Dan-e-o – Dear Hip Hop (2000)

RR: To the best of my knowledge, the original release of this was sold by mail-order only if they got the address from another One Rock Release (Possibly The Book of Daniel?) What was the idea behind this?

Dan-e-o: I hate waste. I actually can’t stand it when I see people in restaurants return half-eaten plates of food. So when it comes to my music, I really can’t stand the idea of recording songs for nothing. At least, that’s what I felt back in 2000.

These days, plenty of songs I record never see the light of day – nor should they. But when I completed The Book of Daniel, I knew there were songs recorded for Dear Hip Hop I didn’t want to waste. So I simply burned them to a CD and offered them for free to anyone who mailed in their receipts for their purchases of The Book of Daniel.

Instructions were provided in the liner notes of the album. I ended up giving away 50 or so CDs. In retrospect, it was a lame idea. They were unprofessionally designed CD-Rs with unmastered tracks on them.

RR: Revising this album over the years, when we finally get the most recent reissue in 2017, for Dear Hip Hop: 20 Years Later, outside of the few noticeable additions to the track list, how much had changed from that original shoddy recording you sent out via mail?

Dan-e-o: Shoddy recording is right! Not only is the new album professionally mastered, but there are a number of changes that were made to the track list.

“Dear Hip Hop” is now the first track on the album, as it should be. This change was made when the Dear Hip Hop album was mastered for a vinyl release by France’s Sergent Records in 2014. It only made sense for that piano loop to kick in the second the needle hit the vinyl.

On the “shoddy” version, the “Dear Hip Hop” track was placed seventh. The idea for that was a “save the best for last” kind of thing. The sequel “Dear Hip Hop (The 2nd Letter)” came right after it as the eighth track. For the vinyl album, “Dear Hip Hop (The 2nd Letter)” starts off Side B, making it the sixth track overall. I kept the same track listing for the Dear Hip Hop: 20 Years Later release.

Of major note is the fact that “Dear Hip Hop (The 2nd Letter)” only featured Grimace Love on the old CD-R version. The original recording also features Choclair and Frankenstein. That version appears on both the vinyl album and the Dear Hip Hop: 20 Years Later release. Chocs and Frank were originally omitted because, at the time of the old release, Choclair was signed to Virgin and, on the advice of his manager, I decided not to get into it with his label about featuring him on my project.

In addition, a bonus track called “Jackin’ 4 Beatz (T.O.)” with Nish Raawks was on the original CD-R release. It’s not on either version the new album. Included on the new album, in its place, is “Danish” with Nish Raawks, which appeared on The Long Awaited… and the Korry Deez-produced “Dear Hip Hop (Remix)” which I forgot even existed until it was located on the DAT tape during the vinyl mastering session. The vinyl album was actually going to include the instrumental for “Dear Hip Hop” until the remix was rediscovered.

And then, of course, four brand new songs were recorded for Dear Hip Hop: 20 Years Later: “League Of  Legends” featuring Thrust, Maestro Fresh Wes, Moka Only, Big Kish & Eternia (a Scam-produced all-star posse cut which served as the first single), “Rap Essentials” featuring Mathematik & Deuce Deuce (an ode to the compilation of the same name that launched our careers), “Spit” (a quasi-tribute to J Dilla featuring his brother, Illa J) and “20 Years Later” (another incarnation of “Dear Hip Hop” featuring Kitchener’s Fraction & Cable).


RR: Was this album made in direct response to the love you had gotten from the Beat Factory tape?

Dan-e-o: To be honest, no, it was already in production. The Rap Essentials Volume One liner notes reveal that I was going to release a Dear Hip Hop EP.

Since it never came to fruition as intended, I released the shoddy CD-R along with The Book of Daniel. But most of it was done before Rap Essentials Volume One came out. Only “Dear Hip Hop (The 2nd Letter)” hadn’t been completed yet as it was conceived while on the Rap Essentials tour with Choclair.

RR: Do you have any stories associated with the recording of this album, or the immediate promotional run of it?

Dan-e-o: Yes, I actually almost gave up on “Dear Hip Hop”. After writing the lyrics to Scam’s beat, I went to his house to work on arranging the track. During the session, Scam told me I was rhyming off beat. He explained that I kept starting my verses at the top of the piano loop instead of on the downbeat or the “one”.

My 17 year-old mind was confused. For some reason, it took me a while to understand what I was doing wrong. So at one point I was like “fuck it, I don’t want this beat then”. Thanks to Scam, who continued to encourage me and get me to be on point, “Dear Hip Hop” came to be. It almost didn’t happen.


