Ill Bill: Top Billing

Building an empire is no easy task. But that’s exactly what rhyme czar Ill Bill has been doing ever since he hopped on the microphone. Whether it was representing Non Phixion, one of the most underground respected and politically charged Hip-Hop groups of recent years, tackling a solo career, pushing his label Uncle Howie Records or preparing for the future with his new group La Coka Nostra, there is no questioning Ill Bill’s work ethic.

On the heels of his most recent release, Ill Bill is the Future II: I’m a Goon!, the creation of La Coka Nostra and the scheduled release of Bill’s spring 2007 album, The Hour of Reprisal, Ill Bill sat down with to discuss his mixtape, collaborating with Raekwon extensively, and the potential signing of somebody Infamous to ‘90s rap lovers. You’ve got the new album Ill Bill is the Future II: I’m a Goon! What were you trying to do with this new album?

Ill Bill: It was really time to tie together everything I’ve done over the last year. There are a lot of collaborations. It’s fun to introduce the new group La Coka Nostra. It’s a combination of introducing those people and holding the fans over until my next album, The Hour of Reprisal, which comes out in late spring 2007. How does your approach to this album differ, if at all, from your approach to previous albums?

Ill Bill: It’s a mixtape. But when I say that, I don’t want it to be literal. It’s a mixtape but the way it’s put together and the songs released are of album quality. What makes it different than an album is that my approach to albums is more conceptually driven. This was more just me spitting and bringing that “rah-rah” s**t. What were some of the things you knew you wanted to touch on with this release?

Ill Bill: More than anything, I just want to prepare people for what’s coming. It’s more of an interlude from what I used to do with Non Phixion and what I am about to do with my solo career. When I was with Non Phixion, I was totally into that and pushing that “logo” down people’s throats for 10 years. And while that imploded, my solo s**t started to jump off. And it’s been organic. It wasn’t even something in the beginning I wanted to push. But the response I got, that has been the push for me to do my solo career. This album is just a continuation of what I’ve been doing with Non Phixion, and to an extent with my brother, Necro. This is just a new chapter in my book; this is me constantly evolving. You see an album every year. But soon you’ll see three or four albums a year, and now the production side of me is coming out as well. If you look, I produced three or four tracks for the new album. You recorded a few tracks with Raekwon from the Wu-Tang Clan on this album. How did that connection come about?

Ill Bill: That’s my homeboy. I want to give a shout out to DJ Riddler. He’s Rae’s DJ. I know Riddler, and from there Rae and I just clicked up. We banged out a joint in the studio, and the next thing you know, we have five joints done. What was the experience like recording with Raekwon?

Ill Bill: It is what you think it would be; weed smoke and hard beats in the background. It’s a beautiful thing. Are there any future songs or albums that could be made between you two?

Ill Bill: We’re absolutely trying to do something together in the future. But with him getting signed to Aftermath, it’s been kind of hectic. We’re going to be working on stuff in the future and we wanted to plan a mixtape. We are trying to work together and do something. Me and Rae did a joint for my new album coming out in the spring. I grew up on Wu-Tang. So that was a blessing. In fact, Raekwon, Jeru the Damaja and I, we were just recently reminiscing on what’s been missing in the game. I’m going to be working with Jeru soon. But we’ve been doing this a long time, and we have a right to voice our angle. And we’re going to deliver that. And people better be ready for that. How did your new group La Coka Nostra come about?

Ill Bill: That’s the brainchild of Danny Boy [of House of Pain fame]. That was just a bunch of homies working on a mixtape level and growing some verses on a track. We were having so much fun, yet creating such ill, knocking s**t; we knew we had to make it more than a side project. And now it’s a group. There is me, Danny Boy, Everlast, DJ Lethal, Slaine and Big Left. With Ill Bill is the Future II, what is the one thing that continues to drive you to release music and put out new material?

