Last year one third of London’s Toolshed; Psybo, released his long-awaited solo debut album titled “Wherewithal” through Thomas Quinlan’s Hand’solo Records. The project was recorded from 2003-2006, and finalized in 2007. However, as with many creative endeavours in the hip-hop sphere, Wherewithal never got released, despite a proper cover, a mixing and a release ready to go. That is until Quinlan’ stepped up to the plate.
We sat down with Psybo to go over the story of this record, and to chat about the prospect of future work. Hopefully you enjoy the read, and it encourages you to peep the record, as well as Toolshed’s back-catalog. (Oh and Backburner too, cause that’s a thing!).
RR: I guess the obvious question to get it out of the way, is what took so long to get this out in the public? When did you actually begin working on it?
Psybo: I wrote the rap for ‘Above the Water’, the first track off of the album, back in 2003 while I was on a trip to the west, where I would eventually make my future home.
Vanessa, who is now my wife but girlfriend at the time, was attending film school in T.O. Kils had just moved back to Toronto from the east coast and lived just down the road from her place at that time. So while I would be staying with her by night, as she attended school by day I would head over to Kils and kick it. That would’ve been circa 2004 or 2005. It was in these sessions that Wherewithal began to truly take shape.
If i had to put a date on it i would say that the majority of the album was written in 2005, and ironed out and edited down in 2006/2007. It was around this time that we were starting to yearn for something more out of life, and not just Vanessa and I, but Toolshed as well on a whole. We were all 27+/- years of age, and needed a stick in the spokes to thrust us forth. For us that took the form of uprooting from our homie hub of a house in London Ont, and catapulting ourselves into an uncertain and new perspective on life. A fresh take. We stood at the edge of comfort looking over the precipice of the unknown and we jumped. So departs the rollercoaster of my M.I.A. on the scene.
From there we quickly set roots in our new home out in B.C. and within our first year here we were lucky enough to find ourselves expecting our first child. We didn’t waste time. By 2013 we had 4 children. A four year old, a two year old, and two zeros. We grew exponentially as a family and it was all encompassing as we did so. From the time the twins were born in 2013, I was so removed from writing and recording and with a daunting workload that I had set on my plate in front of me, that not only was I unable to tantalize the likes of such ideas as dropping the record, I also found my self unable to make time to put pen to page for the first in my adult life. It was both beautiful and weird. I was more elated than I had ever known, but as well more overwhelmed than ever before. I learned a lot. Mainly, that you have to get the crazy out of your head, and art in whatever form helps tremendously.
That sums up the distance of time from start to the near present, but how the album came to see the light of day is because of the homies. It goes something like this. Early spring 2018 Backburner page forms. Someone posts about old posse cuts. Crew reminisces about a cut we tried to do for my album back in the day. Homies start talking among themselves and pondering the existence of the album that I was working on, and sharing their love of what little of it they remembered hearing. [Thomas] Quinlan was a part of the conversation, and almost immediately after we concluded that thread hit me up. Asked in what shape or form the album was in, and when I told him it was mixed, mastered, and with cover art already completed, he asked if he could put it out on Handsolo. I told him i would be honoured to have him do so. Once Quinlan took the wheel it was only a few short months before the record was awarded what it deserves, and found the light of day.
RR: How much of this record was cut and/or altered? It’s pretty short and I imagine considering how long it took to put together there must have been more material written. I understand the world just got this album but could we ever see a B-Sides tape?
Psybo: There was a bunch of raps, ideas, partial tracks, and unfleshed out attempts that were possibilities that ended up on the cutting room floor. For good reason, as we were evolving as a crew and everyone was stepping up their game. Most of those fell by the wayside and eventual obscurity. The likes of which I doubt exist, and if so not in my possession, so their seeing the light of day in the form of a b-sides release is next to nonexistent.
RR: I know you’ve recorded some new material for future Backburner projects, have you been working on solo joints again since putting this one out?
Psybo: After the twins were born in 2013, as aforementioned I maybe scrawled a handful of raps over the next four years. In 2017 a good homie of mine who records and goes by Gisto hit me up. He was writing his album at the time, and shared with me an admiration for my syllable work, and asked me if I wouldn’t mind helping him wrap his head around a couple of his flows. It was in these sessions that I was afforded the opportunity to write without the weight of some self perpetrated desire to pen a magnum opus. Once I got the pen back on the page the momentum came in quick succession.
Which brings me to the present where I am damn near back to penning at least a sixteen a day. 98% essentially overconfident journal entries, but when you play the odds it just so happens you might turn out 2% dope. I believe I am doing just this. I am excited to take on the day that lies ahead, and equally amped the fuck up on the raps that are flowing out of me. Fingers crossed it wont take another decade to share them with those that wish to listen.
RR: Do you have any stories associated with recording this project?
Psybo: The only stories from the process that need further elaboration are not stories at all but sentiments. Timbuktu is dope. Kils is dope. The Backburner crew is family. Quinlan is so incredibly important to the proliferation of underground rap in Canada and indeed the culture that goes along with it.