2011 was another big year in Montreal hip-hop with a plethora of albums dropping. Amongst these, Hindu Kush dropped a solid album alongside my homie D-Shade, my brother Preach Ankobia, my extended family Alquimia Verbal and of course my very own friend and DJ, Mr. Conn-Shawnery. Moreover, beyond this, 2011 brought about compilations of the likes of Sev Dee/Monk-E/KenLo’s Incubation album as well as G.I.G.A.N.T.E.’s Art-Cons put out a VERY solid album. Woodman dropped a solid album and followed up with a very heavy clip in 2011 with his track “Oxygen” which got much airplay around Montreal airwaves and deserved so. From here, Heavysoundz, Obia and Cotola, Full Course, Docteur Mad, Sarah Mk, High-Klassified, Colin MusoNi, Heart Streets, Jah Faith, Sarah Linhares, M.A.G.N.U.M., Rico Blox, L.E.S., MuGz, Annakin Slayd, I.Blast, Ill Mestizo, Shogun, SRH, David Hodges and CeasRock all put out incredible works. On a personal note, I got to build and further Mickey Boston hip-hop while also having the pleasure of working with Waahli, Sev Dee and UrbN LogiX amongst so many others in the city.
In essence, truth is, there is a lot of Montreal hip-hop and the aspect of dropping video clips requires ambition on the part of the filmaker as well as the artist. Many shouts go out to the radiostations and DJs who give Montreal emcees the exposure they deserve and need while particular shouts go to Morburn Music for their endless efforts in supporting the city and of course, to Darcy who does much justice in every entry and article he puts in. Shouts go to Don Smooth and Nick Fury for their hard work as well as everyone down at CJLO, CKUT, CISM and so forth. Below are some clips that were noticed in 2011 by Montreal emcees, they are placed in NO particular order.
Magnum Ft.Skipper Dean – Live On (Bad News Brown Tribute) (Prod.Dirtwork)
This is a beautiful tribute to none other than Montreal’s own Bad News Brown who lives on in all of our hearts. I personally only had the honour of interacting with him once since moving to Montreal and M.A.G.N.U.M. does from the heart. I was so pleased to see a beautiful clip that gives Justice beyond words and Justin Agustin’s direction is solidly fitting. This track speaks to me on a personal level, of course everyone in Montreal knows one another through someone somewhere. My boy TuThree, who is also my brother in faith and neighbour has been working with Crook for a minute and had collectively produce unreleased tracks however, this track lyrically hit home on a very personal level vis-a-vis the loss of my 9-year-old cousin, a victim of violence who was shot and killed in a botched robbery attempt in Lahore, Pakistan. When M.A.G.N.U.M. delivered his verse thoughts rang through my mind and it saddens me to reflect on the loss of Matt Dutch Garner who passed away 9 months later. Rest in Peace to everyone we love, love begets love and let us move forward without any violence because too many gifted people have so much light and shine to give this world, may these lights never be extinguished. Amen.