Dan-e-o – The Book Of Daniel (2000)


RR: There’s an awful lot of Monolith on The Book of Daniel. Sure there are some solo cuts, but most of the tracks appear to be featuring one or more of the members. My question is with the fact that Monolith wasn’t releasing group material past this point, yet had just previously dropped The Long Awaited…, was any of this material meant for an upcoming Monolith joint? If so, How much?

Dan-e-o: In fact, seven of the eighteen tracks on The Book of Daniel feature members of Monolith. And yes, some material was originally intended to be part of a full-length album by the entire group. During the process of putting that album together, things fell apart so I decided to focus on my solo joint.

The only cut I can remember transitioning from the group album to the solo album was “Peanut Butter Danish”, a track Nish Raawks produced and featured on.

Little known fact: The title comes from the fact I had recorded “Danish” with Nish Raawks and wrote another never-to-be-recorded song called “Peanut Butter” with Rishaard (then Shamon Harage). I just squeezed the two titles together for the joint the three of us did together. There’s no other rhyme or reason for the title.


RR: You actually produced a fair amount of the songs on this record. Where did you learn your production chops from?

Dan-e-o: Yes, I produced eight of the tracks on The Book of Daniel. During the summer of 1998, I worked a job that helped me to buy an MPC 2000 which I used to make the beats for the album.

I first learned my production chops in the mid-90s working with Scam and DJX, who both used SP-1200s. But I never actually got my hands on one until I started working with Shaun Persaud a.k.a. Drac a.k.a. Arch Angel. He managed me in the latter half of the decade. I produced both “So Deep” and “Son Daze” for the Dear Hip Hop project using his SP-1200.

RR: Page Music distributed this. They had done a lot for work in the indie Toronto hip-hop scene in the mid to late 90s. From Frankenstein, Ghetto Concept, Madlocks, etc. Who was running that? What impact did Page Music have on the Toronto hip-hop scene?

Dan-e-o: Page Music was owned by Victor Page, father of Steven Page of the Barenaked ladies. It was run by Victor’s other son Matthew and Chris Gayle.

But my main contact at the company was Darryl Rodway, who currently owns and runs URBNET. In addition to the artists you mentioned, Page Music also distributed projects by Citizen Kane, so they’re independent hip-hop catalogue ran deep for a while there.

In the late 90s and early 2000s, Page Music was known for its support of underground hip-hop artists from Toronto so they definitely deserve credit for helping get a bunch of careers off the ground.

RR: Do you have any stories associated with the recording of this album or the immediate promotional run of it?

Dan-e-o: The Book of Daniel was the definition of independence. It was released on the Monolith imprint, One Rock Records, which was founded by the group shortly after we realized that having two singles on the Beat Factory Rap Essentials Volume One compilation (“Sunlight” by Wio-K and “Dear Hip Hop”) wasn’t going to lead to much more.

I remember the album release party taking place on February 10, 2000 inside a place called 360 on Queen St. in Toronto. There was heavy snowfall that day and I thought it would have ruined the party. The place got packed though and it was an amazing launch for an album I basically did with the help of no one else but my crew.

I’m also proud of the fact that my father appears on this album. He’s the Spanish announcer at the beginning of “Corrida De Toros”. I used the Spanish title for “Bullfight” in his honour. Without him, I wouldn’t even have known how to translate it. The song ended up becoming the first single and video from the album. With my Dad now gone, it’s become one of my fondest memories.

Tachichi & Moves – Suicidal Soul (1999)


RR: How did you guys link up with Hand’Solo to release this?

Tachichi: We met Tom Quinlan who owns Hand’solo through Marc from Len. DJ Moves and Marc had been friends already during Moves Hip Club Groove years and me and moves used to visit Toronto in the summers then (late 90s). At the time handsolo has already put out Moka only and when Tom heats out stuff when he cane over to Marc’s he was immediately on board.

RR: Why not release the project on CD or tape in addition to vinyl?

Tachichi: The vinyl had s few songs from truth of the trade and that so was something to have put in between albums. We started on our own label after that and we mainly just put cds after that because they were more cost effective at the time.

RR: The posse cut “Heads Up” with Rich, Knowself and Kunga has such an amazing lineup. Were you guys all in studio for this? How often did all of you get together?

Tachichi: We recorded the song Heads up at a community college in Truro that Sixtoo went to at the time. He had access to a real studio there with professional gear so everybody did their verse there.

