JOHN SMITH

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

Re­search­ing the Blues, WHEN you have been grind­ing in the game as long as Churchill’s orig­i­nal rap­per, John Smith, it’s not sur­pris­ing he is as com­fort­able hang­ing out trad­ing sto­ries with tough blue col­lar work­ers up north as he is drop­ping rhymes to ea­ger ur­ban hip hop crowds. Joseph Win­ter has never been your typ­i­cal hip-hop artist, while he writes songs about fleet­ing love, get­ting old, booze and the ups and downs of life; he never glam­or­izes the strug­gles or the life­style he has cho­sen — he just doesn’t care what you think about his choices. Par­ty­ing too hard, never-end­ing bills, dead-end jobs, re­la­tion­ships that come and go from your life, Big Smitty writes about what he and so many dis­en­chanted 20- and 30-some­things can re­late to.

This isn’t about be­ing flashy, al­though he has style and a way withh wordsd thath tipsi hi­his hhat to the street, while mak­ing you think. Life may get in the way of songs some­times, but Smith has never re­ally slowed down since the ’90s, get­ting bet­ter with ev­ery re­lease. Backed by pro­duc­tion from Bran­don/Win­nipeg ex-pat mcen­roe, who deals Big Smitty a win­ning hand with beats per­fectly crafted for his style be­hind the mike, let­ting the MC flex his skills over a bed of slow wind­ing bass, quirky, play­ful drums, cheap Casio synths and even some sim­ple gui­tar hooks. Smith may be a vet­eran MC, but Ol’ Man Win­ter proves he hasn’t lost a step.

John Smith per­forms on Satur­day at Grippin Grains’ free BBQ and later hosts their Three Year An­niver­sary party at The Pyra­mid. best, to­gether. Kiko is the kind of al­bum that show­cases ev­ery­one in the band and then some, and there is no short­age of fire­works here. Steve Ber­lin, Ce­sar Rosas, David Hi­dalgo, Con­rad Lozano, Louie Perez and drum­mer Cougar Estrada pull out all the stops bring­ing the al­bum’s cre­ative vibe, from Tex-Mex polkas to smooth bal­lads and out­right blues rock­ers, to full re­al­iza­tion here.

The concert songs are in­ter­spersed with in­ter­est­ing in­ter­views with each mem­ber, and their views on the al­bum, the unique record­ing process and much else and is both en­gag­ing and en­light­en­ing. By 1992 Los Lo­bos was be­com­ing the su­pe­rior “jam” band it is to­day, so some of the songs do wan­der off into a near-psy­che­delic hot zone at times mak­ing this more than a me­chan­i­cal re­play of the al­bum, in a good way. All con­sid­ered this DVD, along with com­pan­ion CD and 20th An­niver­sary Edition of the orig­i­nal al­bum newly re­mas­tered will def­i­nitely please any­one who loves authen­tic, Amer­i­can mu­sic. the soul. The 15-track set is the kind of record that oozes con­fi­dence yet plays around the edges of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion while mak­ing it’s way to in­form­ing you of what Jal has ex­pe­ri­enced in life and his views on world pol­i­tics.

Hard­core hip-hop fans will find plenty to dig in tracks like Ghetto and We Want Peace and She Likes Me while the reg­gae right­eous will vibe in­stantly with Kush and the sun­shiny sweet Nyam Nyam. There are a few re­peated vo­cal man­ner­isms and key­board ef­fects that are a bit crazy mak­ing but all told See Me Mama is a world beat fest that will please any fan of the style. Worth a lis­ten. ½

It’s a great disc by a mu­si­cian with ter­rific skills and a clear vi­sion of his jazz.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.