Party in the 90s with fellow Concordians

Several student groups collaborate to host a 90s-themed party at L’Atelier d’Argentine

Concordia students and alumni can go back in time and experience a night in the 90s on April 29. Get out your best chokers and graphic t-shirts for an end-of-semester party called “Fullhouse: Long live the 90’s!” taking place at L’Atelier d’Argentine from 10:30 p.m. to 3 a.m.

“We wanted to throw an end-of-semester event where people can have fun and let loose from exams,” said Felicia Therese Da Conceicao, the public relations officer for the Concordia Caribbean Student Union (CCSU), one of the groups that organized the event.

Two DJs will be present—DJ Serius and DJ Caz. They will be spinning iconic 90s tunes from artists such as Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child, Biggie and 2Pac. Party-goers can also expect to hear a mixture of dancehall, soca and afrobeat music.

“We thought that since all the 90s babies are grown up now, we should have a night of all throwbacks,” said Audrey-Lise Benoit, the CCSU’s VP event coordinator. “The 90s are slowly creeping back in style, and we wanted to do something to celebrate it.”

The CCSU collaborated with multiple student associations to plan the event, including the Nigerian Students’ Association Concordia, the Haitian Students’ Association of Concordia, Concordia Music Zone Out, Association des étudiants Africains de l’UQAM and Association des étudiants haïtiens de l’Université de Montréal.

Tickets are $10 until April 28—on April 29, they increase to $15. They can be purchased through any of the student associations involved, or online here. For more information, visit the event page.

L’Atelier d’Argentine is located at 1458 Crescent St., a short walk from both Guy-Concordia and Peel metro stations.

Header graphic by Thom Bell.

Music Quickspins

Psychocide – Alcohol + Bad Decisions

Psychocide – Alcohol + Bad Decisions (Psychocide, 2017)

Psychocide is the rock and roll band that will take you back to the early days of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Incubus. Their rock-on attitude in Alcohol + Bad Decisions will leave you wanting to jam out all night. “Crazy Janet” opens the album with high-energy guitar riffs reminiscent of old-school rock. Their tracks will remind you of songs from RHCP’s earlier albums, such as, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. In “Mary,” you’ll hear a classic high-energy rock tune with electrifying guitar solos. This track is sure to make you nostalgic as you think about your favorite 80s and 90s rock bands. Originally from NYC, Psychocide has now made Montreal their home. We can hear Montreal’s influence in their track “Mr. Suit,” with its mixture of French and English lyrics: “C’est quoi ça, chocolat!” Overall, the album captures the essence of classic rock—an excellent decision for a party playlist.

Trial Track: “Mary”



An Introduction to 90s R&B

The rhythm and blues records that bring nostalgia to our eardrums

R&B, the acronym for rhythm and blues, is a genre that sometimes gets lost in the shadows of hip-hop nowadays. In the 90s, just like hip-hop, R&B prospered, changed and grew. The move into experimental R&B set the scene for talented contemporary artists. In case you aren’t familiar with the smooth, cool, funky sound of 90s R&B, here are some picks for best artists and albums of the era.

Aaliyah – One in a Million (Blackground Records & Atlantic Records, 1996)

Aaliyah Dana Haughton was “more than a woman,” and she remains an R&B legend to this day. Her debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number, was released in 1994 when she was only 15 years old. The album sold three million copies in the U.S according to Billboard Magazine. Two years later, she worked alongside producers Timbaland and Missy Elliott to release an essential album of the 90s, One in a Million. It sold another three million copies in the U.S and over eight million worldwide according to Billboard Magazine. Aaliyah was known for her smooth seductive voice. You can hear the maturity in her vocals and lyrics—she inspired class, professionalism and dedication. The song, “One in a Million,” is one of Aaliyah’s classic hits, it is a romantic tune that will definitely make you fall in love with her. “If Your Girl Only Knew,” “4 Page Letter,” and “Hot Like Fire” were her top hits from that album. She had the voice of an angel and was taken from us much too soon at the age of 22 years old. A week after her death, her self-titled album, Aaliyah was released. She truly was “one in a million,” and her musical influence lives on and on and on.

