Illmind

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!llmind
Illmind 02.jpg
Background information
Birth name Ramon Ibanga, Jr.
Born August 28[1]
Origin Bloomfield, New Jersey
Genres Hip hop, pop, soul, K-Pop
Occupations Record producer
Instruments Pro Tools, keyboard, sampler
Years active 2003–present
Labels Nature Sounds Records, G-Unit Records, Barely Breaking Even, Duck Down Records, myx
Associated acts Hoodie Allen, Skyzoo, Supastition, Little Brother, Strange Fruit Project, 50 Cent, Jared Evan, Fortilive, Smokey Robotic
Website illmind.biz

Illmind (often stylized as !llmind) (born Ramon Ibanga, Jr.) is a Filipino American hip hop producer from Bloomfield, New Jersey. He has co-written and produced hip-hop, pop, soul, and electronic music for labels such as Nature Sounds Records, Def Jam, and G-Unit, and has worked with artists such as Kanye West and Eminem. !llmind has also released several studio albums and had a number of songs and albums reach the music charts,[2] including Live from the Tape Deck, a collaboration with Skyzoo which reached #3 on the Billboard 200 in 2010. He is also in the bands Fortilive and Smokey Robotic.

Starting in 2008 !llmind has been releasing the free mixtape series Blaps, Rhymes & Life, and he operates a regular producer showcase in NYC called Beats, Love, Alcohol & Party (B.L.A.P.). He also teaches music production at The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University.

Early life[edit]

Ramon Ibanga, Jr. was born on August 28[1] in New Jersey, where he was raised in the city of Newark before later moving with his family to Bloomfield, NJ.[3] His family provided a strong musical background, as his father was a musician and his older brother was even named Les Paul.[4]

!llmind started using his father's equipment to make beats around age 13, specifically learning MIDI and sequencing on a Roland KR-4 500 keyboard.[3] In his early teens he developed an interest in hip hop,[5] and started producing music in 1997.[6] Around 1999 he began to take production more seriously and he started sampling, using both hip hop vinyl and obscure records such as his father's old jazz and soul albums from the Philippines.[5] He began using the program Cubase and an Akai S20 synthesizer around age 17.[3][5]

Music career[edit]

Production[edit]

After learning sampling !llmind began making his own beats and sounds,[6] and in 1999 began uploading his music to online forums such as undergroundhiphop.com.[4] Around 2001 he started participating in the Beat Society producer showcases in Philadelphia,[4] where in 2002 he beat his future collaborators Kanye West and 88 Keys at one of the events.[4]

!llmind started his production career working with groups like Little Brother and Boot Camp Clik;[3] he had met Boot Camp Clik after being introduced through Khrysis,[5] and he started working with Little Brother after being introduced to their music around 2000. His first official collaborative release with the latter was Nobody Like Me.[5]

In March 2004 !llmind's remix of the Jay-Z's Black Album, called The Black and Tan Album, was released to a positive review in The New York Times, who stated "Sparse is the aesthetic for !llmind's remixes, which set out to do more with less: techno boops, ticking drums, laid-back bass lines, three or four notes from a guitar or keyboard. !llmind's minimalism makes Jay-Z sound almost nonchalant."[7]

In early 2007 !llmind signed to the label G-Unit, after D Prosper, the senior A&R executive at the label, gained an interest in his sound.[5] Sha Money XL, another G-Unit executive, served as !llmind's manager for several years.[3] As a part of G-Unit, !llmind went on to produce songs with Erykah Badu, 50 Cent, Ludacris, Lloyd Banks, Prodigy, Kool G Rap, Redman, Scarface, LL Cool J, dance crew the Jabbawockeez (America's Best Dance Crew season 1 winners), El Da Sensei, Diamond D, KRS-ONE, and others.[5] He produced the 2008 Akrobatik hip hop album Absolute Value.[8]

In summer of 2012 !llmind's track "The Morning" was included on Cruel Summer, a compilation album released on Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music label. The song peaked at 19 on the US Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart, and 49 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.[9] The genesis of the track was 2007, when !llmind met Chicago-rapper Rhymefest and started sending him beats. "For a couple of years, I just kept sending him stuff whenever I had Kanye or him in mind. It must have been 100 beats. And then I get a phone call...from Rhymefest...asking for a session to a beat I made. Then he was like, 'I think Kanye wants to use this for a Pusha T song.' Then a few hours later, he’s like 'We got Raekwon on this.' The first time I heard the complete album was when it leaked. And I heard it, and I lost it. I would say my life has definitely changed since that moment."[1]

