Illism | Love and Loyalty
After two EPs (later re-released on one album) the duo known as Illism, comprised of lyricist Envy and vocalist Fancy, came together again for their debut album Love and Loyalty. Combining elements of Soul and R & B with appearances of 80's Funk, Illism shows nothing but loyalty to their Minnesota roots.
The introduction track, "MNsota," features a sample that seems straight out of a 1950's radio ad followed by Envy's smooth narration through the cities he calls home. This smooth cut is anchored by excellent production which introduces the jazz elements in which the duo finds harmonic balance. Heavy samples of jazz can be heard in the earlier portion of the album on such tracks as "Loose Leaf" and "Ill Vibes."
A sudden shift following the first three tracks and may be a positive or a negative depending on the listener's musical preference. The fourth track on the album, "House Party," is reminiscent of '90s R & B. Fancy's angelic vocals are in sync with the bubbly instrumental, helping to create a nostalgic ride that's a standout on the album. This type of format is again seen on the album with another highlight, "Reservation"
Fancy's vocals are on display throughout, manifesting themselves on tracks like "Got It" and "Weather." Speaking of "Weather," it features one of the best balances between the two members of the group on the whole album. Not to say Envy is absent, but his lyricism is short-lived on many tracks. His Hip-Hop standout is "Open Letter" but it can be noted his strongest performances are when the duo is sharing responsibilities.
Unbeknownst to non-native Minnesotans, the state has 90,000-miles of shoreline and houses several beaches within the Twin City area. "Hold Up" captures this summer time vibe perfectly. Envy opens the track with bars that could be featured on a Schoolboy Q or a Snoop Dogg album. The song is the rare example of Envy having two full verses, and he doesn't disappoint. Fancy takes care of the hook as usual and delivers her own verse, creating one of the longer tracks on the album at 5 minutes, 25 seconds.
The album's production does have small flashes of pop, but the majority is smooth and sticks to the soulful roots of the group. This type of production, combined with the intimate lyrics of the two artists, peaks on the second to last song, "Reservations". It's another highlight of the entire project due to the amount of time both share on the track, bringing their best. If there was a blueprint of Illism, their creative aspirations as well as their influences, Love and Loyalty must be it.
Illism is performing at Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis on January 27th, 2018 during the Super Bowl Live's music festivities going on from January 26th till Super Bowl LII on February 4th.