Let’s not throw the first stone at Kanye … Yet

Written by Sabine Démosthènes

When I first listened to Kanye’s “The College Dropout” album, I felt like I was rekindling my love story with hip-hop. It was during the era of Ja Rule, DMX and Nelly. I wasn’t feeling the love anymore and had not been discovering new artists.

And then, Mr. West came into my life in an epiphany kind of way.

With his sophomore album, I was still in Kanye’s land. Until this day, listening to both his albums, I had the feeling he was one of my big brother’s childhood friends and I was listening to their conversations discussing   the greatest NBA players to who shot Mr. Burns in The Simpson’s (we all know it was Maggie Simpson).

On those two albums, Kanye was saying some pretty hard cold truths about life in a very clever way. I have to applaud his song writing during that period.

But, as the years passed and the social media empire took control of so many things, including the option of thinking before writing or saying something that could end up being the stupidest thing you read, not of the day but of the minute! Kanye seemed to have been more lost and less focused.

He married a woman whose entire empire and fan base was in big part due to social media creations (and that is okay) but I always expected Kanye to be with a woman of substance. Someone with more going on in the brain department, more an academic girl (hmm hmm like me) or an intellectual. But, it wasn’t the case.

And then, he goes from someone that was not afraid to tackle the subject of slavery in a very smart and clever way, like in his song “We Major” featuring Nas The Great and Really Doe to supporting the current president of the so called free world (I really don’t see what the free world stands for anymore).

In my mind, something seems odd. Last week, Kanye brought up the subject of slavery again. It was as well put, just as he sang in his first two albums. This is what I thought at first, since I didn’t see the video but read the headline on a website that I won’t name because I’m ashamed. I was just numb.

But then, (and of course my brother tried to make see his comment in a different light), I realized the problem with Kanye is that he takes himself way too seriously. When you are really listening to what he said, it’s not almost crazy. The way it came out was damn crazy! As the very black girl that I am, I know that this subject always brought us into discussions.

Actually, in a funny kind a way, Kanye is making us think about this delicate subject. My problem is why do you go to TMZ (of all organisations) instead of having a very intelligent conversation with Christiane Armanpour at CNN or Gayle King at CBS. Those journalists would have pushed the envelope and asked him to be more clear.

No, he went to TMZ.

For him to be a supporter of the man that is the so called Commander-In-Chief of the Free World is so weird. Especially for someone that had blasted George W. Bush. But, can we assume that maybe he is supporting this person for a very selfish reason?

Maybe, because he is going to be less rich, he needs this person?

It’s only a question I’m asking.

Please, don’t throw the first stone at me. I am innocent.

The weeks to come will be something!

We will listen to the upcoming albums and maybe after one song, we will be so mad at ourselves for even listening to it, or maybe, it will be another masterpiece. For the masterpiece part, I wrote it because one of his collaborations will be (if it’s still happening) with Nas. So, it could really be good.

In the meantime, let’s hold our breath for the next Kanye moment.

And let’s not throw the first stone at Kanye… Yet.

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Simon 16, le Conquerant

Durant une belle soirée d’été autour d’une bière au restaurant Le Pourvoyeur, j’ai eu l’opportunité de m’entretenir avec l’incroyable artiste  Kenny Thomas aka Simon 16.

Le rire, la nostalgie et le hip-hop était au rendez-vous.

C’est un artiste que j’admire énormément et il a sorti il y a quelques semaines son premier E.P qui est la trame sonore parfaite de cette saison estivale.

Autour de nos bières et de nos pilons de poulet (eh oui, que voulez-vous), je me posais cette question:

J’ai toujours connu le Joker mais il me semble qui n’existe plus. Pourquoi l’assasinat du Joker et la naissance de Simon 16?
Haha! Il y a plusieurs raisons. De un, la recherche Google est assez ardue quand ton nom d’artiste est Le Joker.

Non seulement tu te perds dans le flot d’information en lien avec le personnage célèbre de DC, mais t’as aussi pas mal d’artistes établis et émergents qui choissisent ce sobriquet.

