Rap Squared is available at:
7th August, 2014
LYRICS WRITTEN AND PERFORMED BY:
Mathew ‘The Emsee’ Cathcart
MUSIC PRODUCED BY:
The Canadian Rap/Hip-Hop star is one of the fastest-rising talents (in his country). The Emsee is a whip-smart, witty, striking and homo novus force- Rap Squared packs an incredible amount of punch. Instilled with humour, harsh truths and sharp put-downs- it is a song that demands your attention
IT is a well-hearalded belief that the bands and heavier-sounding music…
equates to glory and profitability. This type of music- and market- seems to be evolving into border-line monopolistic rulership- solo acts and rarer genres are getting pushed back a bit. I tend to find that the band market- Indie and Rock sounds- can be quite hit-and-miss. To be fair, the solo market provides no great quality control- the best moments tend to be more interesting and unique. Over the previous months, I have assessed everything from Little Sparrow’s heartbreaking Folk movements; the Hip-Hop/Spoken Word parables of RKZ- plenty of North American talent too (such as Clara Engel). The bands- that are out there- are pretty adept at stirring the soul; whipping up some energetic and uplifting sounds- less competent when broadening their horizons into sharper and softer avenues. I want to raise a couple of points today: the first one revolves around solo artists (and their craft). I find a lot of the most intriguing and fascinating stories- with regards background- can be found in the solo market; the artists here have a great sense of range and innovation. Over the last weeks- U.K.-based artists- the likes of FKA twigs and La Roux have provided two distinct (and equally mesmeric) takes on the form- different and scintillating albums of Electro.-Pop brilliance. The former’s Bjork-inspired vocals mix inside compositions that are far from obsequious: they rebel and tantilize; slither and hypnotise- LP1 is one of the most vibrant albums of the month. La Roux provides something less dark and heavy; her elliptical- yet punchy- songs are upbeat and catchy; instilled with heartache and confessions- Trouble in Paradise is a startling statement of intent. Aside from the Electro.-Pop queens, distinct and innovative artists like Imogen Heap are coming through strong- it is startling just how much variation and wonder is coming out. Being a huge devotee of bands, I am finding myself more entranced and hooked to the lone stars- the fervent and stunning acts trying to make their voices heard. What I do tend to find- when it comes to new solo artists- is that their personality shines more. It may be an over-generalisation; it seems bands are less adept at seducing (in quite the same way). One of the reasons (for my theory) is acts such as The Emsee- a Rap/Hip-Hop act hailing from Canada. That nation is once more showing just how imaginative and stunning (it is)- the diversity and quality being offered (by Canada) is beyond anything else. I am impressed by what the U.K. provides music- Canada seems to be on a different plain. Hip-Hop and Rap artists are offering up a lot of treasure and talent- having reviewed our own RKZ recently, the genres are wonderfully glistening. Edge, poetry, passion and anger can be found (in Hip-Hop and Rap); the voices and songbooks- the acts are showcasing- are more striking and sensational. Before I mention my second point, let me introduce my featured artist:
“Inch by inch, The Emsee is emerging from beneath the surface. Under heard, not underground, he’s only scratched the surface of his story to this point. And that’s why, even after reaching the final 12 of Canada’s Got Talent and a slot on City TV’s New Years Eve Bash, he’s looking at the days ahead as his biggest test – and opportunity. Spending long hours at his factory day job fuels his musical efforts financially and affords The Emsee endless time inside his own mind to explore his music’s meaning and direction. The Emsee fearlessly carries an all or nothing confidence in his art, one that doesn’t depend on co-signs or chart success. With little help or resources, he also has become his own in-house producer, which means he need not depend on any outside resources to fulfill his ambitions in rap. The Emsee first threw his hat in the ring with his first demo-experimental LP Reality Check in 2009. In 2010, he landed himself a Classified-produced single called “The Life I Love.” The #1 vote getter in a contest to see who could create the best remake of Classified’s song “Trouble,” he gained his first major moment of recognition. The song would go on to be his album’s title track with The Life I Love LP arriving late 2010. Riding the wave of the Classified-produced single, the album achieved local recognition with a nomination for the Hamilton Music Awards’ Best Hip Hop Album of the Year. It also marked The Emsee’s first full length project over original production and put him on a path to opening for D12, Royce Da 5’9, Danny Fernandez, The Envy, Jahvon Paris & Peter Jackson. At the heart of it, The Emsee is uniquely no-nonsense in his approach to music. His success rests on his own definitions and reflects an intense sense of self-worth. He almost prefers to be counted out, because he knows he’s got the goods to show any doubters he can really spit. It was this drive that landed The Emsee on Canada’s Got Talent and a coveted spot on CityTV’s New Year’s Eve Bash. Following these career milestones, The Emsee released “Cold Hearted,” a fierce ode to a seasonal lover. The self-produced song leads the way in a flurry of new singles that will lead the way to his next album. The Emsee is the humblest rapper that you can’t touch on the mic. He’s the unassuming figure in the corner who jumps on stage and drops jaws. Watch him drop yours.“