In 2008 he won the Philadelphia Red Bull Big Tune Beat Battle,[4] and as of 2012 he has shared the stage in beat showcases with artists such as Kanye West, Just Blaze, Nottz, and Don Cannon.[10]

In mid-2012 he worked with K-pop artists Drunken Tiger and Yoon Mi-rae (aka Tasha),[1] and he has also recently worked with The Clipse, Kanye West, Eminem, Dr. Dre,[3] Beat Society creator Hezekiah,[6] Ludacris, and Pharoah Monch.[10] !llmind produced music for Hoodie Allen's mixtape, Crew Cuts. The single "Cake Boy" premiered on February 11, 2013 via YouTube with over 30,000 views in the first day.[11]

Groups[edit]

As of 2014 is executive producer and official member for three separate groups; Fortilive (Mushmouf & Slo-Mo), SunZoo (Drunken Tiger, Yoon Mi-rae, Roscoe Umali & Styliztik Jones), and Smokey Robotic. In late 2010 he released an album with the crew Fortilive, a group he co-founded that includes himself on beats and Hawaiians MC Mushmouf and MC Slo-Mo.[3] A year later !llmind co-founded the band Smokey Robotic[10] with four other members.[3] Smokey Robotic releases its music for free, and genres cover pop, dance, electro, and hip-hop.[3]

Studio albums[edit]

In 2005, he produced and released an entire album on BBE with fellow producer Symbolyc One called The Art Of Onemind, which featured artists such as Ghostface Killa.[4] Since his discovery by Sha Money XL in 2006, !llmind released multiple full-length albums. These include The Official !llmind Remix Album in 2009 on myx,[12] and a 2010 LP with lyricist Skyzoo called Live From The Tape Deck on Duck Down Records.[13]

Live from the Tape Deck (2010)
"I wanted to keep the soundscape warm and 'analog' sounding [for Live from the Tape Deck], just like how 2-inch tapes used to sound. Most of the keyboard and synth sounds I used were from analog synths made in the late 80's. Combined this with using my ASR-10, I was able to capture that feeling, but with a slightly updated feel."
— !llmind in 2010[14]

In May 2010, lyricist and rapper Skyzoo had announced that he and !llmind were collaborating on an album called Live from the Tape Deck.[15] Recording sessions took place at Big China Studios in Brooklyn, New York in 2010.[16] The entire album was produced, mixed and arranged by !llmind, and was mastered by Ricardo Gutierrez.[17] !llmind took a custom approach to the production, focusing on keeping the sound "analog," similar to old 2-inch tapes.[14] Skyzoo and !llmind secured guest artists that matched the Live from the Tape Deck concept, including Heltah Skeltah, Torae, Styles P, Buckshot and Rhymefest.[14]

Live from the Tape Deck debuted at #3 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers Albums.[2] The album entered the Top Rap Albums, peaking at #16,[18] as well as entering at #30 on the Top Independent Albums[19] and #33 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.[20] The album was also met with positive reviews from music critics. SPIN's Mosi Reeves gave the album a seven out of ten, saying: "On this duo's debut full-length, Skyzoo was nicely complemented by !llmind's production, which ranges from the Dilla-like soul loop of "#Allaboutthat" to the fuzzy '70s-cop-show funk of 'The Now or Never.' Live from the Tape Deck is full of stolid striver anthems...but the album's meat-and-potatoes consistency remains bracing throughout."[21]

Instrumental albums

Beh!nd The Curta!n, his first official instrumental album, came out on April 19, 2011 through Brooklyn-based Nature Sounds Records.[3] He followed this up with the second instrumental album #BoomTrap EP, an eight-track EP released in January of 2014.[22] He shortly after released the drum kit #BoomTrap “The Drums”, which includes extracts from the EP. Only 200 copies of the kit were offered.[23]

B.L.A.P. mixtapes and events[edit]

Blaps, Rhymes, & Life mixtapes

Since 2008 !llmind has been releasing the Blaps, Rhymes, & Life albums, which are a series of free digital mixtape/compilations produced entirely by himself.[24] The "BR&L" albums include both mainstream artists such as LL Cool J[10] and underground artists such as Fortilive.[24]

Blaps, Rhymes & Life Vol. 3, released in June 2009, has collaborations with mainstream artists like 50 Cent, Scarface, Young Buck, and Marsha from Floetry, and underground artists such as Termanology, Wale, and Torae. Also included is an official remake of 88 Keys’ single “Stay Up!” with Alchemist, Evidence and 88 Keys on the rhymes. The album also includes the character Master Shake from the Adult Swim show Aqua Teen Hunger Force.[25] In 2011's volume 5, !llmind and Dub MD incorporated artists such as Crooked I, Brother Ali, Emilio Rojas, Redman, and Masta Ace.[26]

