Ok so my curiosity has been peeked in anticipation of Masta Ace’s upcoming show this Wednesday, March 27th at Foufs. So I caught up with Ace, Stricklin and Wordsworth about the industry, their Canadian tour, food and of course, Ace’s latest album, Son of Yvonne.

How long have you all been performing together?

Ace: “We’ve been performing together since 2001. I was promoting my album ‘Disposable Arts’ and decided to bring Strick, Words, and Punch on the road with me in Europe and we pretty much been rockin’ ever since.”

The album is a worthy tribute to the past and fabulously cohesive. Is it a safe assumption that this is has always been a project in waiting? Have these tracks been written over the years or was time dedicated to get them all out at once?

Words: “The album turned out so cohesive because we were used to each other having toured for so long together. We’re all pretty much like brothers, so the album process was a natural progression. And yes, we came together to write the songs over like a year’s time I believe.”

What are some of the major changes you love and hate about the industry?

Strick: “Well what I love about the industry today is social media and its effects. Nowadays, you are able to reach out easier to artists you admire and also it’s easier to connect with the people who like your music. That’s a plus! What I don’t love is the trendiness of some of today’s music. Everyone seems to be doing the same type of flow because its ‘trendy’! I like the originality of the music that came from earlier eras.”

In your opinion what are some industry misconceptions of new and up and coming artists? Where should their focus be?

Strick: “I feel because of social media and technology today, some of the newer artists are in too much of a rush. They think they deserve the ultimate success right away and that’s not how it works.”

Words: “Yeah I agree with Strick. The new artists today should be more focused on building a career organically. Because of Twitter and Facebook, the game is so fast right now. You put an album out and people are sick of it after only a month! So more time should be spent on slow cooking your career instead of giving people the fast food.”

Most Canadians would love to travel across this great country, how does it feel to make that journey and doing what you love?

Ace: “This is my 5th time touring Canada I believe and each time has been amazing! The country is beautiful from the small ski towns like Banff and Revelstoke to the bigger cities like Vancouver and Montreal. The people give a lot of energy, and Im always excited to be able to see all these things doing something I love. I’m blessed!

Have you been eating well? (very important you know…)

Strick: *laughs* “I’m gonna let Ace take this one!”

Ace: “Well, he’s laughing because I’m kinda like the health nut of the crew. I’m very aware of the things I eat so a lot of times healthy options aren’t available. Touring can be very brutal for healthy eating because you tend to eat late at times because of the travel. I sometimes have to break down and have fast food because thats the only way I can eat that day. I don’t think I ever want to see another Tim Horton’s in my life!” *laughs*

We love you here in Montreal, we can’t wait to see you all on March 27th, how will you be making your visit a pleasant one?

Words: “First off, thanks for the love! Umm, if I have time, I would like to go sneaker shopping. I always like to see what kicks are popular in foreign places.”

Strick: “Also wanna thank Montreal for the love and I would like to just chill and enjoy the city. Maybe walk around and sightsee and end it with a nice dinner.”

Ace: “I’m with Strick, see some sights and have a real nice dinner. Then put on a great show for a packed house! That would be the perfect day!”

Men who like to eat and shop are alright in my books.

There’s more…If you have yet to buy the album get on it and click here. Far from disappointing, the album includes features by the great Big Daddy Kane, the fabulous Pav Bundy, Reggie B, Milani the Artis and MF Doom. I mean honestly, can you ask for more than that?

Masta Ace and his camp will be performing live, March 27, at Les Foufounes Éléctriques, 87 Ste-Catherine East. $10 before 9pm/$15 after 9pm.

