Ibn Inglor doesn’t live here in the present. There’s a place in the distant future where sunlight has vanished leaving only neon lights, decaying buildings and apocalyptic soundscapes. This is where Ibn Inglor lives.
Over the past year the Chicago emcee has been able to paint this dynamic, ominous picture with two highly-acclaimed pieces in the form of GawdsSpeed and New Wave and as we enter 2014, Ibn’s rise to relevance may not be that far away in the future as first thought. Interested in the unique persona Inglor has crafted and music that could quite easily feature as a soundtrack for a possible Spike Lee Sci-fi horror, Dave Reid set out to find out what the Chicago artist is all about. From Akira to obnoxious bloggers to a project that almost never happened, Ibn Inglor needs to be heard and the time is now.
SoulCulture: It’s 16:05 in Chicago, what are you up to right now?
Ibn Inglor: Chilling with the homies talking about this music, life shit. Was about to start a beat but got stuck watching cartoons. But the day’s been chill so far just always thinking about the next move and how I’m going to attack certain situations. I have a lot of developing to do and a lot more shit to pull together. Just taking everything a step at a time.
SoulCulture: And this is in Altgelds Gardens right? How have your homies reacted to the recent attention you’ve been receiving recently?
Ibn Inglor: Yeah it is; they’re more excited about this than I am actually. Being on the inside looking out I honestly don’t feel it moving for me to the level I would like. To them being on the outside looking in, they feel everything is working out for me, they feel I’m on and I’m destroying shit. For them to see my growth up close and personal they’re proud and super excited about shit to pop off, they feel I deserve all that’s happening right now.
SoulCulture: That’s an interesting point about the ‘outside looking in’ view. Knowing you have extra eyes and ears looking in, do you feel a certain amount of pressure when it comes to your next move? More so than say a year ago?
Ibn Inglor: No pressure at all, because everything still feels the same to me. I see the progress being made as far as blog rolls, which I needed and longed for but now I have it, it’s like, “ok Ibn, now you have to build a legit following. Good job, but you’re nothing without fans, you’re nothing without a solid fan backing.” I tell myself this all the time and it’s honestly the only thing I feel the need to stress over.
Even a year ago it was the same, but moreso, waiting and hoping people actually hear the music and feel the music. A year ago I was bugging. I was flipping out. I was submitting music and not getting a response. I was feeling like nobody fucked with me or my music. I was ready to stop rapping a year ago, and that’s another thing about blogs. Artists like me sit up day and fucking night finding contact info and reading “submission rules.” Like why the fuck would you have a music submission link if you not checking the motherfucking submissions. But the difference now is that, all the blogs I’ve once submitted to, post me freely now which is great and well appreciated. It’s a great feeling.
SoulCulture: And these are the same blogs you speak about on “Black Print”? Apart from being an amazing track, you brought attention to the side of the come-up that we rarely hear about from upcoming artists – comparisons, expectations, critical doubt.
Ibn Inglor: No, not all of them. Some blogs haven’t compared me at all. As an upcoming artist and having all this be new to me I feel some sort of achievement reaching the blogs, so yeah, I read everything that’s wrote about me. I get all the different understandings from each blogger and their view on me, from reaching Complex Mag, SoulCulture, Pigeons and Planes, The Fader and so on. It’s a great feeling to see so many different people write so many different things about you especially coming from a mindset where I thought nobody fucked with my music and me at all.
I honestly never known for it to be that side of the come-up that no one ever spoke on, I was honestly speaking on my upcoming and my experience. I’ve been compared to multiple rappers and a lot of people are afraid of my music – it’s too dark, it’s too creepy, and too weird. They just don’t understand it – mainly simple-minded fucks though. The comparisons reach from Big Sean to Pusha T to Tyler, The Creator to Kanye to Tech N9ne and a lot more. So when I wrote the song it wasn’t just directed at one comparison, it was directed at all comparisons. All them n—-s got their own story, their own pain, and their own grind and so the fuck do I.
SoulCulture: Could you tell us a little bit more about how the track came to fruition?
Ibn Inglor: Tom Tripp sent me a private SoundCloud link of a few beats he was working on and “Black Print” and “Justice” caught my attention. They were two separate beats I merged them together for the project. Soon as I heard “Black Print” I knew what I was going to speak on. The whole fucking web is full of black print, these emails is full of black print, twitter and blogs are all the same black letters we type daily. I can’t erase any of the shit people write and say about me so why not speak on it, why not share what’s in my heart and on my mind? Because like it or not, that’s just what the fuck I do.
There’s a story behind New Wave nobody knows, and since we’re doing this I’ll let it be known. I was on my way to Louisiana when I first heard Yeezus leaked/released and with such bad connection I hadn’t heard the album until two and half weeks after the actual release. I was already working on an Akira sample my homie Brandon sent over, I named the file “newwavex” for the fuck of it for the lack of interest. It was a mistake beat that lead into a song, which lead into a mistake mixtape.
