Over the last couple years and especially the last year, I have been really getting into a lot of mid to late 90’s French Canadian hip hop from Quebec. I am not really sure what sparked this interest but I think it was just thinking about a lot of classic rap from the same period from Toronto and Ontario. Thinking about the videos you would see in that classic Much Music Rap City Canadian Rap video era and seeing the odd rap video from Dubmatique or some other French rap group. There was also a show on Much Music that featured French music and they would play the odd hip hop video. Now you probably think I am bilingual or even remotely well versed in the French language. Well that is not the case. I mean I know a lot of French words but I hated learning French in school and quit taking it was soon as I could after grade 9. I really regret this, but I also wish it would have been taught differently as I would have stuck it out. I often think about trying to learn the language but it seems a bit daunting and I have already committed my time to so many other projects and things. Who knows maybe some someday in the future. I am sure listening to a lot of French rap won’t hurt me in trying to learn the language.
It is mostly a vibe thing for me. What I like is the classic boom bap production and the authentic hip hop vibes that come through in beats and rhymes. I really have no idea what they are rapping about but real hip hop is a universal language regardless of the tongue it is spit in. That is the real beauty of the cultural as it transcends languages. One of the other really dope things is the prominence of the DJ in French Canadian Hip Hop and how good they are.
What is fascinating to me is they created this entire scene that was confined to the boundaries of the province of Quebec and rarely crossed the provincial borders to the rest of Canada. Like Dubmatique sold 150,000 copies of their debut album. All the shear volume of artists and projects from this era is also really fascinating to me. There seems to be a lot of major for label help in this era as well. The CD’s are also pretty accessible nowadays on Discogs. I am slowly grabbing CD’s here and there as I try and navigate my way through the scene. So far my intuition has been really good and I am really enjoying all the things I have picked up to date. I also made friends with a person in Quebec through Discogs who I have bought a few things off of and they have given me a few recomendations and are one of the reasons for me writing this. They knew of me as Chaps, I don’t know them as they are just a rap fan and they asked me how and why someone from the Prairies would be interested in this music. They always find it really interesting when people outside of Quebec and especially they Prairies show interest in this scene. We have traded a bunch of messages back and forth blowing up each others inboxes in Discogs. I love making these connections with people through a shared love of hip hop.
If you are looking for an entry point into this genre I would suggestive the following tracks and artists to check out.
Dubmatique - Soul Pleueruer
La Constellation - Le 7e jour
Rainmen = Pas d’chilling
Muzion - Rein A Perdre
Sans Pression - L’étage Souterrain
Good news for Serengeti fans as Gasoline Rainbows is being released in an albeit trimmed down single vinyl release. The original CD released in 2006 on Day By Day Entertainment features 15 tracks. There is only one noctible ommison in my opinion and that is the threads All Along which features MF Grimm. I love that track and it would have been on it if I had any say in picking tracks. I am also listeimnhg to this CD right now and I would add This World to the ommison list that I would have put on. Regardless it is super exciting to see this release on vinyl. It also features the original cover art. Pre-order is up NOW at Diggers Factory.
It is that time of year again, as a new Winter Collection CD is out on Pen Thief Records. I really love this winter and summer collection that are curated by the homie Noblonski. They feature so many sick tracks and it looks like this one is no exception. I even have a track on here which is a remix by the homie Rove for a track called Those Days Are Over Now which will be featured on my upcoming album produced entirely by the homie Dren titled Sometimes Really Dead But Also Sometimes Fun. It is dropping later this year on Audio Recon, Pen Thief Records and Sideroad Records.
As some of you may be aware the homie The Gumshoe Strut is the brains behind the artist focused Styles Make Fights. He has done a bit of relaunch and shortened things to SMF. If you are an artist and want to get some promotional items out like shirts, stickers, coffee mugs or need some help with design or DIY album materials I would highly recommend hitting him up. I have worked with him on a few projects and it has been such a positive experience. Tell em Chaps sent you!
The homie Parab Poet just dropped his 2021 album Babelism on Cassette. This album is super dope. There are only 33 made and it features a bonus unreleased track written and produced in 2004. I can’t wait to give this a spin in the walkman.
Missed Third Verse last night? Ugsmag has you covered once again to stream or download NOW! Catch Third Verse on CFCR 90.5 fm in Saskatoon, SK every Wednesday 9-10:30pm CST. Stream online via CFCR.ca or Radio Garden.
Ceschi - This Guitar Was Stolen Along with The Years of Our Lives
There is not much I can really say about Ceschi that pretty much everyone reading this doesn’t already know. He is the most talented rapper, singer, guitar player, musician in the game of life and that is selling him short. This record is super pretty in a super depressing way but the pretty outlays the sadness. The vinyl is sold out and I am sure if you wanted it you would have copped it hone not dropped but there are some CD’s still available.
Rammellzzee - Cosmic Flush
Now there is no more fascinating character in hip hop than the Rammellzee. One of the true pioneers of the 70’s and 80’sm NYC Graffiti scene. I have always been fascinated by Ramellzee’s art, music and writings. A true visionary in every sense of the word. This album is so wild and so good.