Trial Track: “One in a Million”

Mary J. Blige – What’s the 411? (Uptown/MCA Records, 1992)

If you’re searching for some “Real Love,” Mary J. Blige gave it to you on her debut album, What’s the 411?, back in 1992. The album was produced by Sean “Puffy” Combs (now known as P. Diddy). It peaked at number six on the Billboard 200 and sold 3.4 million copies in the U.S according to Billboard Magazine. She is known for her soulful voice. Mary J. Blige was praised for mixing her powerful vocals with hip-hop—she was one of the first R&B artists to do so. This blend of genres can be found in “You Remind Me,” featuring Greg Nice, which peaked at number one on the R&B singles chart in the summer of 1992. Critics view her album, What’s the 411?, as one of the most important records of the 90s. Her second album, My Life, spoke about her dealing with an abusive relationship, drugs, alcohol and depression. She expressed feelings that every woman has felt at one time: “How can I love somebody else/If I can’t love myself enough to know when it’s time to let go?” are the lyrics from her top hit, “Be Happy.” She expressed how happy she truly wanted to be, yet she admitted “I don’t know why, but every day I wanna cry.” Her strong voice, along with her powerful emotional messages, touched fans across the globe.

Trial Track: “Real Love”

D’Angelo- Voodoo (Virgin Records, 2000)

Few artists do R&B with as much soul and funk as D’Angelo. Fusing jazz, soul and R&B, D’Angelo is one of the most important figures in the neo-soul movement that emerged in the 90s.  The artist’s second album, released in 2000, captures D’Angelo’s emphasis on complex musicality with original use of instrumentation and rhythm.  The artist’s first album, Brown Sugar, released in 1995, abided more to the traditional R&B and hip-hop conventions of the time. Voodoo was, in a sense, revolutionary to 90s R&B.  It reflected the jams and flows of the artist’s music collective, Soulquarians. The sound of D’Angelo’s second album moved in a more contemporary direction—a direction in which the artist continued and strove for in his latest album, the 2014 jazzy neo-soul masterpiece, Black Messiah. The sexual, sensual and personal album was part of an important shift in R&B. D’Angelo and Voodoo’s influence are still tangible in today’s R&B, in artists like Solange Knowles and Frank Ocean.

Trial track: “Untitled (How Does it Feel)”

Erykah Badu- Mama’s Gun (Motown/Universal Records, 2000)

Another prominent figure in the neo-soul movement, Erykah Badu was part of the Soulquarians music collective alongside D’Angelo.  Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, the drummer for The Roots, produced Badu’s second studio album, Mama’s Gun, which was released in 2000.  The album beautifully showcases Badu’s unique, identifiable voice and experimental R&B sounds.  She conveys raw, powerful emotion so naturally through her lyrics and vocals. The album is vulnerable—a painful but beautiful heartbreak album. What is particularly interesting about Mama’s Gun is how vulnerable the confident, sassy Badu lets herself be, in a musical genre that doesn’t necessarily encourage heartbreak or vulnerability in the same way pop and folk do. “I can’t imagine why I feel so weak, say, say/That’s when he took my heart in his hands, and kissed it gently,” she sings in “In Love With You.”

Trial Track: “Didn’t Cha Know”

Anthony Hamilton- XTC (MCA Records, 1996)

Hamilton’s debut album, XTC, released in 1996, is so pleasingly 90s. The sound is less experimental than Badu’s and D’Angelo’s, and has more of a classic, early 90s R&B vibe. Hamilton’s voice was made for R&B—both smooth and nasally, his vocals match his jazzy guitar and bluesy, slow drumline. Next time you’re chilling with friends or hosting a dinner party, switch this gem on for a groovy soundtrack. “And she said ‘baby baby, I know it might sound crazy, but I just want to spend some time to relax your mind/Spend some time with you is what I really wanna do,’” he sings in his smooth, sax-backed ballad, “Spend Some Time.”  The lyrics and music are simple, but that is part of what makes the album work. In R&B, simplicity often translates to smoothness.

