By Keith Sharp
As far as Toronto rapper iLLvibe is concerned, timing is everything. On the verge of releasing his second solo recording, `Antigravity’, he is capitalizing on the global popularity of the likes of Drake, Weeknd and even Justin Bieber to promote his own feel-good mix of hip-hop and r&b dance tracks laced with his own brand of tongue-in-cheek humour.
“Touring the U.S and coming from Toronto, I can feel the recognition people down there have for our music,” bubbled ILLvibe (aka Anthony Craparotta) as he prepares for his album release party April 20th at Toronto’s Smiling Buddha. “It’s great to know that their favourite songs are all recorded by people from my city.”
As a 13-year old iLLvibe was already writing poetry when he happened to catch one of A Tribe Called Quest`s last performances on Much Music. “I grew up in an era when the whole world seemed to be into hip hop so when I saw A Tribe Called Quest perform, my reaction was, `let me try that.’ I was young enough when I started that I thought either I would be extremely successful or I would be the most talented unsuccessful person in the business.”
As winner of CBC’s Canada’s Smartest Rapper television show, runner up to Drake in last year’s NOW music poll and a radio personality on Sirius XM, iLLvibe has grasped the concept of developing his entrepreneurial skills. Co-owner of his own Heavy Aux record label with ace producer Myer Clarity, iLLvibe sees the label as a platform to express himself musically.
iLLvibe has also used the label to recruit other promising new talent like Jenna Nation, Saturday Sundae and Leanne Louise who all contribute to `Antigravity’ along with Saukrates, one of the originators of the Toronto hip-hop scene and a great inspiration for iLLvibe. But it’s been his collaboration with Myer Clarity that provides the backbone to this album.
“For example, I love Calvin Harris and I would go to Myer with a particular song of his and Myer would challenge me to find the essence of that song. He asked me to deconstruct the song, he understood what made a particular song tick,” explained iLLvibe. “Like on the track, “Good Die Young”. All I had was a chord progression and a one-minute idea and Myer turned that into a four-minute song. He brought my ideas to life.”
Aside from the 2017 “We Are The Aliens” which was a joint collaboration between iLLvibe and Clarity, he launched his solo career with his 2016 “Firebreather” release yet iLLvibe feels the second album is more reflective of his personality. “This feels like my first album,” he allows. “With Firebreather I was trying to emulate my favourite artists but with the new release, I have fallen into really being me on this record. I am always cracking jokes but the first time on any album we have songs that have a sense of humour.”
“Whether it’s the double mean of the album’s debut single “Let’s Get Rich” or the play on words with “Wokelahoma” or the socially motivated “Good Day Young”, iLLvibe knows how the combine danceable rhythm’s with poignantly relevant lyrics
“It’s all about being me,” iLLvibe reflected. “I envision sitting with my friends and I’m thinking what would I say to entertain them. And I’m trying to be that guy on the album.
Having played in such diverse places as Croatia, Hamburg Germany, Cannes France and various U.S venues, iLLvibe admits he is still building a following and that the challenge right now it to get himself recognized.
“The real fun is what happens when I’ve finished my set and I’m at the bar and the bartender there says “I’m sorry, I’ve never heard of you before but I’ve got to say you are really good,” iLLvibe laughs. “And I’m saying “Like man, it’s all good.”
For further information on iLLvibe and his current tour dates please link to www.iLLvibemusic.com.