Music Quickspins

QUICKSPIN: The Killers – Imploding the Mirage

The Killers are as confident as ever on their sixth studio album

Admittedly, none of the four singles leading up to The Killer’s sixth studio album suggested that it would be a hit. As standalones, the singles sounded very similar to what one would come to expect from frontman Brandon Flowers after nearly two decades in the spotlight. However, pieced together as one cohesive body of work, Imploding the Mirage may be one of the stronger projects to emerge from the Las Vegas legends in a long while.

Originally intended as a spring release, The Killers announced that they would delay their album until Dec. 31, 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic and inability to tour. However, a change of heart on behalf of the band brought the release date forward into August. Perhaps they felt like their fans could use some throwback-esque Killers in such dire times.

From the intro song “My Own Soul’s Warning” to the closing title track, Imploding the Mirage is as grandiose and vibrant as the name alludes. Flowers is back in his element, with superb songwriting about longing for love while searching for signs from the heavens where his often-soft-spoken verses culminate to a powerful chorus. The album is reminiscent of Sam’s Town, the best project in their catalogue, mixed with their later love for synthesizer on every song. The Killers feel like they have found their voice once again, and Flowers is sounding more comfortable than ever.

Rating: 8/10

Trial Track: “Blowback”


Maky Lavender is a momma’s boy

An interview with the West Island rapper following the release of his anticipated album, …At Least My Mom Loves Me

Maky Lavender’s trajectory to becoming a common name in the top contender category of the Montreal rap scene has been unique. His slow-growth over the last few years has been organic—word of mouth between those in the know with their ears to the ground, listening for the city’s next up-and-comers.

“There’s always things that come out through the cracks, and this time, I think it might be me,” Maky said with a hint of optimism. “I don’t get streams but I still get some attention because of the music, I’d like to think. It’s rare to see. I don’t know the last time I’ve seen it, maybe with Chance the Rapper or something, but it’s fun to be independent.”

Maky may have spoken too soon, as the recent release of his 4th studio album, …At Least My Mom Loves Me, has been positively received, and widely spread, among the Montreal hip hop community since its debut on Feb. 29. While this isn’t Maky’s first project by any means, the hype, legitimacy, and seriousness of it all makes it feel like it’s a new chapter.

“I feel like this is the first album,” he said. “Everything else before matters to me, but as an album, this is the first one.”

Maky’s discography differs depending on what streaming platform one uses. On Apple Music and Spotify, Blowfoam 2 is listed as his first album. “That’s good, we start with a sequel,” he laughed.

On Soundcloud, one can delve into his earlier cuts, Lavender Fields and BLOWFOAM. As for the first mixtape he ever released, that one is wiped clean from the internet.

“I started with dance first and then making music when I was 13, 14,” Maky recalled. “The first project was a little student mixtape. I made an album cover and people asked me where the album was, so I had to make a mixtape. So that’s where my music career really started.”

Despite the three year gap in between his most recent releases, Maky has stayed busy. His consistent rollout of singles such as “Cheese” and “TikTok” have kept him relevant and most recently gained the attention of local bookers for the upcoming festival season. In May, Maky will perform alongside industry names like 50 Cent and Booba, playing on the Saturday of Montreal’s second Metro Metro Festival. The following day, he’ll play the Santa Teresa fest in Ste-Therese. Last week, he participated in a promotional campaign with Reebok and Off The Hook boutique for the release of their new sneaker.

“I don’t trip about being overlooked or underrated,” he said. “I know that it’s really only because someone hasn’t told them about me yet.”

Maky’s achievements may seem sudden to some, but the artist has been chiselling away at his craft for years now. Working what he guessed to be over 10 or more jobs throughout his life, Maky enrolled in audio engineering school following a few years of CEGEP. While he produces a lot of his own material, Maky is working on earning respect as a rapper before asking for respect as a producer.

“I bet on myself a lot,” he said. “I went to school for this shit. You can’t get the credits to do everything though, so I’ll take the rapper credit. You can’t force people to give a f*ck—it doesn’t matter. It’s just about the music.”

