MR Unsigned Magazine UK – The Duality

Publish Date
MR Unsigned Magazine UK
John Kirwan
September 12, 2010
The Duality

The DualityThe Ill Funk Ensemble is a band from Albany, in New York. They are an energetic, soulful hip-hop group that have been leaving live audiences stunned in New York on a weekly basis since 2006.

The band have humble enough roots, “walking on sticky floors” and playing on stages “too small for their swagger”, but nevertheless, the Albany based band have real ambition. It seems to me that The Ill Funk Ensemble would keep doing what they’re doing regardless of recognition, fame or money. They are determined to express their feelings in musical terms. There is a sense of determination when they rap, and throughout ‘The Duality’.

They have been described as “a kind of 21st century mash up of Kool and the Gang and the Isley brothers”. One way they are similar to both artists is in the energy that they put into their music. They have clearly been influenced by old school hip-hop, but have taken it into the 21st century, and subsequently created their own sound.

They start as they mean to go on with ‘She’s Fearless’. The track starts off with heavy base and hip-hop beats, then we are introduced to some smooth vocals, and some synth. The chorus is almost shouted, with a real sense of purpose. It’s catchy and will stick with you all day.

Perhaps, the best thing about The Ill Funk Ensemble is that they are a band. This translates well on to the album, as we get a feel for the band, Jermaine Wells and BJ FitzGerald on the main vocal, Dennie Brooks on drums, Joe Stoner on keyboard and Duane Etienne on Bass and backing vocals.

The band effectively uses samples. The theme tune to Sandford and Son heard on ‘Bringin the Heat’ fits in perfectly with the old school hip-hop beats that make up the album. They make use of auto tune in ‘Amazing’. There is a flow in this song that hip-hop fans may find similar to a Tupac flow. There is even reference to a Tupac’s ‘Hail Mary’ in the song, ‘ride or die’.

She’s Fearless (Reprise)’ picks up where ‘She’s Fearless’ left off. The subject of the song, who they treated with love and respect, appears to have meant a great deal to the band. ‘she was fearless, rest in peace mama’. These lyrics change the whole complexion of the opening track. It now has real meaning.

The title track ‘The Duality’ reinforces the bands determination to express themselves. Its slow heavy bass line and deep lyrics help portray their feelings ‘born alone, die alone, what about the time in between? You gonna be a king, or be suffering, what it take to live out your dream?’ The Ill Funk Ensemble are definitely determined to live out their dreams.

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