A’shop “Notre-Dame-de-Grâce/ Our Lady of Grace” Mural
Ok, here’s how it goes down. Firstly, this is not a track with an emcee, this is straight Montreal beauty and art. This is NDG, this is Montreal, this is A’shop. The homies at A’shop hold it down and I want to give much love to them for what they do. I would also like to extend love to Bruno and Fluke for supporting what I do and for dropping the most awesome parties at Can You Rock which also enabled me to film my clip with COPE2. Moreover, this clip speaks for itself, I got it straight from FLUKE at 23 views, look how it’s gone viral. It’s a work of art that makes EVERYONE in Montreal PROUD. Not a single person can say anything wrong about this and we need more in our city, this puts our city in a state of visibility, we need more funding and sponsorship for the arts so that the gifted homies at A’shop can drop more dopeness. Regimental Oneton loved this piece, I loved this piece, Montreal loves this piece. This masterpiece took 16 days and nights to complete. What is it? Let me copy/paste the answer straight from the source, a Mother Nature-esque Madonna or a modern-day version of “Our Lady of Grace.” Inspired by Czech Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha, the crew created this breathtakingly beautiful five story mural using 500 cans of spray paint in over 50 different colors. The A’shop crew hopes this project will encourage other city boroughs to consider murals of their own. “Our city has way too much gray. So I hope this [mural] kickstarts a mural campaign.” To really appreciate the time and effort that went into this massive mural, here is a video that was taken over the 16 day period. For The full story, check out the blog http://www.ashop.ca/news/2011/11/7/montreals-ashop-creates-massive-art-nouvea…
Sound: email@example.com http://soundcloud.com/smahh
I.Blast – The Real Deal (prod. by Theory)
I.Blast has heart. My former High School student actually came up to me and asked me if I could do a track with I.Blast. Truth be told, I taught in NDG when I first moved to Montreal and the young high school cats in NDG know and love I.Blast. They look up to him. To this day I never crossed .Blast in person however am always working with LogiX and in Montreal, it’s a small world. This clip is directed by none other than Montreal’s own Labnoise who has really dropped some solid clips over the past couple of years as well as covering Montreal hip-hop. I’ve noticed Labnoise’s work and really it just keeps having that consistency. I first crossed his work actually when crossing Full Course’s clip, since I was not living in Montreal and when coming to Montreal was on and off in the city. In Full Course’s clip I was taken aback by the frame of the spider, so do check that on out, i will not say anymore because you should check out everything by Full Course. ”The Real Deal” is a clip that I really liked from start to finish, if you havent seen it, seen it.
Once More We Survive – Annakin Slayd feat. Inspectah Deck
Annakin Slayd dropped a VERY heavy track and clip alongside the Rebel INS, Inspectah Deck of the Wu. When I first saw this I had to shake my head and re-read the track because I couldnt believe it, I had to pinch myself. I was stoked to hear it and watch and really see Deck deliver his verse. Of course, some will say that Annakin paid a crap load of money to have Deck on this and clip must have come with a budget. Truth be told, if an emcee is investing in his music then let it be done. The production on the joint is tight and the visuals on the clip are tight. One gets absorbed in right off the bat no doubt and the jump shots within the clip are juxtaposed properly. The colour correction is synched and the motion graphics are on point. Within this, it was beautiful to see the TA wall and the transition effects within the clip. The integration between Montreal and NYC is special in context of also seeing the cranes of the MUHC super hosptal being built while also having the backdrop of Manhattan behind Deck. Deck’s verse is flawless as usual and carries very nicely into the track’s hook. Untimely Ripped Productions did a great job on this one alongside the direction of both Mitch Album and Annakin Slayd himself.
Woodman – Oxygen
Woodman’s album Product of the Machine is an album everyone should have and purchase. Buying an album like this one supports the artist and gives him/her the support he/she needs. Providing encouragement is also important so that they can continue doing what they love to do especially if they are dropping their shit independently. Having said this, Woodman has been on my radar since I crossed him performing a couple of times before me at Brutopia back in those Brutopia days in 2010. He is a solid emcee and battler with solid punches and mind you that English is not his first language which should inspire younger cats out there to drop their verse and message regardless of language. Woodman demonstrates that any language is possible and that there are no barriers unless you put barriers on yourself. “Oxygen” is about cutting oneself from Oxygen, it is conscious, it is intelligent, it is witty and it is straight to the point without any bullshit. Furthermore, the clip itself is solid, vivid, colour correction is on point, it is sharp, in fact very sharp. The sharpness of the picture is what caught my eye, I appreciate sharp images and there is no grainyness from start to finish. I dont know who directed and shot the clip but this cat/cats deserve full credit for what finished product theyve put out visually. The album itself by Woodman, is solid from start to finish. It will be exciting to see what Woodman will put out in 2012, we stay tuned…
Borden & Justice – Funny How – This Is For [Prod. by 80 Rock]
80 Rock is a dope, solid producer. Anything I hear from 80 Rock I always have a pleasure to hear. There is a lot I can say about this clip, from my days of watching mob films to just enjoying the production on this clip. Then comes the visuals, flawless, the integration is complete and fully on point. Sound and mastering and mixing is beautiful, transition at 2:27 is smooth smooth smooth. I got to drop a pair of freestyles alongside Borden as well as Justice on Off the Hook and the team is moving in the right direction. What can I say? Regimental Oneton is loves Justice’s flow and delivery, hook is off the hook. Justice is straight up, real talk wisdom, drops wisdom ends by telling everyone to just do be True to yourself and hustle your hustle. Ive got much love and respect to Borden and I love the visual transition from the start on this. Elon Skee drops a masterpiece, the van behind Borden is right, the colour transitions from the black & white and vice versa: fully on point. I personally thoroughly enjoyed Borden’s delivery and narration and they are solidly complimented by the visuals.
