IF Illy was to actually walk on a tightrope - the title of his new single - every foot would be in sync.

The Australian rap sensation has it all down pat, and after 12 years in the music industry and nearly 400 shows, he is nowhere near ready to put up the white flag.

Illy discovered music when he was 12 years old, listening to gangster rap and then finding indie, rock and then hip-hop rap.

As soon as he heard Hilltop Hoods, his interest shifted to Australian music.

Illy's first album Long Story Short hit the shelves when he was 23.

Now 28 years old and a well-known face worldwide, he has plans in the next 12 months to bring out a fifth album that he's currently working on in the recording studio.

But, he doesn't consider himself that big of a deal; his mind is on the game and he remains as grounded as ever.

"I always want to keep building. I've kept building constantly over the past few years," he said.

"I am very hard on myself. I always want to do stuff better.

"If you get complacent that's when someone else will come and take your spot. If you take it for granted, then you are a dumbass."

Melbourne rapper Illy.
Melbourne rapper Illy. Contributed

The Melbourne artist said being famous was just part of the deal, but overnight success was not the way it rolled.

"People stop and want to chat or get a photo, people care what I think. If you don't ask for that, then what's wrong with you?," he said.

"There's always a lot of work that goes into it behind the scenes, though.

"I have done close to 350 shows now and the first 150 I was doing for free or to cover my petrol. It was because I loved it.

"There's no quick success. It takes a long time."

A clip on YouTube showing Illy walking the streets, asking the public what they think of him, is a classic example of a guy who doesn't care about being in the spotlight too much.

"I am not that famous; people don't generally know who I am in the street," he said.

He does enjoy a bit of downtime, playing console games and hanging out with his girlfriend when he's not working.

Illy's been overseas for the past eight weeks, a hectic lifestyle that he loves.

And although some people have one calling in their life, Illy had two.

"It was mainly music, but I was really good at soccer. I had a really bad injury in my spine and now I can't even kick a ball properly so that sucks," he said.

"I wasn't able to walk for, like, nearly a month and I couldn't run for almost a year.

"I can still make music so that's all good."

Illy will bring his Cinematic Tour to Gladstone's Harvey Road Tavern on September 4.

As for his stage name - "Illy is just a nickname. My name is Alistar and my sister called me Ally growing up. My friends just started calling me Illy."


  • WHEN: Thursday, September 4 from 7.30pm
  • WHERE: Harvey Road Tavern
  • TICKETS: $35 at the door