RR: Do you have any stories associated with this release?

Tachichi: There wasn’t any crazy stories associated with that process of the project at all actually. Lol. Which is abnormal for us and everybody did their verse quite quickly and smoothly. It was an easy go for the recording process. We were all a crew at the time and Buck 65, Knowself, Kunga 219 and Sixtoo plus myself all did shows regularly together and always recorded a lot together and featured on each other’s work someway or another.

Alpha Flight – Battle Royale (2005)


RR: On “The Roof” you have the line: “Battle Royale took years to fight, then again some verses take years to write.” What do you mean by took years to fight? What’s the story behind this album?

Ghettosocks: Battle Royale was the name of the album by my crew Alpha Flight released in 2005. We had started the record around 2002/2003 with Aziz, Bix, DJ Jabba tha Cutt, and DJ Y-Rush. Before the record was released, MC/ producer Aziz (Kyle McMullin) was killed in an accident. Despite this we eventually completed and released the record. The meaning behind the line you’re referring to is that it took a long time to complete Battle Royale even though it was a struggle. “Some verses take years to write” refers to the song The Roof itself and all of the content within it, recounting the years of various experiences and moments.

RR: How did all of you guys meet? Jabba the Cut makes sense with Maple Mothership, but Aziz, Mr. Bix and Y-Rush, it’s an interesting group of individuals to come together to make something quite dope.

Ghettosocks: We all met via The Maple Mothership radio show on CKDU. The host The Jade Emperor (Ewan Mill) was a friend of mine from Ottawa, so he invited me to come on . the show when I moved to Halifax. I met Aziz and Y-Rush at CKDU and Bix initially would call in and request songs before eventually coming in and rapping live on-air. From there, we began to hang out and became friends, regularly doing shows together.

RR: One of the flyers we picked up from you during our trip to Halifax was the album release flyer for this album. I’ll include it here, but what do you remember from the night? Also have the instrumental version release party flyer which came out 10 months later. Why do a release party for the instrumentals?

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Ghettosocks: For the Battle Royale Release Party, we were supposed to have Kaem and Highneken from Ottawa come out, but they didn’t make it out. Artists DJ Josh and Aptperformed and would later become members of the crew in some capacity. The night was also the release of Halifax graffiti-writer Sectr’s video called Transitions, which I had edited and authored to DVD myself. The night was great. It was held at The Attic and was extremely well attended by friends and fans.

As for the BR Instrumental Release Party, we pretty much threw a party whenever we put out a record. Keep in mind, these were the days where people had to actually buy CDs and vinyl if they wanted the music.


RR: Do you have any stories associated with recording this project? Or promoting it shortly afterwards?

Ghettosocks: These days were integral in the artistic development of everyone involved, and also represents a unique chapter of Halifax’s Hiphop History. After Battle RoyaleBix(aka Intjay, formerly Mr.Bix) released a solo record called Incredible Stylo. In 2006, I released Get Some FriendsApt was supposed to release a solo record called 12 Bit, but has still yet to release it. Creating these records gave us the experience and skillset to make more music and provided the foundation for what we all do today.

Dead Can’t Bounce – The Hardy Boys of Rap (2003)


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RR: “Writers in their heat come true. Ira Lee is so original he sounds like you know who. Any bigger and his attitudes blew. Girl I only rap because I got the tattoo.” What tattoo are you referring too?

Ira Lee: This was a trendspotting reference to the full circle of  culture. I used to think good rappers were secret psychics. Projecting reality into forcible shapes and shadows. Tattoo arts have historical credence, substance and a potential for awesome spirituality. This is why I have none, and have always been weary of living billboards or decorative posturing. Back in 2000, I rolled with a lot of vegan and straight edge persons who inspired meaning and value in their ink lives. I had no excuses.

RR: To the best of my knowledge Kutdown joined the group a bit later. Did Kutdown handle the production on The Hardy Boys of Rap?

Ira Lee: Until I took off to Europe for a decade, Kutdown was involved in everything I did. If not artistically, in some crucial, or technical or just being a good friend capacity. It was the two of us that referenced each other for a long time and it showed. Mike had two beats on The Hardy Boys of rap if i’m not mistaken and he convinced Frek Sho we were cool and brought us into the fold.

RR: The only feature on the record is IP. How did you guys meet IP and Nohow?

