Volume 94, Issue 43

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2000


MC makes noise up North - Choclair still keeping it real

Mastermind goes Street Legal

Billy Elliot shows off fancy steps

Original man in black

MC makes noise up North - Choclair still keeping it real

Gazette File Photo

By Raoul Juneja
Gazette Staff

Thirty-five days after releasing his debut album, Choclair was presented with a Gold plaque certifying 100,000 records sold.

He then toured 41 cities across Canada and the US in 48 days with hip-hop's most respected beatboxer, Rahzel. As if that wasn't enough, his single "Let's Ride," was featured in DJ Pooh's film 3 Strikes .

Yet, instead of using these impressive credentials to improve his status down South, Choclair has returned home for a "Coast 2 Coast" tour across Canada with DJ Mastermind.

"We started from Sault Ste. Marie [Ontario] and went all the way west to Whistler [B.C.]," Choclair explains. "This Canadian tour has been really good and we've had a lot of sellout shows with energetic crowds. The smaller cities are just happy that I came through and they always give me a good response, whether it's 300 or 700 people," he says proudly.

Choclair began to make noise in Canada's hip-hop scene with a series of underground singles dating back to 1995, including "21 Years," which won a Juno Award for Best Rap Recording. While he is solidly based in hip-hop, Choclair maintains his inspiration for emceeing is a result of many influences.

"It wasn't just hip-hop artists," he describes. "I used to like to see those old rock groups perform in front of a whole bunch of people in their '80s videos and say 'That's going to be me one day.' It was just the whole music and entertainment combination that I was hooked on."

When speaking of his nearly platinum Ice Cold album, Choclair stresses working with Guru of Gangstarr on the track "Bare Witness" was one of his career highlights.

Although MuchMusic's American-focused RapCity program has been giving Choclair's videos plenty of airplay, the US audience was initially exposed to Choclair's voice courtesy of a 1998 sample ("Keep it Live") by DJ Premier on Gangstarr's "You Know My Steez"

"America is definitely open to foreigners, as long as the music is good," he explains. Fortunately, Choclair used this American exposure to bring much-needed attention to fellow members of his Canadian Circle Crew, enlisting the help of Saukrates for production on tracks like "Rubbin" and Kardinal Offishal for songs like "Let's Ride." Has Choclair's release of Ice Cold helped them too?

"Definitely," he asserts. "Sox is now working with Redman's The Bricks label through Def Jam [on the East Coast] and Kardi's doing things with MC Eiht and Hoo-Bangin' Records [on the West Coast]," he explains.

"Everyone's networking and getting their chance to build. It's like some of us are Canada Trust and the others are TD Bank – we're making our money separately right now, but eventually we're going to come back together."

Choclair says his next album, slated to be on the shelves late next year, includes some definite elements of experimentation. "It's gonna be on that same energetic chiznock vibe. It will undoubtedly be hip-hop, but won't necessarily be club stuff. I really want to take hip-hop to a point where people are allowed to have fun with it again."

He expands by naming Kurupt, Redman and Axl Rose of Guns & Roses, as artists he would like to work with in the future.

So what can Western expect this time during Choclair's "Coast 2 Coast Tour"? "Last time we came to Western it was dope. Although we got some new things to do on stage, we still want to bring the same energy we had last time," Choclair says.

"But trust me, people will be leaving with their throats sore, saying 'Damn, that was a good show'."

Choclair will perform tonight at The Wave with DJ Mastermind. Tickets are $10.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000