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The Americans Episode 3 Album Review: I.L Cleveland Own

I.L Cleveland Own is an American. He is a man representing millions of men often ignored in this country when discussing the fabric of American patriotism. And he wants us to understand this.  For over a decade through music, I.L’s ethos has been clear to listeners as he weaves stories of his family upbringing in Cleveland Ohio with introspective pursuits of entrepreneurship, family, love, and God. I.L’s story is an age-old yet modern American story, in which men seek redemption, freedom, and legacy while navigating the pitfalls of money, the responsibilities of Fatherhood, and a society shifting its values in real-time in the age of social media. In his latest effort, ‘The Americans Episode 3’ I.L Cleveland Own continues to reassert this central message of Black American patriotism. Over 13 tracks, the veteran MC, entrepreneur (CEO of I Keep It Classic), and host of ‘Politics and Black Families’ shares with listeners his story in the year 2024, and songs such as ‘Respect’ and  ‘Good’ provide a snapshot of his thought process on the state of his current hometown, Atlanta and the people who occupy it. He also seeks answers to questions such as if chasing money serves God and what it truly means to have “freedom” in this country.

 On ‘The Americans Episode 3’ we get the answers, yet through melodic production and razor-sharp focused lyrics and rhymes we are left with a few questions. One in particular is if the artist, I.L Cleveland Own, reared in a working-class city in Ohio, is now a son of Atlanta, Georgia his new home. Expanding on tracks from previous albums ‘ILlness The Story Of Insanity’ and ‘The Americans Episode 1’ ( “Atlanta Aint For Her’ and ‘Take Care Atlanta’ respectively)  the city, its plight, and its position in the paradigm of Black American excellence is an uncredited feature here. It’s a central character in the narrative I.L is crafting and it serves as a vehicle to communicate another central theme, hope. In a city where thousands migrate yearly and dreams often die (sometimes literally), I.L is a symbolic artifact of an “outsider” who made good. An artist who came to Atlanta not to use it and its essence to catapult his career but to give to it, to pour life into it, and perhaps contribute to its resurgence and salvation. It’s a story often never told and through a body of work via the lens of Hip Hop, we have the fortune of watching it unfold.   Regardless of whether I.L Cleveland Own accepts a new moniker or not, ‘The Americans Episode 3’ is yet another example that proves not only is he indeed a son of the American South but more importantly, very much Atlanta’s Own. 

Track By Track Review


On the opening track I.L Cleveland Own documents an interesting story of a distracted Uber Driver missing his exit with the overall plight of a man wasting 30 years of his life working in sexless marriage with children glued to their screens. The opening message is “respect makes the world go round” and it’s lacking today.  Whether its an Uber driver arguing and jeopardizing the safety of her passenger, to a wife not loving a working man or a child too distracted by their iPad to look up, simple reminder of respect will make the world a much better place. 


I.L doesn’t raise his vocals here but his words are still as powerful. “Racism has to die in America” he repeats suggesting that its death will not only restore America to it’s promise but life Atlanta to a new level. Shouting out the Westside to the Southside, I.L Cleveland Own creates a soundtrack that should play louder in ‘the summer of all summers”

All My Life

An introspective track finds I.L lamenting the legal system that claimed an Uncle to a life sentence, the juxtaposition of accountability and innocence and a poignant message to the young men to live not kill. One of the most powerful tracks on the album.


Atlanta, like New York and Los Angeles before it, is a city where dreams are made and sometimes broken. Here I.L shares many of his dreams like putting money in our neighborhoods and the internal conflict of obtaining wealth while nurturing a dream. He also reveals that he often “keeps dreams to himself” because of the broken heartedness caused when sharing them with the wrong people. Overall, the song gives the listener hope to not only keep dreaming but also keep sharing them.


Another standout track, we find I.L a “Hip Hop Dad Getting Money” in a conflict many of us 80’s babies find ourselves in. Growth fosters change and often different thoughts like your “mind wandering about business in the club”. I.L Cleveland Own also reflects here if being “rich is the objective” and the subjectivity of freedom in America.

Brown Sugar

I.L with a little joint for the ladies. The ones that “turn hard days into Apple Pies”. The pretty and fly girls from around the world. Perfect for the summer days riding with the lady. Another standout cut.

So What

Whereas on the previous track, I.L highlighted the beautiful possibilities of women and companionship, ‘So What’ takes a turn to much further in the relationship when the butterflies are gone and the foundation is settling (shifting with cracks in it). Here we find our I.L lamenting falling out of love, feelings of regrets, of a couple on the verge of a breakup. The question is ‘so what’? The answer is a breakthrough if pain can be healed and love can be restored. Brilliant and personal track.


This interlude provides a snippet of an interview of Dr.Amos Wilson by Listervelt Middleton that addresses Equality and how our people can not only achieve it but produce it. Dr.Wilson talks about the need of production instead of consumption in effort to be “3 steps ahead”. Powerful message that fits with ‘The American’ theme poignantly,

Do This

I.L Cleveland Own is an American. His message is for everyone from “the waterboys” to the artists, folks coming home from bids, to the college kids. His music is for the people and ‘Do This’ makes the claim in a track that is a 100% head nodder. It’s real talk rap. 


In a subversively political song, I.L asks the question “Who Is More American Than Us”? The answer is no one and here I.L makes his case. In a message for unity to collaboratively work together, Hart is a love letter to Atlanta and Georgia (“I think the next city to blow is Savannah’). The creator and host of Black Families and Politics moves like a politician on the track, with a stump message aimed to trigger a call to action. Could this be a sign to come?


Arguably the best song on the album. Over a jazzy soulful beat, I.L provides a glimpse into the 2 important things that can heal and give life: the Sun and our Sons (via a message to his son Myyor). God, peace, are much more important than money (“I always thought money made it easier”) is the message here. The Sun/Son “heals everything” I .L reflects. Hopefully during BBQs in the summer, the house DJ plays this record. Who says you can’t think, eat, and drink. 


Here we find I.L talking to us while he talks to God. Powerful track.


A sibling to the previous track, I.L here talks about the importance of faith and spirituality. He even ponders whether the exploration of space and the proliferation of spaceships is really an attempt to “find GOD”. I.L also asks if paradise exists in the Ghetto but his most powerful point is that “faith makes men unbreakable”. 



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