Words by Tom Disalvo //
Just a mere days before the release of his sixth LP, The Space Between, 34 year-old genre-bending musician Illy was flatteringly mistaken by an Australian newspaper for Canadian rap-God Drake. While the confusion marked an amusing moment in the Victorian wordsmith’s 10 year mainstay in Aussie hip hop, the parallels between the two rappers are perhaps clearer than you’d think. Much like his mistaken counterpart, Illy is a hustler; constantly progressing his sound and amassing an audience long after his 2009 breakout track, ‘Pictures’.
Since then he’s made a name for himself as one of the best live performers of the last decade; sweeping up ARIA awards and racking up millions of streams. Nowhere is this musical prowess more evident than on the freshly-dropped The Space Between; a personal and expansive LP some four years in the making. Here, he seamlessly transitions between genres, delivering a strong- and much hyped- tracklist, with help from pop princess G Flip and Brisbane outfit WAAX.
Speaking of his most recent offering, Illy says ‘The Space Between’ is about change. “My music has always been about real life… relationships, parties, therapy, triumphs, breakdowns, celebrations, mourning… all of it.” So, with Drake comparisons in mind and the credentials and mistaken newspaper articles to prove it, we caught up with Illy to find out the tunes and artists who inspired The Space Between. Dig in below:
Love Drake, and there were so many bangers on this one. Lots of rap, lots of non rap, lots of melody, and lots of fresh sounds. Definitely an influence.
It’s impossible not to love cards b, and she had so much hype going into her debut, it was fucking awesome when she came out swinging and really lived up to what everyone was saying. Great to see she’s not stopped since either.
A great album in its own right, but beyond that, it was a bucket list tick years in the making to have the boys get me on their joint “Exit Sign” with Ecca Vandal. So I’m obviously very biased, but yea, the albums are great so I have no qualms putting it in this list.
I find big pop stars either really nail it or fall widely far off the mark. There’s no doubt that Dua Lipa has absolutely nailed the fuck out of everything she’s done since New Rules came out. This album is sick. It’s unashamed pop, super laced with retro vibes, and it all works. Could’ve been a dud, instead it was the one of the best albums of last year.
Tkay’s a friend so this is definitely biased, but I wanted to include someone not already a superstar. Seeing the jump from her previous release to this one, is inspiring as. The distance between is massive. And that’s not to say her older stuff is weak, cause it’s not, but she’s just levelled up multiple times in the last 18 months, and this EP really cemented it. Sky’s the limit.