Swollen Members: Back in business

With over 10 years of experience and four albums under their belt, though short one member, Swollen Members rise back on to the hip-hop scene with a darker sound making them go back to their roots.

The bond between Vancouver natives Prevail and Mad Child dates back to when the two decided to attend the B-Boy Summit (a hip-hop cultural event) in San Diego in 1996. “We certainly did learn a lot about each other from that trip,” Prevail said, “but by no means was it the jump-off point for our friendship.” Mad Child gained recognition at the summit for rap battling, and “freestyling” is still something they enjoy doing. Prevail mentioned, “I’d still do my street styling as much as I did when I first started MCing, I do that almost every night after a show and freestyling for a bit, that’s definitely a skill I like to exercise as much as possible.” Though Swollen Members don’t limit themselves to West Coast hip-hop influences, artists like Ice-T and NWA stand out. “There were so many dynamics going on,” Prevail said. “You couldn’t help but love them whether or not you agreed with the messages they sent out, there was something about those guys.” Other musical inspiration ranges from artists such as Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix to Wolf Mother and The Doors.

With numerous collaborations in their past albums, one particular song stood out. The song “Breath” off of their 2002 album Monsters in the Closet had been a song over 10 years in the making. “The song with Nelly [Furtado] has a special place in my heart,” Prevail said. “That’s my home girl.”

Their most recent album, Black Magic, covers the “darker night aspects of life with abstract lyrics over high energy.” According to the duo, recording the album gave Swollen Members the opportunity to experiment with different beats while bringing them back their signature sound that their fan base had been yearning for in the recent years. Although Moka Only chose to leave Swollen Members and pursue a solo career, all Prevail could do was show support for his childhood friend. “We wish Moka the best of luck, and I know he’s up there doing his solo thing being the creative and talented artist that he is.”

He also expressed strong views towards music sampling in hip-hop. “It’s a necessary thing in hip-hop. That’s what sets apart the great producers from the guys who can just loop a piece of music and who can put drums on top of it.” He also mentioned much admiration for hip-hop producers such as Timbaland and Dr. Dre, for their creativity and skill.

Among other hidden talents, Prevail seemingly had an eye for raw art in his past. “I used to write graffiti too. I was never really good but I loved it, although I’m not at a position right now where I can start running around the train yards. It would be the end of my career, so I kind of bow out gracefully.”

Though appreciative of their fan base, one particular fan chose to go too far. “I had a girl jump off of the security barricade on top of me while performing,” Prevail mentioned while laughing. “The security pulled her off, escorted her out of the venue. But as I was walking back to the bus, she hadn’t left and she jumped off of me again and tried to bite my neck.”

Swollen Members are currently on their Black Magic tour, finishing up their North American leg after runs with the Black Eyed Peas and Rihanna across Canada and a couple of venues in the U.S. Other destinations include Europe, Australia and Japan. “Our international fan base has been great, I’m very curious because we haven’t been [overseas] since Bad Dreams was out, I’m stoked to see what’s going on out there.”

Swollen Members play
Les Saints Showbar
Nov. 22.
30 Ste. Catherine West
Tickets cost $15

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