And yes, yes y’all and ya don’t stop! To the beat y’all! What’s happenin’, my good people? It’s Ms. HipHopUDontStop coming at ya with another installment for ya weekly dose of Womazing’s #MixedMonday series! Last time y’all tuned in we gave ya a look at “Behind The Beat Of Black Boy Radio With Actual Proof” – much love to the Jamla family by the way! Well we at it again, bringin’ that heat with yet another surprise as we link up with iLLustrious Music Groups very own Solidified Muzik – The Man Behind The iLLustrious Mask.
Now although Solidified resides in Jersey, don’t confuse him for a juice head kickin’ it at the shore. He’s actually the one that you would imagine chillin in some tims’ and a big hoodie, straight bumpin’ that hardcore rap. As far as the artists that you would find in his headphones heavy, the list would include the sounds of Mobb Deep, Nas and Noreaga. For my 90′s rap fans, you know EXACTLY what vibe I’m talking about. As I asked him when it was that he fell in love with Hip Hop/Rap culture, he could not just recollect the year – but the album as well.
“It was 1999, and here I was 12 years old BUMPIN Mobb Deeps ‘Murda Muzik’. But there was this one specific track I would always play over…track 14. Track 14 was Thug Muzik by The Alchemist. Man…I was so fixated on that beat.”
Little did he know that draw towards that gritty, grimy sound that enticed him to the culture would soon take a deeper hold into his artistic ability. Because as Solidified would put it “like with any other art form, making music stems from being artistic”.
Some years would pass before one day his cousin got a mini production get up. Well, we all knows what happens now…ever since then he was hooked. For him, production is the hobby that tuned into a passion. For those that haven’t found that passion that takes hold Solidified breaks it down like this,
“The way that people get homesick…well, I get beat sick. If a certain time passes and I haven’t touched a beat, it’ll take one sound or sample for me to hear for me to run up stairs and make something…it literally consumes me.”
When it comes to creating sounds (if you haven’t guessed it already), he is heavily influenced none other than The Alchemist. He told me that ever since he heard dark, grimy, gritty sound that he put in his music, he was enticed by it. “No matter what album The Alchemist was on, I had to buy it” he says, “Til this day I’ll ride around cruisin and bumpin his old production like it’s the latest Rick Ross album.”
As far as other producers, he is influenced by legends like DJ Premier and Havoc. As well as the talents of Just Blaze and The Trackmasters. Time progressed, and so did his love of making music. As we all know, if you love what you do you never have to work a day in your life. He puts it as, “I can spend a whole day making music and nothing else will matter. Listening to music, vibing to a sample, it’s all a part of my life….a really BIG part of my life. So it doesn’t seem like work… It’s natural.”
When it comes as getting his mind right before making a beat….well, there is no ritual or anything. Solidified says he leaves it all up to his mood. “Whatever mood I’m in, I try to go with it. I will go through samples until one of them catches my ear and it turns into more than just hearing it. I’m actually FEELING the music.” he says.
“I don’t have do all that extra stuff to get in the zone, I’m ALWAYS ready to make music. I’m focused on capturing the best feeling I can get out of the music, and that’s it.”
So here is where is where it is about to get a bit more iLLmazing…I introduce to you the iLLustrious Music Group. IMG consists of Bishop, MeRCy, Juggie, KoJazz and of course Solidified Muzik. The journey all begins in 2007, when MeRCy contacted Solidified and explained that he was looking for a producer that had that particular grimy 90′s sound. MeRCy explained that that was the music he grew up on, therefore that was the music he wanted to make. After exchanging emails, the 2 finally decided to build and hold a formal interview. When they first linked up it was almost surreal. Aside from having similar tastes in music, Mercy and Solidified held a lot in common personally as well. So when it came time to meet in person, Solidified describes it as “meeting up a best friend after not seeing them in years”.
The majority of the crew met for the 1st time in New York. After recording a couple tracks that is when he says the idea behind iLLustrious came about. It all started by talking it up and it came to the table that there is too much talent to just be wasted around and for all of them to just to be homies. All in all, what they really needed was to put it all under one umbrella. He says that after that day that they knew that that needed to really come up with a brand. “I went home really racking my brain and asking myself ‘What kind of name can we come up with that in way defines who we are?’ and here we go again…I’m playing Mobb Deep and Illustrious comes on.” At that point in time ‘The Prestige’ was the project in focus for the group. So he looked up the definition and coincidentally enough both words ended up being synonyms. “I just took at is it was meant to be. So from then on, we called ourselves iLLustrious.”
Music is so universal and I find it amazing (or iLLmazing I should say) how music never fails to bring people together. Although it was a music venture that brought Solidified and Mercy together as friends and group members, he sees him as more of a brother. “Mercy doesn’t have a problem with me being critical. He takes criticism very well and he knows that if it’s corny, I’ll be the first to tell him and it goes vice versa. It’s never personal.” Soldified describes making ‘Prestige 2′ as lot of going back and forth. In the end it was their work ethic, music mentality, and RESPECT to make the product the best they could make it that kept them going. But if it wasn’t for keeping those boundaries separate and accepting criticism, then tapes like Prestige 2 wouldn’t have been the dopeness that they are.
“Not only do you see us making progress, you hear it. The whole iLLustrious crew is all about out doing our best and putting in that extra effort”
That extra effort doesn’t just come out within all their individual talents. They put that effort into all different aspects of the group. For example, Solidified says that they all play the executive producer roll.
“We all shoot ideas and we all breed and bond many concepts. When music is about to be dropped, we see it as not just any one of our albums being released, it’s everybody’s album.”
He explains that that is how they try to make it more family oriented. They trust in each other’s opinions and that is one aspect that he holds close. “What I really appreciate is that they really trust my ears…I’m more than just some producer. I listen to all of the beats for their upcoming projects, and they in a way look for me for that approval.”
When it comes to moves being made, IMG is nowhere close to slacking. Not too long ago Bishops dropped ‘Roses.Are.Red’, MeRCy released ‘The Prestige 2’ and soon the 2 will be linking up to release the much anticipated ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ which is due to release later this summer. The album will feature much of Solidifieds’ production along with a versatile sound that will be nothing short of iLLmazing. If there is ont thing for certain, it is that despite how different we are, their one thing we all have in common – music. To Solidified, music is more than just a sound.
“Music is life, it’s everything and beyond. There is not 1 person in this world that doesn’t listen to it. THAT is how powerful it is and to me, music is one of the best platforms in art to convey a message or feelings. Music is my lifeline and it’s what is keeping my alive…that is how attached I am to it.”
Some may laugh but for us music heads that truly believe that music is the beat to our heart, then we know exactly where he is coming from. And for the fellas that don’t wanna take it too deep or emotional, he broke it down like this…
”If Hip Hop was a woman, I would have to get her pregnant so she could have my baby…give birth to a new genre. Trust me, it’s that serious.”
Just like it was said in Bishops’ intro to Roses.Are Red (which was produced by Solidified), “Effort? Nobody can judge effort. Effort is between you and you. Leave your legacy.” Well every day I see moves being made by not just Solidified, but the whole iLLustrious crew. Therefore, I think it’s safe to say that the efforts being made are definitely legacy worthy. Once you start feeling the music, you’ll see.
From myself and the ladies of Womazing, we would like to say thank you to Solidified Muzik for letting us take a look at The Man Behind the iLLustrious Mask. As we always say, “Hip Hop is the perfect verse, over a tight beat”. Solidified Muzik, thank you for making that tight beat.
First Video Single “iLLustrious Dons” produced by Solidified Muzik