OBIA LE CHEF & EL COTOLA – JE SAIS
When one sees Montreal clips and these clips are shot in Montreal and you re watching a clip shot in your city it just touches home. I’m a conscious hip-hop head, I drop it myself and love to hear other emcees dropping conscious shit as well regardless of the language. It was beautiful to see my sister Nargess in the clips closing and Montreal itself is a city of social activists 9like myself included). El Cotola’s production never disappoints and Obia is one of my fav francophone emcees in the city. He delivers a very true-to-self and true-to-reality delivery, narrative and verse. Jaime Maldonato’s camera work is professional and lucid. The concept of visual narrative and journey is important here, the clip is a journey, we are in movement with the emcee and the seasons change alongside this visual narrative, showing and illustrating that this clip was not shot over a week but over a prolonged period making this a project of patience and proper planning. The camera movement from up at 0:29 to 0:30 is wonderful. Bringing the clip into the depanneur is something else. I personally appreciate this because it brings that local touch and feel to the cli especially when we see the lady behind Obia in her saree/salwar and her (possible) husband at the cash with his topee/skullcap on. It reflects the presence of the immigrant struggle in Montreal and how these wonderful people come here in search of a better life (please do check out my track with my rhyme partner Weyes entitled “Bodega Sunshine” on youtube). Personally i connected with the depanneur scene and appreciated Obia’s merci, this was simply down-to-earth and real all the way and much love for that. Moving behind Foufounes Electriques always hits home because my contribution to Under Pressure and seeing my boy Regimental Oneton’s trashbin is always a pleasure (2:16 – 2:20) while KC LMNOP is mentioned. Moving to the vinyl store is simply great. Of course Cotola is great producer alongside Illdigger and one can imagine how vinyls theyve gone through over the years. True indeed the clip was to be continued on the Polic Brutality tip and the human reality is what makes this clip so excellent, it is in movement and the viewer is moving along with it. Remember to get the album if you havent.
F’N Angry – Scynikal ( Pop The Trunk Freestyle ) [ Directed by: Sky Da Great ]
I crossed this clip when my sister Wariher-Kween Parneet Bee and I were talking about this piece at McGill library. The Kween is not just a sister to me but also a fellow poetess and wise mind. She loves this clip and we started talking about the brilliance behind its expression. It’s a solid track and a solid clip hands down. The Kween and I connected to this in different ways, for me, well I am a person who is angry and had a battle with aggression over the past few years and I started working on this personal battle with anger and depression. When seeing and listening to this joint I can see a large populace connecting with it. Collin Sense drops a heavy production alongside the direction of Sky Da Great. Sky Da Great takes this track and directs the brilliance out of it from start to finish. It has the ambiance, it captures the emotion and I’d hate to be the blindfolded/masked brother in the chair. The clip is set in one location and in nature but nature is not what I am tuned into when I see this. You hear Scynikal: “I’m fuckin Angry” repeated and you are not focused on the trees or the forest, you are in tuned with the words from the start, more specifically the emotion, the anger. When Kween saw this clip she immediately became a fan of Scynikal and hit em up, the reason for this is that the track and clip are straight up, there’s no bullshit. Listen to the lyrics, hear what is being rhymed, solid track. I love how the tied up cat in the chair starts moving at 2:50min and tries to untie or unloose himself, that brings the human element to it. At 3:43 when the screen shot starts closing vertically and Scynikal gets up to walk away, that is much credited filmaking right there. If you havent got the MurderFace ”Faces of Def” yet, be sure to get it, shouts to CL who went to the same elementary school as me and was one of the first people I mt when arriving back in Montreal.