…At Least My Mom Loves Me was first teased with the February debut of “Bloom,” a single accompanied by a well-received music video that acts as social commentary on the frequent racism experienced as a black performer, aptly released during Black History Month. The album title, commonly a response given to oneself in times of self-doubt or poor decision-making, is also a commentary on the world around us. Maky speaks about his patriarchal family history as Black men whose life circumstances and opportunities revolved around the time they were born in. With some relatives facing slavery and others who were soldiers at war, men were often consumed with toxic masculinity as a product of their environment and the times.

“The world just closes down so bad that you have nothing else but the woman who put you on this earth,” he said of the album title. “My mom has been good with this shit forever, she has never crossed me or done anything wrong, she’s always been there. Only women can have that way of loving something that they make. I think that was an important thing to say—that I’m a momma’s boy. People hated on me when I was growing up, calling me a little baby. But my mom never faked, she was always real. That album cover is actually a picture of my parents, with the lavenders.”

Maky is a proud and self-proclaimed momma’s boy, but he’s not perfect by any means.

“I know what it is,” he said. “I’m not an angel. You have songs like ‘Billy Gin’ and ‘5 Stars’ where I’m talking rowdy shit, but you also have songs like ‘Bloom’ and ‘Funkds.’ I think it’s just growing up and figuring out what the fuck it is—that’s just life.”

Photo by Laurence Brisson Dubreuil.


Tyla Yaweh celebrates rock contemporaries opening for the “Runaway Tour”

The “Runaway Tour” opener discussed Billie Joe Armstrong, travelling the world, and his upcoming album.

Tyla Yaweh is a name you may have heard recently, especially if you were one of the thousands that filled the Bell Centre in mid-February to see Post Malone’s arena debut in Montreal. The Florida sensation has been following Post Malone around the world for over a year, opening the show to packed stadiums on the “Runaway Tour” all across North America and Europe, and just about anywhere else you’d expect a Post Malone fan to reside these days.

The opportunity has allowed Tyla to gain new fans while continuing to build his discography. His first project, Heart Full of Rage, was released in February 2019, and the 24-year-old artist continues to release singles to ride on his momentum and prepare fans for his upcoming sophomore album. The tour has also allowed him to make new friends, including two of his childhood idols who appeared in the video for his most recent single, “High Right Now Remix”—Wiz Khalifa and Billie Joe Armstrong.

“I got really cool with Billie from this Oakland show we did,” said Tyla of the Green Day frontman. “He pulled up there and like, it’s crazy—that’s Green Day. My sister used to give me all the Green Day albums. And then I met Billie Joe, we finally talked, and then just became real good friends. [We] started texting and hanging out and going to parties and getting drunk together.”

Tyla describes the Wiz Khalifa collaboration coming to fruition over their mutual love of weed and Tyla’s desire to put one of his inspirations on one of his tracks. Tyla featured Billie Joe in the video after he asked for sample clearance for Khalifa, who sang his verse in the melody of Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”

While the pairing may seem odd at first, Tyla Yaweh credits rock for his love of music just as much as he does rap, citing early influences such as Worldview, The Used, The Strokes, and Kings of Leon.

“That’s the stuff that I love hearing,” he said. “Like discovering the Sex Pistols, The Ramones, the CBGB era from like David Bowie, Madonna, all those people who came up out of that era. It made me really search it up and be like ‘Oh man, this stuff is interesting.’ It just reminded me of what the music industry still is. There are rock stars in this game that are still crazy as fuck, outspoken, artistic as hell, and just starting trends, you know.”

Tyla Yaweh sits with Jacob Carey before his opening performance on the “Runaway Tour” – Photo by Louis Pavlakos

His touring buddy, beer pong rival (to whom he lost $50,000 USD), and recently matching-tattoo partner is no different.

“[Post Malone] broke the barriers for a lot of people, just by coming out with ‘White Iverson’ and ‘I Fall Apart,’” Tyla said. “His range is so wide and it gives a lot of other people opportunities who just want to discover new sounds and not be inside a box.”

Tyla categorizes himself within that group of people, fusing hip hop and rock influences to create sounds that he one day hopes to be synonymous with his stage name. The artist says that one of his main goals is to continue to deliver music that offers listeners newer and more relatable stories, rather than rehashing the same old tales onto new beats. Tyla also prides himself on his music being timeless, hinting at all his songs that he stows away that can be released at any opportune time.

