In Memory Of: Illwill

from Nas (Ft. Faith N & MC Serch) – Illmatic [Credits] Lyrics on Rap Genius

Meaning

To the left Ill Will (RIP).

William “Ill WIll” Graham was Nas' best friend and DJ, he was shot dead on May 23, 1992 when both were teenagers. Here’s how Ill Will’s brother, Kennedy, tells it:

Nas heard the shots and ran downstairs. He was really torn up. We wondered if we were all gonna' die one by one.

His name is shouted out everywhere on this album inclding the ill in the title Illmatic. Nas also founded Ill Will Records which was an American vanity record label in his honor.

Did he die in vain and represent for the cause
Now I put his name on everything I’m involved
And that’s the game, Ya’ll can’t relate, fuck ya’ll (Ill Will)

Willie Graham influenced Nas’s interest in hip hop by playing him records. As a teenager, Nas enlisted his best friend and upstairs neighbor Willie “Ill Will” Graham as his DJ. According to Carmen Bryant, Nas ex-fiance and mother of his daughter, in her book Nas used to break down and cry about Ill Will´s death.

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