Tag Archives: hip hop


Album Review: Gesamtkunstwerk – Dead Obies

a0431750848_10“Gesamtkunstwerk” is a German compound noun that translates to “total work of art.” It is also the title of the latest release from local rap group Dead Obies, a wonderful Frankenstein of live tracks edited and enhanced in the studio. Gesamtkunstwerk is still a blend of hip hop, rap, and electronica, but the Dead Obies have shifted their focus from lyrics to production for this album, taking an almost exhibitionist approach to their craft. The process of creation is baldly displayed without compromising the integrity of the lyrics or production; what continues to set the Dead Obies apart from other Quebecois rap groups is their language choice, or rather a lack of one. Self-dubbed “Frenglish,” the members slip effortlessly between English and French with such speed and expertise that the two distinct languages blend into one poetic slurry.

Following the success of their 2013 release Montréal $ud, Dead Obies decided to make their next opus a gift to their loyal fanbase. Teaming up with music improv group Kalmunity, they played at the Phi Centre for three nights and sampled the live recordings, taking performances, the crowd’s applause, and individual audience interviews and mixing them in with recorded takes. This seamless patchwork of live and recorded takes was stitched together with surgical precision by the group-appointed producer, VNCE.

The album is intended to be heard as a whole work, and I would agree with this sentiment. Of course, there are a number of tracks that stand out among the fairly large list. Gesamtkunstwerk leads in with “GO 2 Get,” an explosive opener that serves as an immediate draw. Lamenting the everyday troubles in life to an undercurrent of cheering fans from one of the Phi Centre performances, the track provides an excellent introduction to the overall tone of the album. The six rappers who comprise Dead Obies take turns spitting out lyrics, effortlessly subbing in and out. “Waiting” is a celebration of concert life, lively trap music combining with a sensual bass beat. “Jelly” is more funky, with cooler synth laid over deep bass and remixed rhythmic vocals.

“Explosif” begins with a sample of distant fireworks, then continues with slow, smoldering instrumentals mixed in with varied odes to party and drug culture for an extensive eight minutes. The blend of French/English vocals is particularly noticeable in this track, adding to the mixed messages provided by individual members of the group. “Aweille!” is one of the singles released before the album, and is an aggressive dance track that includes a perfectly catchy chorus of “aweille” (a local phrase roughly equivalent to “come on!”), repeated and remixed. “Untitled” is a jazzy, smooth track that shows off the group’s more sensual side, and approaches something played on a late-night show for slow-wave funk. Towards the latter half of the track, the lyrics dissolve into a live recording, with the members taking turns talking in French to an instrumental vamp and a cheering crowd. “Outro,” the final track on Gesamtkunstwerk, is an instrumental electronic track that smoothly and quietly ties together Dead Obies’ “work of art,” ensuring the transformation from just another local rap album to something deserving of admiration and high praise; rap is just one form of artistic expression they utilize.

Gesamtkunstwerk ultimately serves as a big “thank you” to the Dead Obies’ fans; Phi Centre saw a big turnout for the fairly underground rap group, and allowed them to produce the album well. They gained, then lost, a Musicaction grant funding the production of the album; due to strict Quebec laws governing language, the group did not meet the 70% French lyric quota. However, even as they are continually rejected by mainstream media and their own province, Dead Obies still maintain a loyal (and growing!) fanbase and the quiet integrity of talented artists with a vision. They are dedicated to their craft and to creating the “total work of art” that they feel listeners deserve.

Album released: March 4, 2016

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 



Concert Review: Chance The Rapper


There have been a lot of issues with Spotify, streaming, and many other aspects of the digital music age lately.  Big name artists have become more outspoken about music corporations and their ability to make money off of someone else’s art without paying them back for it and a lot of people seem to be left in a state of “how do I make money?”  U2’s response was to forcibly download their album onto every iPhone on the planet, which supposedly proved that they were not in it for the money, but left no one particularly happy.  A certain country/pop artist who is not exactly in desperate need of any more publicity had her world famous remarks about Spotify, but in the midst of all this controversy, there’s one particular genre that has truly embraced the mentality that artists do not make music so that “people can pay for it;” hip hop.  From Run The Jewels’ crowdfunded, for-charity remix album to Big K.R.I.T.’s insane datpiff collection (a free mixtape downloading website), many a hip hop artist has taken it upon themselves to put their audience and art in front of their chart placement and moneymaking.  Perhaps at the forefront of this mentality, is the collective Social Experiment ensemble headed by Donnie Trumpet and the one and only Chance the Rapper.  I had a chance to see this group play last week and the amazing results of their live set are rooted in their grassroots, “not in it for the money” mentality. Continue reading

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 11.44.50 AM

The Montreal Sessions with Yellow Noise: October 20th 2015

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 11.44.50 AM

On Tuesday, October 20th, Sam Lu (SierraLima) and Mel Palapuz (DJ Mango Juiiice) from Yellow Noise Magazine hosted the third episode of their Montreal sessions residency. To find out more about Yellow Noise and their mission, you can check out their bio here.

