The Beat Thieves Compilation Vol. 1

Artist: IlwilTitle: The Beat Thieves Compilation Vol. 1Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jesse Fairfax

Ilwil [not to be confused with Nas’ deceased partner in crime] hailing from Cincinnati, is reflective of what partnership and a determined work ethic can bring about. Taking the name from its members Ilyas and Donwill, the two started off in college not clicking well and down the line formed what has become an unbreakable bond. The Beat Thieves Compilation Volume 1 presents a focused duo ready to tackle the obstacles in their path.

From the title one could surmise this effort has them demonstrating their chops over popular beats, a familiar concept by now. That would be halfway right as there is also a fair share of original material provided by lesser known producers. Nicolay (Foreign Exchange) contributes “SoFar” featuring Jameeze, over a beautiful piano melody the group details their trials, tribulations and everyday struggles to keep going. Obsidian Blue is on the boards for “Dead Candidates” featuring Che Grand detailing their feelings on our recent election. The beat is a reworking of Jay-Z’s “Dead Presidents”, with the hook flipped to “It aint a candidate that represent me.” This is more than a typical song trashing the government, it’s a call to action for the Hip-hop nation. Von Pea is the man behind the hyper braggadocios “Take The L (Get It)”. Of the group Donwill is the more smooth and coherent, he gets directly to the point while Ilyas flips a variety of crazy flows almost reminiscent of Pharaohe Monch at his finest. This duality makes it easy to distinguish one from the other.

They display much versatility in choosing well known instrumentals to rock over. Donwill addresses an ex lover on Dwele’s mellow “Right Here” remix and on “Doin Fine” he discusses his dreams of furthering his rap career to the tune of the “Brown Sugar” theme. Ilyas tries to keep his head straight amongst evil temptations over “Devil’s Pie” and Lil’ Kim’s “Drugs” serves as the backdrop for his metaphor of sexual experience as a narcotic.

Ilwil has a bright future since lyrically they complement one another while never slacking off in the process. Their relentless approach to attacking the mic is to be commended and inspiration for future aspiring acts. Already co-signed by Wordsworth, Little Brother, Murs, and J. Rawls, they’re blazing trails through the underground.