Before I move into reviewing- the music of The Emsee- I will raise one point: the genres of Rap and Hip-Hop. When it comes to mainstream examples- the likes of Kanye West and Eminem- they get plenty of exposure and appreciation- the newcomers tend to be relegated to niche considerations. For every act (such as The Emsee), there seems to be a multitude of bands- it is the latter that gets the biggest acclaim and exposure. A lot of music listeners and fans turn their noses up (at Rap and Hip-Hop)- declaring it too angry, violent and non-musical. If you overcome any prejudice and shortsightedness, then you can uncover a lot. The genres possess such a rich amount of poetry and music innovation; spectacular intentions and wonderful moments- do not overlook them! The Emsee is gaining some heady praise and appreciation- his unique and special sounds are gaining headway. The fact that our hero works a factory job; produces music on the side almost- shows just how determined he is. It is always impressive when an act can mix a day job (with their dreams and ambitions)- do both and have true and high ambitions. That is what music is all about, really- mixing the workaday and extraordinary; making sure you never lose focus on your true love. I hope that The Emsee will pull in the big bucks (soon enough)- is able to dedicate his entire time to his cause- and pour all his energies into the pursuit of musical gold. Having produced such a huge body of past work- I shall investigate a few past tracks later- he is one of the most prolific and hard-working musicians around. With each new song and movement, the young Canadian grows in confidence and intention- Rap Squared shows just how exceptional (he is). The story of young-artist-works-hard-struggles-to-make-dreams-come-true has been played out on the silver screen (countless times)- rarely do the stories compel and grip you. In real life, there are plenty of acts that are in this predicament- they put their heart and body into making their names heard. The Emsee is going to have a big future for sure- the reviews coming in (for Rap Squared) show universal critical acclaim. Aside from appearing on Canada’s version of Britain’s Got Talent (perhaps a minus there; shan’t hold it against), our hero is a truly credible and worthy artist- someone who wants to hit the big time. The amount of passion he puts into his music is only topped by his raw talent and individuality- his music combines witticisms, stunningly tight lyrics and exceptional vocal flair. If you are more inclined to fester your attentions (in the direction of Pop and Rock; its sub-genres too) then you miss out on so much- narrow-mindedness can rob you of so much pleasure. Up until a year ago, I had not heard of Kate Tempest, RKZ and Fola- some of the U.K.’s best and brightest Rap stars. Few critics and reviewers- based here- take the trouble to proffer and promote International Rap/Hip-Hop talent- that needs to change. Were it not for my role (as a music reviewer), then I may have missed out (on The Emsee). Without further ado, let me get down to business…
There are few acts one can directly reference (with regards The Emsee). Although the Canadian is a Rap artist, his voice and singular visions are tough to draw with any other act- there are a few that come to mind. Perhaps one of the most relevant like-minded acts is Eminem. There are two Eminem albums I can mention- that could have inspired The Emsee. Whilst not possessed of its horror and overt violence, The Marshall Mathers L.P. has embers in Rap Squared. If you look back at the Canadian’s work, you can detect that comparable assault and directness- the passion and fervency (of the words). The intense visions of Rap’s self-consciousness; the lyrical genius- all of Eminem’s early-career highlights are all there. Our hero has the same talent for words; the innate ability to project vivid and startling stories- grip the listener with his candid and assault rifle vocals. The Emsee critiques malevolent aspects of contemporary culture- like Eminem- and shows emotional complexity and compositional depth. On his first L.P., Eminem lacked the depth and musical quality- that synonymised his latter works- on The Marshall Mathers L.P. he hit his peak. Like the U.S. legend, The Emsee has a mixture of personality traits: the good-hearted warmth, the dangerous vengeance; that thoughtfulness and wit- the bait-and-switch double-bluffs. The Emsee’s current mandate is a pathology of the personal and sociological- he does not limit his attentions to self-absorption and restricted anger. Encompassing a wide range of concerns and topics, Rap Squared has all the cinematic and compelling qualities (seen through Eminem’s 2000 work). Critic-proof and dangerous; startling and stunning; the transgressive humour and verbal badinage is breathtaking- Rap Squared is a giddy and undeniable slice of gold. Although homophobia and sexiest violence is de rigeur in the modern Rap environment- The Emsee steps aside from these tendencies to showcase something much smarter and less discriminating. The ruptured psyche glimpses and rampant humour stood side-by-side- on The Marshall Mathers L.P.