Volume 94, Issue 52
Thursday, November 30, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Canadian hip hop on the ropes with new releases
If you've been listening to Maestro "Ever Since" his 1989 breakthrough Symphony in Effect you may not believe this is the same emcee.
The original Canadian hip hop voice has come a long way from his energetic beginnings. Maestro's latest installment, Ever Since, reflects the age of the vintage lyricist.
Maestro stays consistent throughout the album with a mix of mellow beats and funk backgrounds. The smooth nature of the hip hop beats and steady rhymes are more suited to sitting back and relaxing to melodic sounds than they are to forming a break–dancing circle at a high school dance or all-ages club.
The first single, "U Got Da Best," is the highlight of Maestro's newest concerto and will be worn off most copies of Ever Since, as starved Canadian radio stations and MuchMusic try to fill their canuck content quotas.
Another pattern evident on this release, is Maestro's continuing trend of reassurance about his place in the hip hop business. The title track and "Perseverance" lend themselves more to looking back at what he has accomplished over his career, than where the future is heading.
Ever Since and the recent direction of Maestro's career are solidified in rhyme featured in "Bustin Loose," when fellow Canadian Kardinal Offishall questions, "Maestro, why'd you shorten your name?"
And although Fresh Wes reassures his young prodigy that the more efficient millennium-sounding short form does not matter, it remains all too clear that this new Maestro has forgotten how to make his fans' backbones slide.
Rap Essentials 2000
Despite having the outstanding calibre of Canadian hip hop artists like Citizen Kane, Dan-E-O and Mathematik at their disposal, Rap Essentials 2000 still contains some glaring mistakes that, unfortunately, call into question the amount of effort invest into it.
In the tradition of past Rap Essentials albums, 2000 contains a few of last year's best Canadian tracks, including Citizen Kane's sombre "Soldier's Story," with smooth lyrics over soothing violin strings, Dan-E-O's "Corrida De Toros," which features his verbal fury over Spanish horns and drums, and Quebec artist Muzion's "La Vi Ti-Neg," which you don't have to understand French to enjoy.
Some blazing new Canadian hip-hop joints are also found on Rap Essentials 2000, such as Madlocks' dedication to the ladies, "Check out the Bazaar" and the gem, "No Division" by Mathematik, whose Rakim-like lyrics flow over tight DJ scratches.
Unfortunately, in tune with Rap Essentials' previous albums, 2000 features more unknown Canadian MCs and unheard of tracks than it does known ones. These joints should have been saved for a Beatfactory Compilation.
Rap Essentials 2000 further declines by including commercial and overplayed American joints like Black Rob's "Whoa!" and Goodie Mob's "What it Ain't," which destroy the smooth flavour built up through the first half of the album. Although the album attempts to save itself with Q-Tip's "Let's Ride" and DJ Quik's "Pitch in on a Party," the damage has already been done.
Although Toronto's Beatfactory label deserves a lot of respect for taking Canadian hip hop to new heights, let's hope they put in a better effort with the next installment of the Rap Essentials series.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000