EXCLUSIVE: The Boy Illinois Talks Touring With Lupe Fiasco, Upcoming Project & Embracing His Haitian Roots


(AllHipHop Features) Illinois has produced scores of Hip Hop performers that have managed to touch people across the globe with their tunes. The Midwestern state is not done cranking out exceptional musical talent.

Another potential global star hailing from the Prairie State is The Boy Illinois. Starting in 2008, the then 19-year-old college freshman began releasing his Inhale mixtape series which eventually triggered considerable media mentions, including the “Get In The Game” segment on MTV’s Rapfix Live.

Illi kept on his artistic grind by dropping several more projects such as Jean Baptiste, The Yer Tape, and his most recent set DuSable. He also earned a spot opening for fellow Chicago native Lupe Fiasco on two separate tours.

In an exclusive interview with AllHipHop.com, The Boy Illinois touches on hitting the road with Lupe, new music, and embracing his Haitian roots.

[ALSO READ: RECAP: Lupe Fiasco Spellbinds Crowd During ATL Tour Stop (VIDEO)]

Your music is very diverse. How would you describe your sound?

I would say its conscious commercial – very in tune with the sound right now, but still a viable message within the music. It’s important for me to do so to reach that larger audience and not stagnate myself by only appealing to one side.

Do you have a most memorable moment from your time on the “Tour For The Fans”?

The most memorable moment of the “Tour For The Fans” is during the second verse of “Ruling Class” I usually go a capella. Well, in Dallas, this guy worked his way up front just to rap the entire second verse with me. It’s one of those moments when you realize people are really being influenced by your music.

You have had the chance to tour with Lupe on a couple of occasions now. What was different about this go around from the first tour you did with him?

Well, this time I was the direct support and not the actual opening artist. Meaning, I go on right before Lupe, and I have more time on stage than I previously did the first time around.

What’s the status of the Pointe EP?

Pointe turned into DuSable [laughs]. The next project to come out will be a tape with the homie DJ Victoriouz called Home Court Advantage. A lot of surprises on that joint.

Is “Back Again” representative of where you are right now musically?

I would definitely say “Back Again” is def where I’m at musically. I saw myself heading in this direction a while ago. If you go back and check out Inhale Pt.3 and Pt.4, I’m doing some of the same things on that tape.

Your projects’ artwork seems to incorporate certain symbolism. What’s the meaning behind the cover art for The Yer Tape and DuSable?

Ah, yes! Most of us are familiar with the imagery on The Yer Tape, and the DuSable cover pretty much deals with the same science. It’s all science and geometry, that’s all. [laughs]

‘The Yer Tape’ & ‘DuSable’ Cover Art

You recently dropped the video for “I’m Sayin’.” How did you come up with the concept of mixing an upbeat track with dilapidated scenery?

Shout out to Dgainz on the production and the visual. We wanted to shoot something while I was on break for tour, and we knew we could knock it out. We came up with the idea to mix my clean dress with a more dilapidated background to give that perfect balance. We looked up places in the Chicagoland area and stumbled upon an old power plant. And of course it being a power plant struck my interest right off the bat, and we did it.

Do you know if Nas ever heard your track “Ruling Class ’15”?

I’m not sure, but I sure hope he gets to hear it one day. It would be an honor. Maybe even come jump in the visual.

Can you talk about your contribution to The American Nightmare?  

Shout out to Re-Revolution Radio. They reached out and have shown nothing but love. I’m contributing some music for their project.

A new generation of artists of Haitian descent are making noticeable waves in the business right now – yourself, Kodak Black, Choppa, Zoey Dollaz, etc. What does it feel like to see Zoes getting so much shine at the moment?

I love it. Being that I was raised on my mother’s side rather than my father’s [Haitian] side, I’m still new to a lot of the culture and learning pale kreyòl. I just got back to Chicago from my first trip to Miami. My OG Buggah brought me down for a Hip Hop Kreyol conference, and I spent a lot of time in Little Haiti which they are trying to gentrify at the moment.

How many pair of loafers do you own?

I own only five pair right now, but I have plans to have a whole heap of loafers. Once you go without shoe strings for so long, it’s hard to go back. [laughs]

Found Father. #Ayiti Jersey by @mizizi.shop #Yer #DuSable ??

A photo posted by G.Gaston (Illi.) (@theboyillinois) on

[ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE: Choppa Zoe Talks ‘Zoe Of Zoe’s’ Mixtape, Teaming With Tidal & Starring On ‘Money & Violence’]

Purchase The Boy Illinois’ music on iTunes and Google Play.

Follow The Boy Illinois on Twitter @TheBoyIllinois and Instagram @theboyillinois.

Stream The Boy Illinois’ DuSable below.