Trial Track: “Fallin”


Women in old-school hip-hop

Some of the first female hip-hop artists to influence a whole generation

These influential women made it in the game and left more than just their mark behind—they left a hip-hop legacy. Their determination, confidence and raw talent have influenced both male and female artists to this day.

The Fugees- The Score

The Fugees, comprised of Lauryn Hill, Pras Michel and Wyclef Jean, were active in the 90s, and blew fans away with their 1996 album, The Score.  The hip-hop album, Timeless and enchantingly cool, is listed on the Rolling Stone’s “500 Best Albums of all Time” list.  The group’s reggae vibe, as well as the presence of Hill’s enchanting R&B voice distinguishes this group from any other alternative hip-hop trio of the 90s. The album includes Hill’s infamous cover of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly,” and even an effortlessly cool cover of Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry.” The trio is one-of-a-kind in the way that they fused soul, reggae and hip-hop, all while maintaining flawless rapping and powerful lyrics.  Hill would go on to have an equally successful solo career after The Fugees split in 1997.  Thankfully, Hill is still active—you might even have seen her at the Montreal Jazz Festival this summer. Both The Fugees, and 90s hip-hop, would have been lost without Hill.

Trial track: “Ready or Not”


Roxanne Shanté- The Bitch is Back

Roxanne Shanté’s 1992 album, The Bitch is Back, is your typical record-scratching, beat-mixing, drum machining, emceeing, hip-hop album. It will remind you of the music of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. It’s the essence of the early 90s— a time when clothing and music were as colourful as Shanté’s style. Shanté’s career was short, but far from tranquil.  The Queensbridge, N.Y. native became known thanks to the Roxanne Wars—a series of rap rivalries during the mid-80s between Shanté and another Roxanne. The rivalry began with a dispute over a cancelled show. The disses began  with Shanté’s track “Roxanne’s Revenge,” produced with the help of New York record producer Marley Marl.  Diss tracks and rap battles have always been an important part of hip-hop culture—a culture where pride and egos are important. “On stage tryin’ to recite like me, but what I really see is Creepshow 3.  I size em’ up to die and pulverize em, so bad her own mother won’t recognize em,’” raps Shanté in her first track off The Bitch is Back, “Deadly Rhymes.”  The Bitch is Back was Shanté’s second and final album.

Trial track- “Big Mama”

Salt-N-Pepa – Hot, Cool & Vicious

If you mess with them, they’ll take your man. They made that damn straight with their very first album, Hot, Cool & Vicious. The album was launched in 1986, making Salt-N-Pepa one of the first all-female groups out there. From Queens, N.Y., the ladies formed a trio with confident and feisty raps. They were the hip-hop feminists of the 80s. If you think you’ve never heard any of their songs, think again. Does this ring a bell: “Push it. Push it real good?” Ooh baby, baby, their hit “Push It” has played in one too many commercials. Salt-N-Pepa’s overall energy during stage performances is remarkable. Their jams from Hot, Cool & Vicious were also great hits in clubs that still play on the dancefloors of today. “Shoop” is a perfect example, as it still plays in dance clubs and is frequently used in hip-hop choreographies in dance studios. These ladies were way ahead of their time in terms of musicality. Hot, Cool & Vicious will definitely get you hooked on the groups vivaciousness. A definite must for all who appreciate the classic hip-hop genre.

Trial Track: “I’ll Take Your Man”

Da Brat – Funkdafied

Da Brat knows how to let the funk flow. If this album doesn’t convince you that she is the badass queen of rap, then you’ll have to listen to her track “Funkdafied” one more time. This was her very first solo album, launched back in 1994, back when the female rap game was still very fresh. Her style is known for mixing R&B rhythms with smooth rap prose. She demonstrates strength and confidence in her verses. Da Brat is 90s hip-hop from head to toe. She brought the funk, and a sleek smooth tone of voice, with lyrically genius content. Not to mention, her 90s house party music videos were the bomb. Her jam “Fa All Y’All” is super funky and cool. The hella cool music video for the song demonstrates her class and poise. She is an inspiration to all female rappers out there. If her jam “Sittin’ On Top of the World” doesn’t inspire confidence, then I don’t know what does.