“YOUNG & TATTED” OFFICIAL VIDEO BYMUGZ FT. YOGI
Salute. I was really feelin this joint once I heard it. Joint is mad tight. Hook is tight. Bars are tight. Concept is original. Delivery is tight. Clip is tight, production is tight. Visuals are tight. Hollistically, the entire package is on point and tight and I dont even need to add more. On a personal note, I seek original concepts in hip-hop and if the concept was not even original it’s the emcee that make a subjectivity that has already been covered original. In this case, the concept was original but so was the concept of the clip. Justin Agustin is an artist at his craft, the visuals and the transitions alongside camera angles are what contribute to making this an all around dope clip. He must love getting dope tracks sent his way and go through his creative process alongside the emcees and come out with a solid story-board. It’s beat to just sit back and enjoy this track and this clip. Much love and respect, nuff respect headin out. I think this was one of my most fav tracks of 2011. The hook, well put it this way, i can hear the crowd singin it back. Big ups.
The Boombap Cats – the Jazz Records
Switching vibes from “Young and Tatted” and moving towards the beauty of vinyls is Mehdi Cee alongside Johnny Illdigger and Penzo Gritty and Logic Johnson. To begin, Penzo knows what I think of his dope album “The 12 steps” which I strongly recomend for all to have and to play and to absorb from. Furthermore, I feel that Logic Johnson has not been given the attention and recognition that is due to him however, it is never quantity but rather quality and true hiphop heads know gifted emcees and lyricists when they hear. As result, I encourage everyone to not just follow what projects Illdigger is behind but also what projects Illdigger has been a part of making come to life. Beyond this, Mehdi Cee is just a great all around emcee, I did cross him a few times although briefly, on one occasion he was freestyling live in front of me after my set was done and I recall putting my scarf on his shoulder so he can freestyle to the action and motion. This clip is shot by Illdigger, it is one of two clips that I enjoyed in 2011 by the cat. Firstly, I love the Boombap Cat logo popping at the clip’s debut and the eyes are blinking, love that. From the get-go the instrumental is fine and fresh and Mehdi Cee’s flow is melodious and harmonic to the beat. The narrative coincides nicely, in fact very nicely with the atmosphere of the vinyls on shelves and all about in the store. What I also love is the track’s hook, we see Illdigger playn the pads on the floor. The aspect of playing the pads on the floor touches base with me because Ive always lived in a tight a space/bedroom and had my AKAI on the floor, dust and wires everywhere and vinyls stacked up, so seeing Illdigger doin his thing right there actually hit home for me…Leo the Cat has an awesome cameo in this clip and Browny Beats’ camera work is solid. Illdigger’s post-production on this clip alongside Browny Beats is completely wonderful making this one of my other fav clips of 2011.
