iLL LiaD: Greek Tragedy Is Gangsta

Categories: Ask a Rapper

The hip-hop world is a less than sensible place - lots of times, you're even required to clarify when bad means bad and when bad means good - so once a week we're going to get with a rapper and ask them to explain things. Have something you always wanted to ask a rapper? Email it to

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Photos by Clyde Ellinton Grant/
This Week's Rapper: iLL LiaD

This Week's Subject(s): Greek Mythology (duh) and Nicki Minaj

Ask A Rapper: Do you find that a lot of rappers' names have a basis in Greek mythology?

iLL Liad: Actually, in Greece it's really big. Some of the best rap names I think exist like Zen, Ladose, Apexeis, Vita peis. As in America MCs, there is not to many that can actually come with some real truth behind any of their names in my eyes.

AAR: How many times has the following conversation happened:

iLL LiaD: Hi, how are you?

Lil' Pete: I'm good.

iLL: So, why do they call you Lil' Pete?

LP: Well, because I'm little and my name is Pete. Why do they call you iLL LiaD?

iLL: Well, it's a tragic story, really. You see, a long time ago there was.... Hey, hey! You're just going to walk away in the middle of me talking?

I: Actually, not that often. To be honest, a lot of fucking cats are smart in Houston, which is actually really surprising. Most people ask if it is the same as the book, and I reply ''Fuck yes, son." I really look down on people who don't fucking really know what it means. If people come up and ask what my name is I tell them ''Read the book, bitch."

iLL LiaD, "Die Slow"

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AAR: You know the guys in T.H.E.M., that local rap conglomerate? You should totally start one of those too, but make it so that everyone in there has to have a name like Homer or Perseus or whatever. You'd probably be crazy popular with 10th-grade English teachers.

I: Yeah, I know them. And [laughs], that's pretty funny as shit. I have actually [done a] whole showcase bid called Houston Warfare; the last one was at Fitz in October. Actually stopped that to finish my debut album, Salvation, that drops December 31. And I actually love English. My teacher in 10th grade loved me. I always got really fucking high before her class just to get really deep into the lesson [laughs].

AAR: Feels like maybe we should try and connect the dots between non-black rappers and obscure academia names, though that feels like an undercooked premise for a question - and maybe even a little racist. Uh, let's talk about Nicki Minaj instead. Isn't she just so zany and wacky? Blather, blather, blather.

I: No comment on that one; really don't want cats to get fucking butthurt. But Nikki is raw. Fuck Lil' Kim!

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