Amplif[ie]d | Ill Smith
By: Marissa Scheerer
The personalities we perceive of artists, performers and musicians can often blur together; as we hold these people on pedestals, they seem to remain a non-human-like distance from us creating an unrealistic "us" and "them" divide. However, IE made hip-hop artist Ill Smith stands out as someone who closes this gap—someone who, regardless of his success in his industry, we can relate to.
Ill Smith’s eagerness to share his passion and story with people is alive in his music AND his conversation. His optimism and transparency are refreshing, as are his unique musical metaphors and life perspective. Otherwise known as Darius Smith, Ill is incredibly open to collaboration, growth and wherever his musical journey takes him! We found ourselves inspired by his attitude when we caught a recent interview with him that revealed more about where he came from and where he is going . . .
Q. When did you start playing music? When did you start performing live?
Ill Smith: I'd have to say I wrote my first, what I would consider my first song during my sophomore year of high school. It's actually a funny story: me and my friends used to meet up at lunch. We all had separate periods but the same lunch all four years; we would all just write raps and bag on each other, then go skate after school. It kind of became a thing to the kids at school. A lot of them [also] make music today. I have done random free styles since sixth grade, and when I first got put on to old school music, my life forever changed. My first live performance was actually about a year or so ago in Riverside, California—shout out to Kim's Bar and Blunt Weiser Entertainment for that one.
Q. Do you make your music solo? With others? What are their names and contributions, if so?
Since that first show (when I really started pushing my music) I've bounced around from producer to producer; [and different] engineers. [I want to] show respect to the following people: KT, Tory Law and the whole Stay Soul Movement, Andre Sauiner AKA Dre Dread of Mega Dread Productions, and last but most importantly Nick Croom AKA Fat Finger Beats. These are the people who have helped me most in my career, and [those] who I've worked with the most music wise. Lately I've been trying to do a lot of my own work in the studio but without these people none of that would be possible.
Q. How would you describe your sound?
All I can say about my sound is it varies from day to day, ha. A lot of my music is based off of how I feel I might write a song when I'm angry or sad or happy or [even] just bored. That [emotion] usually determines the vibe and sound of the song; I'm pretty versatile with my style. People tell me I sound like so many [other] different people it's ridiculous. Then I go and listen to that person and I'm like [really?], haha.
Q. What are some of your most memorable performances? Why?
My most memorable performance so far would have to be my second or third dav [at] Sunny Days & Vibes [hip-hop show held in the IE] hosted by my man Mc Lyfe of the Herbalistics. I don't know if it was the alcohol or the energy, but the crowd was ridiculous, and so was I! [...] Two-thirds of Heiroglyphics showed up at the end, [and] I stood next to them for like 20 minutes and didn't even know who they were. Ha! [pretty awesome!]
Q. What is your favorite part about performing?
Honestly my favorite part about performing is [just] the feeling. It's like for however long I'm on stage I'm not human, and I'm not even there. Then, the song stops, and my eyes open, and it's like I passed out. It's [..] a trip. I love it.
Q. If someone had never heard your music, and they were going to hear a first song—what song would you want to show them, and why?
I'd have to say "Chief Wardman" mixed and produced by Tory Law. It's one of my personal favorite songs of mine . . . Then again, if you ask me that tomorrow it'd probably be different, too.
Q. What do you think makes your music unique or memorable?
A lot of people tell me my metaphors are different. Some people say my flow and sound are unique. As for me? Personally, I'm still trying to figure it out!
Q. What are you working on now? What can we expect to see/hear in the near future?
As of now I'm on the [...] path of perfection and growth. I just recently dropped my first (what I would consider: album) now available. It's all original material mainly produced by my man Fat Finger Beats; it's [the] first project that I've engineered and recorded all by myself. There's even a track on there that I [alone] produced. It's a really good project all around in my opinion. It's also my longest project to date with 18 tracks! In the future, [you'll] just continue to see bigger and better things from me. I never stop growing, and as of lately it seems like a lot of different things are happening for me—a lot of good things. Just expect to see them unfold real soon—it only gets better from here
Q. What are some of your goals for the future?
My personal goal within my entire musical career is to travel. I love the traveling side of music—I've been places that I've never even heard of [because of] music and met some people that I'll never forget. I just hope that continues!
Q. Anything else you'd like to add?
Check the album out, and check in on any of my music pages. I def wanna shout out my mom even though she doesn't like my music, I love her. My grandma, my dad and aunt are like my number one fans and supporters. Shout outs to Jeremy Amberson and Uber, Adam Weiser, Antonio Aldrete AKA Chief Wardman, Fat Finger Beats, Tory Law and Stay Souls; to Ish and Mge, Damien B, Elwin, Murda D, Impac the Illest and [of course] Donte Blunt for introducing me to hip-hop!
The list of Ill Smith's community is clearly not a short one. His connections and gratitude for the people around him is definitely humbling and inspiring. It's always awesome to see such an authentic, honest and passionate person continue to grow and make their goals come true! Check out the links below to find more info; stay in touch and in tune with all the amazing things Ill Smith has in store for you as his path in the music world continues unfolding!
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