Updated: Mar 4, 2021
Croaking from the mosh at PENGSHUi's Bournemouth show, we caught up with Illaman to talk all things music. A Potent Funk mainstay, he's a flamegrilled frontman who brings fire to any type of track. Get to know the bloke behind the beard, and find out why you should "nibble on whatever."
What Has Illaman got going on this year?
"Loads man. PENGSHUi released our first album 21st Feb which is obviously fucking sick. Me and Dabbla are working on a joint album produced by Sumgii. I've got a solo album almost ready, which is coming out on quite a big label but I can't say anything yet. Then I've got two more EPs finished for Potent Funk, I'll start letting off bits soon, I just need the PENGSHUi album to digest. Second PENGSHUi album is already in the works, and yeah, just touring man. Doing this tour, and then we've got a bunch of really big shows that I can't say nothin' about yet, but some pretty fucking mad supports. Then hopefully touring again before the end of the year, but just working bruv, staying busy."
How has the tour gone so far?
"Incredible. We did our first headline tour which was obviously fun, but I didn't think we were ready for it at that point to be honest. We had a bit of music out and a bit of a buzz but we hadn't put an album out or an EP so I was a bit nervous. But that first tour was nuts because people knew the words and shit, which was gas. Ticket sales weren't incredible but we had a good thirty to fifty people at every show, and when you have thirty to fifty people going mad in a venue, you feel it. So this one is a massive step up, as you saw, people know all the words and that's the thing that gasses me up the most. It shows me people are listening. So I'm super happy that people are reacting well to it because it's a new venture bruv and you never know how people are gunna take shit but so far it's been great. So yeah, excited and happy."
What's the situation with Still A Problem?
"Dubbledge is currently living and being a great human being, just doing him at the moment. I'm coaxing him back slowly but surely, I message him like once a week with a beat like 'What about this one? What about This One?'. I'm drawing him out and I'll continue to draw him out until the end of time 'cos to me Dubbledge is one of the best in the UK. He's my top five and always has been. There's videos of old Dubbledge freestyles and if you look and scroll down to the comments there's comments from me in 2009 being like 'Oh my god bruv'. Gassed, I've loved Dubbledge from when I started rapping. So yeah, Still A Problem is still a problem, we just need to cause some problems in the studio. But me, Jed [Sumgii] and Dabbla are working on bits man and some of it is naughty."
the PENGSHUi album features Footsie and Vulgatron, who do you want to work with from the rock/punk side of things?
"Yeah loads of people man. I've always been into metal, I love listening to metal, but I've not been in it at this capacity for a long time so I'm discovering a lot of new people and getting to tour with local bands. But Ho99o9 are sick, Enter Shikari... I've been chatting to Rou their frontman and he's a G. There's a couple of other bits and pieces but I can't say nothin' otherwise management will kick me in the face! But for the next album there's some nuts shit planned."
What are the benefits of being a hybrid in life and music?
"You can move freely and that's something I've always done. I've flittered between hip hop and 140, I do a lot of drum and bass shit as well so yeah, it's important man. Especially as a Londoner 'cos there's so many different styles of music that have come out of London. I grew up in the jungle and garage scene back in the day, then got into Task Force and Skinnyman, Roots Manuva, Blak Twang, Mud Family, Mongo... they was the guys I was listening to and it was straight sick hip hop shit, Jehst, Beggars, you know what I mean? So yeah the importance of that for me is it gives you the ability to be thoroughly creative. There's no restriction or barrier, you don't feel like you have to fit into anything in order to enjoy creating. The great thing about flittering between shit is you get to experience loads of different shit. You don't get shit like tonight at a hip hop night. Well, you do get mosh pits but this is some different mosh pit. Experiencing different shit, that's what life's about. Why just eat one thing for your whole life? Nibble on whatever, get stuck in init."
[Kid Bookie and Jon E Clayface jump in but can't get any words out]
"He can't talk 'cos he's fucked up his throat but go listen to Kid Bookie - fucking legend. The man has worked with Corey Taylor from Slipknot, he's got a whole bag of incredible collaborations coming up. Shout outs to Jon E Clayface, original grime don, South London is in the fucking house. Go and check these man out."
Next question was gunna be shout outs so... any more?
"Shout outs to Dabbla, shout outs to Sumgii, shout outs to my nan, my little brother Josh. Shout outs to Potent Funk, fucking Beggars, PAV4N, Metropolis, Nonames. All the family init. Shout out to you my brother."