“I think all my music is important to me,” he said. “I’m making it, and I’m not going to just make a song that isn’t important. There’s a lot of songs we do that just won’t come out, but I still cherish all my music because one day, in three years, I can drop that song and it’ll still mean something to the world. People won’t even realize that I did that three, four years ago.”

Tyla is currently in the process of recording his Heart Full of Rage follow-up. A release date has not yet been announced.

“Right now we’re still working on my album,” he said. “It’s called Rager Boy. We got a lot of dope artists on there. I’m excited for it. We almost done. We’re just structuring it, still mixing things down, still putting certain songs that we want to hear on it. It’s gonna be a surprise for everybody.”

Later that evening on stage, Tyla is humble and does not strut with a god complex found in most artists. While performing his set, Tyla hops off stage on more than one occasion to mingle with the crowd below him. During “Wraith Skating,” the rapper is found wilding out with fans all the way in the stands to the left of the stage before going back on stage to play the Wiz Khalifa-assisted remix “High Right Now” as the music video played on screens behind him. As Tyla Yaweh exits the stage, he enters the crowd one final time to give out high fives to those closest to the stage, demonstrating that he is both genuine and personable, on-stage and off.

Feature photo by Louis Pavlakos


Billboard has a genre problem

Decade-End Charts: numbers don’t lie, unfortunately

Over the last few weeks, Billboard has been rolling out their Decade-End Charts. While most publications have been publishing articles on which artists they subjectively believe to have owned the decade, Billboard uses factual evidence through numbers and statistics to crown the musicians on their list. While numbers don’t lie, they may be… miscategorized?

Billboard released lists of overall hottest songs, albums, and artists of the decade, regardless of genre. The song of the decade went to “Uptown Funk!” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, while the album of the decade went to Adele for 21. The top artists will only be announced months from now at the Billboard Music Awards.

Other than the overall top lists, Billboard also classically broke down their lists into genres. While we may have known that Billboard has had trouble classifying songs under their appropriate genres since the controversy surrounding Lil Nas X’s smash hit “Old Town Road,” they do not seem to have learned from their mistakes. Specifically, Billboard’s rock and hip hop/R&B lists seem to be raising some questions as to how one classifies genre, especially songs that blend more than one.

When we think of 2010s hip hop and R&B, there must be some pretty obvious winners: Drake, Kanye West, Travis Scott, and Post Malone are just a few of the rappers that have defined the decade and consistently topped the charts. Yet, Billboard affirms that you’d be wrong to assume that any of these artists made the top three hottest hip hop songs of the decade. Instead, that honour goes to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for “Thrift Shop,” Bruno Mars for “That’s What I Like,” and Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell for “Blurred Lines.”

This list is a clear insult to actual hip hop and R&B. After all, these songs are clearly pop songs.

While that used to simply mean “popular music,” pop has definitely become a genre of its own, and Billboard even acknowledges that. We all know what pop music sounds like: the three songs I just listed. Michael Jackson was the King of Pop, not hip hop. And, if he were still releasing music today, Michael Jackson should not be ranked at the top of Billboard’s hip hop charts.

Perhaps the confusion lies in categorizing R&B, pop, and hip hop under the same list. It would make more sense to view Michael Jackson as some form of R&B, but hip hop is a stretch. Or, perhaps the confusion lies in why Billboard seems to classify every black artist as an R&B/hip hop artist, regardless of actual genre.

There are also complaints to be made about the decade-end rock category, but perhaps that is more an issue of personal taste versus being miscategorized. While notable bands, who have all released new music in the last decade – like the Strokes, the Killers, and the Rolling Stones – are all missing from the list, it is instead Imagine Dragons that holds the top three hottest rock songs of the decade. Who has ever said the words “put on that new Imagine Dragons album?”

If you were worried about the state of rock music before, you’re surely panicking now.

And, if you ever debated who the best rapper alive is, Billboard says it’s Bruno Mars.


Graphic by @sundaeghost

Music Quickspins

Anniversary QUICKSPINS: Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin

The catalytic debut to one of the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands, revisited

This week in 1969, Led Zeppelin released their self-titled debut album. The project would go on to set the precedent for the extraordinary work that would emerge from the four-piece English rock band and the three more self-titled albums that would follow. Led Zeppelin has since become one of the most revered rock bands of all time and is the pioneer for much of the sounds that we hear today.

