Review: Illaman - Give Us A Smile


Through my younger years of hosting and promoting raves, Illaman very much crashed on to my radar from early. As I left the flashing lights, lasers and amen breaks behind me and tried to focus more on the rawness of the UK hip hop scene; I found how synonymous the two were. The venues I was going to were usually the same, the audience was very similar and the music was still there to entertain. Over time I watched the synergy of the scenes grow, genres slowly blend and individualism rise.

Illaman is not just a great example of how diverse an artist rappers can be; I feel the man just lives to make good music and loves to flip styles. I've seen him go from hosting Dubstep and Grime raves, to be a part of the hybrid Rap group Problem Child before forming and fronting Punk/Grime band Pengshui; all while still holding down his artistry as a lyricist with releasing this solo project.

I was shocked to find Give Us A Smile is his first solo project in 5 years but Illaman delivers with his unapologetically unique style. Each track takes you on a sporadic journey through the life and times of Illaman. It doesn’t just start and finish strong, each chapter of this album is equally as powerful and plays it’s part perfectly. The majority of the beats have a creeping, glitchy dark feel whilst somehow maintaining an uplifting and meaningful edge.

The highlight for me has to be Times Of Change as I'm a real sucker for heartfelt beautiful stories , combined very carefully over the top of deep rolling soundscapes.

Give Us A Smile is out now via Potent Funk Records.

Words by Kyle Fate Gonsalves