People with Passion: The Boy Illinois

People with Passion

The Boy Illinois

June 7, 2011

The Boy Illinois. (photo courtesy of

On June 1, Boy Illinois‘s music video “I Quit” won the fourth “3 Music Videos You Haven’t Seen Yet” contest at ChicagoNow’s Lists That Actually Matter, topping Rachele Eve’s “Harold Moon” and Eyes Manouche’s “Short Film (Djelem Djelem).” (NOTE: Rachele Eve took the lead well after the 7 p.m. deadline.)

Boy Illinois and I met up at The Ambulance Factory to discuss the making of the song and its video, his collaboration with director Xack Gibson, setting a house on fire, and his introduction to hip-hop.

I have to give all credit to Xack. The song came out a minute ago. Maybe like two or three months before Inhale Pt. 3 came out. I re-released it maybe a month and a half ago, and Xack, as soon as he heard it, shot me an email with an idea for a video. He was showing that he could do some CGI work with the fire and stuff, which really made the video look really crazy. That’s what everybody says. And I was like, “Cool, I’m down with the whole idea.” It ended up flowing beautifully.

He showed me an example. Whenever someone says they can do something, I want to see exactly what it is. If I can’t see it right now, I want to at least see the example. He sent a great example of a video – I can’t remember the name right now, but it looked dope. I was like, “Let me do this. It’s different. Whatever. Let’s do it.” Because that’s how I am.

I’ve always wondered about the career movement from music into acting. It seems like a lot of musicians are able to move right in. And I wonder if that’s because they have all this experience shooting music videos…

When I do music videos, I really just try to get into the mood that I was in when I was making the song. I just want to match that same energy and give you the visual component to the audio that you had before. That’s all I’m trying to do.

You try to match it as best as you can. Sometimes it’s not too hard to duplicate. If you’re in a certain state of mind while you record music, then you’re probably in that state of mind all the time. So it’s not too hard. I don’t really think I’m any kind of actor or anything like that. But that might be the reason – some people, they have to play certain roles in certain music videos, and maybe that leads them into trying to become an actor or actress. But it’s probably the money. (Laughs.) There’s big money to do movies.

How’s the response been to the video?

It’s been great. It reached a certain amount of views quicker than any other video that I’d released. I was like, “Oh, this is dope.” Got put on a couple of new blogs, bigger blogs. I was like, “That’s dope too.” I’m starting to get a little more recognition, so it’s been a nice, a great response for it.

Does that change your work habits at all? Do you take it more seriously now?

(Smiles.) I’ve already been taking it seriously. This is my life. I gotta make a career out of this. Mama’s been sweating me about it, so I’m going hard. Tomorrow’s not promised. I gotta do what I gotta do.

So let me ask you: this is the People with Passion series. What do you love about hip-hop?

The creative aspect of it. I guess it’s fun to try to get a certain point across, and do it in a creative way where you have to make people actually think and put thought to it. I love that. Just being creative. That’s the thing I’m most attracted to.

What attracted you to it first as a fan?

The rhythm. The first time I actually heard a rap song and could comprehend what they were actually saying, I was like, “They’re rhyming. Words. This is cool!” You can’t do this with just regular talk in a conversation. This takes effort and some type of skill. To get a point across in a certain way as if you’re conversating, but putting it into song form – that’s cold.

My first cassette tape, my grandma – shout out to grandma – she took me to Sam Goody or something like that, and she bought me Bone Thugs E. 1999. Oh man. I was a Bone Thugs fan early. Love them. I couldn’t understand half of the stuff they were saying, but it was dope anyway.

Jack M Silverstein covers music, sports, and culture in Chicago. His book “Our President” is available at Amazon. Hit him up on Twitter @ReadJack, and follow his work at ChicagoNow’s Lists That Actually Matter.

* New “3 Music Videos You Haven’t Seen Yet” coming next Wednesday!

* Want your music video included in the contest? Tweet Jack a link @ReadJack with hashtag #3MV, or email him at

* 29 MAY 2011 — more with Illi from ReadJack


4 Replies to “People with Passion: The Boy Illinois”

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