De deux, c’est un nom qu’on m’a donné quand j’étais jeune et que j’errais dans les rues de Montréal-Nord. Quoique ce nom me représente bien jusqu’à ce jour, mes jours d’errance sont loin derrière moi. Je sentais le besoin de faire peau neuve.

Pourquoi Simon 16?
J’avais une discussion avec mon ami Péo Dorion. Lui et moi sommes des grands amateurs de jeux de mots. Donc un soir on se jase de me trouver un nouveau nom d’artiste. On cherchait un nom qui pouvait être bilingue.

En discutant, l’idée de Simon 16 émerge. En anglais « Simon Says » est le nom donné au jeu « Jean Dit ». J’ai tout de suite vu le parallèle entre ce nom et le rôle du MC dans la culture Hip Hop.

Dans la culture Hip Hop, MC veut dire « move the crowd » faire bouger la foule.

C’est la fonction première du MC. Donc l’idée que ce que Simon dit se doit d’être observé par la foule était parfaite. Au niveau personnel, il y a plein d’éléments qui me lient au nombre 16. J’ai commencé à sérieusement écrire des textes à 16 ans.

Le Roland 808 qui est clavier d’importance mythique dans l’évolution du rap opère sur un principe de 16. Les couplets de rap sont généralement écrits en seize « barres » (en 4/4). Voilà pourquoi.

Avec ton EP que tu viens de lancer dernièrement, on sent qu’il y a une histoire d’amour entre toi et l’aspect plus instrumental au niveau de ta création musicale.

Est-ce que tu sens qu’il y a eu une évolution entre The Joker et Simon 16 à ce niveau?
Oui. Totalement. En fait, j’ai pris un moment pour davantage étudier le Hip Hop, vraiment disséquer la composition de la musique . Voir s’il y avait un schéma qui se dessinait , un genre de pattern. Tu ne peux pas aimer le rap sans apprécier le travail des producteurs derrière la musique.

Je me suis rendu compte qu’il y a des tracés à ce niveau. Par exemple, il y a une généalogie clairement établie entre DJ Premier du groupe Gangstarr et des producteurs tels que 9th Wonder et Alchemist. La sonorité des snares, comment les échantillons sont sectionnés, la façon de placer la basse par rapport au kick.

Il y a une science là-dedans! Quand t’écoutes Kanye West, tu peux sentir l’influence de Pete Rock. Les échantillons de trompettes et de de violons, c’est Pete Rock qui a amené la sonorité soul au rap.

Le Joker c’était un rappeur qui avait toujours quelque chose à prouver. Simon 16 c’est un étudiant avide de la musique. Je trouve ça presque plus intéressant d’analyser la musique dans son contexte social que de l’écouter par moment!

 À quel moment tu es tombé en amour avec le Hip-Hop?
La question la plus fafa au monde. C’est avec la chanson « Chief Rocka » du groupe Lords Of The Underground.

Je devais avoir 9 ou 10 ans et je l’ai enregistré à la radio sur une cassette (je trahis mon âge…haha!).

En effet enfant de la génération fin X débute Y. Notre cher monsieur Thomas continue dans son analyse du moment qu’il est tombé en amour avec le Hip Hop.

Il existe des moments parfaits dans la musique et ce morceau est parfait. Tout est bien exécuté sur ce morceau. Les couplets et les flots de Mr. Funke et de Do-It-All sont à couper au scalpel et Marley Marl a fourni le meilleur instru pour ce genre de morceau.

Jusqu’à ce jour, je ne suis pas tout à fait certain de comprendre comment il a fait pour penser à incorporer du John Coltrane, du Reggie Stepper et du Alvin Cash…du pur génie. Depuis lors j’étais accro au Hip Hop. Faut dire aussi qu’il y avait l’album « The Predator » d’Ice Cube et « Doggystyle » de Snoop Dogg….tout ça avant d’entrer au secondaire!

Ah ah, une autre question du même genre. À quel moment tu es tombé en amour avec la musique?
Les génériques de dessin animés des années 80. Kentaro Haneda Shuki Levy et Haim Saban et la musique des jeux Nintendo. Il n’existe rien de mieux afin qu’un enfant tombe amoureux de la musique.