– the mix of reality and surreal confounded critics. The Emsee blends similar considerations and aspects (together). Boasting tremendous production values, Rap Squared sees liquid notes, stuttering beats and stunning soundscapes (give the song) a heady and atmospheric quality. The way Eminem stood aside from his peers- on this album- has inspired The Emsee (he stands in his own world); one of the most truthful and relatable rappers around. The Eminem Show is another album (from the rapper) you can see in Rap Squared– in addition to The Emsee’s previous body of work. Eminem’s third album saw the star become bolder, bigger, funnier and more entertaining- the same distinctions one can apply to The Emsee’s latest offering. Similarly stylish, dense, catchy and mature- our hero is on a similar upward climb. The Emsee’s dizzying prowess and dazzling individuality confirms what a mixture of soul-wracked and ambitious fighter (we have in our midst)- he seems like a worthy successor to Eminem’s fading crown. The Eminem Show rapped and flowed naturally and without restriction; it was a holding pattern (albeit a glorious one) where the MC skills were augmented and solidified- Eminem marked himself as one of the greatest MCs of our generation. The undercurrents of discontentment and political anger lingered (in The Eminem Show)- The Emsee injects a little of that; he directs his anger towards youth, his so-called ‘peers’ and the modern life state- delivered with the same impactful swagger and accusation. One more Rap name I will mention is Kanye West. While not displaying the same vocal sound and style (as West), The Emsee covers similar topics and ground. If you consider My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy– that album looked at consumer culture, celebrity excess, self-aggrandisement and meditations on fame. Although West’s career masterpiece was defined by its gaudiness and no-hold-barred bad taste- it remains a grandiose and spellbinding musical extravaganza. The Cubist projects- where form, colour and subject were reformed and rearranged to present new and daring visions- combined adept and diverse elements; all lavishly employed and presented. The maximalist takes on East Coast rap impressed critics; My Beautiful‘ was a work that pulled together all West’s promise- the pathological allegiance to emotional bareness was one of the high-points. The Emsee has a similar nakedness and defined quality; he presents a comparably grand sense of occasion and potency- Rap Squared hints at a (future album that) could be as mesmeric as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Beastie Boys are an act that draw in Rap and Hip-Hop sounds (of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s)- a consistently inspiring act that have never produced a weak album. If I were to select one of their albums- to compare with The Emsee’s work- that would be Paul’s Boutique. This may seem a little over-the-top- as this album remains one of the finest ever- yet there are similar shades and colours. Beastie Boys are synonymous with their party atmospheres and celebration of life- the bragging bullcrap and clever-as-shit lines. The Emsee- in previous work- has produced literal-minded samples and stark beats- on his current offering he instills some of Paul’s Boutique‘s most notable facets. Instead of criminalising and boasting (without limitations), The Emsee castrates the competition- casts himself as a truth-telling poet of the age; dispelling well-held truths (that many young and naive listeners hold firm). The high-speed volubility- Beastie Boys perfected- comes through on Rap Squared– it is a tornado of imagery and clever-clever middle-finger salutes. Beastie Boys alienated some critics- when their masterpiece was unveiled- as it is a dense and packed listen- so much information is thrown in. Gaining huge retrospective acclaim, the L.P. stands as a brash recontextualisaton of the familiar; a full-bodied representation of rich and startling characters- Schadenfreude and earnestness traded poker hands. The Emsee does not sample and cross-splice like the U.S. giants- he keeps his voice and style more linear and focused. That said, this focus and concentration means his words and voice are up top- less emphasis is put on soundscapes and musical collages. Fusing scintillating electronics (and beats) with staccato missives, his work is a thing of joy- incorporating plenty of incontrovertible truths and thoughts. It is difficult to draw The Emsee with anyone else- perhaps Eminem is the most relevant influence; the two differ in terms of their styles and lyrical themes. In that sense, the Canadian comes across as a natural breath of air- he is not committee-born (and a synthetic music hybrid). Perhaps his appearance on Canada’s Got Talent was a little remiss, yet his ambitions and desires for success should be applauded- he is more concerned with respect and just-reward; as opposed to fame (the only reason most people would appear on talent shows). Rap Squared is stronger than any previous offerings; a stunning new slice (that promises a great future)- a song that everyone needs to hear.