Arab Winter: The Narcicyst Artist Profile

by The Narcicyst

Be A Part of Arab Winter​Arab-Winter
Follow The Narcicyst @​TheNarcicyst

Under Pressure X The Medium Presents

Arab Winter Exhibition and Show Live at Fresh Paint Gallery, 180 St-Catherine East, December 2nd 2011 at 7 PM. Arab Winter is a Multimedia, multi-disciplinary event with musicians, painters, calligraphists, graffiti artists and short films. It is the first show in a series by this collective of Artists.​​

The Narcicyst is an Iraqi MC/Media Master born in the UAE, raised in Canada and continually questioned by the powers that be, his musical career was spawned through the collaborative work of the Euphrates family; A growing collective of Muslim visual artists, musicians, painters, filmographers and photographers. Releasing two albums with Euphrates, “A Bend in the River” and “Stereotypes Incorporated” respectively, the crew garnered worldwide attention from Time Magazine to publications out of the Middle East and Europe. A graduate in Political science and Communication Studies, Narcy went on to get a Masters degree in Media Studies focusing on the identity politics in Hip-Hop poetics, specifically encountering and dissecting the Arab-American experience through a thesis project entitled “Fear of An Arab Planet”. With a book being released under the same title, and a self-titled album, The Narcicyst is sure to make you see yourself through the proverbial mirror that is the current state of the world.

About Arab Winter

The Narcicyst will be musically curating the launch event of Arab Winter, handpicking some of the most powerful voices in modern Eastern music, from local Montreal talents, to international vocalists and musicians. With live interpolations of Warchestra to original material for the night, The Narcicyst will be transforming the sonic atmosphere of the space to bring you to the neo-Arab experience.


BLACK STAR: MTL Did Not Leave You Stranded

photo by Ayanna Durant

When scoping out the venue one might ask, “Who are all these people?”. I know that was the question I asked myself looking at all of the fresh faces. At $65+ a pop there was barely space to move once it was imminent the long awaited duo would hit the stage. I was impressed. Despite how saturated the genre is these days, it’s nice to know that there is a new generation doing their homework and appreciating Hip Hop at it’s best.

Prior to the main event,  prominent Montreal Hip Hop culture figureheads were given lifetime achievement awards, presented by City Styles, awardees included Paul Frappier a.k.a Bad News Brown, promoter Gary T and our very own, Under Pressure co-founder, Sterling Downey. Also, because of recent and unfortunate events Matt ‘Dutch’ Garner was also honoured.

DJ Spintelect, centre stage, set the tone with some classic golden era tracks then about four mixes in, Blackstar emerged flanking both sides of the DJ booth, slowly making their way toward the crowd. Once Mos Def and Talib Kweli made it to the spotlight with their vintage prep style, their custom painted red and white Super 55 Shure mics and ear to ear smiles it was clear, this was going to be good.

Opening with Determination and then hitting the crowd with one classic track after another, they made it easy for the crowd to keep their energy high and their eyes peeled on both Mos Def’s moves and Talib’s direction. Their set continued to unfold with impeccable timing and ease, despite Blackstar’s hiatus one might not expect such synergy but, these boys will always have it. This is Blackstar’s  first ever performance in Montreal thanks to promoter Rickey D, perhaps they wanted to make a great impression. Re:Definition and Astronomy (8th Light) were obviously well received as well as their yet to be release Fix Up.

A heartfelt performance of Respiration was dedicated to Montreal’s Matt ‘Dutch’ Garner and Paul Frappier a.k.a. Bad News Brown. For the ladies, Brown Skin Lady, was a track all the ladies were waiting for. Chanting and stomping impelled an encore that included Get By and Umi Says.

You walked away that night feeling good. Still feeling the base in your ribcage and days later, mouthing the lyrics and smiling to yourself. Are we hoping they will come back to Montreal?

Yes. Yes we do.

video by Ayanna Durant

A little taste of how much fun Blackstar had with their Montreal fans.

BLACKSTAR Performs at L’Olympia, Montreal, Canada from Ayanna Durant on Vimeo.

Test Their Logik w/ Mickey Boston performing in Montreal…

Controversial hiphop duo, Test Their Logik – comprised of Illogik and Testament – will be performing live in Lasalle’s D. Church (3067 Welligton) on Thursday, May 19th. Mickey Boston will the lone opener for the duo who have come a long way with their now official album launch.