Instrumental in the 70’s and 80’s NYC graffiti scene, Rammellzee’s work was backed by a philosophy based in math, linguistics, and qyuantum mechanics. Among other theories, he put forth the idea that the stylized letters spray-painted on subway cars amounted to a weaponized language propelled throug time and space by the motion of the trains.
The vocals for this album were recorded on a handheld mini-cassette recorder and that adds an incredible depth and logic layer to this record that make the sound both unique and perfect. It is what you would come to expect from a creative genius and I don’t use that word lately especially when attributed to someone of Rammellzee’s stature an importance.
If you are not familiar with Rammellzee I suggest you watch this very short documentary that gives you a glossary overview of his his artistic life.
There is a new book called Rammellzee: Racing for Thunder that is dropping April 18 of this year that I am really excited about.
Jeru The Damaja - The Sun Rises In the East
Besides being an incredible album that I listened to a tonne when it dropped and over the years. I have three distinct and very different memeories associated with this album. They are not really related and all take place years apart. They might not be all that interesting but I am going to share anyways.
I was in my junior year of High School when this dropped in 1994. I was obsessed with all things rap and with team sports. Those things didn’t go together to well in the 90’s on the Prairies. I loved team sports. I loved competing, and being a teammate, working toward a common goal and all that shit I really ate it up. I was battling for the last spot on a AAA Midget team here in Saskatoon. I wanted to play AAA Midget Hockey so bad for as long as I could remember as a kid. I however hated it once I got there. I loved everything about the game and being on the road but I hated all the misogynistic, racist, homophobic, hazing, and other bullshit that took place off the ice. We had our own dedicated locker room and on top of the fridge was a TV and it often had Much Music on. We practiced everyday at 3pm so we had to have fifth spare (meaning we could only take 4 classes a day in High School) so that meant that as we got ready Rap City would be on. I remember the other players would make fun of rap and make racist jokes and stuff associated with it. One time I fought the Captain of our team in a practice and cleaned his clock even though he was much older and stronger than me over some of this ongoing bullshit. I wish I would have spoke up more and said stuff to combat it but I lacked the skill set to do so and I was young and a fringe player with only one sort of friend on the team and I was just trying to stay under the radar so I didn’t get pissed on in the shower. How the hell does this relate to this album you ask? Well I loved it and the Ain’t The Devil Happy video came on for the first time and I was so excited and trying to watch it without drawing attention to myself or hoping someone wouldn’t change the channel to CMT or something like that. I had to contain my excitement. I couldn’t wait until practice was over and I was home and could call M.Phasis and discuss how dope the video was.
I think it would have been 2000 as Factor was still in high school. I had read on then Ugsmag message board that Jeru The Damaja was playing a show in Calgary. I was like I have to go see him. I was in University and still living at home a couple of blocks from Factors. Factor was still in class but I thunk it was a Thursday so I knew he got out early. I wrote a note on an 8x10 piece of paper that I then walked to Factors High School witch was about a 15-20 walk and taped it to his car in the parking lot walked home and waited for his call. The note said something to the effect that If we leave by such and such a time we can make the Jeru The Damaja show in Calgary that night and to call me asap when he got home. The note was super funny and Factor kept it and still has it after all these years. I sent him a text to see if he can send it my way and if he does I will post it. He sent it to me earlier this year but I must not have saved the picture. Anyways we didn’t end up making the 6 hour drive to Calgary and going to the show that night but that note I attached to his whip has withstood the test of time. Edit, Factor came through in the clutch big time and sent me a picture of the note. There is a detail in reading it that jogged my memory. There was some doubt as to whether he would be able to get into the country. The update I got on Ugsmag ws that he crossed the border and the show was on. That is why it was so last minute in nature.
The last story is me finally seeing Jeru The Damaja live and this time it was in Winnipeg in 2006. I am drawing a blank as to where the show was exactly as the picture of the venue in my mind doesn’t match up the picture of any of the other venues in my mind in Winnipeg so I am thinking it was at a venue that I only went to for that show. I also could be wrong and I know there are a lot of Winnipeg homies that read this so I am sure one of them will comment about it. The most memorable part of the show was meeting Jeru and getting my The Sun Rises in The East record signed. What made it memorable was that I had a pretty lengthy fan interaction conversation with him but it was through what I am going to call a “third party”. Now picture a cypher with three people in it. Jeru was to my right and the “third party” who was either his manager or homie was to my left. My entire interaction went through the “third party”. Like I gave my record to them to get signed and they handed it to Jeru who signed it handed it back to to the “third party” who handed it back to me. He asked who to make it out to, the “third party” then asked me and I said Chaps and they then told Jeru to make it out to Chaps. My entire interaction went this way with me and Jeru having a conversation with evrerything being said back and forth through this “third party" interpreter. It was bizarre but also kind of really awesome and definitely memorable.
Thanks again everyone for reading! Take care and stay safe!
Yeah I was thinking it was for Peg City Holla as well. I just wasn’t positive. Gumshoe said it was Le Rendezvous as well. I didn’t know it was demolished and k think that may have been the only time I was ever there.