At first glance, the pairing of legendary Cypress Hill producer and Soul Assassins backbone, DJ Muggs, with the abrasive and demented former Non Phixon member Ill Bill seems to be a little too peculiar to work. The man behind some of the most era-defining beats of the 90’s versus the iconic underground veteran. However, considering recent collaborations for each (Muggs with a dubstep artist named 6BLOCC, Ill Bill with metal bands Soulfly and Killswitch Engage), not mention their previous work on Ill Bill's "The Hour Of Reprisal", this project doesn’t seem all that strange. It almost could have happened earlier, since there are a lot of common connections through La Coka Nostra.
Admittedly, Kill Devil Hills can be a little difficult to get into, due largely to the paranoid feel of the record. Once the initial shock and discomfort wears off and the direction is better understood, it’s easier to open up to. The subject matter is dark—government conspiracies, the Illuminati and secret societies, death, etc., and is matched perfectly with the vibe set by Mugg’s production. Some interesting choices of guest appearances include Sean Price, Vinnie Paz, and Raekwon, with some not-surprising (but very pleasing, nonetheless) appearances by B-Real, Everlast, and Sick Jacken.
One of the more striking contrasts comes through on the title track, featuring Vinnie Paz and B-Real, two incredibly unique styles and voices. Paz’s lower-pitched growl and laid-back verse is balanced nicely by B-Real’s energetic and rhythmic verse. The beat is sparse, centered around a chunky drum beat, with a couple of minor key piano chords looped over it, but allows the three voices plenty of room to stand out. The second part of the chorus is brilliant: “Criminal official walk through with limited edition pistols / The symbolism twist you when the clips hit you.”
Everlast reunites with his La Coka Nostra member Slaine and Soul Assassins compadre on “Skull & Bones,” a song addressing New World Order arguing points, like Ill Bill’s opening line: “Every Kennedy was assassinated by the Illuminati / They should’ve went to Yankee Stadium for Giuliani.” Slaine’s verse sounds a little frantic and offbeat while somewhat straying away from the theme of the song, taking the opportunity to brag about himself. Everlast closes out the track, returning to the secret society message with references to the Eye of Providence, The Parousia, and the latin phrase for “new world order.”
“Chase Manhattan” features Raekwon and Ill Bill telling a crazy story in what sounds strikingly close to an MF Doom-esque beat, heavy with weird movie samples and upbeat horn phrasing is reminiscent to that sci-fi metal face sound. There aren’t any outstanding lyrical bombs dropped on this two-minute track, just a fast-paced tale of pulling off a robbery. It moves pretty quickly and can be tough to follow, but is still very entertaining.
Ill Bill takes no time on “Illuminati 666” to show his random thought process, opening up a somewhat serious-toned song with the odd line: “We got a black president and the aliens’ll be here soon.” One of which at least is true, but neither have anything to do with the rest of the song. But that amused confusion and “huh?” reaction seems to be what Ill Bill likes to go for. Regardless, there are some very compelling rhyming patterns all over this song, especially on the chorus: “Illuminati triple-six, just study Koresh / Mullets and bullet belts encourage the best entourage of gods / From Mossads to Korans, Church Ave to the Taj Mahal, we rock hard.” The song ends with another great couple of lines: “Wipe the dust off reality’s lens to spit vicious Molotov monologues at y’all, let’s brawl / Storming through the valley of the dolls carrying kronze / Attack like angry extraterrestrials challenging God / Arrive in chariots armed with various cannons and bombs.”
Overall, it’s a really good record that just takes a little bit of time to let it all sink in. There is an element that makes you want to look over your shoulder and question authority and resist Big Brother, but the way the songs come together make for an entertaining listen. Muggs has shown the depth of his skill in crossing genres, and creating the mostly minor-key setting is perfect for Ill Bill to step in and do his thing. There’s no shortage of existentialist observations and questioning strange occurrences, making this a little too heady for just background music; it’s perfect for traveling when this can be turned on with enough time to fully pay attention to the stories and messages passed along.
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Secrets Worth Dying For featuring Chace Infinite
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