In July 2012 he released the !llmind Blap Kit Vol.1, which is a collection of signature drum samples from the series. About releasing the free samples, he stated "I wanted to give producers (and my fans) a part of who I am and where I came from... all of my sounds were chopped and collected from old drum breaks."[10]

Beats x Love x Alcohol x Party

!llmind is founder and CEO of the event series B.L.A.P. (Beats x Love x Alcohol x Party), a live producer showcase[10] started in 2009[4] by !llmind and his team.[3] According to !llmind, "Over the years, I've participated and judged various beat battles and beat showcases. I wanted to start my own producer showcase, which allows up-coming and established producers play their beats and songs for an un-biased crowd, in a 'club' environment."[10] His showcases were inspired both by Beat Society and by Jonathan Moore, the man behind the Big Tune brand events.[4]

Coverage for the second event in June 2009 was provided by music websites such as The Smoking Section and Rappersiknow.com, while there were giveaways from brands such as Staple Design.[24] By late 2010 showcases had been held at several New York locales, and the event later traveled to other states and overseas.[3]

Blap On The Radio

As of 2013 !llmind hosts the bi-monthly radio show B.L.A.P. Producer Showcase,[6] which is slotted on the Blap On The Radio weekly broadcast.[27]

Style, equipment[edit]

"I can’t define my sound. What I can say is that it’s honest, musical, and inspired/channeled from a “feeling”. I was always fascinated by music, feeling, and vision, all in one. When I’m creating music, I’m actually envisioning things as I’m going along, like places or people."
— !llmind[3]

!llmind has called himself a fan of producers such as J Dilla and Pete Rock,[10] but writes and produces a variety of genres. About his style, he has stated "I just try to create the music I like, period. I’ve got a pretty diverse taste in music, so I’m managing to not get bored, which is awesome. There’s a lot of talent out there, and I think that’s what continues to drive me as well."[6]

!llmind inititially learned production on analog equipment and hardware, and in 2010 he was using a Roland SP-303 digital sampler and an Akai S-20 synthesizer,[3] with an Ensoniq ASR-10 keyboard.[3][10] As of January 2013 he was using a Pro Tools rig for his digital audio workstation.[6]

Business, teaching[edit]

!llmind has been featured in magazines and online publications such as Scratch Magazine (Top 20 Best Producers), Hip Hop Weekly, Mass Appeal, The Source, XXL, Hiphopgame.com, and Hiphopdx.com.

In the summer of 2012 !llmind started offering consulting services as a member the online service Blazetrak,[10] and he later formed an independent online consultation service.[6] As of July 2012 he was a senior contributor at BeatTips.com.[10]

He taught music production at the non-profit organization Harlem Children’s Zone from 2007 to 2009,[3] and he was later hired by the Clive Davis Department Of Recorded Music at NYU as a Technical Music Instructor for a program called "Future Music Moguls."[10]

Personal life[edit]

As of 2012 !llmind lives in Brooklyn, New York.[10]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Year Title Album details Peak chart positions
US R&B Rap Ind
2005 The Art of OneMind
(with Symbolyc One)
2009 The Official !llmind
Remix Album
  • Released: 2009
  • Label: myx[12]
  • Format: digital
2010 Live from the Tape Deck
(with Skyzoo)
3[2] 33[20] 16[18] 30[19]
2011 Behind The Curtain
2014 #BoomTrap EP
  • Released: Jan 2014[22]
  • Format: digital

Mixtapes[edit]

  • 2008: Blaps, Rhymes & Life
  • 2009: Blaps, Rhymes & Life, Vol II
  • 2009: Blaps, Rhymes & Life, Vol III[25]
  • 2009: Blaps, Rhymes & Life, Vol IV[28]
  • 2011: Blaps, Rhymes & Life, Vol V[26]

Selected production credits[edit]

Peak chart positions[edit]

