photo – Amalia J. Nickel

Raphael Saadiq brought his legendary soul music to our lofty Orpheum as part of Vancouver’s Cultural Olympiad series. If there’s one thing VANOC definitely did right, it was Saturday night. [read more]


Interview with Saul Williams

November 30, 2009

Saul Williams at The Venue in Vancouver November 17 2009 - Interview with

Saul Williams at The Venue in Vancouver November 17 2009 - Interview with

“I specifically try to create a kind of work that can exist in a classroom, in a classical setting, in the streets or in a rock and roll setting . . . however it reaches you is fine by me.” – Saul Williams

Vancouver, ON – On the fronts of race, message and media Saul Williams refuses to swear allegiance to anything but his own acumen. The resulting body of work is as varied and unpredictable as light refracted through glass: the source stays consistent but each beam hits its target in a different, beautiful way. The written word, the printed page, the stereo vibrations and the flickering screen all support Williams’ cathartic expression. He is hip-hop, the rock and roll of revolution, the symphonic sway, the mainstream idol and the underground hero all at the same time, and all without apology.

Saul Williams has worked with Rick Rubin and Trent Reznor, both moguls in their own rites, to release some of this generation’s most political and chilling albums. The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust! is the latest, and possibly most belligerent release from the shit-disturbing poet. Williams makes a habit of turning symbols on their heads by returning language to public property: his moniker Niggy Tardust may make some fans cringe but damned if it doesn’t make them think and re-think the codes associated with hip-hop. And at the end of it all is compassion, human understanding and destruction of the systems which impose otherness.

And to top it all off, the man puts on one hell of a performance. Complete with sparkles, paint and feathers, Saul Williams hit the stage at Vancouver’s Venue to pound out some rock star poetry: writhing and glistening, you’d swear he was sex incarnate. HipHopCanada was fortunate enough to sit down with the talented artist to talk about the Afro-Punk tour, his association with Nike, and looking a white woman in the face.

HipHopCanada: You’re currently on the Afro-Punk tour, and I’m wondering what differentiates Afro-Punk from regular punk?

Saul Williams: I’m on the Afro-Punk tour, I’m not a creator of it so I can just give my opinion. I think of Afro-Punk not really as describing the particularity of the kind of music but more as a safe haven, particularly urban kids who come from an experience that expect one thing of them and deliver another, and feel isolated because they’re not necessarily into what you might think they should be into. They may be picked on, or feel alienated, then they discover a place like Afro-Punk and go, “Oh, there’s a bunch of urban weirdoes, or black weirdoes,” so I think of it as sort of a support group for those of us who fall between the cracks because we don’t fit easily within the context of genre and expectation. [read more]

Interview with Chali 2na of Jurassic 5 on
words and flicks by Amalia J. Nickel

Vancouver, B.C. – There’s something irresistible about Chali 2na. Maybe it’s the smile that divides his face, or could be his deep baritone or even his slick dance moves as he entertains the masses on stage, but one thing is sure: the man has an aura about him. 2na was one of the original renaissance artists of hip-hop: South Central L.A’s Good Life Cafe hosted him and other members of Jurassic 5 in the early nineties when a more melodic and introspective style of rapping was on the rise. 2na was a founding member of the salsa funk band Ozomatli, and the rhythmic rumble behind J5’s harmonic sound; he’s worked with everyone from Roots Manuva to Beenie Man, sharing his weighty tome on an international scale. HipHopCanada’s Amalia Judith chased down the tall dark and mysterious MC to glean a few facts on his new album, his work with K’naan and of course, Monotheism.

HipHopCanada: Do you feel you get typecast as that guy with the low voice, do you get bored of that?

Chali 2na: I’m a believer in that you can’t really choose your audience, your audience chooses you, so I’m not bored, I’m just grateful and happy for all this: I don’t have to be sitting here, and you don’t have to be interested in even talking to me. I do get typecast though, people are like, I can hear you on this chorus, your voice, but I’m happy to just be working.

Interview with Chali 2na of Jurassic 5 on HipHopCanada.comHipHopCanada: When you perform you remind me of the jazz singer/bandleader Cab Calloway.