I had got into management with Shane Morris, who then suggested I do two four-track projects to hit the market more and by that time “New Wave” and “Cold Storm” was made and was actually one whole song. Shane didn’t think the whole song would get played so we released “Cold Storm” as the first single. I ended up getting out of management that same month and then released “Waxxx,” so with people already expecting a project from me, I decided to just roll with the shit and complete it. It was completed within one-to-two months with little to no effort put into the fucking project at all. I honestly wasn’t going to release any music until next year, I was going to let GawdsSpeed hold me over until then.
SoulCulture: So it all came so close to never happening? That’s crazy.
Ibn Inglor: Yeah man, it was nothing turned into something. If I had not got with management I would have released the 8-minute long song “New Wave/Cold Storm” all for the simple fact that people kept telling me, “you need to drop some music, drop some fucking music.” I’m like, when I drop some music it’s going to be when I want to and when I drop it, it’s going to be cold and make up for the lack of dropping music. Chicago is in a state when it’s too much going on to me. Everybody is dropping tons of music and not crafting or developing in anyway. I’m not trying to just drop music. I’m trying to channel energy and emotion into what I do so well that it stands out the way it already is.
SoulCulture: You mentioned some people are afraid of your music, they fear it in a sense; maybe it’s the lack of conformity that some are not used to, but where did that sound come from?
Ibn Inglor: The sound comes from many places, but its entirety comes from my heart and ears. I wanted it to be dramatic, cinematic and metaphoric. Le’Land for example was a name I gave my hood (Altgeld Gardens) and just spoke on my mom wanting me to get a Link Card but I didn’t and a lot more. I love movie soundtracks and movie sounding songs; I don’t feel I’ve reached that level just yet but that’s my aim. Supernatural has been one of the things I’ve grown on and drawn from, along with my hood, favourite TV show, my pain, my ex-girlfriend, family and just everything moulded all into one.
The sound is me. Some call it dark but I just call it emotion. We are expressing ourselves in our way, with our pain and our joy. GawdsSpeed was just about doing ignorant shit like we took this noise part from the Slender Game and put it at the end of “Goddess Gold.” It was our “transition” sound so every time you hear that you know the songs about to switch into a dope ending. I was challenging myself and my producers, pushing them to new levels of MY understanding and capturing a emotion that was deep down in all of us.
SoulCulture: I can appreciate that thoroughly and that’s the charm to your music I think; your awareness of who you are, what you need to do, that unambiguous channel of energy is very easy to feed off for a listener. In a sense you’re an entity for that projection of what others want and strive for but when did you decide music would be that vessel, that vehicle to get it all out?
Ibn Inglor: When I first noticed how alone I was as a child. My mom worked and still works seven days a week, my brother is in the streets so the majority of my childhood was me being left in the house with nobody to talk to. I’ve never had a real let out until I sat down and just started writing. My cousin got me into battle rapping in 2005 and I was doing that up until 2007. I was so stuck to the computer during those years that I barely went outside, I barely communicated with anybody.
All the pain that was built up in me and is still building is what was always my fuel and drives me to express. I tried to express through football and I’ve injured a few people while also injuring myself, but music was just stronger than football. I had dreams of playing college ball at Ohio State University but music washed that out. I was good at a lot of stuff but making music and writing my pain on paper then rapping it to my friends and seeing how it affected them and related to them just made my want to reach higher goals.
SoulCulture: The hustle and drive is plain to see and it’s something we see more and more young artists do these days, almost turning their backs on industry norms. We see a lot of that from Chicago, much like its diverse musical evolutions. Kanye with his ever mutating sound, Keef with his drill rap, Chance with his infectious attitude and you with your dark humane truths – why do you think your City manages to foster such broad insights?
Ibn Inglor: Because even though everybody may come from the hood, we still have a bright vision we see for ourselves, we still have this light inside of us that nobody else in the hood might have had. We’ve managed to express ourselves, our own individual ways and have others relate to our pain, our struggles and our vision. Different sounds come from different inspirations and different influences, different hoods and different upbringings. Everybody didn’t have a mom who played house music growing up, everybody didn’t have a dad that was there for them so the sound’s a collective of one’s own pain, one’s own vision and upbringing. I never did heavy ass drugs it just wasn’t what I was around so I never got into it like others, I’ve smoked and drank before, but I’m neither a smoker nor a drinker.
It’s mainly all about how and where people lived of out their childhood and once you’ve got someone to understand your story and your feelings, you win. You win over the lost kids, the kids who’ve been called weird their whole life, the loners; you win them all over because they can now relate to what we’re talking about.
New Wave is available for download now here.