The reception towards the Led Zeppelin LP was not initially met with the high-praise that it received in later years. Rolling Stone initially published a review of the album that saw the band hold a grudge against the magazine for decades, calling head honcho Jimmy Page “a very limited producer and a writer of weak, unimaginative songs.” Revisiting the album, it is impossible to overlook the amount of classics that were a part of the track list. “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” “Dazed and Confused,” and “I Can’t Quit You” are just a few gems that stand the test of time, as does the rest of the album. While it may not be the best in Led Zeppelin’s discography, it’s something pretty close to it.

Rating: 9/10

Timeless Classic: “Your Time Is Gonna Come”


Murda Beatz plans for an even bigger 2020

The Canadian hip hop producer discusses his platinum hits and rising the ranks

Seated backstage in the underground lair that is MTELUS’ green room, following A$AP Ferg’s “Floor Seats” tour stop, Murda Beatz reflects on his childhood exposure to music.

“I grew up on classic rock, hard rock, metal – Metallica,” he said. “That’s what I grew up on. That’s what I got a taste for as a kid. That’s why I wanted to play drums. I wanted to make a band and do all that shit because I had a rock background.”

No, Murda Beatz is not the stage name of a drummer for an up-and-coming rock ‘n’ roll band. Instead, Murda Beatz is one of the most successful hip hop producers of our generation, with an extensive catalogue that dates back to the early years of the decade. Most impressive, perhaps, is that the shaggy-haired Canadian from the southern suburbs of Toronto has become a contemporary staple in the Atlanta trap scene and beyond.

“If there’s 20 thousand producers in Toronto and you’re trying to get to Toronto artists, how are you so different than anyone else?” Murda asks. “You have to catch someone’s attention to make you different. So I went to Chicago, got in the drill scene, got my name established in the drill scene – enough to hit up the Migos and be like ‘Yo, I’m Murda Beatz, I work with Chief Keef and these guys’… Until your name holds weight, your credentials are going to hold more weight than your name.”

Murda tells the story of his early days while his thick “MURDA” chain glistens atop his pendant of a chef – a symbol for being the master at cooking beats.

Following his collaborations with Chief Keef, Murda became one of the main producers for Migos, the Atlanta rap trio credited with being some of the early forefathers of the ad lib trap rap that currently dominates the market. The exclusivity and credibility that came from that honour then allowed him to collaborate with other industry chart toppers. In the last two years alone, Murda has been responsible for creating hits like “Butterfly Effect” by Travis Scott, “Nice for What” by Drake, and recently 10x plantinum record “FEFE” by the incarcerated rainbow-haired rapper 6ix9ine and Nicki Minaj.

Murda acknowledges that he typically knows when he has a hit on his hands. While that criteria depends on a few factors like the artist and the beat itself, a lot of the magic happens when the song is made live in the studio.

“Most of the Migos stuff is in studio,” he says, “like ‘Pipe It Up,’ ‘Motorsport,’ some new shit we got coming out called ‘GNF (Give No Fucks)’ with Travis and Thug. ‘Butterfly Effect’ was done on FaceTime. ‘FEFE’ was in studio. Most of the special ones come from the studio – most of them. I think it’s just the synergy, you know what I mean? It’s just different. But some stuff, artists might hit me up and like ‘Yo, I got some crazy shit,’ which is not in studio. Then I’m gonna do my own shit, make a call, and say ‘Ey, we got a record.’”

Hip hop producer Murda Beatz discusses his success with the Concordian music editor Jacob Carey following his “Floor Seats” tour stop with A$AP Ferg. Photo by Chris Carpenter (@cb43media).

Murda recalls the time he collaborated with the recently departed Juice WRLD, a Chicago rapper most known for his highly successful track “Lucid Dreams.”

