Outta Orbit Entertainment gets an exclusive interview with rising Chicago artist Ray iLLa. We talk about the controversial Chiraq film,his inspirations for doing music, and his upcoming shows
What first got you into music?
A: I come from a musically inclined family, so I’ve always had a love for music itself. I took an interest in the drums while in 1st grade and my mother helped me pursue it.
How did you get your stage name Ray ILLA?
A: My big brother started calling me Ray iLLa early in my childhood. He’s 14 years older than me, so when i was a shorty ‘iLL’ was one of those popular words and it just stuck.
How do you feel about the current state of hip-hop?
A: I think it’s great that hip hop artists are starting to get the respect they deserve as writers & performers in the main stream. However, I am a little disappointed at how low the bar of lyricism is set these days.
Spike Lee’s Chiraq film was very controversial amongst those in the Windy City. What were your thoughts and feelings on the movie if any?
A: To be perfectly honest, I didn’t go see it. The trailer for it kinda turned me completely off. I get the anti-violence message of the film, but to call it Chi-raq and not depict a lot of whats actually happening here wasn’t necessarily right. I feel the title came only because we are so relevant in the news for violence.
Your song “Loyalty” featuring fellow Chicago artist Dreezy was your breakout record. How did that record come about? How did you and Dreezy link up?
A: lol yea i guess it was. I was chillin wit D Brooks playing him a few new records and he heard Loyalty and liked it. I asked him if he could hear her on it, he said it’d be a good look, and he put the play together for me. So S/O D. Brooks & Winner Circle Prod.
There is so much talent in Chicago. Where do you feel you rank? What makes your music standout or differentiate from everyone else?
A: To be perfectly honest, I’ve never thought about it. But what makes me standout among them is my subject matter. You won’t find too many “shoot em up, tough guy, drill raps” in my catalog. Most of my music is based around life events that i feel a majority of ppl can relate to.
What motivates and inspires your music?
A: Life experience. I didn’t make “Sick N Tired” because of the media covering all these police shootings… I made it because i’ve been the guy pulled over, searched, harassed, and talked to crazy…just for being a young black man.
Last month, you dropped Situations EP. What’s the meaning behind the title?
A: The title “Situations” came about after i had completed half of he project. Most of the songs are basically recollections of real situations that I have been through, and a couple that I’ve witnessed other ppl go through.
What’s next for Ray ILLA? Are their any performances or other projects in the works for 2016?
A: Oh fasho! There are a gang of projects being put together currently that i will be a part of. Im starting a mini-tour in a couple of weeks (GeurriLLa Tourfare), and i definitely will be dropping the 3rd installment to my Supa Ugly Grind mixtape series SUG3. Just to name a few things….
How can people keep up with Ray ILLA online?
@RayiLLa on twitter & instagram
http://www.RayiLLa.com for info, events, show dates, etc.
And follow my fan page on IG @rayilla_officialfanpage