Fans of the Boot Camp Clik will remember a rapper named Illa Noyz who featured on numerous songs by the supergroup. If you recall, Illa Noyz was the brother of member Sean Price and he made various songs with the whole of the B.C.C. as well as individual members such as Heltah Skeltah, Originoo Gunn Clappaz, and Steele of Smif-N-Wessun. He also featured on tracks with Boot Camp affiliate Ruste Juxx and he made some noise with his solo songs ‘Illa Noyz’ and ‘Sleepers’ from Boot Camp compilation LPs ‘For The People’ and ‘Duck Down Presents’ respectively. After all these guest spots, more than twenty years after I first heard him feature on Heltah Skeltah’s ‘Nocturnal’ with that brilliant “Done away like Faye” lyric, Illa Noyz has finally dropped his own solo album titled ‘I Been Here For Years’.
From his 2014 mixtape ‘He Should’A Been On’ to this much better LP, Illa Noyz has recently been making music after a long period of silence. It’s been a while since I heard a song from him, and a few years ago I was pleased to hear that Illa was making a solo album. I guess I have to admit that I didn’t think too much of the mixtape but this new full-length LP is thankfully much better.
If you’re a fan of Illa Noyz’s work from the golden era, you’ll recognise the various references in this LP including a nod to his line “sounds ill like noise in Brownsville” in ‘Bust My Gun’ (a reference to his 1997 self-titled song). And, since he reps Brooklyn’s Brownsville like Masta Ace, M.O.P., The Smith Bros., Steele, and of course Ruck and Rock, Illa Noyz references the slogan that was first said by Brownsiville-born Boxer Riddick Bowe (“I’m from the ‘Ville, never ran, never will”) in the song ‘Brownsville’. This saying has been used in countless Hip-Hop tracks over the years and if you’re a fan of the Boot Camp you’ll recall B.C.C.’s own Smif-N-Wessun using the slogan in their classic track “Stand Strong”.
Taking into account these references, Illa Noyz is definitely a product of the golden age of Hip-Hop and it’s great to hear that whilst mentioning the old-school he also sounds contemporary. This album contains numerous songs which walk a fine line of old and new, there are for instance beats that sound very electronic rather than acoustic, and this is then juxtaposed with a knowledge of the past. As an example, Illa Noyz speaks about his aspirations of making it as a Hip-Hop musician in ‘I Been Here For Years’, rapping “I can’t let my Sugar Hill Gang dreams turn into nightmares” over a staccato drum and distorted vocal sample.
The entire album is produced by Black Sparx who does a great job, he offers up some solid beats which sound contemporary and on the odd occasion classic; there’s a rapid snare beat in ‘Brownsville’, there’s an angelic vocal in ‘Willy Dynomite’, a more archetypal sound on ‘Robbery Talk’, and a mellow old-school vibe on ‘Been Waitin (Walk With Me)’. Sparx does a good job on the majority of the songs, there’s some messy beats on ‘Ass Clap’, but he picks up again from ‘Summerime’ on through to ‘Bars’. Incidentally, the title track shares its production with Spark Plugs’ track “B.A.R.S.” but Illa Noyz turns this into a much better song.
The stand out tracks for me are the head-nodding ‘I Been Here For Years’ and the relaxing ‘Been Waitin (Walk With Me)’, other tracks such as ‘Bust My Gone’, ‘Brownsville’, and ‘Willy Dynomite’ are also worth a listen, in fact the album works pretty well from start to finish.
I’ve streamed this album a few times and I have to say that I listened to it from beginning to end without wanting to avoid a single track. That’s not to say that this LP is perfect, after several listens I’d acknowledge that ‘Ass Clap’ is the least satisfying song; it’s not bad, but it is a song that I would skip past in future listens (along with the intro). So that being said, there are a few ways that this LP could be improved; maybe remove ‘Ass Clap’ altogether and replace it with ‘Bars’, and put ‘DIE’ before ‘Been Waitin (Walk With Me)’ which would then act as the final track. That way this album wouldn’t end with an average song and instead end with the best track…
Released on Most Honorable Music rather than Duck Down Records, this album is quite noticeably missing featured artists, in fact there isn’t a single trace of other Boot Camp musicians; producers or rappers. In many ways that’s refreshing, I can’t count the amount of times I’ve heard a supposed “solo” album that’s then littered with other musicians. ‘I Been Here For Years’ doesn’t feature one single guest spot, this is a definite solo LP and a solid solo LP at that. Regardless of the fact that no other MCs appear on this LP, for fans of the B.C.C. that won’t matter one iota. This is one of the solo albums that I know for a fact Boot Camp fans have been waiting for since the ‘Caca Gosa Vixen’ days, alongside Starang Wondah’s ‘No Relation To Stevie’ this was something we’ve been looking forward to for many years. This LP may be short, it may have taken decades to arrive, but ‘I Been Here For Years’ is finally here and thankfully it’s enjoyable to listen to. With an album that’s both credible and satisfying, let’s hope that Illa Noyz doesn’t stop here and he keeps making more music, with or without Duck Down.
Been Waitin’ For Years.