La bande sonore des Mystérieuses Cités D’Or…de l’or en barre sans mauvais jeu de mots.

Les mystérieuses Cités d'Or

Ta famille semble être une influence pour toi. Est-ce que tu avais des membres de ta famille qui jouait un instrument?


On peut sentir l’amour de la musique qu’ils t’ont transmis.

Mes parents ont toujours aimé la musique. La maison était remplie des Nana Mouskouri et Mireille Mathieu.

Nana Mouskouri

Ce sont les deux chanteuses préférées de ma mère. Mon père a toujours eu qu’une seule cassette dans son auto….et quand je dis une seule cassette, le compte est bon. Il jouait les classiques de la musique haitienne : Tropicana, Roger Colas, Gérard Dupervil, etc.

Tropicana

Ma mère a toujours aimé l’art oratoire. Elle était enseignante de français et mon grand-père jouait dans un orchestre en Haiti.

Dans tes compositions, on retrouve plusieurs styles qui se marient très bien ensemble. Il y a plusieurs inspirations Jazz. Quels artistes Jazz qui t’ont inspiré?
Je dois dire Coltrane. Obligé. Miles. Bob James, c’est moins du jazz classique mais son style est fou. Eumir Deodato, Charles Mingus et Cal Tjader.

Quel avenir tu vois pour le hip-hop au Québec et même mondialement à travers tes yeux à toi?
Bonne question! Je pense que le Québec a beaucoup de chemin à faire en termes d’acceptation de la culture Hip Hop.

Il y a de très bons artistes ici mais le fait de parodier la culture nuit grandement à la crédibilité du mouvement musical. Le rap et la culture Hip Hop sont des mouvements artistiques et socio-culturels légitimes qui sont relativement jeune ici.

Je trouve que ton EP s’écouter super bien. Il y a des chansons qui te donnent le goût d’affronter le monde une journee et une autre fois que tu l’écoutes, tu as envie de prendre un petit verre de blanc sur une terrasse avec des amis en train de relaxer.


Est-ce que c’était un de tes buts avec tes compositions?

Peut-être de façon inconsciente! Le défi de sortir un projet sans parole est de transmettre des émotions sans l’usage de mots. Depuis la sortie du projet, j’ai vraiment des commentaires surprenants.

Il y a des morceaux qui me font vivre des trucs mais qui font vivre des émotions différentes à d’autres. Je voulais créer un moment musical qui sied à toutes sortes d’occasions et à des gens de tout acabit.

Ça a été une catharsis pour moi. J’espère que ça le sera pour plusieurs.

Quel est la suite pour Simon 16?

J’avais dans l’idée de sortir un projet qui s’intitulera « Les Tontons M’écoutent ». Ce sera un maxi qui sera une ode à la musique haïtienne que mes parents écoutaient quand j’étais jeune.

La musique haitienne est riche en histoire et en artistes qui ont contribué à l’avancement de la culture haitienne et de la musique en général.

Ensuite, je voudrais travailler sur un album qui aura pour titre « The Terrible Marvel », le titre est inspiré du livre « Mr. Gatling’s Terrible Marvel: The Gun That Changed Everything and the Misunderstood Genius Who Invented It » qui relate la vie de M. Richard Jordan Gatling et de son invention, la mitrailleuse Gatling.

Bref, je trouvais le titre inspirant.

Ce que je voulais faire c’était de raconter l’histoire de ma famille avant que je m’intéresse au rap. Un genre d’antépisode. Ça aborderait les thématiques de l’immigration haitienne, l’exode des cerveaux qui s’est retournée contre une génération entière de professionnels, du racisme, des années 80 et 90 et de la famille.

Il y a beaucoup de recherche à faire pour ce projet mais je sens que ça sera quelque chose de spécial!

Le meilleur est à venir pour ce fils du ”North Side” qui est prêt à nous amener avec lui dans ce beau voyage avec son alter ego Simon 16.

Simon says Go Track

Simon says Go!

