Ill-Literate-Skill

16 Nov

Illz Skills

Photo Credit: Speakerbox

Lukhona Sitole (Jimmy Flexx) and Uno July (Tommy Jinx) made up the hottest rap duo around, Ill-Literate-Skill.

They picked the name Ill-Literate-Skill as “one day on the summer of 2004 at my gran’s house in Gugulethu, Jimmy came to visit me nearly when we had just met and clicked on the idea of forming a crew. While my gran sent us to purchase some electricity from a nearby hood, we got a chance to juggle around the 3 terms (Ill; Literate; Skill) which we felt were something we wanted to represent. Then by the time we returned home with some pasta food ready on the table, it just clicked that it should rather be just that except with hyphens between.” Jimmy continues “yeah, we use to say ill a lot. Everything was ill. “Yo that’s a ill joint”… “I copped me some ill-ass kicks son”… “that’s a ill honey man, she’s dope.” So our knowledge is ill, Our Skill is ill. Ill-Literate-Skill, plus it’s play on words.”

“We met” explains Tommy “ when Jimmy was matriculating. So he was rolling with these cats we both knew apart initially, called Driemanskap, and they had hit me up to come join them in Obz… coz I used to rent a crib down the road in Rondebosch. So at the end of the night they decided to crash by me, and we walked all the way to my spot… ciphering (rappin) in the rain. I noticed that he was just as dope as I’ve ever wan’t a rapper to be.” Jimmy pipes up “It wasn’t my valedictory, there use to be a club around the center where Pick n Pay is in Obz. And some schools had their after-party there and we knew some girls that were gonna be there, so we put on our freshest gear and went to the foam party. Do they still have those?..”

Jimmy is influenced “whenever I hear something that draws my interest, I pay attention. I’m influenced by people I meet, things I see, read or heard about..” whereas Tommy listens to a lot of rap “from the likes of MF Doom, ourselves, Hyphlife, Lupe Fiasco, Slum Village and Little Brother. But I love instrumental albums especially coming from Madlib, J Dilla, Wajeed, RJD2, and more..”

They each started making music for different reasons Tommy says “I just always imagined myself on stage with a mic in my hand. Plus the minute I got the chance to be able to do a song, I got hooked on it. I guess it was the western influence, seeing guys like Kriss Kross, Snoop Dogg and Boys II Men on TV made me react to it a lot more than anything.” Jimmy reflectively states “I don’t know why the fuck I started doing this shit. It was cool at first, now it’s taken over and put a strain on my relationship with my family. They don’t understand why I would pursue something that offers no guarantee, security, etc. Now you try to explain to them this is what drives me, what I see myself doing at age 70 at a concert celebrating Africa in Switzerland. See how far you get…”

Jimmy spent “spent the last 3 years of High School in Guguletu, staying with my uncle in Malunga Park learning about Gugz through stories my cousins would tell.” Guguletu influenced him and he says “ I studied my new environment and learnt through interaction. I had only one friend at the time, Dla from Driemanskap. He would come hang out and we would bump “underground” Rap. I had this Boombox, It doesn’t work anymore, but the bass was heavy. He introduced me to Driemanskap, before he became part of that crew and through them I met Archetypes, and all the other guys that were/are rapping. At the time my style was very abstract and really had little to do with Guguletu, but more about concepts and ideas. It’s only in the past two years and more so now that I try to draw on references from my past and present experiences to stay relevant. I think everyone has a story or tale to tell. Some write books, others write flicks, some blog about who they are or the things that fascinate them. Some write songs…I wanna do it all.”

What they would like to achieve in the music industry is “to be recognized as an outfit that struggled and strived since at a young age, and independently accomplished a lot in terms of restoring faith and gaining support behind their brand and managed to own their careers. We also want to change the status quo, switch up your swagger to reflect your character and potential to be great!”

They performed in Germany with Slum Village and Qwazaar and Tommy excitedly says “don’t get me started! I mean these are cats I’ve been listening to since way back while I was chilling at home, dreaming of becoming just like them or sharing a stage and a mic at least. And there it happened. I’m glad they felt our music and also managed to get along, plus the treatment I received from the promoters and the fans was overwhelming.”

As to performing Tommy says “I’m known to be an introvert and a very reserved person but when I get on stage it becomes the flipside. Performing is the only way I’m able express myself and engage with people, hence I’m possessed by the alias character, Tommy Jinxx.”  Jimmy adds “Now I’m the opposite, a Leo, very outgoing. My favourite performers are Fela Kuti, James Brown, Michael Jackson. Whenever I perform I want to give the audience an experience, something to leave take home. It is a live performance ain’t it?”

