ILLFIGHTYOU should be promoting their second album right now. Instead the Tacoma rap trio is on indefinite, perhaps permanent hiatus. Planned music videos have been abandoned, money that was invested is going nowhere. There’s still love. But a lot of frustration too.
Rewind to 2013: their mosh pit-starting “Threats” was on the national radar, rare for an act from their neck of the woods. Their self-titled debut album had a rowdy, Odd Future-esque appeal, and their trajectory looked promising. They got an early writeup from VICE, later coverage in Pitchfork, and were local superstars – large enough for one scene member, Aramis Johnson, to tell me that based on witnessing their rise, he decided to stay in Tacoma rather than move to a different city to pursue music. ILLFIGHTYOU showed Johnson it was possible to remain home and still have a big impact. Now, he’s in the band Enumclaw, who are getting big looks on Pitchfork, Stereogum, and national radio airplay on L.A.’s KROQ.
ILLFIGHTYOU’s apparent breakup didn’t happen because the music was lacking. The group’s second album ILLFIGHTYOUTOO came out last Halloween, and was a step up from their attention-grabbing debut in almost every category. They were the same fuck-shit-up band of brothers, but with key differences. The production (as usual by producer/rapper Khris P) was more fleshed out, using samples more creatively, and with a thick bass tone pushed to the front of the mix. Khris also leveled up as a rapper, showcasing personal subject matter and more of his sense of humor. Glenn morphed into a more captivating character than before, a horny thugged-out woodsman. And UGLYFRANK, the group’s “golden child” as Glenn puts it – who stood out strongly on the group’s first album (and on solo town classics like “Bossa”) – remained razor sharp. It could be argued he didn’t grow as much. But his in-pocket flows were anything but boring.
At least initially, the 12 tracks on ILLFIGHTYOUTOO were slept on. The group was relying solely on the strength of the music for a buzz, and it didn’t help that they had no formal PR, no manager, and took a long-ass time between projects. Khris jokes they were following Dr. Dre’s once-every-seven-years formula. It could be that the project was a slow burn, but now we’ll never know. According to the two other members, Frank quit the band. And while music by all three individually is currently in-progress, there’s no guarantee whether any of it will be together.
I got on the phone with Khris P and Glenn to discuss what looks for all intents and purposes to be the end of the road for ILLFIGHTYOU. They were eager to talk, to let fans know what’s been going on. We also spoke about how much changed for them, album to album; how this isn’t actually the first time the group’s future was in jeopardy; and which musicians to look out for next from Tacoma. – Andrew Matson
Let’s just get right into it. What’s up, did you guys break up?
Glenn: Yeah, RIP.
Khris: Yeah, ILLFIGHTYOU’s over. Not necessarily by our wishes, the people you’re in this conversation with. But yeah ILLFIGHTYOU’s over now. It was a good seven years. I think about Dr. Dre all the time. Dr. Dre only dropped his albums every seven years…therefore I look at us like Dr. Dre.
Glenn: I’ll take that.
Is it disrespectful that we don’t have Frank on this call? Does he not want to be on this call?
Glenn: I don’t think it’s disrespectful. I reached out to him and told him this was happening. He wishes the best for both Khris and I, although it is in a very odd way. But he does wish us the best. I extended the offer for him to be on this call, and he did not want to be.
So did he quit?
Glenn: I don’t know man. Well, we had a little disagreement about a video, and it was a pretty minor disagreement, and it just turned into something bigger. We don’t really know what he’s feeling. He’s been so vague about it. His mind might be elsewhere. I have no idea. He says he’s gonna drop a tape, and I hope he does, and I hope it’s tight. I just know he’s not interested in being in the group anymore.
Khris: It was definitely super left field. We had hella shit set up, ready to go, and when it was crunch time it just stopped. He was done.
Can you just be a duo?
Khris: Yeah, you can. I was talking about this last night. We had something like this happen the first go-round. With Glenn. Glenn had to step back for a second the first go-round, and it was just me and Frank running around doing things. That’s how you got the “Potty” video and stuff like that.
We were doing the two-man thing for that time period, but it didn’t feel like the full run-down that you got from the group. I never looked at myself as a front-man anyway, I always thought Glenn and Frank were the front men. I just wanted to produce it. And take that role. To me it even feels weird to be one of those people – not in an unconfident way, but just my idea of the group.
Glenn: It was a lot different that time with me, I was having a baby and it was just a real life change. I talked to the guys about it. And it sucked, but it wasn’t like this time, where it just kind of stopped. It’s been really difficult to move on.
Khris: Cuz we had a few things come up.
Glenn: We’ve been getting some opportunities and it’s hard to turn them down. It was honestly hard for me to think about continuing to make music. I’m 35. But that was short-lived. I still feel like I have something really good to offer. And honestly Khris and I have been making music these past couple weeks, and I’m sounding better than on this most recent album. But I think the album that we all dropped is so fucking good. I’m finally at a point where I’m content with it being over with. But it fucking sucks. I’m OK with it but I’m excited to get on with it…and especially let the fans know. I think we’re all going to be friends going forward. But I need the fans to have an explanation.
Khris: That’s what sucks. We’re doing this interview, and the person who left the group, we gotta explain what’s going on…it’s hella weird. And fans are asking questions, and it’s just weird.
And you have this album that’s still…
You should still be promoting it.
Glenn: We had a whole rollout going. We were in the middle of a whole rollout. We had a couple videos, some money invested into it, and it’s a hard pill to swallow.
Well I want you both to know that you have fans, and the album is good. And further, I was talking to Aramis from the band Enumclaw, who are blowing up right now, and he said you all were the reason he stayed in Tacoma instead of going elsewhere to pursue his artistic dreams. You let him know it was possible to be based in Tacoma and still capture the national attention. Which hasn’t always been the case. So you’re inspirational to the next wave, if you didn’t know.