Conn Shawnery – 2/2 Tango
DJ and producer Conn-Shawnery dropped his 2011 album, CS01 alongside emcees Blurum13 and N’FA. This clip was shot between Montreal and Hong Kong and sticks to the theme of vinyl sampling and beat composition like the Boombap Cat’s “Jazz Records.” This track was produced by Conn-Shawnery himself and is widely available worldwide on the CS01 album sm be sure to get the album. The clip was shot by Mickey Boston (myself) and took much work and many back and forth meetings and panel discussions. We were set on directing and creating an original piece of hiphop with original concepts. As usual we reached out the b-boys we know and love and have been working with over the years. As Conn-Shawnery has been holding down the b-boy/b-girl scene down in Montreal alongside some of Montreal’s best DJs having the participation of the Deadly Venoms Crew was a no brainer. The contribution of b-boy Afternoon on the local dance scene has been tremendous and commendable. From here, having King Tiger Son aid in the clip’s choreography was fundamental as well to the clip’s success. The model of the clip was based on a visual narrative, the story of Conn-Shawnery’s Golden Vinyl which must retrieved from Hong Kong. The storyboard is an original concept and was entirely thought of by Conn-Shawnery himself however, after having meeting alongside Conn and the b-boys little ideas started to spring out in the creative process of this clip. When I work with emcees, DJ, b-boys or graffers I am seeking artistic innovation, ideas and concepts that have not entirely been done in hiphop, which in this case isnt entirely such, but the end result was achieved, we wanted a nice clip and we got that nice clip.
Rico Blox feat Uness – Stop Frontin (prod. by Dj Manifest) OFFICIAL VIDEO Dir. by Justin Agustin
Justin Agustin is the go-to man for clips, you can see the hard work and perfection that is mastered in every clip he puts out. The fruits of his labour are manifest in sweet results. Here, Rico Blox’s clip comes out very nice. It was nice to see Quartier des spectacles as the main location for the clip. I think you’d have to sit back and watch the clip for yourself to enjoy it. The transition from day into night is smooth. However, it’s best that this clip is watched by the viewers out there to absorb.
CEAS ROCK – FAST LANE
Beat on this clip is dope, Cease is mad positive on this which what we all appreciate. Cease Rock has been making power moves and released a very compelling and exceptional album. His dedication to supporting the scene is vivid and noteworthy. This clip moves nicely and smoothly, casual. We all have love for Sub-V and everything that Sub-V has done also so its nice to have Cease give recognition where recognition is due. As mentioned earlier, everyone in Montreal is interconnected in some or fashion or another, my boy Ill Mestizo has nothing but love and positivity to say about Cease and so do my brothers Preach and LogiX. What I am appreciative is about his local support for Montreal, he holds his city down, is there for his peeps and community. The clip is well shot, original concept, I personally like the lighting and locations. I love supporting good people and good music and Cease loves to put out good music, he has a reputation for doing and much love and respect headed out his way and as well to Seif of A&A. Respect.
COPE2 – King Kase2 Tribute
Ill Mestizo and I got together to pay tribute to Rawkus by means of wanting to look back at the classic subways of the 60s, 70s and 80s. I got DJ Conn-Shawnery to do the scratches for the track which was produced by my former DJ, DJ Warp – who also produced my track “They Say Hip-Hop”. Later on in 2011, COPE2 came to Montreal, we touched base, the rest is what you see. Enjoy.