Trial track: “Funkdafied”


An intro to old-school, U.S hip-hop

Some essentials from the genre that won over the 90s

Digable Planets- Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space)

Three distinct voices—one distinct funky sound. This 90s alternative American hip-hop group was composed of Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler, Mary Ann “Ladybug Mecca” Vieira and Craig “Doodlebug” Irving.  Their 1993 debut album, Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space), is the album that, to many, best captures the band’s infamous smooth and cool sound. The band’s debut album contains catchier beats than later albums, simple rhymes and unique lyrics that perfectly convey the trio’s love of funk.  The album’s biggest hit, “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat),” is a simple and lyrically groovy ode to their sound. “Just sendin’ chunky rhythms right down ya block. We be to rap what key be to lock,” they rap in the song.  Yes they are hip-hop like that and yes you need to listen to this jam. The group’s albums, although different, were all about simplicity, without compromising originality and lyrical depth.

Trial track: “Time & Space (A Refutation Of)”


N.W.AStraight Outta Compton

These guys are sure to ring a bell. They are one of the most popular, important and influential old-school hip-hop groups, and the main force behind the “gangsta rap” sub-genre.  The original crew formed in 1986, and was comprised of Arabian Prince, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E and Ice Cube. DJ Yella and MC Ren joined on shortly thereafter. Arabian Prince left the group before the release of their first and most renowned album, Straight Outta Compton. N.W.A brought “reality rap” to hip-hop. Their lyrics weren’t about expensive cars and money—they wanted to sharing their reality through their music. Compton’s reality in the 80s and 90s was poverty, police brutality, drug trafficking and racial divide. The group’s music fused anger, a call for social justice and hip-hop in a way that revolutionized the genre and is remembered decades later. The group’s sound is aggressive, up-beat and bass-driven. One of the best parts of this album comes from listening to the different and distinct voices of each member come together.

Trial track: “Fuck Tha Police”

A Tribe Called QuestMidnight Marauders

This classic hip-hop band, formed in 1985, was composed of Q-Tip, Phife Dawg and Ali Shaheed Muhammed. Midnight Marauders, the group’s third album, released in 1993, is one of the most beloved, acclaimed and commercially successful albums the crew produced.  The album unfolds like a melodious and jazzy story, complete with smooth instrumentals, heavy bass lines and politically-charged lyrics complemented by some groove.

Trial track: “Award Tour”



Nas –  Illmatic

Listen to “NY State of Mind” attentively. Feel the lyrics as he rhymes along this obscure beat that takes you into the projects of Queensbridge, N.Y. This song is so powerful—it will leave you feeling scared. That’s what real hip-hop is supposed to make you feel: deep emotions. This song leaves you motivated, because in his voice, he is yearning for a way out—rapping his way out of hell. This album gives you the ambition to get through whatever problems you think you may have. New to hip-hop? This is the go-to album to get familiar with strong lyrical prose and the aggressiveness that lies behind it. Illmatic is a landmark album for east coast hip-hop. Make sure to listen to all of Nas’ albums while you’re at it—he is a lyrical genius.

Trial Track: “NY State of Mind”


2PacAll Eyez on Me

All Eyez on Me, one of the last albums 2Pac recorded before his death, is one of the best selling albums in America. 2Pac was a gangster rapper, with a great lyrical style with raw energy. He rapped about the struggles of black men and women in poor neighbourhoods and their struggles, violence in the streets and many other social issues. His songs opened a door to the world of drugs and gang violence. He spoke the truth about what happens on the streets: “Give the crack to the kids, who the hell cares, one less hungry mouth on the welfare. First ship ‘em dope and let ‘em deal the brothers, give ‘em guns, step back, watch ‘em kill each other.” Those are lyrics from his song “Changes.”

Trial track: “All Eyez on Me”


Wu-Tang ClanEnter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)

“Dolla dolla bill y’all!” This rap group is composed of many big-name artists in the hip-hop scene such as: Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Cappadonna. Representing Staten Island, New York City, they are definitely one of the most influential groups in hard-core hip-hop. Wu-Tang Clan stood out as soon as the album was released—no one sounded like them then, nor does anyone sound like them today. Their distinctive beats and lyrical style are hard to mimic. That’s what happens when so many talented rappers come together in the same group. To get the right feel of what underground rap is all about, listen to their song “C.R.E.A.M”.