When looking back at the work of The Emsee- that is quite a Herculean task. Having produced so much work, I am looking back at seven particular tracks- to show how much he has developed and evolved. When listening to his tracks, you find yourself writing lyrics and trying to rhyme along- I am more Vanilla Ice by comparison. Every track is so stunning and vibrant- it is hard selecting a choice few. Looking back at his album Empty Promises (released in September of last year) you will hear what I mean- it is an album packed with genius lines and incredible tracks. The Warning is a clarion call and shout to the world. The rumbling beginnings are shockwaves- that threaten a huge score on the Richter Scale. The song builds like a storm; buzzing and fast-flowing electronics beckon the song forward. Synths. and ’80s-inspired sounds blend with sirens and dangerous promises- the scents of the street is distilled and collected in a jar. Our hero is watching from the outside; seeing the curious specimens within- the song is a big and atmospheric wonder. Fast-flowing and spat raps collide with intelligent and nuanced lines- The Emsee goes over the heads of most. Imbued with a natural-born and intuitive (flair for words), he supersedes his peers- there are bold proclamations (and a sense of cockiness). Not willing to dumb himself down- for Harry and Lloyd (of Dumb and Dumber)- the maverick Canadian is leading a rebellion- presenting sharper and smarter suits. The witticisms and sharp deliveries have an air of Eminem- you can hear a similar tone in the vocal projection. There is scant profanity and violence- our hero is endlessly urgent and smart throughout. The tables are turning; acclaim is coming his way- our man is rebelling against the lows and losers of Pop. He is no Shakira or Shania Twain- this cat has claws and teeth. Savaging the competition; the song introduces aliens and the supernatural- a myriad of images and scenes are thrown into the mix. Fifty Percent starts with backwards samples and female vocals. It is a slow presentation but one that is alert and alive-The Emsee has some thoughts to get out. With some terrifically assured and innovative sampling, the song is intent and adventurous- the vocals are haunting and gripping. Wordlessness and ethereal motions linger in the backdrop; our hero is bold up-front. Hip-Hop hardness and jagged edges enforce their authority- the raps come thick and fast. Bullet-pointing the scenery- like a high-calibre assault rifle- the Canadian is a rebellious general- striking against the mainstream. It is impossible to not get caught in the multisyllabic wordplay and poetry; The Emsee has a fervent mind- a bit cocky; but he has a right to be! Wondering how anyone could resist (his inalienable charms), The Emsee is stronger than most out there- even when his tank is half-full. That braggadocio and masculine swagger does not come on too strong- like a harsh cologne- it is perfumed and potent. Once more presenting a tight and gripping drama, the song resonates and strikes hard- it is one you find yourself repeating time and time again. Cold Hearted leads with delicate xylophone- or electric piano- notations. Spoken Word embers blend with lullaby softness- the infantile and mature mingle alongside one another. Stuttering and zombified beats soon up the ante- the track’s tales of broken love start to come to the fore. Our hero has been left disappointed by his sweetheart; she has screwed him around (not in the good way) and left him angry and distant. Having bent over backwards for her (again, not in a good way) he is at the end of his tether; bereft and wracked- the words have urgent and passionate rage. Not over-played and yelled, The Emsee is showing his concerns and bruised soul- he has not been appreciated or respected. The child-like and razor-sharp weave inside one another (to create a deep and rich sound)- there is sensitivity among the harsh realities. Being clear of his disreputable beau, our hero has become a different man- someone untrusting and ravaged. Tensions rise and cracks form- his sweetheart is always late and unreliable; she is condescending and lacks empathy. Showing no romantic ethics, the parabond is beyond the point of reconciliation- the endless strife and burden keeps the song electrifying and insatiable. With so many other terrific tracks- on Empty Promises– his current L.P. is a career high-point. Perhaps getting the recognition he deserves, our hero has had to battle hard and long- The Life I Love showcased this overt annoyance and suffering. A dozen tracks of glistening gold, cuts such as This Is Me synonymised a young man (who has not gained due diligence and respect)- he wants to let the people know how much it irks him. Soothing and Electro. opening swathes- put me in mind of The Avalanches- there is a micro collage