This March through June, Toronto’s most notorious revolutionary hip-hop artists; “Test Their Logik” will be touring across the portion of Turtle Island known as “Kanada” with their long-awaited debut album. They are looking to connect with communities large and small on this journey in order to help develop links between communities, do shows to bring together radical minds, offer workshops for mind and body, and inspire people to imagine radical transformation and freedom.

Test Their Logik is made up of two revolutionary MC’s: Testament and Illogik. The pair were recently charged with conspiracy and other indictable offences for a widely-distributed music video they made titled “Crash The Meeting” which encouraged resistance to Toronto’s G20 summit. After 5 months of non-association conditions, these charges were stayed, and the duo are once again able to record and tour together.

Looking to tell their stories and listen to others across this land, they plan on hitting the road with their music, radical literature, workshops and talks. In past tours they have done shows large and small in bars, basements, alternative venues, community centres, schools, and auditoriums. Reaching out to urban and rural, indigenous and settler, young and old, and people of all walks of life and backgrounds, Test Their Logik is breaking the barriers imposed on them. In addition to performing their powerful thought-provoking music, Test Their Logik are happy to speak on the current state and potential of hip-hop, art and resistance.

Testament can also speak on power from below, resistence and repression, and leaderless organizing, with the G20 as a case in study. He can also lead a report-back workshop from his fact-finding trip to Palestine last year. Illogik is a certified and trained yoga instructor and martial arts practitioner who combines the ideas of both into ‘warrior yoga” sessions, basic self-defence workshops, as well as anti-oppression trainings.

“The ways we can connect are endless, the point is that we make contact with each other, build our capacity for grassroots power, lay down roots and build the networks that we will need in the future.”

These are tentative dates for our proposed route. If you live in any of these cities and want to help make this happen, then send an email to: holler(A) We are also open to revisions, if your community is interested in having us visit you. We are interested in connecting with people on reservations, intentional communities, small towns and large metropolises so get in touch!
This March through June, Toronto’s most notorious revolutionary hip-hop artists; “Test Their Logik” will be touring across the portion of Turtle Island known as “Kanada” with their long-awaited debut album. They are looking to connect with communities large and small on this journey in order to help develop links between communities, do shows to bring together radical minds, offer workshops for mind and body, and inspire people to imagine radical transformation and freedom.

Mass Microphone Murder

by Mickey Boston

Long anticipated, uber-hyped and finally out EP by MurderFace has finally arrived. Montreal’s most feared hip-hop group releases its Faces of Def EP at O Patro Vys. The show begins early and will undeniably run late into the night with sets by MurderFace and numerous special guests. There is no denying the fact that one should expect some very raw and uncut delivery however, having said this one should also expect to be taken by away by the amount of microphone skill and mic-murder that will be at this show. One cannot go wrong for $8 at the door and the purchase of the EP itself will leave everyone with enough coin to buy drinks for the night and manage to tip the hot bar girl.

The Gritty.

One particular cat to look-out for is Boombap Cat’s Penzo Gritty who has dropped some very heavy work over the past while. In essence, Penzo Gritty’s style is raw, authentic, genuine and uncut with a delivery that brings realism to the fore. It’s just that gritty boombap sound. If one has not gotten a hold of his much appreciated album from 2009, The First 12 Steps, one needs to take the first step and get a hold of it and play it. On a personal note, I was able to appreciate this project for its very sincere underground sound let alone the delivery of the verse over themes ranging from life’s difficulties, its ups and downs all the way to alcoholism. For those familiar with Penzo Gritty’s work over the years he is no disappointment on the mic and emcees of the likes of Gritty merit more exposure.

From here, CL of MurderFace is another act to undeniably lookout for on stage as he murders every beat that passes his way. Much respect heads out to CL not just for the dedication he has invested in his craft, but also due to the fact that the man himself did go to the same elementary school as myself and so it’d only be natural for Big Brosky to def support someone who was in the grade one year over his. Other special guests include Spook-One who has made quite some power moves this past year – and unfortunately I have not had the chance of hearing him live despite crossing at a couple of shows; the man missed my sets and Ive missed his. Despite this, Spook-One has been prolific on the battle scene taking out his opponents and the fact that his opponents have choked is no fault of his own due to the fact that, even if they did not, they still would have fallen victim to his penmanship and the very delivery of that very penmanship. Unanimous, no questions and no debate.