I.BLAST feat. UNESS – WHO KNOWS // REPS UP MONTREAL
This one is also one of my most fav clips of 2011. Justin Agustin’s photography and placement is simply wonderful, very very well done. The shots in this clip come off very well, they compliment the landscape, compliment the weather and atmosphere. Black & white was the way to go with this clip. The backdrop of the Champlain bridge is very well set and is juxtaposed nicely with the architecture of Old Montreal making it seamless as if the two settings/locations were a block away from eachother, which are not in reality. This is prob my fav of I.Blasts clips but this is even hard to say because he’s put out some quality work over these past years. In this track I.Blast mentions how 2012 will be his year and Theory’s and I hope so, keep it up. Uness is solid on the hook. And if you havent seen “Born for This”, go ahead…
Fly Away/We Gone – Guru Affiliated Directed by Labnoise Films
Ive heard a few tracks by Guru Affiliated over 2011 on Morburn and really find it to have a VERY SOLID delivery. There is power and strength in the delivery and the tracks themselves have that poignant verse to back the words that expressed in the tracks. This being said, I am personally looking forward to hearing what he has to put out in the next coming year. I really like what Labnoise has done visually with this clip from start to finish. This track is a joint that speaks to me because as many know, I am into the “journey” and the struggle in the journey of life and the narrative technique within that narrative. Everyday struggle is what tip Im on, especially because I myself fell in unemployment and some very difficult times. Watching a clip like this hits keys in my book and so this track was a no-brainer for me. “While she thinkin marriage, I dont think that Im worthy” – this is something that plagued me very personally in my life and I was faced with the very same predicament, so thank you for this track and this clip. Track is VERY down-to-earth and it’s made in a such a way that more everyday people can relate and distances itself from champaigne and material wealth that one may find in other videos by other artists. This track has soul, Labnoise visually captures the narrative of the dilemma in the soul from the pressures of everdyay life and mounting bills and anxieties. I enjoy the jump shots of the taxi cabs, (this being that I was to drive a cab at one point in my life but didnt) as well as the pigeons in the sky which connote and underpin so much. The hook is solid. The message is one of positivity despite the hardships while knowing that life and its predicament, trials and tribulations are uncanny at times and difficult. I close on this in like manner as the video by mentioning Rest in Power to Bad News Brown and the late Matt “Dutch” Garner. Blessings always.
Slik Jack – Slum Drunk Billionaire (Prod.by Illdigger) OFFICIAL VIDEO
When you love that straight boombap underground hiphop you look and delve and dive into G.I.G.A.N.T.E. You splash into that and keep your head bopping and love the flows and get back at me for saying that I dropped a dope reference. Slik Jack has a lot of quotables if you look into his archive of tracks, one of my fav joints is WAR that he had put out however, be set to delve into his pieces with Penzo Gritty as well as his cameos on Penzo’s “The 12 Steps” album as well as a solid piece on the Aspect Mendoza mixtape. This clip is directed by Johnny Illdigger and has that Illdigger trademark at the beginning. The concept, “crotch-o-scope” is new, gives the clip a different angle and is set in one location. The timing on the making of this track is everything, you can clearly see that this joint is shot in one take, everyone had to be on point to get it right on the first attempt (I am doubtful that Slik Jack wanted to get paint on his face more than once by Penzo). Get the album.
Nomadic Massive – Reveye
The Nomadic family dropped a beautiful clip with much colour. Shouts go Waahli, Talli, my brother Lou…much love to Vox and the entire massive family.
Alquimia Verbal ft Heavy Soundz ,Boogat ,Paranoize – Del Mondongo (Del Mondongo 2011)
Even if you are someone like myself who is not entirely fluent in Spanish, you can still appreciate the bars in this joint. This is one big family track with cameos of dear friends of mine from MadGabacho to Alquimia Verbal holding it down who have been very dear acquaintances of mine and extended family to me. This is a cut that unifies everyone in one clip from Boogat to P-Noize and it’s a beautiful thing to see so many Montreal heads in one clip. Heavy Soundz and Alquimia Verbal have been dropping a bunch of shows in the city equipt with live sounds and improv, theyve been delivering heavyness over the 2011 year. I have myself seen them live and have performed alongside Alquimia on the flyer, this is a collective that has been dropping dopeness over the last while and now with the advent of Elementality and the pod-casts, I feel convinced that there is only more building in the making. I wont say more, I’d rather you play the clip.
The Narcicyst- Brass
Alright, Narcy dropped “Brass.” Nuff Said.
Mickey Boston feat. Regimental Oneton & DJ Conn-Shawnery – They Say HipHop
There was a new Mickey boston joint alongside Regimental Oneton and DJ Conn-Shawnery. This track is a long story, just follow Mikey the monkey as he searches for hiphop in Montreal.
David Hodges – I See The World
David Hodges has always been dropping conscious true-to-heart music. “I see the World” is another track that follows the Hodges positivity and is about the journey of having traveled from place to place. The West Island of Montreal has always been bringing out solid hip-hop and SRH is of no exception as well.