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The Immersion: Ill Bill Delcares “The Hour of Reprisal”

Posted by Dharmic X on 09/20/12 | Filed under Opinion, The Immersion
I had only started to scratch the surface of underground hip-hop by the summer of 2008. In order to expand my knowledge, two things were necessary: 1) I needed to find new platforms to discover music and keep me updated on new releases as they dropped, 2) I needed to use the artists that I’d already become a fan of to find other artists, through collaborations or co-signs.

As I mentioned before, I had long since abandoned Limewire in favor of the hip-hop forums, the ultimate cesspool of viruses and bootlegging. People would upload songs and entire albums onto file-sharing sites like mediafire, depositfiles, and the now infamous megaupload, and post these links onto the forums. Most forums made these links private, meaning the only way you could access the music was to create an account and either post or give “props” to the poster.

I really had no other place to go.

Limewire had already proven its deadly effectiveness at crippling computers, and so I figured I would try this new avenue until it left similar results. Meanwhile, an additional advantage to the forums was that I could finally get my hands on complete albums, allowing me to play a project from start-to-finish, the way it was intended to be presented to the world.

One of the first albums I discovered through the forums was Ill Bill’s "The Hour of Reprisal". Did I know that Ill Bill was an underground legend, first as a member of Non-Phixion and later on for his own solo material? Did I know that he was one of the founding members of the buzzing La Coka Nostra collective? Did I know that Bill was a longtime champion for hardcore, boom-bap hip-hop, regardless of who was listening?

Truthfully, I knew nothing about Ill Bill and his legacy before downloading the album. In fact, sadly, the only reason I downloaded the album was because I noticed that the Brooklyn MC had lined up a feature with my favorite rapper, Immortal Technique.



“War is My Destiny” is simply UNREAL. The beat Ill Bill cooked up feels anthemic. Add the screamo hook from Max Cavalera, and you had a song that was very unconventional for the hip-hop genre. But despite how left-field the song might sound, the rhymes on “War Is My Destiny” are on-point. It is a brilliantly-executed concept track that details the cycle of violence and war and the sources for these blights upon society.

Each MC approaches their verse on the storytelling tip. Bill’s verse details a “cycle of violence” starting from a son watching his family get destroyed in conquest, leading up to this same child becoming a conqueror himself. Fittingly, Bill ends the verse saying “But a proud child remembers his father that died, the cycle continues with vengeance alive in his mind,” alluding to a potential revenge murder upon this new conqueror. Meanwhile, Tech’s verse is damn-near metaphysical, analyzing the impact religion has had on creating discord, but from the perspective of a fallen angel. This is the type of song that demanded multiple repetitions in order to fully absorb every nuance and detail. It was incredible.

But “War is My Destiny” is just one highlight on The Hour of Reprisal. Bill went personal with several of the tracks off the project, such as “White N...” and “My Uncle,” developing intense introspection. At the same time, he pulled together a litany of incredible concepts, including taking a page out of Nas’s book with his “U.B.S.” an Unauthorized Biography of Slayer. Meanwhile, with production from legends such as DJ Premier, DJ Lethal, and DJ Muggs, the album was a collection of undeniable head-nodders.

Two other songs made an impact in my mind. The first was “A Bullet Never Lies” notable as my introduction to the legendary Vinnie Paz. While I had heard of Jedi Mind Tricks before, the name actually sounded kinda nerdy. Thanks to his blistering delivery, powerful voice, and strong vocabulary, I made it a point to become updated on Paz and the group he led.

The second notable song to me was “Too Young”. The song is brilliantly introspective, but more importantly, it was my introduction to Boston’s own MC, Slaine (also, the son of my 9th grade teacher.) I was impressed by the openness and vividness in Slaine’s verse, the brutal honesty in describing the drug addiction he had fought for so long and the circumstances that surrounded it. In a way, the verse resonated with my own circumstances. I too “needed a change of scenery” to avoid the stupidity of the past year. For me, hip-hop offered this change in a mental sense, instilling fortitude that previously didn’t exist.

It’s no wonder that The Hour of Reprisal was included in DJ Premier’s Top 20 Albums of 2008. It was a powerful and cohesive body of work, complete in every sense of the word. From that point on, I became a huge fan of everything Bill was a part of, including Heavy Metal Kings and La Coka Nostra. And yes, eventually, I did buy this album and subsequent releases, because it was the right thing to do. But if it wasn’t for the free access through the world of the forums, I might have never known about Bill’s existence.

@DharmicX

(DJ Dharmic X is the host of This Culture Never Dies, 11PM-1AM Saturday on wnyu.org. Fans and haters, can follow him on Twitter and check him out on Facebook.)

See Also: The Immersion: Termanology, “Politics as Usual” & Beantown Pride

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