“So me and him, the day before he signed his deal, I hit him up,” Murda says. “I became a fan, you know what I’m saying, me and Cole Bennett, we started talking a few years ago. So I was always on his page, watching his shit, so I saw the ‘All Girls Are the Same’ video, said ‘This kid is fire.’ I was bumping that shit every day. So I found out he was in LA, hit him up, went to the studio, and we made 14 songs in six hours. Crazy. He’s the fastest working man possible on this earth. We made 14 songs in six hours. That shit was crazy. None of them came out, unfortunately, some of them leaked and stuff. Hopefully they might come out in the future, you never know. It’s definitely music that should come out. Everyone would appreciate it, and it’s definitely some of my best music.”

While Murda is in high demand among a wave of both new and already established artists, there are still dream collaborations that he wishes to cross off his bucket list in the near future.

“Definitely like, Rihanna, Beyonce, Bieber, Kanye, [Jay-Z] … Ed Sheeran,” Murda says. “I think me and him in a picture together would break the internet. If we did a music video together – if I was Ed Sheeran and he was Murda Beatz… that’d be crazy. I should definitely hit him up. We’ve talked back and forth. I was supposed to go to his show a few months ago but I just got too busy, but yeah, we got to do some shit. If he was me and I was him in a video, that shit would go crazy.”

Murda Beatz’ success shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

“New songs coming out in 2020. Album in 2020. The years just keep getting bigger and bigger.”


Photos by Chris Carpenter (@cb43media)

Music Quickspins


Travis Scott proves his label has more to offer than just himself as their quarterback

JACKBOYS is Travis Scott’s formal introduction of his Cactus Jack label signees to the world, that being Sheck Wes and Don Toliver. While we may have already been acquainted with them through their solo projects, Scott wanted to shed light on the rookies on a collaboration album alongside industry titans like himself, Migos, and Young Thug.

JACKBOYS is an easy-listening 20-minute album, and that’s why it works. A 13 track album may have dragged on the project and allowed for many fillers to make the final cut, yet seven tracks, including an intro, made the work feel tight and complete. While Sheck Wes brings little to the table other than his predictable and overdone ad-libs, Don Toliver’s choruses are easily the most enjoyable parts of the album. This, alongside a feature from Thug, makes for a pleasant listen that, fortunately, was not sacrificed for more throwaway tracks in the streaming era.

The success of this album assures that there will likely be many more to come and that the JACKBOYS aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Keep your ear out for the name “Don Toliver.”

Rating: 8/10

Trial Track: OUT WEST (feat. Young Thug)



CJ Flemings comes back for more

 An interview with the Montreal rap artist following the release of his second studio album, Mascara Tears

CJ Flemings is growing into the best version of himself.

Since the release of the Montreal rapper’s successful debut album, Forever Wanted More in 2017, there was mostly silence from the artist across streaming platforms.

“I held back from releasing a lot of music,” said Flemings. “I still want to put all that music out. I just haven’t gotten to that yet, but hopefully in the near future I can share that with everybody. I was really just working on my craft though. I feel like I didn’t miss with this last project, it’s better than the last one.”

This “last project” is said in reference to Mascara Tears, the long-anticipated, most recent body of work from Flemings. The album was released on Nov. 22, the same day that Flemings opened up for New York rapper Lil Tjay at Corona Theatre. Despite the successful turn out, Flemings sad that he’s still in the midst of planning something special for his own show to celebrate the album’s launch.

CJ Flemings released his second album, Mascara Tears, on November 22, 2019. Photo by Laurence B.D.

Mascara Tears encompasses themes of honesty, love, betrayal, and heartbreak, showing Flemings at his most vulnerable. His drive to go the extra mile may have come from his pairing with Juno-award winning producer, Michael Lantz, who motivated him in the studio.

“I love challenges,” said Flemings. “When someone challenges me I’m more so like ‘Oh damn, you care about this right now.’ So I’m trying to get this, let’s get it right.”

Flemings did a lot of the work on his debut album, Forever Wanted More, alone. Though he decided to change things up on his latest project.

“On Forever Wanted More, I was picking a lot of the beats and I recorded a lot of it, mixed a lot of it myself, and mastered a lot of it myself. I just felt like when going into Mascara Tears, I met Lantz and he was very disciplined about the production and all that, so I dived into the best versions of myself and tried to correct a lot of the mistakes I made and trusted the whole procedure.”

