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Aussie Hip-Hop Artist Illy Is The Feminist Rapper You Need To Know

The law student turned rapper isn't about to be put in a box.

24/02/2017 4:23 PM AEDT | Updated 28/02/2017 11:07 AM AEDT
Warner Music
Leave your stereotypes at the door, thanks.

The hip-hop scene isn't exactly the kind of place you'd expect to find a feminist, though Alasdair David George Murray -- AKA Illy -- is here to prove you wrong.

The 30-year-old rapper studied law before finding music and after almost a decade in the industry, broke out in a big way last year with a string of hit songs and his fifth studio album, Two Degrees.

"I always enjoyed writing, even as a kid I'd write songs or 'dumb' poems and then at 12 or 13 I heard hip-hop music for the first time and just connected with it," Melbourne-based Illy said.

"I was at that age where that rebelliousness really does sort of resonate with you."

While his genre of choice may have a long history with misogyny, for Illy the music was more about the escape and his own lyrics are far from the derogatory realm some artists dabble in.

It's not yet five minutes into our conversation and we're talking about Illy's mother. His "superhero", who recently found herself at the centre of a viral Facebook post of Illy's own doing.

After reading a certain columnist's out-of-touch views on working mothers, Illy took the opportunity to stand up (have a read, below).

"It's something that just really pissed me off. I know that the whole point is to get a reaction but sometimes I think a reaction can still be warranted -- and so, she got one," Illy said.

With a speech pathologist mother and high school teacher father, Illy is the first to admit they've played a huge part in where he is today.

"After reading all the comments I didn't realise the depth of guilt women and mums felt after that article, it's upsetting that people are made to feel like that for just doing their best, it's kind of f*cked up," Illy said.

Warner Music
Illy's 'Two Degrees' tour kicks off in March.

As for homing in on other political matters, he admits it's something he tries to steer clear of.

"I follow it quite closely and if I let it get into my socials, I wouldn't shut up about it and it becomes a bit of a drag for people that don't want to hear it."

With six ARIA Award nominations including Best Male Artist for the hit single 'Paper Cuts', Illy admits he's in the best spot creatively that he's ever been.

And in an industry where overnight success seems rampant, Illy is living proof it mostly comes down to grit, determination and sometimes a few unlikely detours.

"I screwed up high school and spent a year working at a factory doing furniture removals," Illy said.

"While I was working there I sat a test to get into law school -- and I got in."

Faced with the choice of staying at the factory or going back to study, he decided law school would be "a better use" of his time.

Sometimes life isn't about making the 'right' choices. Some of the best times are when you do the opposite. 'Catch 22' is about that.Illy

Fast-forward to now and you could be mistaken for thinking his hit track 'Catch 22' is a pretty good metaphor for that time in his life ("Some of it's worth the risk, hoping you don't forget/Bad as the world can get none of it's permanent").

"Sometimes life isn't about making the 'right' choices. Some of the best times are when you do the opposite. 'Catch 22' is about that," Illy said.

As he prepares to kick off his national tour it's clear this is an artist on the cusp of big things.

Looks like those 'dumb' poems weren't all that dumb after all.

Illy's 'Two Degrees' tour

Saturday March 25, Fremantale

Friday March 31, Adelaide

Saturday April 1, Melbourne

Friday April 7, Sydney

Tickets are available from illyal.com or via Live Nation.


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