Against All Odds

Exclaim! - - REVIEWS - ERIN LOW­ERS

Wasiu

MTLiens2

For years, Mon­treal’s un­der­ground hip-hop scene has en­joyed the re­flected suc­cess of pro­duc­ers and beat­mak­ers like Kay­tranada, High Klas­si­fied and Shash’U, to name a few. On their heels comes in­de­pen­dent Mon­treal rap­per Wasiu, who first bounced onto the Cana­dian land­scape with 2015’s MTLiens. The eight-track EP, which in­cluded a sin­gle ti­tled “This Ain’t Toronto,” in­tro­duced Mon­treal’s “piu piu” style of rap­ping, which merged elec­tronic with fu­tur­is­tic hip-hop. Wasiu has con­tin­ued to chal­lenge no­tions of what Cana­dian rap can be by forg­ing new sub­gen­res, re­sult­ing in his lat­est re­lease, MTLiens2. In some re­spects, it feels like a Mon­treal com­pi­la­tion, en­com­pass­ing a smor­gas­bord of sounds. Pro­duc­tion from the likes of Da-P, Dead Horse Beats, Dear Lola and Tommy Kruise drive the al­bum, but it’s Wasiu’s lyri­cal prow­ess and di­ver­sity of de­liv­ery that fuel it.

His ex­pe­ri­ences as a rap­per and a black man in Mon­treal pro­vide the most thought-pro­vok­ing con­tent. “An­gry Black Man” and “Loi 101” con­front dis­crim­i­na­tion and lan­guage laws, while “Sun­day Mourn­ing” looks deeper into Wasiu’s in­ter­nal thoughts. MTLiens2 is rooted in ef­fort­less pro­duc­tion, a tes­ta­ment to the qual­ity of the Art­beat Move­ment that launched the scene, and the artists that con­tinue to fol­low its path. With this record, Wasiu feels one step closer to prov­ing that Mon­treal artists are not out­casts, but com­pe­ti­tion. (sound­cloud.com/afrowa­siu)

How does this dif­fer from MTLiens?

It’s what I couldn’t do with the first one, you know? Like get­ting ev­ery­one that I know was pop­pin’ and that I re­ally wanted to col­lab­o­rate with un­der one roof. It was like a Mon­treal com­pi­la­tion al­bum type a thing.

Where did you find the in­spra­tion for MTLiens2?

Mon­treal is a melt­ing pot, and I like to ap­proach that with my rap­ping style as well. I don’t like to be con­fined to one type of style, so the di­ver­sity of the beats re­ally al­lows me to broaden my hori­zons and be bet­ter with my skills. Whether it be some­thing like “Sun­day Mourn­ing,” where it’s like a more soul­ful beat from Dead Horse Beats or “An­gry Black Man,” which is like a trap beat from High Klas­si­fied, I re­ally don’t wanna limit my­self to any­thing.

What’s the big­gest strug­gle you face?

Try­ing to pen­e­trate the Amer­i­can mu­sic in­dus­try as a Cana­dian is al­ready a feat, and now, be­ing in the French province, I don’t get the looks I would get if I was a French artist from here. The odds are stacked against me.

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