April 23rd, 2009 5:33 pm | by Sara Moskovitz Music | Posted In: Cut of the Day

Illaj, "Use Your Heart," What Would Picasso Do? (Coast 2 Coast Mixtapes)

IllajLocal MC Illaj (Adam Lewis) and DJ Automaton (Vera Domini, formerly of Portland dance-metal outfit Swan Island) have each had their own romantic hip-hop histories with the city of roses. The two met as teenagers while attending The North West Academy of the Arts, Portland's prestigious performing arts high school located downtown (where a dozen other talented Portlanders that include Illaj's brother Malcom Lewis and classical-pop fusion artist Esperanza Spalding also attended school) and while they were both creative types, never crossed paths artistically. Until now. "We were both doing different things back then and just recently ran into each other again. I asked him to drop his new mixtape (What Would Picasso Do?, backed by Portland-centered Coast 2 Coast Mixtapes) at my party," Domini explained via phone from her day gig at the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls, where she's the head girl in charge of the camp's hip-hop wing. The North West Academy is where Automaton first flirted with turntables and beat-matching and where Lewis created his Ill Waters project; a youthful, visionary album that's still whispered about today in hip-hop circles.

The two will grace one stage tomorrow (Friday, April 24th) at Rotture, where Automaton hosts her monthly dance party, Limited Edition. In addition to playing Illaj's instrumentals from his Picasso mixtape for him to rhyme over, she'll be cutting the set up with blended in popular top 40 hip-hop beats from Lil' Jon, Crime Mob and MIMS. Illaj is excited. "This event will be a fusion of two different social networks. We're taking a step to break down those barriers", he explains. He also offers that "we'll be popping champagne bottles and Pabst tabs and wearing checkered pants and bedazzled sequence half-shirts like it's a Massive soiree" to pay homage to the hip(ster)-hop crowd collaboration.

Happy, hyper and hyphy most of the time, Lewis is gifting the good citizens of Local Cut an MP3 choice track from his mixtape. Titled, "Use Your Heart", it's a fairly good example of what Illaj is up to these days which is slick production in quality studios birthing radio-single ready pop-hop songs about girls, glitteratti, gizmos, gin and the good life. Enjoy! And if, "Use Your Heart" isn't enough, head to Lewis' website for the entire enchilada.


Hear It: Limited Edition, Friday, April 24th, Rotture, 315 SE 3rd Ave., 234-5683. 9 pm. $7. 21+.

DJ AutomatonSpace
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