Volume 93, Issue 48

Wednesday, November 24, 1999


Bringing their northern touch

Sleepy Hollow confused as a headless chicken

Kinder too slow and depressing

Ancient unmasks too much horror

Bringing their northern touch

Photo by Louie Palu
I'M CRUSHING YOUR HEAD. I CRUSH YOU. Canadian hip-hop gurus, The Rascalz, bring their mischief to the Drink tonight.

By Luke Rundle
Gazette Staff

It was truly a sad state of affairs.

The 1990s saw Canadian hip-hop still languishing in the basements and sidestreets of the country, looking on from the sidelines while rock and pop artists were monopolizing the attention of the country. It was only when a little song called "Northern Touch" came out, that hip-hop was re-established as a legitimate art form and the culture was revitalized.

The culprit behind the revitalization was a motley Vancouver crew named The Rascalz, who recruited talented Canadian soloists Choclair, Thrust, Kardinal Offishall and Checkmate to combine their combustible lyrical skills and create a hip-hop anthem for the nation. The 1998 collaboration saw The Rascalz receive not only a wealth of musical awards, but the chance for cross continental airplay across Canada and the United States, hitting number one spots nationwide.

So, does the group fully realize what their effort did to better the status of hip-hop in Canada? "We see what kind of effect that had whenever we do a show in a new city for the first time," he states. "A conscious effort went into making the song, but as far as where the song went, an artist can't control that – it's how the media handles it, how the people accept it. That's what made the song what it was, not us."

The Canadian supergroup, recently considered by many observers to be the most likely to gain success on either side of the 49th parallel, all met in 1989 as breakdancers, not rappers. They officially formed what became known as The Rascalz in 1991 and while members Zebroc and Dedos remained breakers, Misfit and Red 1 took the lyrical reins while Kemo handled the DJ/production aspect of their songs.

After releasing their independent first album, 1991's Really Livin,' the group became impatient over not having received offers from big name record labels and decided to form their own label – Figure IV Records. A collaborative deal between Figure IV and BMG Music Canada in 1997 resulted in the highly successful Cash Crop, garnering the group gold record status, Juno awards and the respect of the Canadian music industry.

In discussing the long, hard road that the group has taken to achieve their overnight success, Misfit asserts the major turnaround for the group definitely had to be their label's alliance with BMG.

"We wanted to maintain creative control and do the things that we wanted to do, the way we wanted to do 'em," Misfit concedes. "But in the end a major label is where it's at. You just have the major label money and you have to spend money to make money. It's good to have your own label and do your own things, but to try and compete with a major label is another story."

Having recently released their second full length album, Global Warming, one wonders how The Rascalz have evolved from their past efforts. After all, does it really pay to mess with success? "Personally, I've focused more on third person [in the lyrics] to round it off a bit and make it much easier to listen to," Misfit reveals. "Now I think I can sit back as a listener and make the lyrics easier [for the audience] to accept."

As for the future, The Rascalz remain excited about their upcoming concert tonight at The Drink, as it will be their first visit to the Forest City in quite a while. When asked if the group plans to light up the stage, Misfit replies, "Definitely. We vibe on the people that come out to see us and we just take it from there. So we got some people that are really in tune with what we're doin' and want to see the Rascalz. Hopefully, it'll be a very anticipated and well received show."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999