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Iller Than Theirs
Guest Shots
Iller Than Theirs consists of MC's Tone Tank and Krayo. The group was formed after Tone's life in Phoenix, Arizona was thrown into a vortex of bad luck; the duo regrouped back in BK and began work on their debu..
Guest Shots: Iller Than Theirs         by DJ TREW
Why be better, when you can be iller?


          Iller Than Theirs consists of MC's Tone Tank and Krayo. The group was formed after Tone's life in Phoenix, Arizona was thrown into a vortex of bad luck; the duo regrouped back in BK and began work on their debut LP in late 2005. This Self Titled release was produced almost entirely by J. Howells Werthman, who oversaw the project, with Snafu of Junk Science contributing a handful beats as well as adding on with his brand of turntable wizardry.

When it was all said and done, Tone & Kray decided on a mission statement: Iller Than Theirs would fight back against all things bloated & phony, boring & corporate, fancy & fashioned, dead & robotic. Recently Ground Lift had a chance to speak with the NYC-based duo for a short interview and a trio of Hip-Hop 12inch reviews.

So 'artist development,' as it pertains to Hip-Hop, is a thing of the past in today's single driven market. What is Nuk Fam doing to bring back actual artists with longevity?

Kray: Right now we trying to get on in the first place. We'll worry about not falling off once we have somewhere to fall from.

Tone: I'm an artist and a member of Nuk Fam and I plan on making art for a long time.

Kray: Right now, I think people like us as human beings more than they like any single piece of music we have created. So I guess us not having a "hit single" will help us maintain a long career of "non-success."

On Iller Than Theirs you seem to have grudge against wackness. There was a time when dudes would get booed of the stage if they didn't come correct, but now subpar talent gets major label deals. What do you think about the 'dumbing down' of Hip-Hop?

Tone: I'm still a big fan of booing.

Kray: We do have a grudge against wackness. I'm glad that came across.

Tone: Also though psuedo-intellectuals are infiltrating the game and sometimes you gotta meet them with psuedo-ignorance. But that dumbing down business is for all those ring tone ass rappers.

Similarly, we're in the midst of the 'entitlement' generation. In your opinion, how much has laziness, on the artist's part, affected Hip-Hop culture?

Kray: I think the laziness is more on the listener's side. People are fat and bloated and accepting of whatever bullshit gets force-fed down their pie holes. They deserve their wack culture.

Tone: Exactly... If a billion people were buying better artists records, like us for instance, and not Young this and Lil' that, then we wouldn't even know who those dudes were to even hate on them. That's why I hate on the masses.

On the track "The Same" from your latest LP, you address the issue of gentrification, something that's going down in every major city in the U.S. What are some of your personal thoughts on the rich getting richer?

Kray: Since the dawn of time greedy men have tried to hoard all the wealth. It's a constant struggle. There is also, throughout history, examples of the people becoming fed up and realizing their collective power and overthrowing the tyrants.

Tone: Again, the masses. I think people have to stand up against this much more evil form of "wackness" and set a new standard of living for themselves. They try to sell you the old idea where you get rich from hard work. No you don't. I got plenty of family that worked away the best years of their lives and hardly got shit besides maybe a bad back and a house next to some nosy neighbors. Hard work does pay off... if you have your own business. It sounds corny but do what it is you want to do, don't be scared of money. Fear is the best way to control the masses and in this day and age people fear money more than they do God. Also stop buying so much stuff, you don't need to keep up with the Jones', fuck the Jones', they're corny anyway.

Kray: Just because a man has the power to grab billions of dollars doesn't mean has the right to. No man needs a billion dollars. We need to institute a salary cap on these CEO's. A salary cap or "off with their heads."

This question is for Tone. You suffered a series of life-altering events prior to moving back to BK, your house burning down being one of those events. How did the obstacles fuel your art/motivation?

Tone: Those were just a few of the many roadsigns that told me to go back to new york and make music.

Last question: Iller Than and Better Than, what's the difference?

Kray: Being ILLER is just being fresh and putting your own twist on it. Being BETTER is being snobby or thinking you're fly. Acting like you're better than regular people for whatever reason. Fuck art/fashion snobs - and being rich doesn't make you cooler. It actually makes it more unlikey that you are going to be cool.

Tone: Like O.D.B. was one of the illest rappers out. He wasn't the best but he was by far one of the illest.


Gravediggaz - 1800-SUICIDE double 12" (Gee Street, 1995)

Kray: I love this record. To me this record is all about the new vocal version of "1800-SUICIDE." The beat is the same but they do brand new amazing verses. Especially Poetic's (RIP) verse about Jim Jones (Not the Rapper, The Cult Leader) where some A-team style vigilante ex-military outfit parachute in to the Jonestown compound with M-16's to save dude's daughter. "No tambourine beating deacon is freaking my seed every weekend as long as I'm breathing."

Tone: It's funny. When I asked Kray, "Yo you think they'll let us do a double 12 inch?" He looked at me and said," What, the Gravediggaz 1800-SUICIDE record?" That should tell you how ill this record is. Aside from the most ridiculous verses on the new vocal version that Kray just talked about my favorite is "Mommy What's a Gravedigga," because on the album it was just a skit, with one of the illest instrumentals with no lyrics and I always wished they did a song to it. They did, and it was this song. Also RZA's line about "flashbacks of blunts dipped in honey" inspired a much younger me to fux with my own blunts dipped in honey.


Junk Science - Pop Rocks 12" limited edition Pink Vinyl (Embedded, 2006)

Kray: 12's are supposed to have special exclusive stuff on them that aren't on the album. This one has two new songs from Junk Science's upcoming album (Gran'dad's Nerve Tonic in stores October 23rd on Embedded) a bonus 12"-only track ("Two Minutes Hate") and a crazy remix (That's the Way [N.E.M.C Banana Bread Mix]") produced by our man J. Howells Werthman who produced almost our whole album.

Tone: If that 12" was a person it would be a really hot girl.

Kray: Plus it's pink.

Tone: I designed the labels and sticker for this 12". And the really fucking annoying thing about it was that Snafu, who is a completely competent designer and artist himself, was unable to do it because he was at summer camp. He's a grown man. What a fucking weirdo. So Baje had to chase me around for three weeks trying to politely remind me to do it.


Kool Keith & Godfather Don - The Cenobites EP ( Fondle 'Em, 1995)

Tone: "I got a brand new Ford / Bright orange yellow pick-up truck / cruising around like I'm Johnny Esposito". There was a Johnny Esposito in my neighborhood. He had an Iroc or a Camaro and he did cruise around. Does every neighborhood in New York have a Johnny Esposito?

Kray: This was the first thing that came out on Fondle 'em records. I bought it off the wall at Fat Beats Friday after-school after I heard it on Bobbito that Thursday night. And I bought every single thing that came out on Fondle 'em until they stopped.

I even bought some Fruitmeat records afterwards. Siah & Yesua EP, The fist appearances of the super villian MF Doom, Juggaknots Clear Blue Skies, Cage's "Radiohead/Agent Orange." All classic records that are burnt into my head for eternity. "Mommy" is the joint.


Iller Than Theirs ' latest Self Titled album is out now on Embedded Records . Visit their myspace page here.

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