Last week, when Damian Illic dropped his new video for Why So Serious, we were immediately immersed in his dynamic hip-hop sounds. The artist is making music that’s in a league of his own—it balances between humour and passion, delivering both in spades.
So before he releases his debut full-length album, here is a complete run-down of each track.
Before he drops his debut full-length album Illicit, we caught up with hip-hop artist Damian Illic for a complete track-by-track run-down.
We start the album off with the opening song Main Event. It begins with Damian introducing himself, followed up with a little taste of his dark sense of humour straight of the bat, giving us a little glimpse inside the mind of the eccentric artist. A fallen angel with a chip on his shoulder, regular society seems to be the hell that surrounds him and encompasses his personality. He responds to everything with a sense of sarcasm towards life and himself, rather than taking things seriously, he’d rather poke fun at himself, instead of going the more ‘traditional’ route of bragging about one’s superiority and accomplishments. The second verse really focuses on the disdain he feels for his primary school teacher, who ironically is the main reason he began writing music in the first place. It seems like the moment he picked up the pen, things started turning in Damian’s favour, but until he fulfils his second wish, he is still stuck in a place of turmoil. With a catchy tune and hook, we guarantee Main Event will get stuck in your head for days.
Don’t Be Dumb
Getting off on a more serious note, you get a deeper look inside the soul of the actual artist with Don’t Be Dumb, probably more than any other song on the album. We explore the more sensitive side of the writer, a complete contrast to the previous song, which indicates that we can expect to see all sides of Damian throughout the album. Don’t Be Dumb was actually the first song Damian had written for the album, which came about when the person he was seeing him had left him. For days, Damian remained in a state of despair, barely eating or getting out of bed. On the third day, he decided he would try to write down everything he was feeling at the time, in hopes that it would make him feel better and give him something to do instead of keeping his thoughts locked in. He had previously bought a beat of the highly respected and talented producer Mat Rafle who also produced Main Event and Trade Blood. Damian had fallen madly in love with this particular beat though, a beat to which he previously struggled to find words for… until now. This song is a lot more than just a heartbreak song, as it gives us a brief overview of most of Damian’s issues in regards to his own insecurities, the hardships of attaining any work, his struggle to connect with people and how he is believed to be perceived by others, and failing to yet achieve the high expectations he has set for himself and other issues he must tackle. Don’t Be Dumb is an extremely deep and powerful song with a beautifully haunting hook that proves he can do more than just make you laugh.
Revenge is the true story about Damian getting jumped and beaten up in broad daylight by two brothers. He was on the train heading towards his friends when it all went down. Damian explains the connection between one of the brothers and the reason why it happened early on in the first verse, describing every scene that followed in perfect and graphic detail. Damian paints a vivid picture in your head the entire time as you listen throughout the whole song, proving himself to be an extremely captivating and raw storyteller. This song will have you hooked and each chapter seems to draw your attention even closer. This would be Damian’s first collab with producer and longtime listener of Damian ‘Shortay’ another one of Australia’s overlooked talents.
Baby Boy is probably the most heart-wrenching songs Damian has made since his music video on youtube In The Shadows, ironically both having the same producer Tommy Staples. The song has three verses, each verse giving the perspective from the same character but in a different age bracket and timeline. A unique concept, with a blend of acting through his vocals that is done like no other in the country. It’s a mix of beautiful, heartwarming music, a deep narrative, with a dark and raw side to it. Though it may not sound suitable for young adults at times, the message it sends at the end of the song may be an important one to hear for a lot of the youth today. Damian Illic draws inspiration from his own experiences and blends it with his own unique imaginative twist to it. The song also features Giiovanni, who is Damian’s sound engineer and helped co-produce most of the beats on the album. Giiovanni lays down his own beautiful vocals on the hook and we guarantee this track will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride. Out of all the songs Damian has ever recorded, this one was the most uncomfortable to record, he says.
I think at this point, Damian got tired of trying to think up a new concept and decided “the hell with it” I’m just going to spit some crazy bars and switch up the flow to give everyone a boost of energy. There is no real meaning behind it, just punchline after punchline, and a sense of disdain for everyone and everything it seems. This trap-style beat is one of the four Giiovanni has produced for Damian on the album and boy is it next level. This song is a lot of fun and is sure to have you on the edge of your seat with his clever wordplay and flow delivery.
