Every once in a while, in those gusts of Chicago winds, you'll come across something worth keeping. And that's precisely what happened when The Boy Illinois crept onto the music scene. The 25-year-old University of Illinois college drop-out is on a miss...
Every once in a while, in those gusts of Chicago winds, you'll come across something worth keeping. And that's precisely what happened when The Boy Illinois crept onto the music scene. The 25-year-old University of Illinois college drop-out is on a mission to grab the ears of listeners with slick delivery, sharp wordplay and most importantly by doing what he does best – being himself. And the mission, though not complete, is well underway.
Many have tried to compare him to other hip-hop artists but, The Boy Illinois or better known as Illi, is in a league of his own. With honest, heartfelt lyrics coupled with hard hitting beats mostly from in-house production duo, The Baron Boys, who've produced for the likes of Drake, Nipsey Hussle, Bow Wow and more; the young lyricist, performer and songwriter plans to follow in the footsteps of Chicago artists before him, while carving out his own place in music history.
Making the decision to leave college early isn't for everyone, however for William Dalton it wasn't so much a decision but a necessity. "I started really performing and decided that I needed to take this [music] seriously. I knew this is what I wanted my career to be", says The Boy Illinois. The son of a musician and singer, music was always in his home while growing up, and the influence of old school jazz and R&B is quite apparent as you listen to his distinct ability to harmonize on his own hooks. "I would get tired of trying to find singers to sing my hooks the way I wrote them", says Illinois. "So I would just do them by myself, and it worked."
He first made noise in 2008, with the release of Inhale Part 1: State Representative. 19-years-old, a freshman in college and with no manager, the project is raw and definitely reflects a young Illinois, however it was apparent even from the beginning that he had a natural ability to express his life through music.
A year later in August 2009 he released hjs sophomore mixtape Inhale Part 2: Loyalty Before the Love on which he showed amazing lyrical growth and overall progression as an artist. More poised, and with all original production, the project caught the attention of many lifestyle and music blogs officially putting Illi on the map as an up-and-coming hip-hop artist. However, it wasn't until his third effort in October 2010, Inhale Pt. 3: After School Program, that Illinois would start to become recognized as one of Chicago's "next up".
With a polished, commercial yet genuine sound, incredible production, over 12,000 downloads, 7 music videos culminating in over 33,000 views on YouTube, and a solid team, Illinois slowly but steadily has begun to take his reign if you may. One of his big breaks came in August of 2011 when his music video for popular single Cardigan Sweater was chosen to be featured on MTV's Rapfix Live 'Get in the Game' segment. Receiving praise from host Sway and special guest Game who commented that The Boy Illinois "fits right into today's hip-hop", he was one of the few 'Get in the Game' artists invited back to participate in Rapfix's One Year Anniversary show. It was there that The Boy Illinois proved why exactly he's next to shine with a standout freestyle during on on-air cipher. He's gone on to be featured on Sirius XM Shade 45 Sway in the Morning show, XXL, The Source, HipHopDX, Thisis50 and more, and recently on October 25, 2011, The Boy Illinois celebrated the release of his fourth mixtape Inhale Pt. 4: Horai, at the coveted House of Blues with a private listening party presented by DJBooth. Can you say progress?
Rapping since the age of 15 and with almost 4 official years in the game, The Boy Illinois isn't a fad. He's not just selling great singles but is creating a timeless music catalog that can be revisited over and over. He isn't an artist that was meant to "blow up" quickly either, but rather an artist you take the time to get to know and begin to appreciate over time. The greats often take time to reach greatness, and if anything can be said for William Dalton, it is that he will without a doubt reach greatness in his own time and on his own terms. "Yer."