Artist: Ill By Instinct
A Review of “Stand Alone”
By Jhantu Randall
In a world where Hip-Hop has become a global phenomenon there has been an argument in some circles about what identity it is portraying. While this argument can develop narrow minded opinions, some points are worth mentioning. Hip-Hop, to me, was always the voice of the voiceless, the parts of society that you do not see broadcast on screens. Meaning. This culture has no color, it is predicated on dope rhyme schemes and storytelling which is relatable to the listener. Hip-Hop is the underdog’s megaphone, a way to get your voice out to the world-at-large in a strong and creative way.
With that in mind I came across a song by New England Hip-Hop artist, IBI (Ill By Instinct) called “Stand Alone,” featured on his “The World Is Tired of Poets” E.P. Upon listening, I was immediately thrown back by the beat, with guitar string sounds so familiar even though I cannot recall the sample. Adding the bass created a layered sound that grabbed my attention. The video shows IBI rhyming while others are driving snow mobiles around an ice shack. While it is a shock, I have seen rappers use this backdrop before but its so rare that anytime I see it, it comes across as refreshing.
“I wrote a poem for those who stand alone/the one’s who are too far out they can’t make it home.” This hook is a universal anthem that hit deeper the more I heard it.
The skill of IBI is raw which gives more credibility to the verses, it allows the listener to hear the passion and pain behind every line. His rhymes tell of a struggle that exists within a group of people who are more often ignored or portrayed as an ignorant stereotype. These types of talented artists are found all over semi-rural areas everywhere you go. Throughout his song I kept finding myself drawn to his delivery which was straight to the point and quite effective. I hate comparing this track and the artist himself to other rappers especially considering how white rappers seem to always be compared to Eminem regardless of their style and substance. With IBI, there are hints of Apathy with the presence of Necro.
“There’s not enough weed to keep me satisfied/Not enough hours in the day to reach my overtime. I’m a slow burner/I’m not a rich man at all but I’m an earner.” These bars, more than most, made me feel like not only am I familiar with these guys but I can truly relate to their stories.
After hearing “Stand Alone” multiple times I came to the conclusion that I ultimately needed to step out beyond my own notions of what I saw Hip-Hop being and see it for what it truly represents. Hip-Hop is not just a way to get a message out but if done right, it can be a way to build a path that allows many others an opportunity to build a sense of security for their families while documenting their experiences on all that it took to get there. With this thought of opportunity in mind, “Stand Alone” is the soundest piece of advice I have heard in a long time. With this being a single, I can only hope the rest of the album builds on that vibe which is felt by everyone at least some part of the day.
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