of sounds and kaleidoscopic sound fragments- they unify spectacularly to cook a rich and heady cuisine. The song crackles and builds; soft and punctuated beats show some restraint and level-headed consideration. The song looks at the love The Emsee has (for music)- he keeps his visions persistent and crisp. Determined to thrive and succeed, that emphatic energy comes through in the song- the words inspire the listener to pick up a pen. A myriad of startling lyrics are twisted and teases; split infinitives and vivid scenes sit with one another- it is a sharp and intelligent beauty. Our hero confesses he is an Mr. Average Joe- a normal guy trying to get his rightful acclaim. The stunningly tight rhythms and lines spiral out like gunfire- it is a determined and fast-flowing performance. Our man sits at home and perfects his style- his prefrontal cortex is freed in his menial day job- he may love it; I don’t want to stereotype and offend. The earnest and open tone draws you in; you start to side with our hero- why have so few latched onto his brilliant talent? Here For a While has an atmospheric and cinematic start- gorgeous strings shine like fireflies. Seth Rogen and broken necks are mentioned close to one another- a recurring dream of mine. The kids out there want to talk all proper and refined; they are idolising the awkward-rapping half-wits of the world- southern accents and hillbilly dopes are being dressed-down and derided. The cheap and facile are being exposed and accused- The Emsee is so much better than them. Feeling aggrieved and discriminated against, he wonders where his acclaim is- he wants to progress and develop. The new generation is failing- due to bad parenting- and need true leaders- the braggadocio that inflames the words makes everything stick. Vitriolic and immaculately conceived, the song is a weaponised assault- the ironclad mandate is one of the artist’s most compelling. Reality Check predates Empty Promises– you can see the development between albums. The lyrical themes change from incriminated and hard-done-by (here and on its successor) to confident and more fulfilled (on the latter). The early recordings are angry- they contain tales of injustice and heartbreak- our hero sounds more assured and safe in later works. Whilst the lyrics changed course and conjecture; the ambitions, compositional genius and lyrical brilliance did not change- they have been stunningly confident from the beginnings. Reality Check showed just what a terrific writer The Emsee is. Grand Entrance is as bold a proclamation (as its title). Electro.-Swing sway is sampled up top- grand and elegant, it is passionate and graceful. Hard and rushing; operatic and brash, the burnishing brass-infused waltz is a perfect starting-point. The raps blend magnificently (with the composition); both magnanimous and assured, the performance is electric. Our man doesn’t need swagger or guns- he has the ability and power contained within. The experimental sound reminds me of Beastie Boys and Massive Attack- the former is particular evident and emphatic. Ornate and libidinous lustfulness defines the sound- a tale that is filled with anger. His fellows around Hamilton, Ontario excluded him- due to his lack of jewelry and cliché Rap accoutrements- the indignity and annoyance is clear to hear. Heart Break sees female vocal swagger come into force- a sweet and tender starting position. The vocals here are calmer and soft; measured and honest- our hero is getting thoughts off of his chest. He prefers to sit at home and write poetry; not the sort to get drunk and start trouble- the chaste and dedicated music life is the one for him. The Emsee had no income as a youth; he was bitched at (by his dad) and confined- now he is all-in and emancipated. He wakes up in a cold sweat- it is no arrhythmia or illness; just the anxieties of ambition. Settling his nerves with writing, our man needs a lover behind him- in order to survive. Star Wars-scale vengeance is planned; congeniality is not on the horizon- our man means business. Rap Squared carries on the traditions- seen in previous releases. The vocabulary and sparkling poetry is up to the high standard- seen in previous work- but seems even more assured. The lyrics are witty and tight; the vocals as pressing and tantalising as ever- the quality is (some how) high still. Being such a phenomenal and assured act- from the start- you cannot improve too much; Rap Squared finds new inspiration and topics- our hero is at his wittiest and most quotable. Given the rate of progression, prolificness and quality; we will not only see a new album soon- it could well surpass his previous endeavours. As wise and astute as Yoda; direct and memorable as a hurricane; talented as Eminem and Beastie Boys- the young Canadian is destined for the halcyon regions of the mainstream.
