It's time you DLed the new EP Deep Foundation & Hydroponiks present Generation ILL. The EP is an East Coast+South collaboration between the NY/NJ emcees of Deep Foundation/Hydroponikz and the Florida beat production crew Generation ILL. And what a sweet collaboration it is. The album also features cameos with Bambu, Rocky Rivera, and Ashley Robles.
The tracks touch on various themes, from the mellow dance hit "To The Beat" to the multi-meaning diaspora-inflected "World's Apart". The latter is one of my favorite tracks: it cleverly manages to portray the pain, angst, and contradictions involved in living as a Filipino in the U.S. as well as painting those same conditions as seen on the streets of the U.S. and the Philippines.
Peep an excerpt from Mugg Shot's verse in "World's Apart":
"Was mothered by a land
Where white stands for rich
And dark tans are brands
On backs that stand stiff.
When your status is defined
By similar outlines
Social classes divided
By aboriginal ties
Round-eye descendants of
Fetishizing a skin to avoid
We lacking pride from
Where our people derived.
We came enslaved
The day they people arrived..."
Hip hop still speaking truth to power. Word. I was fortunate enough to catch up with illa and SoCo from Generation ILL to find out more about the geniuses behind the sound:
illa: It was definitely a new experience for us. It’s one thing to pass a beat to an artist who you may not be able to work with during the recording process but with this project, the music was just the beginning. As the EP evolved into a joint venture between us, DF and Hydro, we became fully involved in all aspects of putting the project out—everything from distribution to promotions, we were definitely grateful for the opportunity to work with those guys.
Soco: You know, thanks to smartphones and the internet, there wasn’t a lot of downsides to the process. Of course, if we were up in NYC, I’m sure it would’ve made things a lot easier. They shot a couple videos for the EP up there, too—we would’ve loved to be in front of the camera together with DF and Hydro. There’s still an opportunity for that, tho…we’ll keep everyone posted once they’re released. I mean, so long as there are planes, we’ll still be able to meet up in person.
Soco: I guess we were fortunate enough to have joined the FSA in a year with older members that were big music heads. Some were DJs, others were really big into music in general and we learned a lot about other artists we normally woudn’t have had exposure to so soon. Like, one of the guys had just bought Blackalicious’s NIA and I had never heard anything like it. I remember, our friend Ray was part of Slum Village’s street team and that was the first time I had heard anything from Dilla. Our minds were blown away listening to Fantastic V2.
illa: And really, if it wasn’t for the UFFSA, we probably wouldn’t be here doing this interview. We started making beats and recording music while in college and later, when we were performing, it was that same organization—that same family—that came out to support us whenever we had a show. Now that we’ve evolved into Generation ILL, and since we’ve collaborated with Deep Foundation and Hydroponikz, we’ve seen that support from not only FSAs, but the FilAm community nationwide as a whole.
Why do you guys prefer to work in a crew?
illa: Well, the idea of Generation ILL as a production crew/company was a product of the jam sessions we used to have up in Gainesville. Every Thursday night, while the emcees would be freestyling, the producers would get together and chop up a single sample and present them once everyone was done. It was a chance for us to not only share production techniques, but also an opportunity to introduce each other to the different equipment and programs we used. The producers started to meet up more and it gave us a chance to build that camaraderie fueled by making beats.
Soco: One thing we all have in common, other than music, is that we all have separate lives in separate cities. Nine-to-five’s, school, family responsibilities—and as individuals, the fear is that you might get lost in reality. We all decided to come together as Generation ILL to represent that bond we share as artists and beatsmiths and to keep that passion alive—the passion to keep making dope music. It makes us better in our craft—iron sharpens iron, you know? Being part of a crew lets our individual styles shine from one point, which in turn allows artists to find a plethora of different sounds in one place.
Any future projects?
We're looking forward to some collaborations with several artists from the West Coast. Currently, we're working on a track with Bambu/Beat Rock Music on an upcoming project. We have a R&B/Soul- inspired beat cd in the works which will be available soon and we have plans to release a Generation ILL project with a series of featured emcees during the 2nd Qtr of 2011.