Ill Bill: I love doing this. I love music. I love making music. And from the studio process, to the touring, to filming videos and every aspect of the game is ill to me. Even the marketing process is dope to me. I enjoy doing it. That’s where the behind-the-scenes aspect comes into it. That’s the beauty of it all. And I’m able to generate money doing it. And that’s the ultimate “f**k you” statement to everyone that said I couldn’t do it. Every new song and release is a “f**k you” to those that thought I couldn’t make s**t pop in hip-hop. It’s the most enjoyment I’ve ever had. I’ve never had a real job, and I don’t feel like this is even a job. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s only getting better every day. What went down with Non Phixion and the decision to disband as a group?

Ill Bill: It got lame. When you see a monster truck run out of gas, or, even worse, an Indy 500 race car crash into a wall and explode, that’s what happened to Non Phixion. It just didn’t work out. That’s not to say that three of the four members aren’t still homies. But when you’re in a group, it’s like a marriage. It’s more than one person too, so it’s worse than a marriage. When you are in a group and one person isn’t on the same page, it can work for six months or one year. But three or fours years into it, and they aren’t on the same page, it implodes. One man caused the implosion of the whole group. I don’t want to kick dirt on him. But that’s what happened. I got to do me. And more than likely, 99 percent of Non Phixion is doing what I’m doing anyway. Is there any hope for another Non Phixion album with or without Goretex?

Ill Bill: Not any time soon. Do you still remain in regular contact with everyone from Non Phixion?

Ill Bill: Eclipse is helping me right now. In January, Sabac is flying in to work on his album. Everyone involved with Non Phixion, they can do what they want with me or not. There is room out there for everyone. No one is stopping you from doing what you want to do. How has your recording experience as part of Non Phixion helped you as a solo artist now?

Ill Bill: The experience of being on tour and being in the business, most of the time, I wasn’t concentrating on a solo career. But I learned a lot about the business. As far as making solo records, I find it harder in that you’re responsible for the entire track. You can’t rely on someone else to make the hook. On the other hand, you don’t have to deal with other people’s opinions on a solo record. You don’t have to compromise. I am having fun doing this solo album, but I still want to be in a group. If it were up to me, Non Phixion would still be a group. If you notice, in three months, La Coka Nostra will be out. Boom! I can’t escape a group. With Non Phixion, even though it broke up last summer, we hadn’t recorded any music since 2003. There hasn’t been a new song. We haven’t done anything new. Non Phixion has really been more or less trying to keep the boat afloat for this long. Everything that went wrong with Non Phixion, I’m applying to my solo career in knowing what not to do. Uncle Howie Records has grown over the years. There was a point where Non Phixion was dropping an album, Q-Unique, Mr. Hyde, Necro and all of the guys with Non Phixion were all releasing solo albums. Both Necro and you released an album. Is that driving force going to continue with Uncle Howie, or have things leveled off?

Ill Bill: Everything I do is Uncle Howie. Right now we’re talking to a few distribution companies and setting up a new deal with Uncle Howie. But there will be resurgence with Uncle Howie. And that’s we’re trying to do. You’ve been seeing what’s coming. Things are bubbling. People are talking. People want to know what’s happening with La Coka Nostra. When I did that track with Big Noyd, “Street Villains,” people checked that out. Next year, you might see a Big Noyd album on Uncle Howie Records. There have been a couple of rumors regarding your brother Necro and Suge Knight. Is there any connection?

Ill Bill: Not as far as I know. I know they’re cool. But as far as anything else, I don’t know. A Psycho+Logical and Death Row Records collaboration would be news to me. What does the future look like for Ill Bill?

Ill Bill: The future looks f**king beautiful. Just aside from my professional career, I recently got married and we had a daughter. Everyday is a blessing. I really couldn’t be happier with where I am. I’m constantly grinding. I’m working hard; not just working hard, but working smart. This is my time. I’ve been in the game for a long time and I’m just tripping off of the fact that people are giving me love on the level as a new artist. People are checking me like I’m coming as the new dude with that next s**t. There is nothing better than that.