A ghostly and pallid laugh opens up Rap Squared. (Sounding like it should have been delivered by Vincent Price- during Thriller) it sets up the curiosity and fascination. Spectral and distant electronic haunts melt with snatches of wordless vocals- the early mood is one of chill and atmosphere. Inside the creaking doors of the horror house, it leads to a Spoken Word sound. The vocal snatch sees a mathematician draw two columns (on a board). The left-hand column is marked ‘x’- the numbers 1-10 will run down it. As this experiment and formulation is being expanded upon, a tender and emotive piano line merges into the mix; the Classical-cum-Hip-Hop combination puts me in mind of Kanye West and Beastie Boys. Our hero shows great consideration and restrain- he does not launch in from the start (and pulverise the listener). The fascinating and well-considered early moments define the song’s title- a seminar and lecture that is meant to be instructive and educational. As the snippet comes to its end (the teacher/professor) states that the numbers will be “continuing indefinitely beyond 10.” As you try to wrap your head around the images and mathematics, a rude awakening occurs- The Emsee is keen to get to the mic. Delivering his words with a determined and steely-eyed drive, we look at some disreputable dude- a man who is cussing and disrespecting (the Canadian). The unnamed protagonist feels aggrieved (by The Emsee’s raps about Rap)- believing he “should scrap that.” Standing aside from his peers, our hero dedicates Rap Squared to the “hearing-impaired.” Its volumised and sonic intentions are expounded from the get-go; the delineation and projection is levied towards full emotional resonance- there are slight pauses and breaks between words; the pattern shifts and mutates to keep the song agile and confounding. The people want (our man) to rap about Rap; indeed, it is “Rap Squared“- a new form of song that is designed to mess with the brain. In the embryonic moments, a few things hit the ear. The underlying- and pugnacious beat- drives the song forward with intention and force- a tough and static punch that makes every word stand out. The lyrics have an air of sarcasm and humour to them; there is intention as well as discontent- the young master is defined by his original and true voice. Looking at lazy captains- that do not want to go to practise- our hero is satirising lazy and overpaid sports ‘heroes’- bone-idle false idols that gain too much praise (for playing games, essentially). The Emsee would rather write and rap; spend his time pursuing something more meaningful and impressive- the spitting witticisms come thick and fast. Aiming his attentions out at the world, our hero says (an anonymous “you“) preaches more than “the Roman Catholics“- you start to wonder whether the words are directed at the media, a friend; or else a sweetheart. In my mind, the messages are intended at the larger world- the media and large swathes of society. Our hyperactive-minded and busy-brained fighter is “in the same boat without a life jacket“- drifted in the Atlantic Ocean headed for an iceberg. The Emsee has heard they’re trying to save the woolly mammoth; he would be pissed if he didn’t get the chance to “body-slam it.” That crazy humour and gleeful fun comes out in the words; there is a wackiness- that is not juvenile- meaning you are gripped by the words- they are upbeat and witty; deep and meaningful. By mixing metaphors with literal outpourings, the words have greater depth and relevance. Our hero is on a quest for success and regency- he wants to rise above the competition (and stake his claim). The unmatched and unstoppable raps are being knocked out the park; The Emsee may have slipped-up (in the past) but is back and unstoppable- rapping and rhyming his arse off. Having Moonwalk-ed off the ark- once more displaying his multifarious imaginative witticisms- there is a huge confidence coming in- a boastfulness that makes the words endlessly gripping and intent. Showcasing some of Eminem’s vocal delivery and sounds, the Canadian ensures the song remains restless and evolving- the pace and speed