This show included Japanese future funk, experimental tracks (featuring Chinese, Tagalog, Japanese, Korean), and an electronic performance by Yao Guai Cave followed by an acoustic set. Originally Yàocavé, (aka yay-o-kah-vay), Yao Guai Cave (yao-gooey-cave) is a Montréal based electro-experimental artist. For a taste, listen to his sweet February 2015 release Fanta-C Plus. 

After a fresh mix from SierraLima with plenty of dance, electronica, and hip hop tracks, DJ Mango Juiiice played a Japanese vaporwave set before welcoming Yàocavé into the studio.

While Yàocavé was his strictly electronic musician identity, Yao Guai Cave described his current music as a mix of everything– pop, house, techno, as well as music from short film he worked on that was accepted by MIX NYC (a queer film festival).

The set opened with a vast electronic soundscape of twinkling synths and distorted cosmic sounds before dropping into a sugary pop groove with bass, beats, and vocals. The electronic music was poignant; as different vocalists sang their individual stories Yao Guai Cave crafted worlds around them, using 8bit and kalimba-esque ornaments, chimes, bass synths, and percussive grooves. Before moving into his acoustic set, the hosts discussed vaporwave aesthetics and artists with Yao Guai Cave, as well as the effects of the internet on gender and ethnic identity. Finally, the show closed with an original, intimate song performed on acoustic guitar.

Tune into CKUT 90.3 FM next Tuesday from 3-5 pm for the final instalment in The Montreal Sessions hosted by Yellow Noise!

-Cyrenah Smith

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 12.19.32 PM

Album Review: Narcy – World War Free Now

 Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 12.19.32 PM

Narcy is a political activist/hip hop artist with a sound as intriguing as his message. His new album “World War Free Now” is a beautiful addition to the CKUT library that incorporates sophisticated political commentary, Middle-East influenced sounds, and fascinating vocal samples into a unique symphony of hip-hop that captures the listener from beginning to end.

The way in which an MC combines sounds into backing beats is very important in this day and age of hip hop.  The great rappers of the modern era weave their verses into dense pieces of music to draw more interest and challenge the listener’s ear. With nuances such as guitar solos, violin interludes, and catchy vocal hooks, Narcy has truly established himself musically in “World War Free Now” by providing beautiful melodies in conjunction with his high intensity flow.

Lyrically, the album touches upon many different thematic elements all pertaining to the life of Yassin Alsalman (Narcy). Do to Alsalman’s complicated history as an immigrant with roots in the Middle East and North America, the album makes for a very interesting analysis of the world today. “World War Free Now” in itself is a very complex idea. I think World War Free is a comment on how the world is not currently involved in a clear global conflict (at least not quite as clear as World War One or Two), however, the people in charge still marginalize and take control in the same way they always have resulting in a war on freedom of sorts.  With commentary on the use of drones and overbearing police force, Narcy calls out the actions of the United States and other world leaders in the Middle East as harmful despite their positive intentions.  For Example, the United States entered Iraq with the intention of ending terrorism, but in reality the United States took control of the lives of the people of Iraq in a way that did not provide them with more rights or freedom, thus contradicting their heroic rhetoric. This type of political commentary is raised all over the album and the depth of it all adds a great sense of maturity.

One of the Particularly moving pieces on the album is “Tourist.”  Framed by quotes from John Lennon and Angela Davis on the topic of violence, the song discusses the toll that a land “ruled by the gun” has on its people. The speaker feels that they have been forced out of their home and now they cannot find comfort in the world; they have become a “tourist on a star between the moon and the sun.”  The intense nature of the words is matched by their presentation. Narcy elongates his lyrics in a droning fashion and the sound of it all bleeds the despair felt by the people of his homeland.

The only issue I have faced with this album is my inability to stop listening to it. It is a beautiful work of art on all levels that will both get stuck in your head and make you think.

-Review by Donovan Burtan

Montreal Hip Hop Summit “It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop”


Montreal Hip Hop Summit “It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop” took place at Trinity Memorial Church Hall Sat June 11th
Broadcast LIVE on CKUT during Master’s at Work 7-9pm: LISTEN!

Guest Artists: Dramatik • Frenchie Blanco • K-rim • Chaplin • Sarah Sheline • Maxx Plank (Kryme X)

Lifetime Hip Hop Achievement Award Recipients:
Dice B • CKUT’s Mike Mission & Ken Dawg of Master’s at Work •
CKUT’s Butcher T on Butcher T’s Noontime Cuts( Pictured above) received the Montreal Hip Hop Pioneer Award)
Special Tribute: A special homage to Bad News Brown