The Boy Illinois was one of the opening acts of Lupe Fiasco’s “Tetsuo & Youth Preview ” Tour this fall alongside Dee-1. Check out what he had to say about touring with Lupe, his music and style.
How did you link up with Lupe Fiasco?
Well, I’ve known Lupe for maybe a year or two now. We know similar people and we communicate through those vessels. My manager called me and was like “You’re going on tour” and I was like “With Who?” he was like “I can’t tell you right now cause they haven’t announced it, yet.” I was like “Cool”. Then he called me back 30 minutes later and told me I’m about to go on tour with Lupe Fiasco. It was like, “crazy” because that’s my favorite rapper and it’s a very humbling experience to be opening up for him on a nationwide tour.
Are you signed to a label?
Single as a dollar! Independent!
Do you have any current projects out right now?
This ‘Jean Baptiste’ project that I put out a couple of months ago is named after Jean Baptiste Point du Sable who was the founder of Chicago, also a Haitian man.
And you’re of Haitian decent?
Half! My pops is, but I’m very westernized.
Tell me a little bit about your style. Where do you like to shop and when did you become interested in fashion?
I’ve always been into fashion, but it was more about the Jordan’s, jeans, and stuff like that. I got big into the Rugby line of Polo, even though it’s shut down now. They use a very preppy look rolling up the slacks. When I go shopping I like to go to thrift stores…because it’s old, it’s vintage and hardly anybody’s going to have it.
What are some of your favorite vintage clothing lines? Are there any lines you go looking for?
Vintage IZOD I f— with that heavy, vintage Polo Ralph Lauren, you can tell when it’s real old. When it’s from the 80′s, early 90′s you can kind of tell. I really look for those IZOD and Polo Joints and other than that, I just look for nice blazers and pairs of loafers.
How was the tour?
I’m the rookie, I’m earning stripes.
Have you learned anything from your tour mates? Is it as glamorous as you thought it would be?
We’re funding this ourselves. We’re renting the vehicles, putting the gas in the car, all that stuff. We’re selling CD’s out there to support this opportunity, but there’s no way we’re going to pass up on it. It is what it is, grinding! It’s as luxurious as it needs to be…With certain venues like House Of Blues, they have great dinners and we appreciate the sh*t out of that. And it’s great being close to everybody and looking out for everybody else. Lupe has kind of taken me under his wing. He tells me a lot, he gives me a lot of advice.
Have you collaborated with any of the artists on the tour, yet?
Not yet! We haven’t collaborated, yet, but we will be right after the tour because everybody’s cool…Stalley might have something to do here.
What artists have you worked with in the past and what artists are you looking forward to working with in the future?
I just recently worked with Trae the Truth. We got a joint on my next project dropping end of January beginning of February. I also got some production from B.O.B. and I’m also working on a joint on Twista’s new album.
Any final thoughts?
Yeah! It’s not an overnight thing, you might just be hearing about me now and wondering, “Where’d this guy come from?” But I’ve been doing this for a while. I want people to understand that. You can research me on Google. You can put in my name and you’ll see how far back I’ve been putting in work and how many projects deep we are. Now that we’re on this tour, we’re building up the momentum and the steam and you’re going to see my name, ‘The Boy Illinois’, but you can just call me Illi.
-Keith Lee (@osovagabond)
Check out our exclusive photos from Lupe Fiasco’s show at Irving Plaza taken by Tammy B (@withlovetammyb).