For iLLPHONiCS, a self-described “hip-hop fusion” band from St. Louis, diversity and variety are qualities not only apparent in the band itself, but in the music it plays and people that listen. For iLLPHONiCS diversity and variety are at the core of everything it does, and the band’s staunch adherence to these values is what sets it apart from just about everyone else. Made up of Keith Moore (keys), Kevin Koehler (guitar), Larry Morris (aka MC Fallout, vocals), Simon Chervitz (bass), and Chaz Brew (drums), iLLPHONiCS has close to a decade of experience and camaraderie to lean on as it continues to chase down the dream of being on the national stage.

A couple of us grew up together, but iLLPHONiCS didn’t get started until we were all together at college. It kind of started with our keyboardist, Keith, and our guitarist, Kevin; they were both doing separate musical projects that they wanted me [Larry] to emcee on. Kevin and I met each other in college through the audio program, and the projects merged into one project over time. Initially, the name was Fallout and Friends, but after we kept playing together and forming our own identity, we changed the name to iLLPHONiCS—that was probably around 2006-2007. And then by about 2008, we were opening for The Roots as iLLPHONiCS.

– Larry Morris (aka MC Fallout)

 

Whether it’s an eclectic range of musical influences or the array of styles that the band dabbles in, “typical” and “ordinary” aren’t words one would use describe iLLPHONiCS. Combining elements of jazz, funk, soul, alternative, jam, R&B, and just about everything in between, the iLLPHONiCS sound is unlike any coming out of the hip-hop world—or any other genre for that matter. Musically, the band is about as sporadic as they come, but whether it’s playing a smooth R&B number or an upbeat, soul-infused jam, each iLLPHONiCS track is grounded in the consistently creative and dynamic lyrics of Larry Morris, known as MC Fallout.

 

We definitely consider our music to be primarily rooted in hip-hop. We like to keep it short and say that we’re “hip-hop fusion.” It’s certainly anchored in the lyricism of Larry’s words, but musically, it’s all over the place. Since we’ve been playing for so long, we all kind of know what we can add to a song to make it work no matter what style it is.

– Kevin Koehler

Following in the footsteps of similar acts like The Roots or Jurassic 5, themes of bitches, hoes, drugs, money, and power—the incessantly common tropes of the rap game—tend to be left out of Larry’s lyrics. Instead, iLLPHONiCS holds itself to a higher creative standard than most in the same musical arena, which greatly increases its appeal in this age of played-out rap lyrics.

In addition to solid lyrical content, iLLPHONiCS is unique in that it easily appeals to a wide-ranging audience with diverse tastes, due in large part to the band’s sporadic musicality. When we spoke, Larry and Kevin both mentioned that most of their shows tend to be with rock or alternative bands, noting that it’s often easier for the band to gain acceptance from non-hip-hop circles. But that’s not to say that hip-hop fans turn their noses up at iLLPHONiCS; anyone real hip-hop fan can easily be swept up in the unique beats and crafty lyrics of an iLLPHONiCS track.

I know a lot of hip-hop groups that start with a hip-hop song in mind. With us, we may have a jazz feel in mind or an RnB feel in mind, and then I’ll go in and incorporate what I do into what the band does. I’m one of those emcees that would prefer to make it work with what the band has going on. And that’s something that makes us really different—it doesn’t matter what the chords might be or what the genre might be—we’re such diverse music listeners that we never want any iLLPHONiCS songs to sound the same.

– Larry Morris

iLLPHONiCS may be under the radar right now, but there are definitely some BIG happenings on the horizon. Perhaps the biggest news is that the band announced today that it has signed a deal with The Record Machine in Kansas City, MO. On top of that, Kevin and Larry let us know that the band has been cooking up a batch of fresh tunes, so the world can expect a new iLLPHONiCS album soon enough. Even on their own, the band released some incredibly fresh jams, but with the support of a label, it’s probably safe to assume that whatever comes next is bound to be some of the band’s best material. Hopefully that will lead to the kind of recognition this group of gentlemen deserves.

We’re working on a batch of about 15-20 songs. We will start going into the studio in the next couple of months to record a new album. Of course, it’ll be musically diverse—some faster ones, some slower ones, some louder ones, some quieter ones. And we just signed a contract with The Record Machine, so that’s a REALLY big deal for us. That’s huge. I mean, with or without a contract, we’re always going to try and write the best music we can; but now that we have support, we’re going to work twice as hard to make sure that it’s the best we can do.

– Kevin Koehler

Do yourself a favor and take some time getting to know iLLPHONiCS. Visit the iLLPHONiCS Soundcloud or Bandcamp page to stream and purchase all of the band’s music including its last self-titled LP, a free single, and a couple of EPs, Reality: Check and iLLUSiON. Be on the lookout for more iLLPHONiCS music coming soon!

Connect with iLLPHONiCS by visiting its Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, YouTube, and its Official Website.

Flying-Under-Radar