North Carolina’s Yung Illi was one of three siblings raised by his grandparents. Originally influenced by 50 Cent, Juvenile and the Hot Boys, it was the eccentric wordplay and musical stylings of Lil Wayne which brought Illi’s attention to hip-hop as a means of self-expression. The young rapper started writing rhymes in high school and decided he wanted to fully pursue hip-hop as a career after graduating. At the time, however, he also felt that he did not have the means to distribute his material. At this point, Illi took a year off to hone his craft, and studying the various aspects of the game.
During this time Yung Illi focused on his tone, delivery and vocal performance as well as bettering his beat selection and started working towards becoming an artist versus a regular rapper. As a consequence his influences grew to include J. Cole, Drake, Kanye West, and Jay-Z. Yung Illi dropped his first single in 2015, and has since released five singles with accompanying music videos in an effort to build his brand and gain exposure.
The artist’s latest single, “Take Control,” is a primary example of his will to provide strong-but-not-overbearing messages to his audience. The song, which talks about preventing negative influences in one’s environment from affecting him negatively or taking control of his life and career, is a positive record about staying true to oneself.
Lyrically Yung Illi is close to monumental. He is introspective and thoughtful. He’s not afraid to really be vulnerable and honest in his questioning of life’s dilemmas and daily struggles. “Take Control” is especially poignant as he discusses the recurring theme of the fall of man as a result of excessive money, girls, drugs and alcohol.
The track is both reverential as well as super modern musically. Illi hasn’t hopped on the bandwagon of rap trends like having a girl sing his choruses or making the beat a dance track. His beat is clean yet with subtle touches that really elevate it. Like the clockwork, repeating piano ring, which creates a dark and electrifying atmosphere to the proceedings.
The production value of “Take Control” is perfectly manicured to show integrity to the music and to emphasize the lyrics to the track. In an era of untalented, unoriginal clones and sound-a-likes, Yung Illi brings originality and substance, as well as strong lyricism, flow and charisma.
Illi delivers content heavy material over creative production that takes you on an epic storytelling journey. Illi knows who he is as a rapper and has fun with the freedom that gives him to express himself. His workman like approach to similes and metaphors and inspired flow is commendable. Each verse is expertly written, an exercise in how to build tension and drama.
Overall, “Take Control” is an impressive effort and will hopefully provide the extra light that Yung Illi deserves. Even better, the growth in both his emcee and production skills means he is here to stay for the long haul.
Yung Illi also plans to release one more single in 2016 before working on his first official mixtape, titled “Things Change!” to be released in 2017. Illi is also prepping the release of his own clothing line in October; Illzotic Clothing’s current release includes long sleeve and short sleeve shirts in Black Dream and Ruby Red color ways.