Saskatoon Folk Rap Records presents their 3rd limited edition record release, a split 7″ featuring an all star cast. ‘Combat Liberalism’, is a heart felt prose written, produced, and performed by Rob Crooks and is the first single from his forthcoming project “Introducing the Ghost”. Track 2 marks the return of Epic who’s work with producers Factor, Maki, and soso have garnered him Canadian rap legend status. This is his first release of new music in 12 years and he’s accompanied by punk rap veteran MC Homeless to form Roads of Texas. ‘Kelowna’ (produced by Aries) is a worthy introduction to the duo. To complete this trifecta of rap awesomeness, ‘Let the Air Out’ a bonus unreleased gem from Yy and Gruf The Druid produced Rob Crooks is included. This 7 inch single brings back that old Canadian prairie rap with a sprinkle of Ohio and a dash of Texas.
Pre-order the 7 inch vinyl or download the digital version here.
You can buy this t-shirt that was designed by 319 Heads. As you may be able to tell, the logo is derived from the Winnipeg Jets’ old logo, from the team’s first incarnation. Winnipeg has a complicated history with the NHL. Like many people around my age, I grew up watching the Jets. Some of my fondest memories of bonding with my late father were sitting in the upperdeck at Jets’ games. Growing up, names like Dale Hawerchuck were legendary in the city, and I was old enough to remember the excitement that ignited the city during Teemu Selanne’s rookie season.
When the Jets left the city in 1996 and moved to Phoenix, the city suffered a palpable identity-crisis. I wrote a song about it, and my friend Mike Maryniuk and his collaborator Matthew Ranking made a film about it. Winnipeg is a small city, made even smaller by the large swaths of sparsely populated land that surrounds it. But one thing that made us feel like a real city, and not another Regina (god forbid), was our big-league hockey team. Sure, they never made it past the first round of the playoffs, but the Wayne Gretzkys of the world still had to come to Winnipeg for all the world to see.
Eventually, most people my age moved on. Hockey was no longer central to our lives, partly because the Jets had left and partly because we had developed other interests. The city’s arts scene in particular started to thrive as more room was made for other forms of culture in the absence of the dominating NHL hockey team. After a while, things seemed fine without hockey.
When it was announced that the NHL was coming back to Winnipeg, however, the city, or a least a part of it, rejoiced. Admittedly, I didn’t really care that much at first, but when the Jets started to compete, penetrating deep into the playoffs, I was glued to the TV for every second of it. Many people from the arts community shunned hockey and anything associated with the Jets, drawing a clear line between hockey and the arts. Many saw the return of the Jets as a direct threat to the funding that local arts scene had been enjoying in the team’s absence. Personally, though, I saw little difference between arts and sports. They are both aspects of culture, and both depend on funding from equally problematic sources.
The internal culture of hockey, however, is hard to ignore. Whereas my dad could afford to take me to a game once or twice a year in the old arena, the costs associated with the new Jets was in a whole other realm. A couple of times I shelled out a hundred bucks just to sit with my back against the wall in the very last row of the MTS Centre. On my way to the game, I would tell myself I wasn’t going to stand for the anthem, but under the hard stares of the ultrapatriotic hockey fans, I would always give in. It was a small victory to keep my hat on and not shout “True North” with the other fifteen thousand people in attendance. The last time I went to a game, I intentionally went late to avoid the over-effusive nationalist carnival.
The Winnipeg Jets are owned by the son of a Winnipeg car dealership owner, Mark Chipman, and Toronto-based real estate billionaire, David Thomson, under the name True North Sports Entertainment. True North is also involved heavily with real-estate development in Winnipeg’s downtown and has ties to CentreVenture. The latter organization was created to serve as a go-between for the private sector and city hall, to guide the planning of downtown “revitalization” in favour of the rich, and funnel public money into the pockets of private investors. All of this while continuing the city’s ongoing dispossession of land from indigenous peoples, making life harder for poor people, and ignoring the fact that downtown was already very much alive – just not with people who could afford Jets tickets.
The fact that the Jets are owned by people whose only motivation is profit, at the expense of people and community, should not be surprising to anybody. The same is the case for any team in the NHL, NBA, MLB and NFL, perhaps with the exception of the Green Bay Packers (who are community-owned, though I’m not entirely sure what that entails). The fact is, even our minor league teams, the Blue Bombers and Goldeyes, are owned by the same caliber of people. Does this mean that we can’t enjoy watching sports? I don’t think that’s what it means. But it does mean we need to be aware of these realities and be careful of how far we are willing to go to support our favourite teams.
When hockey returns, I’m going to continue watching the Jets. And I’ll continue to go to rallies and protests that oppose the Jets’ owners. We can do both. But I also know that if the choice between hockey and affordable housing was up to me, the choice would be obvious. Fuck True North. That being said, I pray for a day when we don’t have to choose, when we can have both.
Last winter, I went to Saskatoon with Nestor Wynrush to play a show with Ceschi and Factor. That was one of the best trips I’ve had in a long time. We went up a day early to make sure we had lots of time to hang out with all of our friends there. The day of the show, I went to the Rap Nest aka Chaps’ attic and recorded a conversation with Chaps and Epic for the Third Verse Podcast. I don’t remember what we talked about. Samplers, for one thing. I don’t know what else. Anyways, you can listen here.
Thanks to Chaps, Epic, Chapter Thrive and everyone involved in the Third Verse podcast. Thanks to Noyz for the awesome drawing of me and to Ugsmag.com for hosting the podcast.