The first song on the album, “Curtains,” was the first song that Flemings and Lantz recorded together after scrapping a previous, unreleased song. “Curtains” begins with a friend telling Flemings that he doesn’t see him anymore and that he’s acting differently. Flemings said he put in that snippet to remind others that there will be times in one’s career when you have to be selfish.

“I felt like I was going towards a direction where I really needed to care about myself,” said Flemings. “[I needed] to put myself in a vulnerable spot to show that there are times where you might feel like there are people who are distant from you, and it’s a problem, but if you’re focused on a goal and that’s what you’re working on, sometimes you just gotta overcome these challenges.”

Now that CJ Flemings has finally accomplished one of his goals with the release of Mascara Tears, one can hope to see more of the young rap artist in Montreal’s glowing hip hop spotlight. 

Photos by Laurence B.D.


Alex Cameron goes where the genius is

An interview with Australia’s next best star

Alex Cameron is feeling good.

In fact, he says he’s in the best position he’s ever been in. The Australian singer has fallen in love with Jemima Kirke, an English artist and actress who greatly inspires his songs, most notably on his newly released, love-centred album, Miami Memory. His team has just cleared a few years’ worth of debt and can finally afford to pay their rent while living comfortably. Most impressive of all, Cameron is on track to play over 100 shows on tour in 2019.

“We tour our fucking asses off and people come to our shows,” said Cameron. “What we do is a reputation thing. We have a reputation for putting on hot shows and writing songs that, though they are very specific, people find a way to latch onto them and it becomes broad reaching once the ideas spread through conversation. We got no problems, man. We’re feeling good. Are you feeling good?”

The eccentric frontman asks me the question as he sits backstage at the Fairmount Theatre before his show on Nov. 16, alongside his saxophonist and business partner, Roy Molloy. 

Cameron is comfortable as he finishes his sound check, sporting a pair of black track pants, slicked jet black hair, his Miami Memory merchandise necklace and a retro City Ford Sydney Roosters jersey to commemorate his hometown. Molloy opts for a more done-up look as he sits alongside us in a black corduroy suit with a bag of Sour Patch watermelon candies in hand.

Photo by Guillaume Knobloch

Cameron’s earlier projects, Jumping the Shark and Forced Witness, touch upon themes of loneliness and distress as a failed musician. However, those days may be over, ever since Cameron was contacted by Brandon Flowers, lead singer of The Killers. 

He says that Flowers, whom he has previously labelled as one of the best songwriters of our generation, stumbled across his music on the internet and asked him and Molloy to assist him in writing The Killers’ 2017 album, Wonderful Wonderful. Flowers later took them onboard the album’s tour as a support act and returned the favour with songwriting credits on Cameron’s Forced Witness. The Killers have since announced a forthcoming album, Imploding the Mirage, which Cameron says he may have a hand in as well.

“I think what that whole experience gave us was a lot of information and a lot of guidance about the industry and what it means to be a performer, and what it means to have your music actually impact people,” said Cameron. “There’s a good lesson in there.”

Despite the insight that Cameron and Molloy may have received from connecting with Flowers, they don’t expect their music to peak at the top of the charts – at least not in the foreseeable future.

“I think that pop music is driven by the kids and the kids will always want something new,” said Cameron. “I think that popular music, generally speaking, is consumed by people who are like, between the ages of eight and 15. So when you’re writing a pop song and you’re getting all those sales and making all those hits, it’s because kids love it. If you want to talk about why our music isn’t at the top of the charts, it’s because our music is explicitly for adults. And that’s a different kind of ball game.”

“What we’re doing isn’t for 14-year-olds,” said Molloy.

The duo says that their art is reserved for an older audience because of certain lyrics riddled with mature content that includes explicit sexual references and a certain song with homophobic slurs. 

While it is certainly not for radio, Cameron is in no way homophobic. His slurs are sung ironically as his lyrics address him being called gay for the makeup he wears and the way he dresses. Later that evening on stage, Cameron saves “Marlon Brando” for the encore and assures the crowd that it’s normal for them to question their sexuality while discovering who they are.

Cameron carried that same feisty energy with him on stage throughout the whole show. His stage presence was compelling and his dance moves contagious. Many artists could certainly take tips from an Alex Cameron performance.