Simon says go

 

The number 4

The self-proclaim king of hip-hop has dropped a brand new album this week. 4:44 is here but actually only on Tidal.

Some may think I have a love-hate relationship regarding Sir Shawn Corey Carter aka Jay Z.  And maybe you are right. For me, he has always been rapping about his so-called gangster envies and his bling-bling lifestyle. I have never been attracted to that. I did enjoy a few of his songs like every teens that saw the great Tupac and Biggie leaving this world in the late 90’s. I was hoping that maybe some knowledge and words of wisdom will come eventually…

I’m still waiting.

I’m a girl that grew up analyzing and loving the lyrics and musicology of the songs of Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang, Guru, A Tribe Called Quest, the French legendary group IAM and Nas. Those guys never proclaim they were the best there is but we all know they were. Some of them did talk about the gangster life but they never quite glorified it as some artists did. But they manage to write some poetic lyrics with some mystical beats.

At first, Jay Z was the promising one. But I think he got lost in this corporate world and his self proclaimed throne with his queen.

The Beatles, The Stones, James Brown, Tina Turner didn’t have to sing that they were the best there is. We all know before they knew.

An artist doing an album that will be only streaming on his platform but you better be register before his baby album was drop, I find it a little bit snobbish.

And if you want to apologize to your wife about “Becky woman” or whatever, please don’t put it in a song that seems to be a marketing strategy like everything regarding this relationship.

BJ's

Authenticy is a word that I wrote a lot about on The Chronicle. I’m inspired by authentic artists. Rappers “like the ones I mention earlier” are one of the most authentic ones because they are not afraid to talk about the struggle and the little victories.

Now, everything is about branding and profiling.

Talking about your beefs has been in the hip-hop community since ever. But I was thinking in 2017 maybe we had passed this stupid way of dealing with it. Guess what, Jay did dissed Kanye. I taught he was a little bit more mature for that. It was his chance to be the bigger man of the situation. Oh well, here we go again.

There is some hope.

I really do appreciate the song “Smile”. It’s a hymn about a son that he is proud that his mother is finally and in love regarding what society may think. I find it to be sweet and beautiful.

I enjoy the first 3 albums of Mr. West. For some of us, he was relatable. This guy that went to college, rap about his everyday life with an originality with perfectly well written lyrics.

Kanye West College Dropout

Like you know the guy is a smart ass by his writing. Jay Z and him were the perfect combinaison. And the world of fame and hashtag destroyed it.

A guy like Jay Z could have help more the up and comers artists in a bigger way. He is a smart business man but I won’t say one of the best artists of all time but clearly an artist that put his footprint on the 20th and 21th century.

To be a good business man, you don’t have to be authentic but instead you have to be smart, sharp as a knife and opportunist. You got to grab every opportunity to make money.

And this album seem to be the goal but we did had some glimpse of real germs. Maybe the next one album will shine in his fullness like a diamond.

Jay Z

A quiet storm hit us

It sure did.

Albert Johnson aka Prodigy of Mobb Deep passed away. I just can’t believe what I just read yesterday.

Prodigy

Another great hip-hop pioneer left too early but my oh my, the legacy he left will be forever engrave in the music history.

It’s not a surprise he became of musician, a poet and a musical prodigy. Born and raised in a musical family, his journey was already design to shake this world up with his powerful and street smart lyrics. With the help of his patner in crime Havoc, they played a big part of our generation playlist.

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Some people will remember him for his famous feud with Tupac. But me, I will always remember when my brother brought the Murda Musik and I was mesmerized when I heard Quiet Storm for the first time.

As John Lennon sang on the first verse of A Day In A Life:

I can’t believe the news today of boy

My thoughts and prayers are going to his family, his friends and his fiercely fans.

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Enter the Wu-Tang

My throwback Thursday moment is actually one of the greatest album of all time from this legendary group.

Wu Tang

I will even said that they are in the same league as the Fab Four, The Stones, Pink Floyd and Led Zep. They have the same magical touch and that same aura about them.