Chali 2na: It’s crazy you said that, ’cause I just did a show in Martha’s Vineyard 2 weeks ago. Bill Paxton was there, and he’s one of my favorite actors, I was like, “that’s Bill Paxton, damn!” I’m really a fan of his. We were talking at the end of the show and he was like, “Dude, you really remind me of Cab Calloway.” I was like, “Yo,  let’s make a movie about him and I’ll play him! ”

HipHopCanada: It’s your vibe, maybe the way you smile.

Chali 2na: Thank you!

HipHopCanada: Let’s hear about your new solo project, Fish Outta Water:

Chali 2na: It’s out now! In stores, iTunes, it features Damien and Steve Marley, Elzhi from Slum Village, Anthony Hamilton, Talib Kweli, DJ Nu-Mark, Vitamin D, Jake One. The album is an identification process of who I am outside what you might know me for, I get deep in certain aspects and then fun in a lot of others. It’s all to tell a story of who I am from start to finish.

[read more]

Interview with The RZA (Wu-Tang Clan)
By: Amalia Judith
Date: September 24th 2009

RZA (WU-TANG CLAN) on - Exclusive Interview * Photography by Scott Alexander

“But that’s how Hollywood and how art gets stuck, like they always try to make the next one just like that one. You’ve got to come with the spirit of Bob Marley but the energy and innovation of yourself.” – RZA (Wu-Tang)

Vancouver, B.C. – The way of Wu is no ordinary path: ancient Chinese wisdom, comic books, drugs, bitches and of course rap music saturate the culture of the Wu-Tang dynasty. RZA – the clan’s de facto leader – has for decades maintained a seemingly omnipotent corner on the hip-hop market, churning out everything from philosophical doctrine to movie scores. A fine balance of caricature and antiquity mark RZA’s work: over-the-top fictions adulterate the martial arts aesthetic as ghetto meets geisha.

With several alter egos, RZA has predominantly released his solo albums under the moniker of Bobby Digital, a comic book hero who tends to sit on a throne surrounded by beautiful multi-ethnic women or else perch atop tall buildings at night. The latest release Digi Snacks follows the exploits of this hedonistic character through a maze of drug experimentation, inner torment and of course RZA’s chilling digital production.

With endless notoriety and creative outlets, it would seem that Bobby Digital is accurate in boasting, “No matter how hard you try, you can’t stop me now.” HipHopCanada sat down with the ingenious and eccentric rapper to try and decipher the code of RZA.

RZA (WU-TANG CLAN) on - Exclusive InterviewHipHopCanada: What’s the space between yourself and the character you’ve created, Bobby Digital? How much is you, how much is fiction?

RZA: It’s a blend of both. It’s a blend of my past and of fiction. All of us got something of past personalities about ourselves. Artists learn how to identify them, name them and even utilize them. So Bobby Digital is built on my past, a lot of it is fact, but I put it in a fictional way. It’s a good blend.

HipHopCanada: What elements of Bobby Digital come from that past?

RZA: Well, you name something about him and I’ll tell you.

HipHopCanada: Well, Bobby Digital’s kind of nuts: how crazy are you?

RZA: I’ve got days like that, I’ve got days like that, woke up in my own throw-up. Near the courthouse, or some shit. Woke up in the cells, know what I mean, cause I just party hard.

[read more]

Interview with Grand Analog

September 24, 2009

Interview with Grand Analog
By: Amalia Judith
Date: September 24th 2009

Interview with Odario Williams of Grand Analog (formerly of Mood Ruff) - Exclusive on

Interview with Odario Williams of Grand Analog (formerly of Mood Ruff) - Exclusive on “I had to jump in the van and go to the nearest town which was Saskatoon, and play there and sell the CDs that I’d burned in my apartment. That’s how I learned to do my thing. And with that I have a collection of albums under my belt.” – Odario Williams (Grand Analog)

Winnipeg, MB – Like the dub, reggae and soul-infused music he creates, Odario Williams is a bit of a mess. That is to say, the Grand Analog frontman is difficult to define: the Winnipeg native melds the disposition of an island boy with the aesthetic of a punk, the tireless work ethic of the old country with the experimental curiosity of what he calls “The ADD generation.”

