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.

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.