Ill Bill Is The Future, Vol. 2: I'm A Goon!

Artist: Ill BillTitle: Ill Bill Is The Future, Vol. 2: I'm A Goon!Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Paine

Since his 2003 debut, Brooklyn's Ill Bill has stayed quiet. His group for the last decade, Non-Phixion, parted ways. His active independent label, Uncle Howie Records, went into near hibernation. Three years later, Ill Bill returns with a mixtape packing more personnel punch than his album. Joined by Raekwon on four original tracks, B-Real, and Big Noyd, Ill Bill Is The Future, Vol. 2: I'm A Goon! (Uncle Howie) rings just as true as the title did three years ago.

"Brazil", one of the Raekwon collaborations, shows that Bill's been improving during his hiatus. Though he remains a steadfast goon, the lyrical timing of the MC appears much tighter, and his subject matter goes beyond porn, drugs, and Hip-Hop, though still keeping all three woven into the mix. "Violent Times" is closer to Bill's past, with a simpler, abrasive delivery over an eerie loop. "F**k Tony Montana" premiers La Coka Nostra, the reincarnation of House of Pain plus Bill. Joined by B-Real and Sick Jacken, the power-cypher criticizes Brian De Palma's 1983 film protagonist for going out the way he did.

Now crew members, DJ Lethal produces a bulk of this mixtape' material. Since the Limp Bizkit days, Lethal returns to dark, gritty beats that Bill attacks, head on. Though Lethal divorced the Rock sound, Khrome brings the guitar-heavy noise on "Karma" with Block McCloud and MF Grimm in the mix.

The only thing about Ill Bill is the Future, Vol. 2 that shows it's not an album is the reliance on guests, and the shifting sounds. Like a good promotional vehicle, this mixtape reveals that Bill's been hard at work, on pushing his skills, developing a new super-group, and cooking up something with Chef Rae.