Positioning Hip-Hop Within the Sounds of the City

By Elly Laberge — Thu, 20/11/2014 - 09:23

Ottawa may not be recognized for its hip-hop scene, but Flight Distance and Buck N’ Nice are determined to changed that. With the release of their new albums, the two local rap groups sure hope to put Ottawa on the map when it comes to rap. 

Respectively titled High Priests of Low-Life and Us Versus Them, Flight Distance and Buck N’ Nice’s new albums are refreshing releases and a welcomed reminder that Canada’s National Capital is home to some brilliant hip-hop artists just waiting to be heard. They’re two solid projects that certainly shouldn’t be slept on.

With High Priests of Low-Life, Flight Distance’s intention isn’t to reach the mainstream masses. A fixture of the local cultural scene since 2004, the trio is known for delivering heavy hip-hop that isn’t quite as accessible as what the likes of, say Classified and K-OS, put out. “I’m not a party rocker, I didn’t come here with an anthem for you party monsters,” spits group member Bender on the track Anti Anthem of the Deadbeat. Fair enough, but for those who appreciate raw and vividly lyrical indie rap, their latest album, which started out as an EP and turned into a full-length project, is a definite must. It’s thought-provoking, underground and alternative in essence, and for any hip-hop head with an appreciation for the art form, it sure hits the spot.

Similarly, Buck N’ Nice’s debut album Us Versus Them aims at setting the duo a part. “We’re trying to be different from what everybody else is doing, while everyone else is following trends, we’re trying to go back to the roots. It’s us versus them in a lot of ways: us versus the stereotypes, us versus the conformity, us versus our own issues,” explains Sawbuck, the lyricist of the group. They may be somewhat new to the game, but that hasn’t stopped these newcomers from setting the bar high with a first release that features a solid production, balancing plenty of catchy hooks and carefully-crafted beats. For DJ and Producer So Nice, it was important that this first effort allow the duo to be a part of the local music community, so they invited several notable Ottawa emcees, like Tukan and Just Jamaal to lay bars on a few tracks as an homage to the local hip-hop scene.

It’s no surprise that Ottawa has had a big impact on the music that both groups produce. As Patience of Flight Distance explains, “we like to apply our locality to what we do. We try and mimic the weather and social and political climate of the city for example. It’s a big component of our music. We could have moved away and been a drop in the bucket in the Toronto scene, but being here works for us. We’re happy to be Ottawa hip-hop artists.” As for Buck N’ Nice, they feel as though if they can’t make it in their hometown, they’re not likely to make it elsewhere.

It’s only right that the two groups teamed up to launch their albums. According to them, the collaboration came naturally. When asked why they joined forced to present a dual album release show, they both answered without hesitation “these are the guys we want to be aligned with, we want to have a good strong celebration for the albums, and we’re more than happy to do it together”. Happening at House of Targ on Saturday, November 22, the lineup will feature live performances by both groups along with opening sets by Tukan and Prehistoric. What’s more, there’s no shortage of fun when you throw perogies and pinball in the mix.

Flight Distance / Buck N' Nice - Dual Album Release
Saturday, November 22, 2014 @ 9pm
House of Targ

Image: John Kealey and Chris Schlesak

Check out Elly's blog Eventful Capital here.

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