Illa Ghee is smoking fans out with his latest project Suede Cigarettes. Delivery is always impeccable and powerful. The Rap God summoned a few dope hip hop greats on this latest installment. Earlier this year, we wrote a piece on his collaborative project with the late great Sean Price (RIP) entitled Metal Detectors. Illa definitely holds his own with hip hop legend Sean P. They both exhibit great lyrical prowess. Suede Cigarettes is giving you another side of Illa. He took the time to grant us an interview. So enjoy the music and the read below!
I know it’s cliche, but we love to know who inspires artists. Tell us about your musical influences.
My influences were my brother and my cousin. They had a rap group. They would take me to these underground parties and I watched while they performed. I knew I wanted to do that too. I was young, and they had to sneak me in. It was exciting to watch the hip hop atmosphere. They’d tell me, I better not tell on them for taking me to these spots.
What was your first big break in hip hop?
I met Mobb Deep when they were in high school. They were Poetical Prophets then. They put me on a joint called “Up North Trip”. I got some buzz from that. ‘Hell on Earth‘ project was a dope time in hip hop. Music was transitioning from tape to CD.
You were slated to be the next big artist from Brooklyn. However, a misfortunate event occurred that took you away from the limelight for some years. How did it feel getting back in the industry after such a long hiatus?
I did a six year bid. I regret what I did, but I did it knowing death or jail was the consequence. I was sent to do my time in Virginia. People would hit me up here and there and let me know my music was getting some play with Mobb Deep.
When you got out in 2002, what were your plans for music?
I was ready to make music by myself. Prodigy picked me up when I got out. He took me to a show where Fat Joe was performing in The Bronx. They got me on stage. And I rocked the mic.
How did you meet Sean Price?
We met through a mutual friend JD. He said that me and Sean styles were similar, and wanted us to connect to do music. Initially Sean didn’t like me. He said I looked like I was ready to pop off all the time. We became friends later, of course after working on the music.
What do you think of the evolution of hip hop?
Mumble Rap is not hip hop. I think the new rappers need more substance. They all talk about dancing and partying. There has to be layers to the music. More meat and potatoes. Look at Drake, Nicki, and even Cardi B. They follow a formula putting together their projects. There’s variety of content in their albums. Nowadays, in order to be successful you have to put out music people can relate to. I see a lot of trendy mess, not a lot of substance.
If we were to check out your music playlist, what would we hear?
Man, you would find more than just Hip Hop. I can’t pinpoint any particular artist. I love all types of music. I listen to Alternative Rock, Jazz, Reggae, etc. I like to relax and enjoy music. My playlist is versatile.
What are your thoughts on securing a record deal?
Once you sign a deal, you aren’t hip hop. Rap is a business deal. Hip hop is a culture…it’s a feeling.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
Make sure you aren’t one note. Every song can’t be about partying. You need to work on your content.
Tell us about your latest project. Who’s featured?
My latest project is called Suede Cigarettes. My words are potent like cigarettes. Cigarettes are addictive, so is hip hop. My last album, I felt I had to prove myself. It was a lyrical revenge album. This project I’m opening up a lot more. I’m trying to be more of an open book on this one. Making music that’s relatable. It’s a well put together project. I put lots of thought into it. The project features Skyzoo, Rim Da Villain, Marco Polo, Havoc, Block Republic, Gran Finale, Preach and CrummieBeats. I had a joint with Meth I wanted to drop, but the sample clearance would’ve been an issue. You can check that one for free on my site. I created a site where I can control and create the content.
Listen to Illa Ghee’s “Mega Godzilla” Featuring Method Man (UNRELEASED)
Click on the site (https://linktr.ee/illaghee2k), and you’ll see I have a web series called ‘New York Minute’. The story is structured around a character with a personality like mine. I was just watching other webisodes, and I wasn’t feeling them. The storylines and plots weren’t going anywhere. I wanted to create something authentic. This project I wrote, produced, and directed. I had the help from my people Rim, Valentino, Mona, and a bunch of other great people.
Weekly Rap Gods would like to thank Illa Ghee for this interview. You have put out such a dope project. And we look forward to more music as we watch your legacy flourish. Thank you for your contributions to hip hop.
Watch Illa Ghee’s latest videos for ‘Suede Cigarettes’