Khris: I love Aramis. I talk to him damn near every day.
Glenn: I was just talking about how proud of him I am. I remember when he was hanging out at [local boutique] eTc, when he was in a group called West Village.
Khris: You saying that, Matson… I’m a really passionate person. And people get embarrassed to be passionate. For example to come from somewhere like Tacoma, like where the fuck is Tacoma? And to be someone to make that impact, and help someone from this small-ass town know that it’s possible, I don’t understand, why wouldn’t you want to do that? Or why people wouldn’t be interested in helping others in that way?
Khris I gotta tell you since you’re on the line, the sampling on the album is great, and the way the bass is mixed, I love it. So good job.
Khris: You know what, thank you for saying that. I was being told – and shout out to Matt Baloogz – I was being told that the mixing wasn’t that good.
I thought it was so strong, that it really had a point of view.
Khris: That really helps. Thank you. It was a certain sound I wanted to go for. But I was being met with negativity in a way, so I wasn’t sure if it was sounding good or not.
Well I don’t know what you were going for, but you might have nailed it.
Khris: I was going for ILLFIGHTYOU. The depths of the skreets. The production was a big focus. I wanted to change that sound. The first go-round sound, I was talking to someone last night and they were saying, “Weren’t you guys part of Odd Future?” And I was like, Nah we weren’t part of it or anything, but the sounds on it…that was one thing I wanted to get away from.
The two albums are different in a bunch of ways, but one of them is, and no disrespect to either of you, but when you came out Frank was the breakout star.
Glenn: The golden child.
Khris: We know!
Then that song “Bossa” came out and it was like my religion.
Glenn: We know, trust me. We’d walk around our town and it would be, “Where’s Frank?”
Khris: It was obvious. Me and Glenn knew we were Kelly and Michelle. But we weren’t pressed on that, because we knew, Hey, this is what’s going to make it grow.
There’s a difference on the second album. It’s not that he’s laying back, but it’s a little more well-rounded. Khris and Glenn, you both sound different, more stepped-up.
Khris: Ay Glenn, what did we say, though? Me and Glenn, we knew we both got hella better at rapping. Our approach to rapping was like, we’re rapping with Frank. And the idea that we were coming back.
Glenn: I always second-guess myself. I never felt 100% recording. Until that album. I felt I was finally doing it the way I wanted to do it, and there was no holding back. And I think you can hear that progression.
Do you think there’s a part of it where Frank’s like, if I’m not the golden child anymore, then I don’t want to be in it?
Khris: I don’t wanna say it!
Glenn: I don’t know man. I would hope not.
Khris: That was in my mind, a little bit. If the shine is not as hard, even as a personal thing, that can affect you mentally.
This is how a lot of rap groups die. Ego man, shit.
Khris: That’s kind of how it went down, honestly.
Glenn: And I got none of that going on, with me.
Khris: Hell nah. Rapwise though, let me talk my shit for a second. I always knew I was the best in the group, I just had to let them n—-s get they shit off.
That’s nice of you.
Khris: Nah I’m playing. I wish.
So what’s next for both of you guys?
Khris: I’m on this real producer mission right now, and got my fingers crossed for some big things. So I’m on that right now. Lotta production. I’m being told to keep rapping, but I’m trying to get motivated to keep doing it.
I’m going to join the people who want you to keep rapping.
Glenn: Yeah I’m in that group.
Khris: I dropped my blunt, sorry about that.
Glenn: Oh no.
How’s the blunt, did it make it?
Khris: Yeah but you know when you drop a blunt, you gotta call your girl to make sure she ain’t doing nothing weird.
Is that how it works?
Khris: You ain’t never heard of that superstition? If you drop your joint or blunt, you need to call your girl and make sure she ain’t up to nothing. If you drop your joint or blunt, somebody fucking your bitch. Old superstition.
Just because of you saying that, and where your head’s at, that’s why you need to keep rapping.
Khris: They cut us off! I felt like me and Glenn were just getting started.
What’s up with Post Office studios in Tacoma? I hear a lot about that lately. Are you part of that?
Khris: Yeah it’s run by DJQJ and Matt Baloogz. I’m in there pretty much as like an ambassador and spreading the news around. Working with all the artists. Glenn is down there all the time. He’s one of the big dogs down there. That’s our studio space, that’s where we work out of.
Isn’t that where Enumclaw made their album?
Khris: Nah, they made their shit at another place we record at, Alma Mater. That’s like the big, professional studio. Matt works out of there, too.
So with those two studios, is that the future of Tacoma music?
Khris: I wanna say yeah. There’s a lot starting to bubble right now, again, in that old-fashion way.
Can you name some of the players who are bubbling?
Khris: Of course you got Enumclaw, who are doing their thing. Bear, is someone we’re working with a lot right now. The street guys like TBG, The Bad Guys.
What about DJQJ and Baloogz?
Khris: Of course.
Glenn: Yohiness and Perry Porter.
Khris: Yohiness and Perry Porter. Young Wolf. Lil Boof Boy. It’s a lot going on. That’s some names, though. Y’all boys up north gotta pick up the pace!
I don’t live in Seattle anymore, I’m East Coast for now.
Khris: Oh I know! But you’re still a representative.
I can’t quit Seattle, I guess.
Glenn: You’re stuck bro. Seriously though, one thing you could add into this, is that Frank, if you’re reading this, I got nothing but love for you.
Khris: Yeah, and if any diss records come out, I hope they’re fire!
Glenn: Straight up. That dude’s a beast, and I want the best for him.
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