Charming and verbose, the former Mood Ruff member has been shaping the face of Canadian hip-hop for decades yet remains relevant and on the cusp of musical movements. Metropolis is Burning – GA’s latest release – forces blues riffs, winding dubs and grimy percussion to get along, an orgy of live sound which climaxes in, of all things, a kazoo breakdown.

From the obscurity of middle Canada to their ascendency of Canadian hip-hop, Grand Analog are doing their thing in their own way. Since it seems to be working so well, HipHopCanada figured it was worth a chat.

HipHopCanada: So Odario, you’re originally from Winnipeg, can you tell us a little about the cultural landscape there?

Odario Williams: Well, Winnipeg is the epitome of isolation. Toronto they’ve got New York or Montreal to run to. Montreal has New York to run to but Montreal doesn’t want to run to anybody. Vancouver, Seattle, you go a little further you’ve got Portland, Los Angeles. Winnipeg, we’ve got nothing.[read more]

Planet Asia & Gold Chain Military - - Exclusive InterviewVancouver, B.C. – In some ways Planet Asia embodies a modern Faust: he’s clearly a seeker of knowledge but has the edge of experience to give depth to his search. He’s been rapping for decades, and while he retains a child-like devotion to his craft he comes hard in his music: lyrically aggressive and unabashedly righteous.  The Fresno boy is a strong advocate for the things that form his identity: his town, his crew and his spiritual persuasions.  He sees the world in terms of good and evil – a practically defunct paradigm in this day and age – and applies this filter to his music.  He’s been around for a minute and has a deep understanding of hip-hop’s ethos, having watched it grow from the ground up in his childhood.[read more]

By Amalia J. Nickel for HipHopCanada

(Photo – Jamie Sands)

Live Review – Lady Sovereign w/guests
May 22, 2009
Richards on Richards, Vancouver

Lady Sovereign is certainly no lady but that’s the way her fans seem to like her: an unlikely sex symbol, a live wire with drink in hand and anger in tow. Promoting her new album Jigsaw, noticeably more commercial than 2006’s Public Warning, Sov managed to throw a temper tantrum, flash her tits, and get the crowd all riled in up in just one set. [read more]

By Amalia J. Nickel

By Amalia Judith

k-os - Exclusive interview on

* April 30th performance photos by Julia Kozlov

Vancouver, B.C. – Despite a certain reputation, k-os seems quite formidable and he’s not above cracking a few jokes in between his well thought-out responses. K-os knows what he believes and is a strong advocate of his own distinct philosophies on music. He refuses to restrict himself by way of self-definition, so to call him a mere rapper isn’t entirely accurate but the man can sure rhyme.

k-os live in concert April 30th in Vancouver on the Yes! Karma TourHis fourth album in, Kheaven is proving that he’s not just talk. He’s putting his money where his mouth is and offering up his ethos in the form of free music. Okay, his album is still $12.99 on iTunes for the special edition but his shows are free, his beats are up for grabs and there might be some ringtones thrown in the mix too. Crown Loyalist Recordings, k-os’ own subsidiary to parent label Universal Music Canada, has also released a remix album, letting any one of the public have their dirty way with a k-os beat. Canada has rhythm in reserves and an open call for it reinforces the musical community and takes the term “music sharing” back to grassroots.[read more]

(Photo- Emily Jameson)

On a recent road trip to Portland, Oregon, ABORT’s Amalia Nickel got a lesson in “Blazing 101″ with L.A. rapper Abstract Rude. Currently signed to Rhymesayers, his current tour sees him teamed up with cohorts Aceyalone and Myka 9 as the alter-trio, Haiku D’etat.

Hosted by Amalia Nickel


(Photo – Amalia J. Nickel)

Live Review: Haiku d’Etat feat. Myka 9, Aceyalone and Abstract Rude w/ guests
May 8, 2009
Berbati’s Pan, Portland, OR

Mykah 9, Abstract Rude and Aceyalone – Mike, Aaron and Eddie respectively – brought every possible permutation to the stage as Haiku d’Etat, The A-Team and The Freestyle Fellowship rocked it for hours.  For a mere $13, incidentally the same price as a double vodka and Redbull at Berbati’s Pan in Portland, fans were treated to the profound, the profane and the prophetic lyricism of L.A.’s finest. [read more]