Pip Skid returns with his quarantine-themed EP It’s Ok. Produced entirely by Rob Crooks, It’s Ok explores the distress that has captured the entire world in the wake of a global pandemic. Pip’s lyrics express the restlessness that accompanies indefinite shelter-in-place orders, the anxiety of accessing essential services in the time of social distancing and the incapacity of capitalist governments to adequately meet the needs of the masses in a crisis situation. Serving as the backdrop for Pip Skid’s growling despair, Rob Crooks’ production and Skratch Bastid’s cuts add a frantic energy to the EP’s aural aesthetic. It’s Ok is the perfect soundtrack for these strange times.
Bazooka Joe (fka John Smith)
Spend an enchanting winter’s eve with Eat Em Up Records’ latest release: Schadenfreude, the new album, from Bazooka Joe & Rob Crooks.
Joe & Crooks will perform Schadenfreude in its entirety, live within the cozy confines of Winnipeg’s historic Garrick Hotel Bar.
With supporting performances from Twio, and elusive local soothsayer, Gruf.
Music by Lonnie Ce.
Limited edition Schadenfreude cassettes and merch will be available.
Advance tickets $10
Schadenfreude is proudly brought to you by Marathon Of Dope.
Directed by Mike Maryniuk
2018, Canada, 75 min
Opening night screening introduced by Mike Maryniuk, with a special live performance by Rob Crooks.
With an all star cast of Winnipeggers including Rob Crooks, Al Simmons,Washboard Hank Fisher, Mike Olito, James “Pinhead” Miller, Winnipeg mayoral candidate Ed Ackerman, and Maryniuk veterans Rob Vilar and Tim Roth, The Goose is a marvel of inventive storytelling and imagination. Filmmaker magician Mike Maryniuk has conjured up weird visions like you’ve never seen before. The Goose (Rob Crooks) is a mute young man who attempts to regain his voice and escape his oppressive surroundings with the help of the inventive, but behind the times, Travel Agent. The Goose must traverse a gauntlet of miscommunication, small town bravado and his Snowbird weirdos to achieve this goal. He meets a woman known as the Escape Artist (Bea Solsberg) in the hospital and they hatch a loose plot to migrate to Arizona, where The Goose can receive new-age voice therapy and the Escape Artist can escape winter’s clutches.
My new album “And the Nothing From Which Nothing Comes”* is now available to stream on all streaming services. I mean, I don’t know about all streaming services. I can only name two: Apple Music and Spotify. It’s available on those two services for sure. But I think Jay-Z has a streaming service too, right? I don’t know if you can listen to my album on there or not. But check it out if that’s all you’ve got. First listen to the Jay-Z song “22 Twos” and then listen to my album. And listen to it a bunch. Leave it on repeat while you sleep. I think I get .009 cents every time you stream it. So hook me up with some love. Some fraction-of-a-cent love.
If streaming isn’t your thing, you can also purchase the album in either it’s digital or it’s physical form on Disintegration Record’s bandcamp. The physical copies are in the form of cassette tapes. When I tell people about the cassettes they often give me a puzzled look and ask why I would make copies of my album in an obsolete form. It’s not an altogether inappropriate question. But at the speed of which technology is moving, we’re soon going to turn the corner and the only non-obsolete form of music will be streaming, like through the services mentioned above. And as we all should know, streaming services are terrible for artists. So I wanted to produce a physical copy of my album which people can buy as a way to show support for what I’m doing. I thought seriously about CDs, but I personally hate them. Plus, CDs are more obsolete to me than cassettes are: I have no way of playing a CD at home or in m car. I have no CD player nor disc drive in my computer. I do, however, have a cassette deck. But even if you don’t have a cassette deck, cassettes look way cooler than CDs! CDs are a waste of space, but you can put a cassette on your mantel and show it off to guests. It’s fucking retro as shit. And in case you needed more convincing, we’ve included download codes with the cassettes which include 2 additional songs which are not available anywhere else. Because we are marketing geniuses.
Anyways, I hope you can listen to the album and enjoy it, through whatever means available to you. If the only thing you listen to is CDs, there may be some CDs coming down the pike at some point. If you’re waiting for the album to come out on vinyl, all I’ll say is this: “You and me both, friend. You and me both.”
*Please note that for the European release of “And the Nothing From Which Nothing Comes” through Marathon of Dope, the album is called “The Nothing From Which Nothing Comes” due to legal issues regarding U2’s album of the same name.
Rob Crooks is a musician, songwriter and performance artist based in Winnipeg, Canada. With a masters degree in Philosophy and an ear for heavy rhythm and relaxed melodies, Crooks’ newest album, And The Nothing From Which Nothing Comes, is a collection of uncommon, highly listenable songs. Known primarily as a hip hop producer and collaborator (Pip Skid, Ismaila Alfa, John Smith, etc) Crooks has a reputation for taking risks with sound and pushing technological limits in performance. His music is not easily categorized but it is absolutely easy to listen to.
The Nothing From Which Nothing Comes, available on cassette and in digital format, is a shared release between Canada’s Disintegration Records and Belgium’s Marathon of Dope.
“Crooks has a one-of-a-kind ability to combine hip-hop and electronic styles in a way that elevates both the aesthetic energy and uniqueness of his music, as well as the socially informed narrative within his storytelling. He is easily one of the most original and interesting artists in Manitoba”
Ted Turner: CKUW, Stylus, DJ Nocontact
Cherry Cherry is a new electronics/voice duo based in Winnipeg.(Hailey Primrose and Greg MacPherson)