Singles produced by !llmind, with selected chart positions
Year Song title Song details Chart peaks
Hot100 R&B
2012 "The Morning"
by G.O.O.D. Music
19[9] 49[9]
Albums with tracks produced by !llmind, with selected chart positions
Year Album title Album/song details Chart peaks
US R&B Rap Ind
2006 The Last Stand
by Boot Camp Clik
  • Tracks: "Let's Go"
  • Released: July 18, 2006
  • Label: Duck Down
48 20
2007 Nu-Mixx Klazzics Vol. 2
by 2Pac
  • Tracks: "What'z Ya Phone # [Nu Mixx]"
  • Released: Aug 14, 2007
  • Label: Tha Row/Koch
45[29] 8[29] 2[29]
2008 Emeritus
by Scarface
  • Tracks: "It's Not A Game," "Who Are They"
  • Released: Dece 2, 2008
  • Label: Rap-a-Lot
24[30] 4[30]

Timeline[edit]

The following is an incomplete list of albums and singles produced by !llmind.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Berman, Taylor (September 26, 2012). "Breakout Producer !llmind Talks G.O.O.D. Music & K-Pop". Fuse TV. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  2. ^ a b c "Skyzoo - Chart history | Heatseekers Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 4 Nov 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Edelstein, Alex (October 12, 2010). "NYC Hip-Hop’s Next Wave: Illmind On Career, Community & New Collaborations". Sonic Scoop. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Boland, Justin (January 16, 2011). "!llmind: Building a Business off Beats". Audible Hype. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Martinez, Rafael (May 2, 2007). "'The drums definitely got to bang'". Prefix Magazine. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Indiana, Phil (January 2013). "Interview: Illmind". The Couch Sessions. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  7. ^ Pareles, Jon (March 7, 2004). "MUSIC: PLAYLIST; Silver, Brown, Gray: Jay-Z Every Which Way". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  8. ^ Johnsen, Will (February 19, 2008). "Akrobatik delivers the "Absolute Value" of Hip Hop". Seattle PI. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  9. ^ a b c "Billboard". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved August 30, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Brady, Travis (July 17, 2012). "Exclusive Interview - Bangin Beats With Illmind". The Drum Broker. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  11. ^ "Hoodie Allen - "Cake Boy" (Official Video)". Hoodie Allen, LLC. Feb 11, 2013. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  12. ^ a b "Illmind x Fortilive x Slum Village | 2dopeboyz". 2dopeboyz.okayplayer.com. 2009-07-29. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  13. ^ "Skyzoo & Illmind to Release Collab Album". 2dopeboyz.com. 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  14. ^ a b c "Skyzoo & !llmind: Live From The Tape Deck [Artwork + Tracklist]". KevinNottingham.com. 2010-08-17. Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  15. ^ Blakcitrus (27 May 2010). "Skyzoo & Ill Mind Prep New Album, ‘Live From The Tape Deck’". Kickmag. Retrieved 4 Nov 2013. 
  16. ^ "Illmind / Skyzoo - Live from the Tape Deck". CD Universe. Retrieved 4 Nov 2013. 
  17. ^ "Live from the Tape Deck – Illmind, Skyzoo". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Credits. Retrieved 2013-11-04. 
  18. ^ a b "Skyzoo - Chart history | Rap Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 4 Nov 2013. 
  19. ^ a b "Skyzoo - Chart history | Top Independent Albums Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 4 Nov 2013. 
  20. ^ a b "Skyzoo - Chart history | Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 4 Nov 2013. 
  21. ^ Reeves, Mosi (2010-11-03). "Skyzoo & Illmind, 'Live From the Tape Deck' (Duck Down)". SPIN. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  22. ^ a b Thomas, Chris (January 8, 2014). "Illmind – #BoomTrap EP [LISTEN]". HipHopWired. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  23. ^ Banks, Corry (January 18, 2014). "Illmind – #BoomTrap "The Drums"". BBoy Tech Report. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  24. ^ a b c H, Jason (June 26, 2009). "Event: Illmind’s Blaps, Rhymes & Life III Release Party". The Smoking Section. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  25. ^ a b Gotty™ (2009-07-01). "Illmind Presents Blaps, Rhymes & Life Vol. 3 | The Smoking Section". Smokingsection.uproxx.com. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  26. ^ a b "!llmind – Blaps, Rhymes & Life v.5 (Mixtape)". 2dopeboyz. 2011-03-02. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  27. ^ "[New Audio] BLAP On The Radio with Mindkilla Beats". iStandard Producers. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  28. ^ "!llmind x Dub MD – Blaps, Rhymes & Life Vol. 4 (Mixtape) | 2dopeboyz". 2dopeboyz.okayplayer.com. 2009-12-15. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  29. ^ a b c "2Pac". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  30. ^ a b Billboard Albums: Emeritus. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-01-30.
  31. ^ http://www.amazon.com/Goya-Teach-feat-Illmind-BeatStars/dp/B00E4DK5ZO

External links[edit]

Interviews