On a cold December night at Notes, the dimly-lit, jazz-inspired basement of Copious on S. High St., Timothy Gmeiner is experiencing technical difficulties with the live band accompanying him for the evening.
The Friday evening performance was the Columbus release party for Gmeiner’s (artistically known as Ill Poetic) official debut album The Idiot’s Guide To Anarchy, and the few moments of delay had him completely unfazed.
“I can wait,” he told a packed crowd of fans and onlookers ready for his set. “I’ve been waiting 10 years to do this.”
It was no understatement. Sure, it wasn’t the first time Gmeiner had performed and his newly released LP wasn’t the first collection of music he’d ever put out. It was, however, the initial opportunity for his fans to hear something he’d been working on for all of the past decade, and all the emotions and memories that went along with it.
“I’ve been walking with this record for 10 years and there was never a point where I wasn’t thinking about this record,” Ill Poetic says in a private room just after his performance with a pretty relieved look on his face. “It was like my baby. It feels like a day hasn’t gone by since I first made the first beat.”
The timing of the ups and downs of Ill Po’s career is about as shuffled as the ideas and message on his newest LP release. As opposed to building into success from beginning to end, he started his career with perhaps the biggest spotlight on him to date. After releasing his debut mixtape The World Is Ours in 2007, which was picked up by some of the highest profile hip-hop blogs at the time, Ill Po hit the road with legendary wordsmiths Pharoahe Monch and O.C. It was an experience that was both valuable and humbling, especially after he returned to Ohio.
“It was the biggest moment of my life and when I came back home, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do,” he described. “I literally came home to my telemarketing job the next day and totally spiraled out into depression. It was like an astronaut coming back from the moon to work a minimum wage job.
“I had my biggest moment in the sun and I don’t know how I’m supposed to keep that energy going.”
Officially, Ill Poetic is from Cincinnati by way of Dayton, however Columbus was his next journey after the tour. Inspired by capital city luminaries, who for years were making national noise in the flourishing underground scene via Rhymesayers, Definitive Jux and Rawkus Records, Ill Poetic saw the creative profile the city up I-71 had to offer. Since the late 90s, homegrown musicians like MHz, Greenhouse Effect and J Rawls all had ties to some of the most powerful indie hip-hop labels and it attracted Ill Po, who at the time, was simply a fan of the scene.
“I knew Blueprint used to live in Cincinnati and remember watching him quit his job to go on tour with Atmosphere and put records out and he wasn’t a mainstream artist,” he said. “From that point he became an unofficial mentor to me and became that Columbus connect.”
At the beginning of 2009 Ill Po moved to Columbus and immediately immersed himself in the music scene. By then, the recording for his latest album was already underway, however he was still kind of an outcast, at least for the time being.
“It was like, Columbus, OH. There’s something happening up here,” he said. “MHz, Illogic, Blueprint, I idolized them, but to do a song with them? Maybe one day.”
Since, Ill Poetic has fostered friendships with many of those he looked up to. There always seemed to be something missing though.
It was an album he could call his.
The thing is, Columbus isn’t where Ill Poetic’s journey ended. In 2014 he took another leap of faith and moved to San Diego. The endgame was go full out on music without a safety net. Cali vibes mixed with his new environment proved pretty successful and added the more phonky rhythms to his always changing and ever present LP.
As an album, The Idiot’s Guide To Anarchy reads all of Ill Po’s melodic inspiration from day one. Its funk profile is only outweighed by self-described “weirdo shit.” It plays like a live LP and releases all the musical experiences he’s gone through to make it this far.“It’s pretty much me trippin’ through life, fucking up and stumbling,” he says. “You learn lessons the hard way all the time and the hardest lesson from this album is that there are no rules. They’re telling you how to do this because it’s the only way they know. Figure out how it works for you and just do it.”
And that whole thing about 10 years? Let this be an example to everyone that there’s no shame in taking a while to figure out how you want to be presented. How your musical diary should be read.
“It hit a point like, ‘Alright, showtime,” Ill Poetic concluded. “It took D’Angelo 15 years to make Black Messiah. I’m not going to feel bad about it. Goddamn right it took me 10 years. Listen to it, you should hear 10 years in this shit.”
For music and more information on Ill Poetic visit illpoetic.com.