Exclusive: Illmaculate explains how "Woodstock" came about and why he references Howard Zinn and others.
When Illmaculate heard the production for the OnlyOne-assisted "Woodstock," a song off his recently-released effort, Clay Pigeons, the rapper was inspired to analyze a past decade.
"The beat really inspired the song and its content," Illmaculate says. "After hearing it, I actually went and watched a bunch of old Woodstock footage, some of which even ended up in the video. It had that classic, Woodstock '69, type of feel to me, but updated and more current. Everything else, as far as the content, was just what was going on in my head, from, 'Made a wish upon that UAV' referencing Drone warfare and the increasing presence of this technology, to the Howard Zinn-inspired 'You can't be neutral on a moving train.'
"The song being sort of a current play on the idea of Woodstock...it kind of put me in that time frame," he adds. "Put me in the mind frame of social dialogue that was current at that time. The references to Fred Hampton, Edgar Hoover, Squad 2, or the Race Squad, obviously being inspired by the events that happened in the late '60s."
Illmaculate Explains Nas, Rakim, Jay Z & Howard Zinn Influence
These references were inspired by a variety of sources, Illmac says, including literature.
"I believe I was reading, A People's History of the United States [by] Howard Zinn, The Greatest Salesman in the World [by] O.G. Mandino, Rebellious Spirits [by] Khalil Gibran and a couple other books around the same time this song was made," Illmac recalls.
Beyond literature, the Oregon emcee has also pulled inspiration for his lyrics from Rap music.
"We take information from all the music and media we consume," the Oregon emcee says. "I don't know that I was seeking information in raps I heard, as much as digesting it as it came. Rappers who now strike me as most efficient at conveying complex messages simply, are those like, Tupac, Rakim, Nas and a few others, who you can tell embody their message. It doesn't come off like they're trying to force feed you anything, as much as them being who they are and that translating in their music."
Clay Pigeons is available for streaming below.