Why Ill Bill Is Still the Illest

Categories: Hip-Hop

Ill Bill
Ill Bill

On Friday, October 4th, veteran underground MC Ill Bill plays the Tiki Bar in Costa Mesa, California. He's one of the few New York underground MCs to have a 15+ year consistent career as both a solo artist and in a group that's seen him outlast several generations of contemporaries and maintain one of indie-rap's most loyal fanbases. In honor of Friday's show, here's a look back at what makes Ill Bill so ill.

Non-Phixion featuring Necro - "I Shot Reagan" 1998
While he's had demo tapes in circulation since the early '90s, Bill first had a national platform as part of MC Serch's assembled rap collective Non-Phixion. Landing on Geffen Records, the group put out one single "Legacy" on Fatbeats before parting ways with Serch and mobilizing independently. Among their early singles, the group seemed to finally capture their sound on the 1998 single "I Shot Reagan." Regularly seen in Best Hip-Hop Cover Arts lists, "I Shot Reagan" allowed the cult of Non-Phixion to begin brewing nationally.

Non-Phixion - "Rock Stars" 2002
After numerous delays and label changes, Non-Phixion's debut The Future is Now finally dropped in spring 2002. Widely considered a classic of the early-2000s underground rap era, it featured production from Large Professor, Pete Rock, Necro, The Beatnuts and "Rock Stars" produced by DJ Premier. The signature Premier scratch-hook acts as the perfect balance as each of the members play to each others' strengths and puts Bill's cynical brutality on full display.

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