changes and mutates; the beats expand and swell. The interchangeable and capricious minds are being slammed- the people who proclaim (The Emsee’s) raps; only to denounce them a second later. Not liking self-referencing and concentrated raps, it seems he cannot please anyone- the kids and bone-headed rubes would probably rather hear Lady GaGa or One Direction. While a lot of rappers seems confined to areas of gun violence, misogyny and excess wealth (bragging about it), our hero remains more relatable and grounded- presenting songs that are more personal and universal. This originality and flavour is being spat out and pooh-poohed. The catchy and ballistic chorus goes out (to those that are half-brained and uneducated)- those that are more used to the worst music has to offer. A preacher and sermon-teller, the juxtaposition of divinity and sarcasm makes Rap Squared a conflicted beast- you feel no matter how good the rhymes are, they will never please anyone. Having wrestled with demons (of acclaim and rightful recognition)- since his early days- The Emsee is still trying to win undecided voters- he has gained ground but is still having to electioneer hard. The “wannabe artists” are being slammed and denounced- he is a man playing in an arena of boys. When he turned up at a pissing contest, our hero shat on them- the micro-lengthened penile juveniles are being given a heavenly man-sized dose of crap. Defecating over the so-called ‘competition’, the witty and ice-cool razor-sharp cuts hit the mark- matching the headiest and most memorable lines from The Marshall Mathers L.P. The music industry- and the rapping game- is a business- our hero is the megalomania chief executive and monopolistic owner; no time for posers and wanna-get-a-boners (might need to sharpen my rapping rhymes!). Music is a business, in fact- the weak get fired and passed off; the strongest promoted- The Emsee has no time for the effete and ingenue losers (and cry-baby genuflectors). Whilst they rap about whiny-ass problems and narcissistic concerns, our man has a noble truth- he is the one that is leading the way. The other rappers need to listen up and take note; our hero has them by the throat- they should be in awe but seem seriously bored. Having had reservations “since my first show“, the disaffected star has some jaded edges- he is the king among a house of fools. The song’s relentless assault and energy keeps the emotions and urgency high- the storm that threatens (to drown the ark of endangered animals). Supervillians, serial killers and mega robots are traded into the atmosphere; our hero crafts his rhymes with killer precision- he is a robot-cum-stalker on the prowl. The discontent and disaffectedness hits the witty peak- around the about the 3:20 marker. Our hero would “rather be Phil Collins/Singing my roof is leaking…”- perhaps the song’s standout moment- and seems at his most angered. Previously, The Emsee has cast himself as a Megalodon and heretic- someone who does not back piousness and religion; a “vicious monster” that would rather go to dinner with Dorothy man-tooth. It seems our hero cannot win: speaking the truth will only “keep the youths sleeping.” When he is honest and pure, it does not get an audience and attention- they would rather hear rampant violence and gun-themed lyrics. More adoring of the knuckle-dragging hoe-slapping, skank-shagging puerile; our intelligent star has had enough- his formative years have been spent trying to convert the mindless. The youths would like to leave The Emsee “in a hole to die“- like The Dark Knight, he will rise and conquer. Our man approves of feedback and reviews- his sheathed tongue pounces like a ninja. Not meek or demurred, The Emsee has been honest since his first days- not willing to flaunt ego and hollow words. The incandescent and striking words leave their mark- as the song comes to a close- and the listener is taken aback. There is no one-upmanship and hobnobbing intention; our hero wants to get his rightful respect. Slamming the competition and young rappers, the song is a ballistic missile that hits its target- and leaves the landscape in tatters.
