Tastemaker, move-maker: Seattle’s iLL Chris puts on for the Northwest [Interview]
Vancouver, BC – The Seattle hip-hop scene has been on the radar of rap fans for a minute. With vets like Sir-Mix-a-Lot, producers like Jake One and Grammy-winning heavyweights Macklemore there is an increased interest in the Northwest now more than ever.
iLL Chris or AyeLogics has been riding the underbelly of that scene for a minute. He kicks it with some of Seattle’s more well knows and has consistently been the go-to guy for touring artists when it comes to that Seattle hospitality – not to mention he has the illest sneaker hookups this side of the Pacific ocean. But Logics is grinding full force in the rap game now, grabbing the mic and dropping sonic waves that cross borders…all the way to Vancity.
He recently opened up for Future in Vancouver with local emcee HeatWave and we were introduced to the grinding young star. Naturally, we had a few questions for Chris about his come-up in the Seattle scene, his sneaker obsession and yo? Was he really that “he got the velcros” dude in the “Thrift Shop” video? Find out below.
HipHopCanada: iLL Chris, nice to see you, homie. Let’s kick things off with some Seattle talk. I’ve noticed in the Seattle scene it’s quite unified; the local scene is pretty tight and supportive. You’ve played a couple of shows here in Vancity, do you notice any differences or similarities as far as unity?
iLL Chris: I see a lot of similarities, the Northwest I think has a lot of good support, like people getting behind waves. Seattle is definitely more of that because we have some more artists that are deep routed that have made claims – we’ve got Jake One, he’s got a Grammy right, you can go back to Sir Mix-A-Lot. We have people who’ve actually made it so you know the route to follow.
The Blue Scholors, they’re really big. Like, people have something to follow. Macklemore pushed that door open so now Seattle’s unity is at full capacity. It never used to be like that, it used to be pretty cast, cutting each other’s throat. The city is more together – except people who are not in the circle and not making many moves, just hating on the inner circle of Seattle – but if you’re dope you can get along with just about anybody.
HipHopCanada: So when did you know you had broken past that barrier to receive that local support?
iLL Chris: I think I got more support just off my grind at first, like before anyone really noticed any of my music. I was really good at executing moves, like I would put shows together or gather people for a shoot. I used to manage a few artists out of this group called Street Academy, our rap was part-time. That was when I first came out here and met HeatWave, back in 2004, just putting that together with those artist was kind of where I had my start.
HipHopCanada: So the hustle is just as important as the music to you?
iLL Chris: Ya, so from the hustle it’s like “well, when are you going to release your own music?” and that was like ’07/’08 and then finally I dropped my own solo tape. So, I really hadn’t executed the route of being an artist until just the last 6-7 years.
HipHopCanada: And now your breaking into the Vancouver scene with HeatWave?
iLL Chris: Ya, it’s crazy ’cause I came out here for a show for I opened up for Juelz Santana at Plush, when it was still Plush, I did Game there as well with HeatWave and then one more and I fell back. So I haven’t been here since like ’08.
HipHopCanada: What took you so long to come back?
iLL Chris: Well, I guess I just really had to get the music right. Moving on my own solo work. With Street Academy, we met a lot of names. We were doing this with Juelz a lot, had a cool little side deal with them.
HipHopCanada: You’re in the thick of the scene out there so let’s talk about your relationship with Macklemore?
iLL Chris: We always been cool. I met him around 2008, we used to do a lot of the same shows together. Me, him, Spac3man, Dyme Def – we would perform at benefit shows together. This promoter called Big Country, he would book us all together to do shows and that’s how I first met Macklemore. It was like the same sets with less people, maybe 10-20 people there.
HipHopCanada: Was that you in the “Thrift Shop” video?
iLL Chris: That was me. I was the “Velcro Guy” in the sneaker-head guy part of the video. It was dope because Macklemore hit me up about it first and he asked if I could bring some vintage shit for the video. At first he wanted me to hold the shoe, but then he had this crazy idea where he’d just pop out of the thrift shop or the Goodwill in ’em and I’d be like “Awe he got the velcro!”