Starting out in 2005 they feel they have grown since Another Day-Another Rhyme the EP (2006) and the Battle of Guguletu mixtapes volume1 (2006) & volume 2 (2008) now to Off The Radar, Tommy laughingly says “We’re 3 times better! Musically, lyrically, personally…you name it!” Jimmy adds “The live performance is fireworks. We understand the music industry better, our role in South African urban music is becoming more defined, and Ill Skillz is continually becoming more recognizable as the Indie Rap duo from Cape Town. It’s a good feeling, the maturation of Ill-Literate-Skill.”

With the album Off The Radar they say “we didn’t approach it as you normally would a commercial record. We just recorded songs that excited us and ended up with a 18 track album. Our first “single” Rocoflo wit da Ill Skillz is receiving play on Channel O. It’s quite an unlikely track to release commercially, but we did it. Radio probably won’t play it. We’ll see what happens next.”

Recording the album “was a mission. Jesus. We didn’t have a studio and had to call in favours. Compensate people here and there. Run around, all that shit. It was recorded ove the period of 2 years…”

They worked with Nyambz, Planet Earth and Mizi and Tommy reckons they “are best hip-hop producers in this country, who are kinda left-field and possess versatile styles. I always admired them and its being a pleasure working together..”

Off the wall antics whilst in studio included “a photo shoot” Tommy says “that was cool. I just hated the mixing and mastering part of it. Oh yeah, and the Instant Bull…’ track which we did in about 30 minutes. Written and recorded right there in the booth… kappish! Jimmy says “Recording Instant Bull was crazy. And yeah my ex did an impromptu photo shoot in studio. She’s really good.”

As to their favourite tracks off the album, Tommy is adamant MC from Guguletoire’! It’s based on a true story, I’m sure a lot peeps out there relate to it. Jimmy says “I don’t have one. They are all my babies man. The dumb ones, the smart ones, the fat and the skinny ones. I love them all.”

Jimmy is working on a side project and he’s also the biggest rubbish talker  amongst the two. Jimmy then tells me of the craziest thing that happened at a show was “the last show was at Chrome, and there was some fancy couch on stage. I sat on it while performing and started rolling over. People went nuts. Tommy ends off “We are always crazy man… I’m never surprised anymore.”

Illz Skills are taking over. Watch out.

Lukhona Sitole (Jimmy Flexx) and Uno July (Tommy Jinx) made up the hottest rap duo around, Ill-Literate-Skil .

They picked the name Ill-Literate-Skill as “one day on the summer of 2004 at my gran’s house in Gugulethu, Jimmy came to visit me nearly when we had just met and clicked on the idea of forming a crew. While my gran sent us to purchase some electricity from a nearby hood, we got a chance to juggle around the 3 terms (Ill; Literate; Skill) which we felt were something we wanted to represent. Then by the time we returned home with some pasta food ready on the table, it just clicked that it should rather be just that except with hyphens between.” Jimmy  continues “yeah, we use to say ill a lot. Everything was ill. “Yo that’s a ill joint”,… “I copped me some ill-ass kicks son”,… “that’s a ill honey man, she’s dope.” So our knowledge is ill, Our Skill is ill. Ill-Literate-Skill, plus it’s play on words.”

“We met” explains Tommy “ when Jimmy was matriculating. So he was rolling with these cats we both knew apart initially, called Driemanskap, and they had hit me up to come join them in Obz… coz I used to rent a crib down the road in Rondebosch. So at the end of the night they decided to crash by me, and we walked all the way to my spot… ciphering (rappin) in the rain. I noticed that he was just as dope as I’ve ever wan’t a rapper to be.” Jimmy pipes up “It wasn’t my valedictory, there use to be a club around the center where Pick n Pay is in Obz. And some schools had their after-party there and we knew some girls that were gonna be there, so we put on our freshest gear and went to the foam party. Do they still have those?..”

Jimmy spent “spent the last 3 years of High School in Guguletu, staying with my uncle in Malunga Park learning about Gugz through stories my cousins would tell.” Guguletu influenced him and he says “ I studied my new environment and learnt through interaction. I had only one friend at the time, Dla from Driemanskap. He would come hang out and we would bump “underground” Rap. I had this Boombox, It doesn’t work anymore, but the bass was heavy. He introduced me to Driemanskap, before he became part of that crew and through them I met Archetypes, and all the other guys that were/are rapping. At the time my style was very abstract and really had little to do with Guguletu, but more about concepts and ideas. It’s only in the past two years and more so now that I try to draw on references from my past and present experiences to stay relevant. I think everyone has a story or tale to tell. Some write books, others write flicks, some blog about who they are or the things that fascinate them. Some write songs…I wanna do it all.

