Points East joins the ‘Movement’

Ill Groove Movement's style is so wholly its own that the band had to coin an original phrase simply to describe it. The group calls what it produces "organic hip hop," a sound that's infused with splashes of old-school jazz, funk and rock, mixed with hip-hop rhymes and beats. Ill Groove's unique brand of hip hop, which began to take shape three years ago, has been steadily winning the Milwaukee-based group the respect and admiration of a growing flock of fans.

Ill Groove has been making inroads in Milwaukee thanks largely to its kinetic live show. Emcees Professor and Catalyst roam the crowd spewing their own socially aware rhymes over original beats, and the band's wide-ranging covers — from Ice Cube's "Good Day" to the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Aeroplane" — showcase the all-encompassing nature of the Ill Groove's stylistically diverse palette.

The band's fans are usually lively as well, moving to the beat and often taking part in Ill Groove's tradition of offering open mic sessions to anyone with anything to say artistically — be it poetry, freestyle rhyming or playing an instrument.

In turn, Ill Groove — rounded out by drummer Steve Kulwicki and 2003 College of Communication alumni Adam "Mysterious Maestro" Lovinus on guitar and Davin "Pimp Daddy" Hanson on bass — does whatever it can to fire up the audience.

"You get whatever energy you give," said Professor, aka Dave Walden, a former College of Arts & Sciences student at Marquette. "If you give a ton of energy, even if it's only in front of six people, you just get that given right back to you."

Ill Groove has become adept at bringing spontaneous dance parties to almost everywhere it plays, but 2005 finds the band poised to earn more widespread recognition.

The group earned a 2005 Wisconsin Artist Music Industry award nomination for R&B/Urban/Scratch/Hip Hop Group or Artist of the Year. They also made their mark with an impressive showing at Vnuk's Lounge during the first round of the Emergenza Festival, an international battle of the bands contest, in February. Ill Groove, the only hip hop act to take the stage in a sea of rock bands, took second place for the night.

"We stood out like a sore thumb, but that was good," said Catalyst, aka 2003 College of Communication alumnus Theran Michaelis.

With the second-place finish, Ill Groove secured a spot in the contest's Milwaukee semifinal round, at Rave April 2. A win there means a spot in the local finals, possibly international finals.

Catalyst said a run all the way to the international finals would be huge for Ill Groove.

"Being able to touch that many new people, that's what we're looking for," he said.

However, the members of Ill Groove aren't getting ahead of themselves.

They're tuning up for their Rave appearance with gigs Points East Pub, 1501 N. Jackson St. and Conway's April 1, 2127 W. Wells St. The group also plans on putting the final touches on its first full-length album, The ILLiad, which is set for a June 1 release.

Until then, the band hopes its fans continue to "fall into the groove." Ill Groove, meanwhile, continues its evolution.

"What I feel like we're discovering is you can add hip hop to anything," Lovinus said. "As long as you can bang it out you can flow to it."

Ill Groove Movement's 21-and-over show begins Friday at 10 p.m. with a $5 cover. For more information call Points East Pub, 1501 N. Jackson St., at 277-0122.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on Mar. 17 2005.