On the wheels expect Johnny Illdigger. What can one say about Illdigger, where can one even begin? Find his works and d-load them, nuff said. Moreover, the bill is a jam-packed one with Obia le Chef, one of my most favourite francophone emcees in Montreal, as well as Royal Peasants’ Loss One who always brings his bars hard whether alongside my brother in rhyme Urbn Logix or not. From here, the list goes on and MurderFace’s other three members have not even been mentioned. Be on the look-out for Mehdi Cee, BK of the Art-Cons and of course, Manzo and Masterbeater…poof, the show is too heavy, just bring money, go to the show and hit me back and tell me I told you so…

Cipher Slaughter…

Black Jungle and the Black Jungle b-boy movement, with its roots in Montreal and Queens, NYC, has been in the game for so many years it has undoubtedly rendered them as animals. Montreal’s Black Jungle has been making power moves both literally and figuratively over the past 15 years both in Montreal and the US. Members Omegatron, Benny, and KingTiger have given the city too much, in fact the city is indebted to their contribution to hip-hop and to dance from doing major video clips and choreography to musiqueplus and MTV…so what do you want?

Cipher Slaughter is another battle, and not just any battle but a show. It features Mickey Boston performing live as well as a Retro Assassins fashion show. The show is themed on the notion of Old Skool Slaughter vis-a-vis the cipher. b-boy Midnight is a special guest judge. Hailing straight from Queens, Midnight is part of the prized and highly respected Full Fx Crew.

Be sure to attend,  this is grassroots hip-hop.

INTER GENDER popping cipher battle

4)t rawnik
5)God Like
6)Doina (Mix’d Mafia)
10)popping Hao
11)popping Black
INTER GENDER bboying cipher battle

7)B-Girl Shade
9) Pyro (Furious Crew)
10) Jokerz (Furious Crew)
11) bboy icekream (Teenagers Crew)
12) bboy Flash (Legz Crew)
the cipher is growing bigger and bigger
thanks for your support everyone

be there or be triangle.

Classified: An Interview with a Regular Dude

Photo courtesy of Sony Music Canada

Coming a long way from making his first mixed tape in high school to making all of his own beats on his fourteenth album, he’s not too concerned with putting Canada on the map. Artists that have come before him and who will certainly come after have and will carry the burden of responsibility when it comes to putting the spotlight on Canadian hip hop. His philosophy: work hard. “Do anything and everything you can”, he says. Period. Handshakes and Middle Fingers is homage to his hard work.  A reflective lyrical pilgrimage underscored with satiating beats, baselines and a strong dose of nineties done right. Effortless and relatable, each track melts seamlessly into the next. Listening to the album for the first time is the musical equivalent to a long awaited Friday summer night with your crew that delightfully escalates from ice cold brew to twenty year old rum, dusting off the Technics and reminiscing. The biz, family and the day to day can be challenging but Class says, “It’s all about the balance.”  Hence the album title. “I was going for the gift and the curse; the ups and downs; the good the bad; just trying to find something. Then I was like, handshakes and middle fingers. It just sounded funny to me and I kind of liked it. Half the time in this industry, people are shaking your hand then saying ‘fuck you’ behind your back.”

Shortly after the release of That Ain’t Classy, his most recent single, which is still holding a top ten spot on iTunes Canada, Handshakes and Middle Fingers is set to be released March 22nd 2011 kicking off Classified’s Canadian tour. Under Pressure was lucky enough to sit down with Class at the Sony music offices in Toronto to get at little insight into where he’s at and where’s he going.