Trial track: “C.R.E.A.M”


Take a trip to the 90s with Solids

Solids’ music combines all your favourite post-Cobain bands

Forty shows in nine countries on two sides of the Atlantic Ocean in a span of three months is enough to render any group of human beings good and pliable. However, the critically-lauded hard-rock duo Solids are as sturdy and as vibrant as ever. Indeed, one could be forgiven for thinking they weren’t two musicians I was speaking with in a Cafe Express near Papineau Metro, but two Montreal-bred, industrial sized Rubik’s cubes, seated in the two comfy armchairs across from mine.

And the analogues don’t stop there: if we take the bright September sun streaming through the window as a giant stage light, Louis Guillemette (drums and vocals) and Xavier Germain-Poitra (guitar and vocals) are presently the spitting image of their live sets: Germain-Poitra is inclined a little forward, not demanding so much as politely requiring our attention, while Guillemette is more casual, taking more or less full advantage of the back of his chair.

G-P: We played [The London Calling Festival] in Amsterdam and at first it was weird…the drums were all the way far behind.

G: Usually I play [alongside him] up at the front of the stage, but it was a festival with really fast changeovers. So he was playing up front…totally alone.

G-P: Exactly, at first we were like “ahh this is going to suck,” but then it ended up being super wild. People got crazy.

One can imagine. The official London Calling website puts it best: the Solids guys have what is called “veel enthousiasme,” the kind that can’t help but rear its banging head. Their live shows manage to be visceral while remaining metronomically flawless, with Germain-Potra’s guitar running through a fairly massive guitar amp, a bass amp and a bass cab; achieving a wider range of frequency than most four-pieces can attest to. And who needs a four-piece anyway, when you have what can only be described as Quebec’s answer to Dave Grohl tearing through the measures beside you, the aural inclination is inevitably towards assault.

But that’s not to say Solids’ music is emotionless: listen to the first track on their debut LP, Blame Confusion, and it’s quickly apparent that you should really be listening to this on your Sony brand non-skip discman, traveling back to a soul-destroying, early-90s high school. In short, their songs have that beautiful dynamic of angsty introspection and cathartic exuberance that both characterized and dominated the post-Pixies alt set for most of the early ‘90s:

G-P: I’d say for our influences, of course, the bands that are always mentioned; Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth.

G: Because when we were in [our first band], Expectorated Sequence, we were listening to a lot of Breach and Converge and we still like that kind of style.

G-P: I think there’s a new Breach, eh?

G: A new Breach?!?

The Concordian: A new “Bleach”?!?

G-P: I think there’s another band, like, called Breach.

The Concordian: Oh… I thought you meant “Bleach” like, the Nirvana album.

Both: Ohh nononono!

G: The Swedish band.

G-P: Yeah it’s like a Swedish…noise-metal I’d say? Maybe?

The ‘90s are confusing, folks. But, returning to the matter at hand, one is inclined to ask whether Solids brings anything new to the table set by all the above-mentioned bands. The answer is yes and no. The remarkable thing is how Solids manages to be so much a synthesis of all the different strains of Cobainism – everything from My Bloody Valentine to Swans is traceable here – while still maintaining a certain individuality. Good vocals, heavy drums, and dense, detailed production are what make Solids’ album,  Blame Confusion, stand out from most of the other throwback bands currently making a resurgence.

Another thing that is immediately apparent both on Compact Disc as well as face-to-face is that Solids are having extreme amounts of fun doing what they do. Their primary focus is on hammering out fresh tracks as much as possible, hitting their fan base hard and often.

G: At first we wanted to do only EP’s so we could get something out every 6 months, always writing new jams and having new jams coming up, but doing an LP is a whole different process.

G-P: Yeah we try not to overthink but it happens anyway.

The Concordian: Do you guys prefer working in the studio or doing live shows?

