What is the Hip-Hop scene and industry like where you live?
Tricksta caught up with Johnny and Jeff from the production team of Ill Mondo to talk about their release, life in the Bay and much more…
The hip-hop scene in the Bay Area of California is huge! There’s a ton of hip-hop acts from Oakland and San Francisco, but our sound is actually pretty different from a lot of what’s going on in the Bay. In recent years, the Hyphy sound really took off, and while we like and respect different styles of hip-hop and our peers, that sound is completely different from what we want to do.
What projects have you released so far and what feedback have you had?
We’ve been getting really great response from press and radio. Right now we’re #14 on the CMJ hip-hop charts, doing really well on college radio. We were also honoured to be featured on DJ Premier’s XM show “Live from HQ.” As for press, we got some great feedback from Impose Magazine, Grindmodeconnect.com and a 7/10 from Rap Reviews. We also have a feature in the next issue of the German hip-hop magazine Juice, and a song on their monthly mix CD. The album has been really well received and we’re all very appreciative of the support!
What would say is the most popular track that you have released to date?
So far the best is probably Suicide Doors, which features Sean Price. When we did the track with him, he liked it so much he asked to put it on his most recent mixtape Kimbo Price, so that was cool. You can get a high quality mp3 free from our site: www.illmondo.com
What producers, mixtape DJ’s, record labels and rappers do you work with?
Ill Mondo is a production team, and this is our debut release, which is a collaboration album with the MC Neal Rames. The only guests on the album are MCs that we really wanted to work with, like Prince Po, Sean Price, and Percee P. We’d like to keep working with them and other MCs too, but we handle all the production ourselves.
What’s the name of the label are you signed to and who are your label mates?
We started Ill Mondo Records to release our own albums, and maybe grow that into a bigger thing to release albums from people we like and want to support. We have a distribution deal through Circle Into Square Records, so they handle our digital distribution for this album. Our label mates over there are pretty varied! Cars and Trains, Boy in Static and Harvey Girls to name a few.
What’s more important a mixtape of jacked beats or a single on original production?
Its two different things. They’re both important for different venues. I love hearing original production if it’s good, but mixtapes are a hip-hop tradition and I want to see that continue also. We’re actually working on a couple mixtapes with some B-sides, remixes and acapella blends.
What radio stations in are supporting your music, and how important is radio play in the digital age?
We’re getting tons of great support from college radio in the US and Canada right now. Even though we’ve all put out records before, we’ve never done it all ourselves and had total control like this, so we’re really not sure how important radio play is right now, I guess we’ll find out as we go. But we grew up listening to the radio, and I like to think that people still find out about new stuff and smaller acts on the radio, so I hope that the airplay is helping us out!
You Tube is a massive medium now for worldwide exposure. Do you have your own channel with music videos on it?
We’re more concerned with the music than with video right now. Anything we do, we want it to be 100% and we didn’t have the budget to put into doing a proper video this time around. Next album we might try to do a video though. For now, we want the focus to be on the music.
What was the last album you downloaded or bought and what else are you listening to at night?
I bought the Skyzoo album and Sean Price’s mixtape Kimbo Price from Duck Down. Duck Down is a label that is really doing things right and keeping hip-hop alive, I have the utmost respect for the label and the whole roster. Other than that, I’m really into drone metal and I’ve been playing the new Om record a lot and the Washed Out EP is getting some play too.
What tips and pointers do you have for rappers just coming into the game?
Just do your thing and be true to it. Trend hopping or bending your own style just cheapens yourself and the music, and people can tell. If you’re authentic and develop your own sound and style, I think people really respond to that. The real key is to practice and practice and practice! The only way to get better is to keep doing it over and over. Every track is a chance to improve, and every album is a learning experience.
Thanks for your time, before you go is there anything you want to add?
Thanks for the interview! We’re really appreciative for all the support we’ve been getting. We thank everyone that’s checked us out and bought the album, we’re just 3 dudes trying to get our music out there, so every bit helps. Thanks!
Interview by Tricksta