You’ve established yourself here in Canada now and  in terms of crossing over into other markets, which has been facilitated with the emergence of MySpace, Facebook and YouTube, touring…how do you feel about breaking into a U.S. market, building a fan base and dealing with a new demographic, distribution, American label support and essentially starting over again? Well, and that’s the thing, in Canada we are signed to Sony worldwide and the way it works is, we offer the album to Sony in the U.S. to put out and if they don’t take it then we’ve got a free pass to take to any other label we want. Right now, we are working out a deal with the independent label, DeconRecords but, like you said, we are back to point A. We are trying to skip a couple of steps. We can tour and sell out places so, by doing our Canadian tour with established acts from the States, who don’t really tour in Canada, we can bring them to Canada and they’ll bring us to the States. It’s a trade off.

Are you going to focus on a college tour in the U.S. or take on a Warp Tour style format where you get diversity in large numbers? I think we are going to do a mix but, colleges for sure. I think college kids can relate to what I’m talking about, and I think if we get it out to the right people, not so much align ourselves, but just be able to use, for example, Kidz in the Hall, they’ve got a fan base but not much up here so we are going to take them through here and they’ll take us through there and like we said…back to square one. So part of me is like FAAAAAAACK we gotta do this all again???  But, I understand why it’s important. It’s going to be a slow building process but at the same time it’s exciting too because I’ve done Canada so many times so I pretty much know what to expect and I know what kind of show we’re going to have. Down there I have no clue…I don’t know if I’m going to go out there and there’s going to be twenty people or if I’m going to get booed off stage, they’ll be like who the fuck is this Canadian guy?…you know what I mean? But you go and you play, that’s part of the excitement. There’ll be days when we’ll play for a hundred people and we’ll blow their minds and it’s going to feel like fuck yeah, we doin’ it! They don’t know our music so they’re not excited from just hearing the song, they’re happy because of the performance and they’re feeling it. We’ve done a couple tours down there, with some smaller groups playing in front of fifteen people but those fifteen people are like that’s fuckin’ killer man! Playing fifteen people is not the funnest but when those fifteen people are loosing their shit it makes you feels like, ok, I’m doing something right here.

So keep it real and keep it simple… Exactly, you can’t go in there thinking I’m from Canada and I’m going to States and they’re going to love you ’cause they don’t give a shit. We got to go down there and start all over again. You’ve got to give them a reason to care.

Young artist coming up are always looking to the south. You’ve meticulously planted your Canadian seeds and as a result, have loyal Canadian fans. What is your advice to up and coming Canadian artists trying to cultivate their Canadian fan base? Spend your time putting together a tight live show. Then tour. Tour. Tour. Tour.

Canada and U.S. have different palettes and markets when it comes to the general public. For example dropping our Canadian compilation Up North Trip in the hands of industry people is worth the effort because they can appreciate the quality of Canadian artists and they ask “Who is this?! Why haven’t I heard this before?”  However fans in general who have been force fed American ‘hip POP’ music may have built an immunity to quality music. They want club music…Take Timberland, I don’t even know what Timberland is making now…is it pop music? I like it but, I don’t know if it’s hip hop or pop. Like what is the difference between hip hop and pop these days?

What have you learned about people and relationships? People think you should act different when you start becoming successful. You know, I had my nine to five job coming up and now I’m successful and making money, so for example, if I wanted to borrow ten bucks from my Dad, he’d be like, “What the fuck do you need to borrow ten bucks from me for?”. So, it could be something as little as that or friends who you don’t even talk to that much start calling you wanting to know what your doing.

How are you feeling about the Halifax hip hop scene right now? Whether it’s Halifax, Vancouver or Toronto, I find the scenes in Canada very similar. Most cats are doing the local shows trying to build a buzz but, the problem is that no one is looking outside. They are thinking like, ‘I gotta be the man in my city’ and that’s cool but don’t just focus on Halifax because your not going to turn this into a job and really get your music out to that many people. The Halifax scene is good. One good thing I can say about it is that there are a lot of artists making wicked music but I just wish it got out further.

Your style? I’m not coming out in chains; larger than life… I’m not a superstar. You start your career off that way you’re going to have to maintain that. Then, as soon as you lose, people are like, he fell off. I really can’t fall off. I’m good. I’m a regular dude who makes music. It really depends on how you position yourself. If it’s not you, don’t front. I’m just a regular dude with a hoodie and a toque.