G-P: We really enjoy both, it’s just that at some points in the studio the feeling can get lost. In the studio it’s more zen, but [sometime you hear] something so many times that you don’t know… “Is it even good?”

G: And now the only thing we do in life is play music. So for the next album for the first time we’ll really get the chance to work a fuckin’ lot.

That is, right after they finish another three months of touring. After performing at POP Montreal on Friday Sept. 19, Solids are heading west to Ontario and then down into State-land. They’ve set themselves the goal of having a new LP on the shelves by Fall 2015, which means having the recording done around February. They also offered the vague clue that they were planning to experiment a little more. So…Keytar, I’m assuming?


Top 10 hip hop albums of the ‘90s

Hip hop has drastically evolved as a genre over the years. It rose to mainstream prominence during the 1990s, an era that many people consider hip hop’s golden age. Here is a list of the top 10 most important hip hop releases of the 1990s, in no particular order.

10. Outkast – Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik:  Outkast’s debut album put southern hip hop on the map. At the time, the American east and west coasts were the most prominent scenes for the genre, but rappers Andre 3000 and Big Boi let the world know that the south was not to be ignored. The dynamic duo mixed intricate rhyme schemes with a laid back ‘70s southern funk and gave birth to a classic.

9. Dr. Dre – The Chronic: Dr. Dre’s debut album, The Chronic, is a household name in hip hop. It established Dre as one of hip hop’s most important producers and paved the way for other, now legendary MCs, such as Snoop Dogg and Kurupt. The Doctor’s combination of funky bass lines and heavy synth revolutionized rap and created a staple sound for west coast hip hop.

8. Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The Wu Tang (36 Chambers): No list would be complete without this album. 36 Chambers served as a launching pad for Wu-Tang’s members, many of whom went on to record platinum-selling solo albums. RZA’s unparalleled beat-making skills, mixed with standout performances from all of Wu-Tang’s nine rapping members, make this record a tour de force.

7. A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory: ATCQ are known for their jazzy hip-hop sounds. The Low End Theory provides listeners with mellow, progressive sounds and street-conscious lyricism. The album merged two forms of revolutionary black music and created a timeless record.

6. El-P – Fantastic Damage: Brooklyn-born rapper and producer El-P redefined alternative hip hop with his debut album. Fantastic Damage is filled with esoteric lyrics over spacey, psychedelic beats. With song titles like “Dr. Hell No vs. the Praying Mantus,” El-P gained recognition as one of the first white rappers, and proved his worth on both the beats and microphone.

5. Nas – Illmatic: Considered by many as the “Hip-Hop Bible,” Nas produced in one album what most rappers try to achieve in a lifetime. The album includes production by legendary beat makers DJ Premier, Pete Rock and Large Professor, lending every song a completely different feel. Nas’ masterful lyricism made his debut album a force to be reckoned with.

4.  The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready To Die: Regarded as one of the best to ever hold the microphone, Biggie Smalls’ debut album was an instant classic. His unique ability to merge comedy with serious, real-life experiences on the street made him a favourite among fans. Standout tracks include “Juicy,” “ Big Poppa” and “Who Shot Ya?”

3. Tupac Shakur – All Eyez on Me: Along with Biggie Smalls, Tupac is considered one of the most influential MCs of all time. His fourth studio album All Eyez on Me is thick with collaboration, but Tupac’s vicious, militant flow and lyricism stand out as usual. An absolute must have for any hip-hop head.

2. The Roots – Do You Want More?!!!??!: The Roots are one of the most diverse acts in hip hop. Rapper Black Thought demonstrates some of the most impeccable flows on this record. The use of live instruments from drummer Questlove and now former Roots bassist Leonard Hubbard produced a completely new hip-hop sound.

1.  Rakim – The 18th Letter:  Back in ‘87, Eric B. & Rakim released Paid In Full. Rakim’s lyrical mastery set the standard for hip hop at the time, leading many critics and fans to crown Rakim as one of the best. When the duo broke up, Rakim released his first solo album The 18th Letter, which was a sprawling, brilliant comeback that affirmed his ability to hold the crown.

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