You cannot believe I heard this album in my childhood. My brother would play it over and over again and usually, you get tired at a certain point. But for us, it wasn’t the case.

Gravel Pit music video

Wu-Tang was a band like no others Hip/hop band. The big maestro RZA, the poetic Ghostface Killer, The Method, The Inspector Inspectah Deck,  the authentic GZA, the pragmatic  Ol Dirty Bastard and many others members gave us so many iconic songs and change the face of hip-hop for ever.

GZAThe GhostGZAThe masterMethod Man

 

This album was a warm up for what was coming for us.

Enter the W T

C.R.E.A.M, this song still bring me back so many memories and omg the beat is still as enigmatic now as before in the 90’s.

CREAM

My throwback is not a sweet picture of me when I was a little girl but instead, it is about an album that brought a new dimension to hip-hop music and I will dare to see even beyond the hip-hop world.

They are still inspiring many artists not only in the hip-hop community but alternative, indie rock and rock. RZA did a collaboration with Thenewno2 on the song The Waitaround. Pure magic this song. The waitaround night and day for an answer till they make you forget what you’re after…

Kendrick Lamar, Common, Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def are rappers that I admire and sometimes make me thing of Wu-Tang. I doesn’t seem force for them to rap. It like breathing for them. Hmm it’s almost a Bruce Lee philosophy thinking I’m doing right now when he said to a young kid in a movie :

Don’t think… Breathe!

Bruce le sage

On that note, let’s breathe everybody and let our souls emerging to some Wu-Tang music.

My answer to one of my prayers

Gary Clark Jr is the answer of this prayer.

The guy is magnificent, energetic, pragmatic and one hell of a musician.

garyclarkjr

If you wonder how Blues, Rock, Hip Hop, Soul, Funk and a little bit of Country can co-exist, your prayers has been answer too. And it is so nicely and perfectly done.

Rocking his Gibson

I kept playing over and over The Story of Sonny Boy Slim like there a no tomorrow. The first song with the first guitar rift with a big yeah, oh my you are starting to move and to enter this beautiful universe.

The story of Sunny Boy Slim

Gary Clark Jr make me think sometime of Marvin Gavin with his soulful voice. Oh mercy mercy me!

His guitar style is a psychedelic mix of Clapton and Prince. Oh yes, you read it. Can we believe that it is possible? Like Obama used to said ” yes we can”. They called him The Chosen One! And The Chosen One have the same intensity as Jimmy Page.

Two legends

There is a brand new live album. It is the bomb. This proud Austin Texas child will be touring this summer across the States and few dates on the Grand North aka Canada. That’s a pity that they don’t have a Montreal date but he will be at the Ottawa Blues fest on July 12th. I smell road trip Chronicle Style. Maybe, I will have the chance to meet this fine artist.

While I am writing those sentences, I’m listening to his song Can’t Sleep. Catchy song and I’m dancing on my ride to work. And what I love with some artists is that they are as passionate with their music and still have a very humble personality.

gary-clark-jr

Thank you The Chosen One for making fall in love all over again with the blues with a twist.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NNH6PX-2euM

Gary Clark Jr Website

Peace

Gary

This is our healing

On this week in Montreal regarding the fact that it is cold in the morning, the Habs are probably in a week of depression  so are the fans and it’s the last week to complete our  taxes.

Tax

There is a lot going on in the Santa Teresa hm I mean Ste-Thérèse in the north shore of Montreal.

So let’s start the healing with music.

For the first time ever, on the north shore of the city, we will witness the next big spring music festival. The Santa Teresa Festival will be off the hook!

http://www.santateresa.ca

So many great artists like City and Colour, Patrick Wilson, Ralph, We are Wolves, Beyries,  Louis-Jean  Cormier, Husser, Wilsen and many more incredible artists. The North Shore big happening will be from April 27th until April 29th.

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I can’t wait to witness this really fun moment for the city of Ste-Thérèse and for the artists. You guess it. The Chronicle will be there.

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It will be an epic night! I can’t wait to meet some music lovers and some musicians and capturing a lot of magical moments.

Santa Teresa, here we come!

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