Stumbling on Divine Council during Soundcloud’s 2014-2017 run was like digging for gold and finding platinum. Members ICYTWAT, Cyrax!, $ILKMONEY, and Lord Linco’s projects distorted the playing field for other underground artists of the time and peaked the interests of mainstream artists in search of fresh ideas. But it was the production by ICYTWAT, who set the indelible backdrop for $ILK, Cyrax!, and Linco’s idiosyncratic flows. Although each still flourishes in their own solo lanes, it was clear ICYTWAT, the youngest and only Chicagoan of the group, had a patent on a timeless sound that catapulted Aye/Yuh adlib rap and created remixes more enjoyable than the originals.
Since Divine Council’s conception in Richmond, Virginia, ICYTWAT continues to stamp his brand with every release (and he drops a lot.) His low-hanging melodies, botched sampling, speaker-knocking bass, and scandalous cover arts make up a formula that’s carried him from 2014 to his newest album FINAL BOSS. And like the bold choices of his past, his latest project is tinged with rebellious fervor and backhand shots at copycats over formulaic beats that lean into his tried and true approach.
Opener “Onnat” cranks up the energy immediately. His familiar “Bitch!” adlib underscores head-banging bass that makes your face scrunch up in pure disgust. “Bitch I’m onnat!,” he repeats at least 50 times. “Real deal bitch breaker, bitch taker. Pussy I don’t give favors, I just get paper.” “Onnat” and “Black Card” can fuel any chaotic mosh-pit with only two verses between the two and the rest repetition. This gives room for electrifying synths and rumbling drums that fit snug under caption-worthy one liners. He’s a producer first, rapper second: something ICYTWAT has always made known. It wasn’t until A$AP Rocky encouraged him to rap more upon signing him to Awge in 2018, that he cozied up to the idea of MC and bred hits like “Off tha Leash!” or Dream Bwoy’s “Enzo Music.”
Even still, advice from a veteran was not a deterrent to switch things up completely. ICYTWAT’s collection still remains beat-heavy and lyrically unchallenging. His formulaic pattern makes for a half-ass listening session on “Cut Up” whose turbulent energy meshes into one indiscernible piece and on “No Settling,” a drowsy, seemingly wannabe Lucki track. Besides that, there’s really little to not enjoy from FINAL BOSS. As a producer, ICYTWAT’s attention to detail is undeniable, from the stacked percussions (“Heart on Myhand”) and clever wordplay (“Neva Worried”) to spirit-lifting keys that juxtapose sinister snares on “See It in Her Eyez.” Sweet nuggets like “Topside Freestyle” courtesy of Detroit producer Topside place FINAL BOSS in the now and adds more flavor to the roster thanks to popping 808s and funky kicks.
In a rare interview with ICYTWAT, who’s otherwise usually out-the-way and out of sight, Our Generation Music asked him to describe his beat making process. He agrees he pretty much plays with the same few elements– same hi-hat, same rolls, same snares – his self-defined signature. This is why we hear similar sounds across projects, with of course a progressive tone each time. So, 2015/2016 beats may sound similar to 2023/2024’s but also different if studied closely. Perhaps a great example of this is on “Feel Like Pat” and “Final Boss Music,” two tracks on FINAL BOSS that appeal to old fans who wore out “PS42WW$” and to new fans who’ve latched on since the refreshing excitement of “Off tha Leash!”
Four projects in one year before September is no small feat, but when you eat, sleep, and breathe beats like ICYTWAT it’s only a sneak peek into a massive discography. “I don’t club hop. I don’t do none of that extra shit. I stay in the crib and cook up,” he tells Our Generation Music. “We cook up every day. I’m making a beat every day. I’m rapping every day.” And yet, FINAL BOSS doesn’t feel like a quick playlist of throwaway beats but another reason why ICYTWAT humbly plays a massive role in where Hip Hop is headed today.