ILLFIGHTYOU should be promoting their second album right now. Instead the Tacoma rap trio is on indefinite, perhaps permanent hiatus. Planned music videos have been abandoned, money that was invested is going nowhere. There’s still love. But a lot of frustration too.
Rewind to 2013: their mosh pit-starting “Threats” was on the national radar, rare for an act from their neck of the woods. Their self-titled debut album had a rowdy, Odd Future-esque appeal, and their trajectory looked promising. They got an early writeup from VICE, later coverage in Pitchfork, and were local superstars – large enough for one scene member, Aramis Johnson, to tell me that based on witnessing their rise, he decided to stay in Tacoma rather than move to a different city to pursue music. ILLFIGHTYOU showed Johnson it was possible to remain home and still have a big impact. Now, he’s in the band Enumclaw, who are getting big looks on Pitchfork, Stereogum, and national radio airplay on L.A.’s KROQ.
ILLFIGHTYOU’s apparent breakup didn’t happen because the music was lacking. The group’s second album ILLFIGHTYOUTOO came out last Halloween, and was a step up from their attention-grabbing debut in almost every category. They were the same fuck-shit-up band of brothers, but with key differences. The production (as usual by producer/rapper Khris P) was more fleshed out, using samples more creatively, and with a thick bass tone pushed to the front of the mix. Khris also leveled up as a rapper, showcasing personal subject matter and more of his sense of humor. Glenn morphed into a more captivating character than before, a horny thugged-out woodsman. And UGLYFRANK, the group’s “golden child” as Glenn puts it – who stood out strongly on the group’s first album (and on solo town classics like “Bossa”) – remained razor sharp. It could be argued he didn’t grow as much. But his in-pocket flows were anything but boring.
At least initially, the 12 tracks on ILLFIGHTYOUTOO were slept on. The group was relying solely on the strength of the music for a buzz, and it didn’t help that they had no formal PR, no manager, and took a long-ass time between projects. Khris jokes they were following Dr. Dre’s once-every-seven-years formula. It could be that the project was a slow burn, but now we’ll never know. According to the two other members, Frank quit the band. And while music by all three individually is currently in-progress, there’s no guarantee whether any of it will be together.
I got on the phone with Khris P and Glenn to discuss what looks for all intents and purposes to be the end of the road for ILLFIGHTYOU. They were eager to talk, to let fans know what’s been going on. We also spoke about how much changed for them, album to album; how this isn’t actually the first time the group’s future was in jeopardy; and which musicians to look out for next from Tacoma. – Andrew Matson
Let’s just get right into it. What’s up, did you guys break up?
Glenn: Yeah, RIP.
Khris: Yeah, ILLFIGHTYOU’s over. Not necessarily by our wishes, the people you’re in this conversation with. But yeah ILLFIGHTYOU’s over now. It was a good seven years. I think about Dr. Dre all the time. Dr. Dre only dropped his albums every seven years…therefore I look at us like Dr. Dre.
Glenn: I’ll take that.
Is it disrespectful that we don’t have Frank on this call? Does he not want to be on this call?
Glenn: I don’t think it’s disrespectful. I reached out to him and told him this was happening. He wishes the best for both Khris and I, although it is in a very odd way. But he does wish us the best. I extended the offer for him to be on this call, and he did not want to be.
So did he quit?
Glenn: I don’t know man. Well, we had a little disagreement about a video, and it was a pretty minor disagreement, and it just turned into something bigger. We don’t really know what he’s feeling. He’s been so vague about it. His mind might be elsewhere. I have no idea. He says he’s gonna drop a tape, and I hope he does, and I hope it’s tight. I just know he’s not interested in being in the group anymore.
Khris: It was definitely super left field. We had hella shit set up, ready to go, and when it was crunch time it just stopped. He was done.
Can you just be a duo?
Khris: Yeah, you can. I was talking about this last night. We had something like this happen the first go-round. With Glenn. Glenn had to step back for a second the first go-round, and it was just me and Frank running around doing things. That’s how you got the “Potty” video and stuff like that.
We were doing the two-man thing for that time period, but it didn’t feel like the full run-down that you got from the group. I never looked at myself as a front-man anyway, I always thought Glenn and Frank were the front men. I just wanted to produce it. And take that role. To me it even feels weird to be one of those people – not in an unconfident way, but just my idea of the group.
Glenn: It was a lot different that time with me, I was having a baby and it was just a real life change. I talked to the guys about it. And it sucked, but it wasn’t like this time, where it just kind of stopped. It’s been really difficult to move on.
Khris: Cuz we had a few things come up.
Glenn: We’ve been getting some opportunities and it’s hard to turn them down. It was honestly hard for me to think about continuing to make music. I’m 35. But that was short-lived. I still feel like I have something really good to offer. And honestly Khris and I have been making music these past couple weeks, and I’m sounding better than on this most recent album. But I think the album that we all dropped is so fucking good. I’m finally at a point where I’m content with it being over with. But it fucking sucks. I’m OK with it but I’m excited to get on with it…and especially let the fans know. I think we’re all going to be friends going forward. But I need the fans to have an explanation.
Khris: That’s what sucks. We’re doing this interview, and the person who left the group, we gotta explain what’s going on…it’s hella weird. And fans are asking questions, and it’s just weird.
And you have this album that’s still…
You should still be promoting it.
Glenn: We had a whole rollout going. We were in the middle of a whole rollout. We had a couple videos, some money invested into it, and it’s a hard pill to swallow.
Well I want you both to know that you have fans, and the album is good. And further, I was talking to Aramis from the band Enumclaw, who are blowing up right now, and he said you all were the reason he stayed in Tacoma instead of going elsewhere to pursue his artistic dreams. You let him know it was possible to be based in Tacoma and still capture the national attention. Which hasn’t always been the case. So you’re inspirational to the next wave, if you didn’t know.
Khris: I love Aramis. I talk to him damn near every day.
Glenn: I was just talking about how proud of him I am. I remember when he was hanging out at [local boutique] eTc, when he was in a group called West Village.
Khris: You saying that, Matson… I’m a really passionate person. And people get embarrassed to be passionate. For example to come from somewhere like Tacoma, like where the fuck is Tacoma? And to be someone to make that impact, and help someone from this small-ass town know that it’s possible, I don’t understand, why wouldn’t you want to do that? Or why people wouldn’t be interested in helping others in that way?
Khris I gotta tell you since you’re on the line, the sampling on the album is great, and the way the bass is mixed, I love it. So good job.
Khris: You know what, thank you for saying that. I was being told – and shout out to Matt Baloogz – I was being told that the mixing wasn’t that good.
I thought it was so strong, that it really had a point of view.
Khris: That really helps. Thank you. It was a certain sound I wanted to go for. But I was being met with negativity in a way, so I wasn’t sure if it was sounding good or not.
Well I don’t know what you were going for, but you might have nailed it.
Khris: I was going for ILLFIGHTYOU. The depths of the skreets. The production was a big focus. I wanted to change that sound. The first go-round sound, I was talking to someone last night and they were saying, “Weren’t you guys part of Odd Future?” And I was like, Nah we weren’t part of it or anything, but the sounds on it…that was one thing I wanted to get away from.
The two albums are different in a bunch of ways, but one of them is, and no disrespect to either of you, but when you came out Frank was the breakout star.
Glenn: The golden child.
Khris: We know!