Flow epidemic: Sacramento rapper Illecism
Illecism raps into the mainstream
Rapper Eurazmus Forh, a.k.a. Illecism, moved to Sacramento at age 15. Up to that time, Illecism had lived in Maryland with his aunt, who’d recently kicked him out. Before that, his grandma and mom had given him the boot. “I’d always be on the streets, wanting to rap,” Illecism says of life on the East Coast and in El Paso, Texas, living in apartments smaller than his new studio in Natomas, where nowadays he more or less resides.
Illecism has a home, but barely can afford to drive from one side of Natomas to his studio on the other. “My gas tank is always on ‘E.’ It’s never full. I can’t even get past the second line on the damn gauge.” But he’s confident. Cocky. And young, hence naive. But as he elucidates his goals—release his debut, Freshman Friday, and get a five-mic rating in The Source magazine—and as you listen to his mix-tape release, Have a Refreshment Vol. 1, you realize he’s unique. At 19, he’s unproven, sure. But Tupac Shakur was only 20 when 2Pacalypse Now hit the streets. OK—that’s talk of a legend. For Illecism, it’s the beginning.
The black paint on his studio walls is still fresh. The isolation booth and consoles are under construction. CDs of beats rest atop a stereo. Inch-thick notebooks decorate the floor. “I sit here in this studio till 3 o’clock in the morning. I come here at 8 in the morning. The only time I leave is when I go get something to eat. Then I come right back in here and I write my ass off,” he says. He isn’t lying; the 120-page notebooks are filled beginning to end.
Open up a notebook: He scribbles hooks, jokes and catch phrases in the horizon, then writes the last verse first and works backward. “There’s so much mathematics behind it,” he says of his raps. Illecism began rapping at age 11, but it wasn’t till age 16 that the Raleigh, N.C.-born musician made his skills known. He met his producer, Nicatyne, at Inderkum High School in Natomas. They ran track and field together. One day, Nic saw Illecism penning raps on his notepad in class, and they’ve been collaborating the four years since. He turned down a full ride for track to CSU Chico to remain in Sac and do music.
He dropped his first release last year. “Have a Refreshment, Vol 1 was just to let people know who I was,” he explains. Nic was already on the scene producing League of Ordinary Gentleman, and Nic had Illecism’s back, but he still needed to prove himself. So he made Refreshment. DJ Oasis of the Neighborhood Watch mixed it. Illecism put Refreshment on DatPiff, one of the biggest online mix-tape Web sites, thinking, “No one’s gonna listen to this shit.” It got a five-star rating, the highest. The same rating as Lil Wayne’s Dedication 2. The same as Joe Budden’s Mood Muzik 2. He didn’t quite understand it.
But if you hung out in Natomas, you’d likely heard of Illecism’s skill. He was a battler, and never lost—30-0 record. Sometimes, he’d take home a cool Benjamin for winning. Crowds, even police, would gather outside the Pick Up Stix to watch him flow.
“Rap what you want to rap about, and have fun,” he says. “That’s what we’ve lost about the genre. Everybody wants T-Pain on their hook. Everybody wants to wear a chain. Everybody drives a nice-ass car.” Illecism thanks God after writing every verse. He’s never had to pay for studio time. He’s never had to pay for a beat. He’s grateful. He’s on his way.