Starting out in 2005 they feel they have grown since Another Day-Another Rhyme the EP (2006) and the Battle of Guguletu mixtapes volume1 (2006) & volume 2 (2008) now to Off The Radar Tommy laughingly says “We’re 3 times better! Musically, lyrically, personally…you name it!” Jimmy adds “The live performance is fireworks. We understand the music industry better, our role in South African urban music is becoming more defined, and Ill Skillz is continually becoming more recognizable as the Indie Rap duo from Cape Town. It’s a good feeling, the maturation of Ill-Literate-Skill.”

What they would like to achieve in the music industry is “to be recognized as an outfit that struggled and strived since at a young age, and independently accomplished a lot in terms of restoring faith and gaining support behind their brand and managed to own their careers. We also want to change the status quo, switch up your swagger to reflect your character and potential to be great!”

Jimmy is influenced “whenever I hear something that draws my interest, I pay attention. I’m more influenced by people I meet, things I see, read or heard about..” whereas Tommy listens to a lot of rap “from the likes of MF Doom, ourselves, Hyphlife, Lupe Fiasco, Slum Village and Little Brother. But I love instrumental albums especially coming from Madlib, J Dilla, Wajeed, RJD2, and more..”

They each started making music for different reasons Tommy says “I just always imagined myself on stage with a mic in my hand. Plus the minute I got the chance to be able to do a song, I got hooked on it. I guess it was the western influence, seeing guys like Kriss Kross, Snoop Dogg and Boys II Men on TV made me react to it a lot more than anything.” Jimmy reflectively states “I don’t know why the fuck I started doing this shit. It was cool at first, now it’s taken over and put a strain on my relationship with my family. They don’t understand why I would pursue something that offers no guarantee, security, etc. Now you try to explain to them this is what drives me, what I see myself doing at age 70 at a concert celebrating Africa in Switzerland. See how far you get…”

They performed in Germany with Slum Village and Qwazaar and Tommy excitedly says “don’t get me started! I mean these are cats I’ve been listening to since way back while I was chilling at home, dreaming of becoming just like them or sharing a stage and a mic at least. And there it happened. I’m glad they felt our music and also managed to get along, plus the treatment I received from the promoters and the fans was overwhelming.”

Tommy says “I’m known to be an introvert and a very reserved person but when I get on stage it becomes the flipside. Performing is the only way I’m able express myself and engage with people, hence I’m possessed by the alias character, Tommy Jinxx.”  Jimmy adds “Now I’m the opposite, a Leo, very outgoing. My favourite performers are Fela Kuti, James Brown, Michael Jackson. Whenever I perform I want to give the audience an experience, something to leave take home. It is a live performance ain’t it?”

With the album Off The Radar “we didn’t approach it as you normally would a commercial record. We just recorded songs that excited us and ended up with a 18 track album. Our first “single” Rocoflo wit da Ill Skillz is receiving play on Channel O. It’s quite an unlikely track to release commercially, but we did it. Radio probably won’t play it. We’ll see what happens next.”

Recording the album “was a mission. Jesus. We didn’t have a studio and had to call in favours. Compensate people here and there. Run around, all that shit. It was recorded ove the period of 2 years…”

Working with producers including Tommy reckons Nyambz, Planet Earth and Mizi “are best hip-hop producers in this country who are kinda left-field and possess versatile styles. I always admired them and its being a pleasure working together..”

As to their favourite tracks off the album, Tommy is adamant “‘MC from Guguletoire’! It’s based on a true story, I’m sure a lot peeps out there relate to it. Jimmy says “I don’t have one. They are all my babies man. The dum ones, the smart ones, the fat and the skinny ones. I love them all.”

Off the wall antics whilst in studio included “a photo shoot” Tommy asks “you remember that Jimmy? That was cool. I just hated the mixing and mastering part of it. Oh yeah, and the ‘Instant Bull…’ track which we did in about 30 minutes. Written and recorded right there in the booth… kappish! Jimmy says “Recording “Instant bull” was crazy. And yeah my ex did an impromptu photo shoot in studio. She’s really good.”

Jimmy is working on a side project and he’s also the biggest rubbish talker  among the two. Jimmy’s “been banned from a guesthouse, they told me to go Rock ‘n Roll elsewhere!”

Jimmy tells me one of the craziest things that happened at a show was “the last show was at Chrome, and there was some fancy couch on stage. I sat on it while performing and started rolling over. People went nuts. Tommy ends off “We are always crazy man… I’m never surprised anymore.”

Illz Skills are taking over. Watch out.

2 Responses to “Ill-Literate-Skill”

  1. samuel November 19, 2009 at 6:20 am #

    too nice, you cats are doing well, keep on, keeping on. The night of the armchair where the host hyphen, din’t even get the name right, is a far cry fom the heights ya’ll are reaching now, good luck for the hype awards too. ONE

  2. samuel November 19, 2009 at 6:21 am #

    ONE love

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