The Great White North is known for a few things; polite citizens, snow, hockey, having a queen of another country on their currency, and being a short drive from New England so countless 18-year-olds can legally drink in bars. They’re also known for their hip-hoppery. Bigger names like Kardinal Offishall and Marco Polo, lesser names like Choclair and Saukrates hail from there, and a few super-indie cats that I’ve gotten to know through these here pages of The Echo Chamber Blah … I mean Blog.
Waatu is one such cat. The producer/emcee hails from the Quebec province and is known, at least by me, for making some dark, gritty productions for emcees, as well as for his own duo, Verbezerker, with him and Vig Vega. His most recent release is a revisit of Our Hellical Mind’s Subscapes EP, which just dropped today, November 1st. If you’re not familiar with Our Hellical Mind, they’re a U.K. based, two piece live-band that rocks as hard as K.G. and J.B. when they’re taking out the devil.
I was just conversatin’ with my partner-in-paragraphs, Chris, about my recent disdain towards remixes. I felt that too many producers were spending too much time remixing famous rappers’ popular songs and not spending enough time honing their craft and building with artists specifically for original tracks. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good remix, but I felt like our inboxes here at TECB were being inundated with them. Enter Waatu and Our Hellical Mind. This “revisit” is much more than a remix, Waatu sampled OHM’s 3-track EP and created his own sound and completely transformed OHM’s sound back into his own. A concept at it’s finest, OHM’s rock heavy sound is clearly evident here, but Waatu left his hip-hop roots all over it like a piece of Banksy vandalism … er … art.
Let’s see what you think, here’s Our Hellical Mind’s “Get Money” :
And here’s Waatu’s “Get Money” with help from Vig Vega on the mic:
Stupid fresh. I got to sit down with Waatu and we rapped about this here EP…
Verbal Spacey: When you first heard Our Hellical Mind’s Subscapes, did you want to remix/revisit and make a Waatu-twist to it, or did you take it on as challenge?
Waatu: I usually remix hip-hop tracks, so I had no “lets-remix-stuff” idea in mind at the time. I met Shep (OHM’s bassist) through mutual friends, Duke01 or HeDreamtMars, on Twitter. He approached me to remix their 2nd EP, ‘analogftw’ which featured Duke01 and Dwyzak, I dived into the remix opportunity building around the vocal stems of the original project, similar to what I do when I put my hands on rap acapellas on the net.
When Shep asked me to remix Subscapes, he told me I had to remix the EP sampling the original tracks… and find people to rap on them. I took it as a challenge, yes.
VS: I’ve heard of concept albums and remixes, this is a conglomeration of both it seems. I know you’re a fan of Death Grips, did you channel your inner Death Grips for inspiration for rapping over a rock inspired backdrop? You find it harder or easier to sample from someone like Our Hellical Mind compared to a more traditional hip-hop source?
W: Definitely, I get inspired by those bands that sit between genres, even if I think that Death Grips is hip hop. I have their latest album in the iPod on repeat all day, huge fan. The Death Grips energy is unmatched, especially if you get a chance to see them in a show, it’s just crazy.
For me, the whole “sampling hip hop to make hip hop” takes the creative part out of making music, I mean, it is already hip hop-tailored, so… I rather sample TV commercials, dot matrix printers and obscure rock bands. I’m a producer, first and foremost, I only take the microphone when the track is asking for it, i.e. the “Get Money” track, I pieced together the instrumental and recorded the hook in the same session, sent it to Vig Vega with a note “This is what you have to build your lyrics around, have fun.”
VS: You and Vig Vega are Verbezerker and now you have a new tandem endeavor, you and Issuez a.k.a. Maxx Reebo as Agent Provocateur. What should we expect out of that cross-Atlantic partnership?
W: The whole project took shape during the London riots in 2011 through Twitter conversations and DMs with Maxx Reebo. I had this beat with snippets of people talking about the riots going on, I proposed it and the project name to him and he immediately liked the idea. It’s not a project about the London riots, but inspired by, it’s important to say. It’s a heavy piece, heavy drums, as usual, Maxx Reebo comes in with serious food for thought, we also managed to squeeze a few guests on this, whether it is on the microphone or turntables. I’m not allowed to get those names out in the open right now, keeping it a secret until the whole thing is wrapped up completely.
VS: Sounds like it should be intense. If a TECB reader is brand new to Waatu, what would you want them to know before the delve into this Subscapes Revisit?
W: I like beer and poutine. Jokes aside, I want them to know that this album is just one facet of my music and they should hit the Bandcamp to hear the diversity in my work.
There you have it folks. I recommend heeding his advice and perusing his Bandcamp. You can grab this new EP for just $3.33 there. Pick it up and tell your friends.
Filed under: Album Talk/Review, Hip-Hop, Instrumental, Interviews, Music, This Is Not Hip-Hop | Tagged: Agent Provocateur, Canada, Canadian Hip Hop, Issuez, Maxx Reebo, Montreal, Our Hellical Mind, Subscapes EP, Subscapes [Waatu Revisit], United Kingdom, Verbezerker, Vig Vega, Waatu | Leave a Comment »