Volume 92, Issue 14

Friday, September 25, 1998

it was sugar


Maestro's symphony is Built to Last

By Mark Lewandowski
Gazette Staff

Peace, love and Maestro.

Yes kids – he's back and though he's no longer Wes, he's still super fresh.

Out of sight on the local scene since 1994, Maestro has been spending most of his time chilling with friends in Brooklyn, while cutting tracks with such talents as Snow, Choclair and Jellystone. But let's start from the beginning.

"I started out in '82 playing parties in Toronto. So when I came out people knew I paid my dues," Maestro relates, with respect to the success Symphony in Effect enjoyed in Canada.

"I was on a US label, while I was blowin' up in Canada," Maestro explains, which definitely opened the eyes of some closed-minded Canadian record executives. The album went platinum plus and is still the highest selling Canadian hip-hop record.

Black Tie Affair in 1991 was also a success but Maestro lost his footing in the market and a third album in 1994 did not fly. So it's been seven years since Maestro has exhibited his tight lyrical skills for mass appeal. But Maestro is back in '98 with a new album and attitude.

"We just finished mastering Built to Last and we'll be releasing it Oct. 20. The last album was really underground and didn't have as much success. But this album is multi-dimensional. It's got party stuff, love songs and food for thought. It's everything I know and more."

Ultimately the fans will decide if this latest endeavor is a commercial hit and Maestro realizes this is the case. "Crowds are very fickle, they want the flavour of the month. I hate people that call me old school just because I have four albums. But it's only the strong that survive and I'm still here," Maestro states confidently. A strong attitude that has led to many contacts during his time in Brooklyn.

"I met up with Raekwon, Big Pun, RZA, a whole lotta people," Maestro pauses. "RZA's a really good guy." But can a Canadian artist get respect in New York's tight-knit hip-hop community?

"If you give love, you get 'nuff respect," Maestro explains.

So Maestro is finally hooked up in Canada with Attic Records and will focus his comeback here. In Maestro's words, "I want to blow up here and then take it down [to the States]." Hopefully hitting Canada directly will put Maestro's symphony back in effect.

Maestro will be fresh off a variety of Canadian dates including a gig in Halifax with Tone Loc and Rob Base – but don't call him old school!

"Would you call a guy like KRS old school? 'Cause he can take on Big Pun or Canibus anytime," Maestro asks. Peace and love to that.

It has been a long four years since Maestro has graced our city with his presence but he says he always has a good time in London. But luckily for our more sensitive readership he did not elaborate on any of these good times. Maestro will be conductin' things at the Spoke this Saturday for a free show.

With a new album and label in hand only time will tell if Maestro really is Built to Last or just playing a private symphony.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998