Hailing from Detroit, Uncle ILL along side Hush is one half of the underground group Da Ruckus. Da Ruckus caused some modest hype in the independent scene in 1998 with their sophomore album "Episode 1". The album depicted the raw, gritty urban Detroit scene years before The D would officially be put on the mainstream map thanks to Marshall Mathers; who also made an appearance on "Episode 1" on a track diehard Em fans remember, "We Shine". While Hush and Uncle ILL make a great team, it was Hush that got most of the attention as the better emcee. Now in 2003 ILL tries to prove that he can hold down the mic just as well with his solo album "Y'all Know".
Da Ruckus album was one of the better surprises in the underground scene upon its release, the same cannot be said for Uncle ILL's "Y'all Know". Ill always played the back drop to Hush's more well rounded and fluent rap style and "Y'all Know" is proof of why. The main problem is that Ill brings nothing new and innovative to the table. "Y'all Know" features a tiresome lineup of generic thug songs, all of which have been done before. It is almost as if Ill followed the "thug blueprint" on how to make an album with such topics as "Stress", "My Celly", "Fake Thugs", "Live In The Spot" and "Who's Ya Uncle".
While Ill posses a strong character along with a dominant voice and charisma, lyricism is not his strong point. While at times he can be creative and humorous with his punch lines and metaphors, most of the time we just get your run of the mill type average lyricism. While Ill definitely held his own along with Hush as Da Ruckus, it seems on his solo venture Ill really didn't have any direction to go in. The album features nothing but played out thug anthems, boring club joints and your typical self-reflections. A little more variety and conceptual matter is definitely needed.
"Y'all Know" is plagued with inconsistency, but, the strong point of the album is its production side. Relative unknown Mad Chemist laces the production side with some nice variety and needed spice. "Cho" is one of the finer tracks featured on the album, thanks to strong production by Chemist. The track is one of the more original efforts from Ill as he mixes Detroit slang well into a party anthem. "Realize" is a nice up-tempo banger along with the double timed flow on "That Thang". While not much is known about Mad Chemist his performance on "Y'all Know" is one of its few highlights as Uncle ILL definitely has a hidden gem along side him. The two should continue to work together and in the future try and mold Chemist's great production with Ill's rough style.
Uncle Ill is not going to amaze you with any lyrical verses or insightful tales, but he does posses good mic presence and charisma. Those familiar with Da Ruckus know that he can put forth-good performances. However, it seems that Ill went for a different direction with "Y'all Know" trying to mix his style up with more radio friendly sounds and concepts. In the future Ill should just stick to what he does best, depicting the streets.