Screen shot taken from Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” video.
HipHopCanada: So you’re the sneaker guy?
iLL Chris: Yes I am!
HipHopCanada: You’ve worked with some majors in the biz, tell me about some of the artists you have developed relationships with.
iLL Chris: Pretty much gonna drop this album, this new one, The Raw Arts and it’s got some pretty good features on it. I’m working on this one with IAMUSU!, Vinny Chase is on the record with me, got Nacho Picasso, some beats from Chuck English, then I’m probably gonna try and get Sir Mikey back, you know the Cool Kids used to have there thing.
Shoutout to Chuck English.
I’ve got songs with Freeway, Smoke DZA, Sir Mikey Rocks, a lot of production, I got some Cardo beats recently. I’ve always been working with artists because I build a steady base. Before Seattle, I lived in Las Vegas, and every time someone came to Vegas I was the focal point like “Hey, show me around” and the word spread. I started throwing private parties for artists that were coming out, getting paid in advance. Then I moved North West. That whole time before that though I was just living in Vegas throwing parties and meeting hella celebrities.
HipHopCanada: Ever been starstruck?
iLL Chris: Never starstruck! Like, I partied with all of them! I was there when Jay-Z got the Rich Kids on – that’s a brand from Seattle. I walked backstage and was like “Hey Jay, put this on.” And he did.
HipHopCanada: So there hasn’t been a point yet where you’ve been like “holy shit”? Who would it take for you to step back and be like “wow!”
iLL Chris: Well, honestly before rap I was really big on Kurt Cobain, but obviously that’s not going to happen. But as for someone that’s alive? I don’t know…it just depends. If an artist is a dick, it just really breaks it for me. I guess if I could I would really like to meet Method Man again.
HipHopCanada: You’ve got a dope fashion sense…
iLL Chris: I’m really into fashion. I like stuff that people can’t get. Like, if there’s a brand that’s exclusive, I wanna be the one to find it. That’s why I go down to Vegas for all of the shows. I find brands and bridge them through to North West. Fashion has always been second nature to me.
HipHopCanada: Do you think you would ever design your own line if you had the chance?
iLL Chris: I had a t-shirt shirt I designed with Homme Femme – did 2-300 of them and they sold out in like a week.
HipHopCanada: Let’s talk about this sneaker passion.
iLL Chris: I haven’t always been a sneaker head, there was a point where I was just into fashion, but I didn’t have a pair of Jordon’s until I could grind for them – but I always wanted them. I see kids at these Dunkxchange (sneaker convention) shows and they’re like 13-14 years old and they have shoes that are like $1000 and I’m thinking I would’ve loved to have that! But I was grinding. I came up from Virginia to Vegas and my pops didn’t have that much money, so I had to grind until I got my first pair of Jordan’s. Actually a pair of Jordan 16’s were my first pair.
HipHopCanada: What’s your favourite sneaker?
iLL Chris: I would have to say Black Cement 3’s, they’re so clean! You can wear them with anything! Second fav pair would have to be some Space Jam 11’s, ’cause they’re hella comfortable.
HipHopCanada: : So what are you working on right now?
iLL Chris: Right now I dropped an album on Itunes, The iLL Chris Project. 17 songs, pretty much a preview because it was the first time working with a publicist that actually helped me get it into a national state with all of the biggest blog sites. Right now, I’m working on an 8 song project, called The Rawarts. I’ve got Vinny Chase on there from Harlem, Keba Hush.
HipHopCanada: Who should we be on the lookout for, as far as Seattle artists?
iLL Chris: A lot! I have to say my guy Spac3man, he’s been pretty consistent and one of the rawest stage performers ever! He is like the epitemy of stage precense. As far as other artists of course Nacho Picasso, Avatar, Keynyata, Sol is blowin’ up, Dave B, BFA, as far as trap goes, Porter. I just feel like everyone is working really hard right now and that’s why I love the Seattle scene right now.
Cop the iLL Chris Project on iTunes here
Interview conducted by KassKills for HipHopCanada
Transcribed by Holly Brown Bear for HipHopCanada
Lead photo by Oso Smooth