Upcoming Montreal show
Club Soda – April 2nd 2011
1225, boul Saint-Laurent
Montreal, QC H2X 2S6
(514) 286-1010

Listen to the album before the release at : or

Canadian Tour Dates:

March 24 – The Gait – Sherbrooke
March 25 – The Venue – Peterborough
March 26 – The Sound Academy – Toronto
March 29 – Elements – Kitchener
March 30 – London Music Hall – London
March 31 – Club NV – Brantford
April 1 – Capital Music Hall – Ottawa
April 2 – Club Soda – Montreal
April 4 – Baracudas – St. Catharines
April 5 – Captial Centre – North Bay
April 7 – Crocks – Thunder Bay
April 8 – Garrick Centre – Winnipeg
April 9 – The Patricia Hotel – Saskatoon
April 11 – Better Than Fred’s – Grand Prairie
April 13 – The Club – Red Deer
April 14 – Whiskey – Calgary
April 15 – The Stone – Lethbridge
April 16 – The Starlite Room – Edmonton
April 18 – The Queens – Nanaimo
April 19 – Club 9ONE9 – Victoria
April 20  – Garfinkels – Whisler
April 21 – The Venue – Vancouver

Beats, Rhymes and Flows…Montreal brings hip-hop Thursday through Sunday.

by Mickey Boston

I am not intent on constantly updating hip-hop shows in the city and do not have any form or fashion of making any new-found intent on doing so however, having mentioned this, this week is one big exception. This week expect quite a bit of microphone delivery on the part of some of Montreal’s finest emcees and djs. In essence, three local hip-hop shows are springing throughout this half week with quite a few shows at very affordable prices.

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

For lovers and fans of Soké Zahir, an emcee and producer who has dedicated himself to Montreal’s (and Quebec’s) hip-hop scene let alone the international one. Soké has been on the scene generously giving his time not just only to his craft but also bringing life and vibrancy to those around him. In essence, there is a lot to say about this artist and even a lot of professionally done video clips one may view. The show has no cover and this album is a long anticipated one as followers may know every track that has been put out has been a masterpiece. The album, Soké Soundsystem, will be sold at the show while Freshmakers will also be performing as well. The launch goes down at 9pm at St-Laurent’s Jukebox.

Thursday night also begins with the One Year Anniversary Showcase of Spit the Truth. STT has been a year long hip-hop showcase which featured itself on a monthly basis at none other than Montreal’s Brutopia pub. In order to celebrate their one year anniversary, hosts and founders Rough Draft and DJ Conn Shawnery will celebrate the event’s first year anniversary with 13 emcees alongside some rather random and spontaneous freestyles by the night’s closure. The cover is only $5 and will be held at Club Lambi. Don’t miss it. Strongly recommended for lovers of underground hip-hop, so be sure to head out and support an array of local talent from Murderface’s CL to NDGs own Deprisk. Other acts include Paradoxe, tri-lingual emcee Mad Gab, Spook-One, T-Cup, Clarity, MC Puzzle, Mic-key Boston, BK of Art-Cons, Alquimia Verbal, B Green and P Flow Matics.

Saturday, March 12th, 2011.

For lovers of the battle scene, the King of the Dot is your best bet. There are just so battles on the bill that one just needs to read the flyer for all the info. Organizers of KOTD always provide a loaded plate and the series has itself been running for just over a year. The battles have garnered a significant amount of views and popularity over the net. For those who want to see and hear some of the most poignant punch lines and deliveries with a slight twist and dab of freestyle then this is the event for you and yours.

The event will be hosted by none other than OG Hindu Kush & KOTD Champ Bender of Flight Distance. There will also be live video mixes by The Dopamine while AGL/Step Your Life Game Up “When That Umbrella Pop” T-shirts will be available. Finally, OG Hindu Kush: In 3D will be available for sale. (Hard pause copy)