Zelena, meaning ‘green’ in Serbian, gives us the rawer side of Damian’s upbringing in a dark yet rather intriguing way. Another Giiovanni production, this time more of a heavy metal type instrumental, only adding to the diversity in the sound of this project. If I could describe the song in three words it would literally be sex, drugs and rock n’ roll… oh and the desire to make that money. Damian talks of his younger days, and even combines a bit of his native language to the track, we don’t know what he’s saying but I get the feeling that was the whole point to it. On the second verse, we have Giiovanni spit his own bars and even incorporate some of the methods used in the first verse by Damian to make the verses sound more intertwined with each other.
The energy just seems to keep on rising as we get to track number 7, Jungle. Damian ILLIC teams up with Sydney producer/DJ Clxrb. Like Vegemite, this song mainly strikes you with hard-hitting battle bars, and clever play on words. This track sure packs a punch, especially if you’re on the opposing side of his lines.
This song featuring and produced by Giiovanni, was actually meant to be a solo track on Giiovanni’s project, but after it was shown to Damian, he told Giiovanni how much that beat and hook had meant to him and Giovanni decided to let him feature on it. A few months later, Giiovanni has done something for him that he would be eternally grateful for and let Damian put the song on his album. The song centres around losing someone who once meant the world to them. This may be the most beautiful song on the album and once again shows the softer side of the main artist.
The vibe changes from beautiful to disturbing pretty damn quick when we get to Trade Blood. This is another story type song about selling your soul to the devil. In the intro we hear Damian who is waiting for his appointment, talking to the receptionist at the front desk. As the boss of the company makes his way into the building the verse begins with Mr Lucifer giving Damian a rundown on everything before ending the verse with an offer on the table. The second verse has Damian explaining why he’s so desperate for a change in his life. Damian drew inspiration from a certain day where he just felt like he hit rock bottom. He was on his way to Collingwood to record, when he got off the train and he just couldn’t do it anymore. He felt that he would never be good enough in music and no one will ever take him seriously. At that point, he said he said he would give anything for his dream, and at that point, he suddenly felt an almost inner cleansing sensation. He went on to record Lose My Mind after that moment and was the second video he ever put out. Damian doesn’t believe he has lost his soul, but in fact believes he has found it. This song was the second most uncomfortable song he has had to record as the person he was seeing had left him again that day.
If I could describe Two Hours in three words, it would be a tragic, romantic comedy. Two Hours was written by Damian when he used to have to catch three buses to get to a job he hated with a passion, which was almost a two-hour journey. The only thing he had to look forward to was seeing one of the office ladies he had fallen for almost five months after he had just gotten over a previous break up that left him a mess. Every day that she would bring him purchase orders to do, he would find a ray of sunshine in his day, but this hopeless romantic would fail in attaining the ladies heart, which made his journey back home seem longer… oh well, at least he can write about it.
This would have to be Damian’s biggest and most meaningful collab track, as he teams up with the legend ‘Mouf’ (formally known as Maggot Mouf), and one of the biggest underground rappers in oz currently, the young and very talented ‘Wombat’ and also the man responsible for Damian’s soon first to be released album ‘Giiovanni’. Damian used to watch Moufs music videos 8 years ago, when he had just started recording his first album which never got released, and before Wombat had blown up, he actually got in contact with Damian after Damian had just dropped In the Shadows. “To have them both on this track and the man who has helped me make this album a possibility is an honour” Damian would repeatedly tell everyone. Damian would write a catchy hook for Giiovanni to work his vocal magic on and we present to you Top Calibre the name speaks for itself, a highly motivating and uplifting track, each artist bringing their own unique style to this epic track, produced by beathedz aka Shem One.
Why So Serious
Interestingly enough, Why So Serious originally wasn’t even on the album when it had all been mixed and mastered. Everything was ready to go, all Damian needed was to pick the first single which he would release as a music video to promote the album. After weeks of contemplating Damian had come to the hard, frustrating realization that he just didn’t have that first single which would really do any justice. The curse of the never to be released album had slightly re-emerged to mock Damian and his hard work. One night he was at Giiovanni’s studio with another one of his mates, when all of a sudden Giiovanni started playing this catchy tune on the keyboard. Damian jumped out from the couch and instantly started dancing around like a fool and rapping a bunch of fast mumbo jumbo. This was it! “Giiovanni! The albums not done my friend.” Giovanni knew the curse of the pestering Serb had re-emerged also, but he knew what needed to be done in order to move on and live a semi-happy life. Damian decided he would put all the skill he has attained over the year from recording this album into one track, and bring a vibe that accompasses an essence of every song on the album. Also switching up the flow in as many different ways as he can fit in throughout the duration of the beat to show his full arsenal and skillset. Why So Serious is the Heath Ledger’s ‘Joker’ themed track, which is safe to say embodies the essence of the entire album.
Why So Serious is available now. Watch the video above.