Spotlight on local music: Icy Ike loves the freedom of hip-hop

By Julien A. Luebbers

For the spokesperson’s review

Icy Ike has been making music since high school, when laid back freestyle rap turned into something a little more serious. Now, with his latest single “When I Fall”, the Spokane artist shows what these last years of practice can create.

Before the polished sound of his most recent songs, Icy Ike started out on SoundCloud, with tracks recorded on an iPad and Apple headphones. Despite his humble means, he saw a positive response to his music, which continued to rack up plays. With some success under his belt, he pushed forward, finding his own place in the vast possibilities of hip-hop.

“It’s such a diverse genre, you can really do anything,” Icy Ike said. “And it can still fall into the sphere of hip-hop. It’s something cool, and it can also be something marginalizing. You can see it both ways, but I love how there’s so much freedom within it.

Being a rapper is never easy, but in Spokane it can be especially difficult. For one thing, as Icy Ike points out, “there’s really no hip-hop history” here in Spokane. “People are forging the way now.” It is both a blank slate and a monumental task. But with artists like Icy Ike, Spokane marks PNW hip-hop with every song.

“When I Fall” has a rather unique beat, built on a fast, shimmering piano part to make it stand out from the crowd. This piano line is underlined by an energetic drum beat that keeps the song together. It’s fast, not too full and works in wonderful synergy with Icy Ike’s deep voice.

Icy Ike’s rapping is smooth and controlled, bouncing between relaxed, spacious lines and cascading bars that match the rhythm and mood of the piano. He is able, when he wants, to insert volumes of words into small spaces, which strike the listener as packets of sounds and meanings.

These moments work so well in part because of the slower lines around them. “When I Fall” is a dynamic, engaging, light-hearted and well-written track. “It’s kind of a triumphant song, just a little playful,” Icy Ike said.

This playfulness comes out strongest in the song’s accompanying music video, which Icy Ike worked on with LledRow Multimedia. “I don’t really know where the idea came from, for some reason I was like, ‘Let’s do cowboys and aliens,'” he said.

The final product shows Icy Ike floating, walking, and riding a horse in a dynamic, trippy world made up of what looks like children’s drawings. There are cowboys and aliens, but also horses, cliffs, spaceships and fun effects. It moves through the world in a series of ups and downs, rapping all the time. It’s whimsical, but that doesn’t take away from the power of the song.

About the writing process, Icy Ike said his music was “for me to listen to. I like my music to be a little uplifting, talk a little, give a little swagger throughout my day. Or also something to vibrate, to drive. They are polar opposites, but they go together.

This last track shows that dichotomy better than anything. “When I Fall” tackles the question of who is there for you, but in a lighthearted way, almost seeming to underscore the importance of being there for yourself. “Who’s gonna get you?” Yes, that’s obviously a question,” he said. “At the end of the day, you have to pull yourself together.”

Icy Ike has a bright future ahead of him and a place in early Spokane rap history to carve out. “When I Fall” once again shows the capabilities of the young rapper. To stay up to date on Icy Ike’s releases and performances, follow him at @IcyIke509 on Instagram. Also, listen to his music on all platforms, and stay tuned for the release of “When I Fall” on May 21.

Julien A. Luebbers can be reached at [email protected]

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