Philly collective ILL DOOTS has got to be one of the most creative forces at work on the local hip-hop scene right now.
Picture, if you will, a meeting ground between Hardwork Movement’s expansive big band arrangements (ten multi-instrumental members!) and non-stop hustle (ILL DOOTS’ Fourth Fridays at their Tasker House home base are always poppin’) with the ambitious, interdisciplinary performing arts outlook of musicians like Kate Faust (the band notably soundtracked a production of An Octoroon at the Wilma Theater last year) and you’re well on your way there. It’s no coincidence, in that sense, that ILL DOOTS were featured alongside both those artists on the sold-out opening lineup of Key Fest 2016, and we’re psyched to bring their vibes in the studio today.
Fronted by MC Anthony Martinez-Briggs — aka Phantom — and Dexter Isaac — aka Professor — the group formed in the periphery of the University of the Arts music school back in 2009. Phantom bonded with drummer Jordan “Rodney” McCree and bass Scott “Sly Tompson” Ziegler over J Dilla beats, and following their fourth mixtape Future Dia(NA)log (their earliest Bandcamp release, dating back to 2014), the band quickly began accumulating members and collaborators over the course of four more mixtapes, a soundtrack and 14 standalone singles. The lineup for ILL DOOTS’ super-energized Key Studio Session also includes Andrew “Chubbs” Nittoli on additional percussion, Sam “BPad” Borrello and Anthony “Guitarlo” DeCarlo on guitar, Joe “Mantis” Anderson on electronic woodwind instrument and vocalists Ron Draper and LaTasha “Elle Dot” Morris.
In six songs, the band showcases a little bit of everything that they’re capable of. Following the opening space jam of “Roll Call,” they head straight into the metaphysical rhymes of “Astronomy,” then reflect on interpersonal connectivity on the driving “Cubism” (“been spending more time reading people then I’ve been reading books” goes the hook).
ILL DOOTS has never shied away from getting political, and crafts an anthem about racial justice on the fierce “Black Matter”; by contrast, “Making Moves” is a pure party rocker that narrates the arc of the hustle. The close of the set brings the band to those introductory reflections on life, the world and our place in it.
Watch ILL DOOTS vibe out on “Tearing Me Apart” below, via VuHaus — Draper and Elle Dot positively shine on it — listen to the entire performance in the player and grab a free download over at Soundcloud. To experience the conscious party in person, catch ILL DOOTS when they open for Bad Rabbits at Voltage Lounge on May 7th; tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Ill Doots, The Key Studio Sessions