Boston, MA emcees Revalation and GoD iLLa have been in the game a while, releasing music as individual artists plus being in a crew called Mic Murderers. Rev has featured and shared the stage with artists such as Ras Kass, Cormega, N.O.R.E, Termanology plus much more. Both artists have come together again to release their new album ReviLLutionAries. Having already released the single Wu Wednesday to much acclaim! We spoke to Rev and ILLa exclusively about the concept behind the album and how they first got in the game.
Revalation and GoD iLLa welcome to File Under Hip Hop. Tell us where you’re from and what was it like growing up there?
Illa: I was born in Philadelphia, but I moved to Worcester, MA at a young age.
Rev: I’m originally from South Bronx and moved to New Bedford, MA around 10 years old. New Bedford is a blue-collar fishing town and I was raised in Potter St. in the ’90s which at the time was one of the roughest projects in the city. I learned a lot from my surroundings and wouldn’t trade my upbringing for the world. Shout Out P Street!
GoD iLLa after watching House Party 1 you started rhyming. Tell us about that!
Illa: Lol..umm I think I just wanted a Sydney or Sharane.. lol no it was just great to see the different elements of hip-hop
there was the battle and the party aspect and I just dug it and still do. The best hip-hop battle ever btw haha.
What artists influenced you both and why?
Illa: Rakim, Cube, Biggie, Jay, Wu-Tang were all people I loved listening to the most. But Canibus is who made me want to write more. The punchlines and metaphors were just next level to me in 97.
Rev: Some of my favorites include KRS-One, Kool G. Rap, Wu-Tang, 2pac, De La Soul, Tribe, Big Pun, Outkast, etc. But to be honest I love all types of music. From oldies, Motown, R&B, Classic Rock, etc. All those different genres have influenced me over the years.
GoD iLLa, You stopped doing the music to start training to become a professional wrestler how did that come about?
Illa: So I love wrestling, always have even before hip hop was in my life. But I didn’t necessarily stop writing as much as it just wasn’t my main focus. Because at one point in my life I thought it was cool to get hit with a chair for some reason lol. That said it just always has and will be a passion I love, but fortunately for me that all lead to this.
Revalation, as well as being a solo artist you are also part of EMS alongside M-Dot and Mayhem. How did you all link up?
Rev: I met M-Dot and Mayhem in college. At the time myself and M-Dot linked through some mutual friends who both knew we rhymed and thought we should do some music together. I met Mayhem at an open mic showcase he used to host called “Poetic Cypher”. Then one day we all got into the studio and EMS was born in a dorm room closet filled with a mattress topper egg crates and a Shure performance microphone lol. Back before home studios were a widely prominent thing. The rest is history!
Rev, you have toured all over the US and overseas. Supporting artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Raekwon, Little Brother, and Styles P plus much more. What has been the most memorable show/country and why?
Rev: Wow that’s a great question, it’s hard to pinpoint it to one show but one of my favorites is when we opened up for Kid Cudi in Vermont. It was inside a Hockey Arena and it was such a dope experience. About 10k college kids going crazy, beach balls getting tossed around, and just overall crazy energy.
In Europe, I’d say one of my favorite shows was when M-Dot and I headlined a show in Sweden at a school event and the high school acts were some of the openers. So much talent and love for hip-hop in the venue that night and it was a dope experience to see the next generation’s love for this thing we hold dear.
Both of you met through a mutual friend called Catalyst and were in the group Mic Murderers, where you released 3 mixtapes. Tell us about the group and how it came about?
Illa: When I say I was fortunate in wrestling it’s because I met Catalyst. We got along immediately and he introduced me to Rev. I wouldn’t trade my time in the studio with these dudes for anything.
Rev: Yeah we linked up because me and Catalyst were friends since high school and grew up in the same projects. He and Illa both wrestled together and I used to go watch the matches. We were all into hip-hop and loved music so naturally, it just snowballed into us forming a collective and making music together as the Mic Murderers.
You have both been working on an album together titled ‘RevILLutionAries‘ set to be released on April 30, 2021.
First tell us about the title, which is a play on your names.
Illa: The idea was initially mine as I suggested the name the RevIllution. Rev came up with “Revolutionaries” which I liked better immediately, especially with some of the subjects we touch on.
Rev: “RevILLutionAries” not only signifies a play on our respective aliases “Rev” & “ILLA,” but also as the concept of the album which focuses on. Inspiring a stagnant society through a barrage of in-your-face rhymes and eclectic beatscapes.
What made you decide to work on a new project together?
Illa: I believe Rev was about to go on tour with M-Dot. I was working on a project with my other crew. Rev heard some of the music and got a hold of me saying when he got back we had to do something together. But before that, we were in touch as often for whatever reason. So as much as we had toyed with the idea before I think it was Rev’s way of also making sure we reconnected.
Rev: It was just time. We had talked about it for years messing around and the time was right and everything aligned just right.
The first single was ‘Wu Wednesday’ produced by Tecknowledgy with cuts by Wu-Tang affiliate DJ Flipciyde.
Tell us about the track and why you wanted to pay homage to the legendary Wu-Tang Clan?
Illa: Man I grew up admiring a lot of emcees but 36 chambers was one of the first albums constantly on repeat for me. When Rev played the beat we both got a Wu feel from it. But it was Rev that made the suggestion and had the idea of the track though.
Rev: This was our way of paying homage to a group that we both loved and that inspired us as a youth. As iLLa said we both heard the beat and the rest just fell into place. We wanted to use wordplay based on song titles, album names, aliases, and flip line references rather than just a traditional ode track.
RevILLutionAries is a versatile mixture of conceptual songs. What can we expect to hear on there?
Illa: We touch on a lot of different things from drug use to friends who didn’t know the definition of the word.
The flows and bars are top-notch and I believe we feed off of each other greatly.
Rev: You can expect well structured and thought out concepts and good music. There’s something on here for everyone. We have the hard bars and wordplay, we have the catchy joints, we have the storytelling, we have the personal joints and we have the inspirational songs to help uplift people.
The album is truly about upliftment and pushing through and reaching for excellence no matter where you’re currently at in life.
Besides yourselves are there any other features on there?
Both: Yes yes…We have Eli Greene, M-Dot, Mayhem, Kore (all of EMS), Lou Sixx (WBB), and more.
Where can people go and cop the album when it’s released?
Both: The album will be available on all digital platforms (Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Bandcamp, etc.)
We are also printing a limited run of CDs which will also be available to order through Bandcamp.
Also, we are looking into doing an exclusive number of Vinyl as well so look for the Pre-Order info soon.
What are your socials?
Yellow Balaclava Insta yellow_balaclava
Revalation and GoD iLLa, thanks for taking the time out to do the interview. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Both: Yes, the video for our single I Been will be out April 26 on youtube.com/RevalationOfEMS and the album RevILLutionAries is out April 30! So make sure ya’ll check it out and support any way you can.
We also have a special Zoom Listening Party (FREE) which is invite-only so if you’d like to check out the album first it’s on April 23rd at 9pm (EST). You just have to send me your email on Instagram or Twitter @RevOfEMS.
And lastly, thank you to Jai and FileUnderHipHop for this opportunity to tell the world about our album and a little of our backstory. Thank you for the continued support of our music. We appreciate you!
Interview by Jai Boo