This, to me, is what a breakout single looks and sounds like. Now, granted, if I were a true tastemaker, the Shaky Hands would be bigger than the Arcade Fire. But this new Illmac single—"Under Their Radar, Over Their Heads"—is the closest thing to a breakout rap single I've heard come out of Portland since Lifesavas' heyday. It's in the minimal and organic G_Force beat, it's in the speedy tough-guy verses (not, in my opinion, Illmac's finest rapping, but a fantastic example of him doing mainstream his way) and it's in the iconic-looking Sam Lingle video. This one just sticks.
My first thought here was "Bone Thugs N Harmony meeting Shabazz Palaces out at 8 Mile
." I'm gonna stick with it, though every time I listen I hear a cool new melodic element or a verse that's deeper upon close inspection than it was on the surface. I must sound like a broken record pushing Illmac on the people the way I do, but I'm just not sure there's a more compelling, complete package in Portland hip-hop than this. I could see this blowing up. This should blow up. We'll see. Illmac's new album, Skrill Talk
, drops on April 17.