Ira Lee: I have a big respect for Nohow and IP. They were Calgary OG. Consider that I came up around hardware, so I felt at home in a duplex with asr’s on two floors and so many records it smelled like a wet library! Best part with making music with them was how lazy and free the process. Those dudes taught me how to be black. And they’re not even Spanish.

RR: Did this project do well commercially? Were you guys able to tour off of this one? I know the follow up album I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost did pretty well, but this one appears to be much more obscure. What was it like at the time?

Ira Lee: No. Doing well is subjective and contextual. But no. It was way too early in the Canadian landscape for that record. Plus, I felt at home in Saskatoon, where my mentors, peers and dope rap lived. So I moved towards interdisciplinary work early, as a protective mechanic against all the homophobia and racism a mixed, gender – fluid prairie rapper was challenged with daily in Regina. Montreal and Saskatoon have always been so culturally progressive, this helped us.

RR: Do you have any stories associated with recording this project, or promoting it upon release?

Ira Lee: Grimy. I just stole shit and borrowed stuff until my luck ran out. We would get free clothes and beer and Danny’s girlfriends would bring blankets and nail polish. The rest was living off our parents, lying, manipulating and student loans. Typical rap shit. This is the Midwest version of selling crack in an era where sexual discrimination was legal.

Birdapres & RKV – As It Is (1998)

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RR: What format was this released in? The Discogs profile, which we all know by now has your catalog pretty much fucked, shows CD. Although the mp3 rip I have shows it as a tape. Once again, with no artwork, it’s hard to pinpoint answers. In addition, what year did this come out? My sources are also conflicting on this.

Birdapres: As It Is was supposed to have a wider release, but I ended up putting it out on cassette locally as one of copies. Moka drew the cover, and we ran off copies at home and photocopied the covers at Kinko’s. It was Tape only. I’m sure there’s a CD-r version out there but I didn’t release it.

RR: Did you guys use the same distribution company for this as you did for the 12”? The one through California?

Birdapres: The tape was ultra local, with only a few copies escaping the lower mainland.

RR: The 12” gets a lot of love around the country. Having indie Canadian rap on vinyl was kind of a big deal back then. Did As It Is receive similar praise upon its release?

Birdapres: As it was just a local cassette release, that was dubbed by hand, I don’t think a lot of people heard it.

RR: Zen26 is the only feature on this record outside of Moka Only. I have notes that show Zen26 in a group with Boya D called Get Along Gang, but outside of that, I’m pretty much blank. Can you break down further who Zen26 was? Did Get Along Gang release anything?

Birdapres: Boya and Zen were in a group called Headbones. Get A Lung Gang predated that and was Zen and some others. There’s a Get A Lung Gang demo but I don’t think they released anything. Zen was crucial to QC and later Taboo Records.

RR: Do you have any stories associated with recording this? Or promoting it upon it’s release?

Birdapres: Not really, it wasn’t promoted. We just sold copies on street corners and at a couple local shops.

Birdapres – Alumni (1998)

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RR: Last time we spoke it was regarding Egocide. In which you said Discogs had the dates incorrect, stating that Egocide was dropped in 98, and the RKV 12” was in 96. Discogs currently has Alumni dropped in 98, however with no artwork to be found, it’s hard to verify. What was the date on this one? And how did it fit in chronologically with your other releases?

Birdapres: Alumni came out in 98, It was some super basement, home dubbed on a dual cassette deck thing i released out of a bunch of demos I had kicking around. I had moved back from Toronto after living there for a half a year.

RR: You have a track on here with Len “Life Unquestioned”. Were you rocking with the whole Cryptik Souls Crew at this time? Were you already connected to Moves?

Birdapres: Life Unquestioned was recorded with MCKenzie and Marc when I was sleeping on the couch at the Len crib in Toronto. I brought Len up to Stylistik Endeavors to hang with CSC around the end of 97. I hadn’t met Moves at this point, he was in Halifax. I linked with Criptik through Moka Only and the graffiti writer Insight.

RR: There’s a skit on here on the phone with a guy named Duane talking about your arrival in Toronto which starts by saying “Yo, my man Birdapres needs a job.” Who was Duane, and what “job” were you trying to get? 

Birdapres: Duane was calling into the Stylistik Endeavours radio show while we were rocking on the air and I recorded it. I spent a lot of time up there over the years.

RR: Do you have any stories with putting this tape together? 

Birdapres: When I moved back to Vancouver I just collected a bunch of stuff and dubbed tapes at home and sold them hand to hand or at FWUH and Complex.