While Cameron may be considered new to the music industry, his influence is certainly felt by many established and aspiring musicians alike.

“I feel like we’ve presented some ideas that were definitely ours that other people are accessing,” said Cameron. “But I also feel like once you put something out there into the world, you’re putting it into a melting pot to be shared. If you don’t want to be ripped off, just don’t release anything.”

Cameron may be inspiring artists that likely fall into the rock or indie category, but he doesn’t think that certain music thrives because of the genre that they’re boxed into.

“Ultimately, I don’t think it’s a genre thing,” said Cameron. “I don’t think it’s about

‘why is rock not at the top? Why is rap at the top? Why is pop music not at the top?’ Ultimately, it’s about where the spirit is, and where the energy is – where the genius is.”

Photos by Guillaume Knobloch


Daniel Caesar shows off his pipes on CASE STUDY 01 tour

Daniel Caesar is loved.

At least that’s what the crowd at Place Bell yelled to him at every opportune lull throughout the crooner’s set last Tuesday night.

Despite some trying to ‘cancel’ the singer in the earlier part of 2019 for his defense of controversial comments made against African-Americans, Caesar had no problem drawing in a massive audience on the first snowfall of the season. Fresh off the summer release of his second studio album, CASE STUDY 01, the Ontario native was back in Laval on his tour of the same name.

The R&B artist rose in popularity following the positive reception surrounding his debut studio album, Freudian, that was nominated in the Best R&B Album category at the 2018 Grammy Awards. The album also featured his nominated singles “Get You” featuring Kali Uchis and “Best Part” featuring H.E.R.

The show’s set was simplistic, with a full band playing behind a pair of transparent curtains and two vocalists on either side of Caesar. The visuals featured juxtaposed videos of aesthetics pertinent to the songs being played, like strippers pole dancing to “Who Hurt You?” and a dancing Kali Uchis for her “Get You” feature.

Caesar played most of his new album – one more experimental in nature than the gospel-centric Freudian. This allowed him to show off his vocal range that was raw at its core and was accompanied by little, if any, of his own backing track vocals – a breath of fresh air as a concert-goer in a hip hop and R&B era that seems to be dominated by lip-syncing and laziness on stage.

Three songs in, Caesar brought out fellow Torontonian Sean Leon. The crowd’s initial reaction was weak, perhaps not recognizing the guest on-stage. Yet, once the two dove into their collaboration track “RESTORE THE FEELING,” the audience piped up and clapped for the stranger in front of them.  Leon thanked the crowd for his first performance in Montreal and the two artists gave each other a loving embrace before Leon exited the stage.

Caesar’s trifecta of “OPEN UP,” “Who Hurt You?” and “ARE YOU OK?” truly highlighted his voice and musical capabilities. The latter did not have any accompanying background instruments – only Caesar and his guitar. He frequently rotated between acoustic ballads and R&B melodies throughout.

The most well-received songs were undoubtedly those from his first album, whether this was due to the fact that they are the best in Caesar’s catalogue or that the crowd was reminiscing on the previous times he’s performed in Montreal over the last few years. The highlight was undoubtedly “Best Part,” of which the audience took over the whole first two and a half verses before Caesar even stepped towards the microphone.

Caesar finished off the night with “SUPERSTITION,” a personal favourite on the album and the perfect closer for an intimate night. After thanking the crowd for a lovely evening and wishing them a safe drive home in the snow, the chants brought him back on stage for one more song. Caesar ended with “Japanese Denim,” one of the first singles from his impressive repertoire and left attendees reminded of his earlier catalogue before the breakthrough success.

Photo by @Villedepluie

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: G-Eazy – Scary Nights EP

The Bay Area native is back with his second EP of the year with the release of Scary Nights just in time for Halloween

Admittedly, the tracks fall flat upon the first listen but do get catchier over time. Many of the tracks have quick tempos that push G-Eazy out of his element, probably for the worse. He always sounds better on slower songs reminiscent of his earlier work like the samples on The Endless Summer. This makes “Demons & Angels (feat. Miguel & The Game)” one of the strongest songs off the project.

