by Justin Schell •
On Thursday night, one of Minneapolis’s brightest hip-hop groups, the aptly-named Illuminous 3, will celebrate the release of their long-awaited debut album Room with some of their closest friends, including Kanser, the Usual Suspects, and Toki Wright. If you’ve been to a rap show at the Dinkytowner, you’ve probably seen Ill 3 member FranzDiego.com hangin’ outside rocking fluorescent gear, a briefcase, and a boombox circa LL Cool J’s Radio slung over one shoulder. As part of the Twin Cities supergroup The Chosen Few (which includes Träma, DJ Snuggles, St. Paul Slim, and Toki Wright), Illuminous 3 have garnered a reputation for some of the most entertaining shows around, and Thursday’s show at the 7th Street Entry should not disappoint.
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Lyrically, FranzDiego, along with fellow MCs Mavin MC and Freez, intensely represent where they come from—as well as many of the problems young folks, especially young folks of color, face in the Cities. On songs like “94” and “Rep,” the three MCs deftly combine a travelogue through the Cities’s highways and byways with their own personal histories. Yet on “Super Villains,” over some cheesy synths you might hear on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, all three MCs take turns blurring the line between hero and villain. The three MCs themselves are a testament to racial collaboration through hip-hop, with the group representing a mixture of white, African-American, Latino, and Native roots.
Room showcases the different talents and themes not only of the three MCs that make up Illuminous 3 (or Ill 3 for short), but also the Twin Cities production collective known as Famfeud. Room features production from members Medium Zach (of Big Quarters), Benzilla, King Karnov, and Noam the Drummer. Their contributions take the form of Benzilla’s noir-jazz strings on “BSP Anthem” to Karnov’s stuttering piano hits on “Average Day.” Room is surely one of the best Twin Cities hip-hop albums released this year, and Thursday night’s show could easily be a candidate for show of the year.
Published on 12/10/08. Photo by B Fresh Photography.