Volume 93, Issue 62
Thursday, Janurary 20, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Choclair a hot dish best served Ice Cold
Gazette file photo
By Luke Rundle
It's sad that in the past few years record companies have shied away from signing Canadian urban artists, as rock music has pushed rap and hip-hop to the outermost fringes of radio.
With a wealth of time and money invested in his full length debut, one would assume Toronto's Choclair would be feeling the pressure of the entire Canadian hip-hop culture weighing upon his shoulders. However, like the album's title, the rapper is Ice Cold in the face of such tensions.
Urban music fans across the country would have to be lying under a heavy rock in order to have avoided hearing Choclair's music streaming across the radio waves.
Back-to-back Juno awards for his '97 single "21 Years" and the collaborative Canuck hip-hop anthem "Northern Touch" have garnered him a tremendous amount of buzz in the industry. This eventually translated into a contract with Virgin and a U.S. distribution contract with its subsidiary, Priority Records, which also houses artists such as Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube.
However, for Choclair, the term "overnight success" must seem laughingly inaccurate. "[My success was] the result of a lot of hard work, a lot of late nights. We just did things a lot different from the way everyone else was doin' it," he explains. "A lot of people were asking why we were posturing for [our first] single, but our main thing was that we wanted to create awareness making sure people knew we were out there so we did that for every record. Some might say we were excessive, but you can never really over-promote."
In his previous full-time occupation, finding a captive audience to witness his lyrical skills proved easy for Choclair, as he worked at a day-care centre. "Working in the day-care helped pay for the studio and things like that," he remembers. "It helped me grow a lot of patience and now I don't let things go to my head."
Although he's been confronted with sudden wealth and fame, one cannot claim that Choclair has forgotten his roots. He has nothing but the highest respect for his old rap-mates, the Circle crew. "They're definitely the ones that helped make this as successful as it is," he asserts.
"When I went to work with other producers, they would give me tapes of beats, but those beats they were going to give to Jay-Z or whatever they weren't gonna show me. But the guys in the Circle, the beats they were gonna solicit to Method Man, Redman and Jay-Z, were the same beats they gave me. It was definitely a group effort by everyone to make sure that this record was successful and that was exactly what we tried to do."
It worked. Since its November release, Ice Cold's first single "Let's Ride" has received heavy radio rotation on stations across the country and this month's U.S. release is already garnering the rapper a vast American fan base.
Choclair seems to know why. "Because of all my different musical influences I'm able to be pretty diverse on all the tracks, bring out different flows and mesh with the music." he proudly proclaims. "Whether the things I say are outlandish or not, I like to be able to have fun with the lyrics and not be too serious."
His current cross-Canada tour brings him to the Wave tonight, fresh off capacity dates in Barrie over the weekend. Choclair sees the Ice Cold tour as missionary work, spreading his particular flavour of hip-hop to the nation.
"[Barrie] was sold out and really loud. That's been pretty much every city so far and I think it's great because it's showing that hip hop in Canada is definitely building and we have a legitimate scene up here.
"I haven't hit all the cities I'm gonna hit yet, so I've got to get out there, to everywhere there's hip-hop. But I will get there."
Copyright © The Gazette 2000