Despite only being eight songs long, Scary Nights also has eight guest features. Sadly, none of them are too memorable and don’t better the project by any means – except perhaps for an unexpected appearance by The Game. All in all, this EP definitely won’t add any accolades to G-Eazy’s discography and instead could have been shelved, perhaps saving a few of the better songs for a future full-length album.

Rating: 5/10

Trial Track: “Hittin Licks”

Star Bar: “Used to have no options, I can’t pick or choose / Two yellow Lambos look like Pikachus” – from “Scary Nights”


Rap fans: where’s your loyalty?

In 2015, a Spotify employee released statistics related to genre consumption and fan loyalty. Of the 1,300 genres that were analyzed, metal heads were found to be the most faithful to their genre.

Spotify’s measurement of loyalty was the number of streams divided by the number of listeners, and under this criteria, the streaming platform is telling us that metal fans mostly listen to metal music. While this comes as no surprise to me, I had a question of my own: which fanbase is most loyal to their favourite artists?

As an avid hip hop head and rock ‘n’ roll fanatic, I ask myself this question because I’ve seen both sides of the spectrum.

Although I love rock ‘n’ roll, I’m a man who tends to revisit the classics instead of trying to dig through the crowd of ‘meh’ artists that we label as rock stars these days, to find something worth listening to. That being said, there’s no shortage of classics, as the golden age of rock that was the 60s and 70s have left us with an infinite amount of lifelong jams. The best part of it all is that these rock stars remain legends to this day, despite the material they may have released in their later years, which gained no significant traction in the music industry.

Paul McCartney. The Rolling Stones. Bob Dylan. John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Elton John. KISS. Ozzy Osbourne. The list goes on and on.

While some of these artists have released newer material in the past decade, the large majority continue to tour and sell out stadiums while playing through the same recycled songs that they wrote decades ago; some as far back as half a century. These men are legends and can do no wrong. Even if any were to hypothetically release an album in 2020 that completely flopped, their legacy would not be tarnished. They’d continue to sell out arenas fast, and would be absolved of all their sins, courtesy of their loyal fan base.

I don’t think the same can be said about the rap industry…

As an avid hip hop head, I’ve seen how quickly the tides can change and bring a hero to zero in mere months. Chance the Rapper’s most recent album, The Big Day, may be one of the best examples of a praised artist who developed a cult following after a string of successful albums, only to make one mistake and be persecuted in the hip hop community. Chance’s decision to dedicate an entire album to his newlywed didn’t sit well with most fans and he went on to say that he believed they wanted him to kill himself for releasing it.

While this is the most recent example that comes to mind, this lack of loyalty that comes along with the unwillingness to let rappers experiment in their works is not new. Kid Cudi, the “lonely stoner” who opened up doors for hip hop artists to address the struggles of mental health, and who connected with millions of youth on a personal level, gradually faded from the spotlight with the release of his experimental works Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven and Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon. T-Pain, the pioneer of autotune, announced last week that he would be cancelling his upcoming tour due to low ticket sales. Last year, Nicki Minaj cancelled her joint tour with Future for similar reasons despite reigning as the queen of hip hop for quite some time.

Rock stars seem to be free to experiment with their works and make below-par projects once they have reached legendary status – no one seems to mind. The same cannot be said for rappers. Unfortunately, it seems like they’re only ever as good as their last release and there is little room for mistakes. Tough crowd, to say the least.

While rock fans treat their favourite artists as best friends in good times and in bad, hip hop heads seem to treat them as mere acquaintances no matter how close they once were.

Is it possible that this change in loyalty is due to the accessibility of music in the streaming era where artists are easily disposable and replaced by one of their peers? Does this accessibility create a generational gap that takes away from the attachment older generations once had with artists after waiting for their vinyl, physically going to the store to purchase it, and finally spending hours in awe as the record was spinning? Both are possible.

There seems to be only one definite solution to maintaining a lifelong legend status in the rap world. Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur remain the game’s most respected rappers of all time, but both of their legacies were cut short by their untimely deaths. Biggie only ever released two albums, while Tupac had time to drop five. Their careers were not long, but maybe that was for the best. Who knows the hit their legacy could have taken had they released a less than spectacular album.

Maybe the only solution to guaranteeing eternal legend status in the rap game is to die on top.


GIF by @sundaeghost

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