style instrumental with distinguished claps and terse snares claiming the intrinsic emotion throughout its four minutes. Hazard To Myself serves as a detailed ode to all things party and inebriating with vocalist Sir The Baptist serenading the hook as a sunlight vibe takes form around a funky Mark Ronson type production. A prominent defender of hip-hop culture within Australia, Illy’s pride doesn’t dilute in any of the tracks on Two Degrees. A view of this can be seen above the B-boy jam Lightshow or the intense title track stomper – Two Degrees. “Since a kid / been scribblin” he affirms; as a consciously crafted rap lesson unfolds for the true heads. Tracks like Catch 22 cater to the poppier, singalong directed joints on the record, which make up a large amount of tracklist real estate. In the grander scheme of things, though, these are well-suited to the casual theme that Illy’s confidence carries with it. An unexpected switch soon follows as Truce stands out from the others with distinguished persistency. It’s an atmospheric plunge into self-confession and a lyrical vulnerability both deep and powerful – a nonchalant manifestation of truth with a dark and emotive beat to match.
Two Degrees perhaps serves best as a compelling reminder of the things inspiring hip-hop artists have to say. Most of the ingredients for a go-to Aussie hip-hop record are here – modern instrumentals and intellectual essence paired with an Australian accent that rappers like Illy proudly decline to abandon. A lyrical strength is clear and prosperous, though this doesn’t escape the sung vocal hooks that sound a little too recycled. This is not enough to disregard the album completely – instead, Two Degrees works as a representation of where Australia is with hip-hop at the moment; and what it means to rappers who are at the forefront of such an interesting, growing and dedicated genre.