Radiating spontaneity and self-empowerment while showing off a perfect ear for cross-genre collaborators, Illy has become one of Australia’s most successful—and pop-friendly—rappers. The Melbourne MC (born Alasdair Murray in Ormond, Victoria in 1986) brings out the best in his guests, most notably in female singers from outside the world of hip-hop (G Flip, Owl Eyes, Anne-Marie). Anchored by woozy yet insistent vocals by indie-pop star Vera Blue, his 2016 hit “Papercuts” went triple platinum in Australia, while Illy himself cameoed alongside Ecca Vandal on Hilltop Hoods’ charisma-stacked “Exit Sign.” It’s not just vocal collabs that Illy judges so well: He has worked repeatedly with producer M-Phazes (Eminem, Demi Lovato) since his 2009 debut, Long Story Short, establishing a close partnership that yields smooth, bouncy rap overlapping openly with pop, rock, and electronic music. Lyrically, Illy defines himself with a cheeky conversational flow that positions him as a wise-cracking everyman, celebrating his hard-won victories on “Forget It” and taking down trolls and other haters via the gleeful bravado of “Swear Jar.” Whether dispensing punchlines with impressive fluidity or revealing deeper feelings, he puts his personality front and center across playfully confident anthems.
BORNSeptember 6, 1986