“Go celebrate your weirdness”, says Illaman on his new tune ‘OK!’ with Norm Oddity. It’s the poignant and powerful lead single from their joint EP Ugly Days, which has just dropped on UK label Potent Funk.
Despite being one of the most fervent tracks on the EP, ‘OK!’ is still a mellow and introspective counterbalance to Illa’s work fronting punk/grime band PENGSHUi. He delves into details about the struggle he has faced mentally, persevering whilst trying to keep face in front of others. This is clear, even in the song’s title, where ‘OK!’ could be an affirmation of happiness, but also the painful shield of “Everything is fine”.
Succinct, sincere and suspenseful, Illaman rips the heart from his sleeve and holds it high in the air beating. The project has many thematic parallels to the pair’s 2019 EP Give Us A Smile, but if that was a good loaf, then this is sliced bread.
Welshman Norm Oddity delivers some of his most inspiring instrumentals on Ugly Days. He draws out Illa’s inner lyricist and produces emotive backdrops for the badman of off-beat/on-beat bars. Plus, Manchester master DRS returns for the EP’s only guest spot and PF co-founder Sumgii takes care of mixing duties across the project.
Krupa, who directed the Taxi Driver-inspired video for ‘OK!’, has also created a mini documentary adding context and insight into Illaman’s life and Ugly Days – a very worthwhile watch.
To catch bonus track ‘Saying Bruv’, grab Ugly Days on cassette while you still can.