Three white kids hailing from Smithsburg, a rural town in Western Maryland, decide to form a rap group. It sounds like the start of an awful joke, with the punch line being the band’s name, Kings of Ill. But listeners’ laughs are lost after hearing the band’s debut mix tape, “Consumed by Consumables.”
“Consumables” is surprisingly good. It avoids most of the pitfalls that college-aged rappers fall into. Some really clever lyricism is present, and the beats are consistently decent. The three kings, however, can come across as a bit green. There are some dead lines and unapologetically weird humor, but the group’s potential allows its audience to overlook these blemishes.
“We literally have no boundaries — lyrically and musically. We thrive off of shock value, but we’re all pretty intellectual in our own respects,” Jeremy Boyd, a KOI member, said. “Each of us brings something different which is an advantage of working as a group. Most up- and- comers have to do it themselves, but we have each other.”
Because of this partnership, the members of the band succeed in areas that they would struggle with individually.
“All three of us bring different aspects to each song. Jeremy’s diction is amazing, and he thinks of metaphors that just make you say ‘damn how did he think of that,’” Robert Needy, one of the Kings of Ill, said.“[Group member Justin Lace] just says some of the weirdest off the wall shit that makes you laugh, but at the same time he’s said some of the most powerful things I’ve ever heard. I just try to be as real as I can and give people my story in a creative way.”
Needy’s lyricism is not the greatest. He makes up for this with the way that his words flow. What he lacks in wordplay is picked up by Boyd’s precise, at times staggering punch lines. Lace will also put down some clever abstract verses that are tied to the heavy influence acid rock has on his music.
The group is working on a new mix tape that is unnamed at the moment, but it has the Kings feeling confident.
“We’re like 10 songs deep on a new project which doesn’t have a title or a release date yet, so don’t ask. But it’s epic. We’re finally branching out and working with other artists,” Boyd said.
These guys are not pretentious about their future hip-hop careers. While they would all welcome success, none are banking on it. Each member has different. Lace has an eventual dream of starting an after-school music production program that could serve as a critique of modern musicians.
“After all the time and money we’ve spent, we can only hope [Kings of Ill] go in the right direction,” Boyd said. “But at the end of the day, I’m just proud of what we do, even if we turn out to be 40-year-old losers cutting B-list rap records.”