On Sunday, December 2nd at the Pyramid Cabaret in Winnipeg, I get to open for the Astronautalis with Busdriver and JEL tour. So, put on your backpacks, your hoodies and white sneakers, and let’s hop in the time machine back to 2002 and watch some serious underground rap!
Astronautalis is not a house-hold name yet, but in a year from now, who knows. He’s come a long way since battle-rapping at Scribble Jam. With all the mainstream press, sold-out shows in Europe and endorsements from people like Tegan and Sara, it shouldn’t be long before he’s playing bigger venues than the Pyramid.
Back in 2010, when Magnum KI played Pop Montreal, we got the chance to share the stage with Astronautalis. You could tell by the atmosphere in the place at that time that this guy was onto something. A sold-out, albeit small-ish venue was teeming with excitement over his specific brand of inide-rock meets underground hip-hop. That show had an energy that I hadn’t experienced many times before, and maybe haven’t since.
Astrontautalis would be a good enough reason to get out of the house and stop getting drunk by yourself; but add to it Busdriver and JEL and you have something pretty special. Last time Busdriver was in town it was criminally under-attended. For someone with such talent and experience it seems strange that Winnipeg didn’t take more notice. Mixing top-notch technical emcee skills along the lines of Myka 9, or even Tech Nine, with art-school sensibilities, Busdriver is an artist that any rap fan would appreciate, no matter how deep their crates are. (Note: I have no idea whether or not Busdriver went to art-school. But his dad did write the movie Krush Groove.)
But what I am personally most excited for is JEL. I have been a pretty avid fan of JEL since I first heard Deep Puddle Dynamics over ten years ago. Since then the Themselves albums he’s made with Dose One are some of my favorite pieces of music ever. A beat-smith and sometimes rapper, you could easily call JEL one of my favorite producers. But the term “producer” seems limited considering all the things that I admire JEL for. Sure his beats are incredible; but the fact that he plays them live on his MPC makes it even more exciting. I haven’t had the chance to see Themselves live yet (although I have seen Subtle); but lately their sets seem to be things of legend. The fact that one-half of this duo will be at the Pyramid gives me goosebumps a little bit.
So, I don’t know. What are you gonna do? Not go to this show? Stay home and watch Football? Don’t be dumb.
With your head down, caught-up in the every day grind it’s easy to forget to take a breath, look around and see how far you’ve come. When you’re knee deep in it, shoveling it, clawing at it, fiddling with it’s most minute details, and it feels like it’s taking forever to get anywhere it can be draining on your mind and body. When you lose sight of the big picture, struggling with the pixels can seem like a fruitless task.
But every once it a while you get a chance to stand back and take everything in from a bit of distance. That’s when you realize why you do what you do, and you remember how lucky you are to be a part of something bigger. Today I got one of these chances.
The Marathon of Dope Winter 2012 Sampler became available today for free download. It’s a Dj-style mix of songs from all 29 Marathon of Dope releases. It features some of the most interesting artists that I know of making music today. Listening to the mix for the first time this afternoon made me extremely excited about what my friends and I do again. It also reminded me that despite all the difficulties I’ve faced, I’m still very lucky to be associated with creators of this calibre and to have friends like the ones I have. I cannot wait to see what comes next.
Here’s the track-listing:
1. Pip Skid – Tens of Dollars (Dj Hunnicutt Remix)
2. KaeoFLUX – Bots
3. Birdapres – Toothpaste
4. Zucchini Drive – Jaguar Sky
5. Mike Ladd – High Sea, High Field
6. Nomad – Son, If you don’t Know
7. Pip Skid – Cut me Up into a Thousand Pieces (ft. Nestor Wynrush)
8. Speed Dial 7 – Dog Collar Blues (ft. Rob Sonic & The Infesticons)
9. Rob Crooks – Knows How To
10. Elissa P – Paintbrush
11. The Nestor Wynrush Ensemble – Blood Rock Live
12. Tim Dj Co-op Hoover – Two
13. Passage – Stressanomics
14. The Gumshoe Strut – Redrum (Dj Kutdown Remix)
15. The Gumshoe Strut – Beats (ft. Pip Skid & Yy)
16. Speed Dial 7 & Nomad – Stay Cool
17. Tim Dj Co-op Hoover – Nice Work If you Can Get It
18. Pip Skid – Shirley Temple (ft. B-Flat from The Lytics)
19. Infinite Livez – 4ever Smiley
20. Zucchini Drive – Down to the Spine (ft. M Sayyid from Anti-Pop Consortium)
21. Zucchini Drive – Handclap Handclap (ft. Nomad)
22. John Smith – High Magnificent (ft. Yy)
23. Creature – Embrace the Day
24. Birdapres – Rays and Beams (ft. Cadence Weapon & Nestor Wynrush)
25. The Gumshoe Strut – Never Saw It Coming
26. Speed Dial 7 – Jokes (ft. Yy)
27. Cavemen Speak – Save the Day
28. Zucchini Drive – Howler Than Thou
29. Zucchini Drive & Salvador – Children of the Damned
Download the sampler here. For more Marathon of Dope releases, including my Hearts EP, check out the website here.