It is incredible to see how promising and strong The Emsee sounds. With each song he becomes more confident and assured- growing in intention and force. Being inspired by early-career Eminem, the rapping and lyrical content is of the highest order. The wit and humour mix seamlessly with spiked words- that melting of emotions makes Rap Squared such a treat. In so much as you will be quoting lines from the song- there are a dozen or so that rank among the best this year- you find yourself repeating the song- it is such a quick and relentless rush, you need time to take it in. The production is clear and concise; it allows all the various components to shine and unite- everything comes through with stark concision and depth. The beats are crisp and fighting; driving the song forward they melt with fluid and flowing electronics- the composition is a rich and sparkling slam. Keeping the instrumental elements to a minimum, the emphasis is on the vocal itself- making sure the words do not get buried or overcrowded. Whereas the likes of Kanye West will throw horns, orchestras and sampling into his songs- making them ostentatious and slightly vulgar- The Emsee strips his song to its bare-breasted best; allowing its stunning body to mesmerise- the chintzy and gaudy bling has been thrown away; the jewels and ceremonial accoutrements dispensed of. Mathew Cathcart’s alias and alter-ego is leading a brave and noble charge- standing himself aside from the lightweight peers. Only the likes of Eminem provide any real competition- I have not seen any other rapper that comes close. In a music industry- where there are too many Philistines and posers- it is refreshing to hear the likes of The Emsee- someone determined to play for years to come. Our hero is one of the finest lyricists in the world- there are few artists as consistent and detailed. His lyrics do not stick to the same themes and tired clichés; the Canadian stretches his imagination and thoughts- you can tell how much effort and time has been put into his work. Most artists lazily scribble lines (on the back of beer mats)- The Emsee is an act that dedicates evenings to note-taking and fervent scripture. A lot of rappers conjugate the form- and mangle its essence- whereas our hero has a pure and unique sound. He does not vacillate and loquaciously wander- his concise and detailed projections are stunningly direct. The vocal deliveries are weighed with emotion, urgency and anger- he never explodes or wails on the mic. The dedicated vocalisations mean songs like Rap Squared are nuanced and highly addictive opiates- that which should unite and galvanise the balkanised masses. Rap Squared rallies against the contemporaries- who offer little but erratic and infantile rhymes- and their ilk; the gentile whining of vagrant minds. Displaying an incredible blend of humour and intelligence, the lyrics are beautifully carved and detailed- each line is superbly realised and formulated. Not willing to placate critics and neigh-sayers, our hero is pissed at the unceremonious lack of respect (he has been given). Growing in critical regard, The Emsee still lacks necessary market share- the gods of music have cruelly overlooked his genius. All of this inequality and discrimination should change; the future will see our man rise to prominence- if more cuts like Rap Squared are produced, he will be a mainstream leader in no time. In no mood to pander to those who favour gun-loving, ghetto-minded rappers, our man stands apart- make sure you listen to every word he sings. I cannot wait for new music (from The Emsee): his past body of work has offered nothing but uniform excellence and prodigious intent. Rap Squared is one of the most direct and memorable songs of the year- the toniest gleam of a rough diamond. Imbued with intellect and off-kilter humour, few can ignore The Emsee- no-one compares..
I hope that the U.K.- and European- critics start to attune their sights to the likes of The Emsee. (In addition to Canada producing some of the world’s best new music) it is offering some of the most distinct- so many different genres are being considered and augmented. The Rap-cum-Hip-Hop blends of The Emsee are some of the finest out there; Rap Squared has humour, wit, tightness and focus- an aural assault of the highest order. It is worth looking back at the young Canadian’s past work- seeing how he has evolved and mutated. His direct and urgent songs are those that demand attention and closer regard- you know just how far our hero wants to go. He may be working in a factory at the moment; one suspects he will not have time to do so (in the next few years)- that call to the big leagues is sure to come (soon). North America is the most fertile and bold (music) continent in the world; leading the way with its plethora of stunning and brilliant artists. Rap and Hip-Hop is among the fast-growing and portentous market in all of music- providing a way to get away from bands and discover something different. The thing about new music, is that it is insanely competitive and tightly-packed- there is not much breathing room to be found. One of the ways- to separate the wheat from the chaff- is to go beyond your usual listening patterns- broaden your horizons and take chances. I love the wave of Indie and Rock bands coming through- among them waits the future kings and queens of music. The trouble is, there are multitudes of them: that doesn’t mean (this is the) music future is headed. For full prosperity and potential, there needs to be a blend and range; solo acts (British and international) need to be embraced- so that there isn’t homogenisation and narrowness. Taking this into consideration, you would be advised- all readers- to investigate The Emsee- at the very least, he provides something bracingly different and fresh. His lyrics and wordplay is tight and stunning; his vocal delivery is urgent and gripping- the music welcomes everyone in. A lot of Rap and Hip-Hop acts can come off as a bit impersonal and unfriendly- that is the same in every genre- but that is a generalisation- they are among the most friendly and open (of all musicians). Rap Squared made me smile and chuckle; its lyrics are vivacious and razor-sharp. With a flowing and insistent vocal projection (from The Emsee), it is a song that few should overlook. If you have cliché ideals of the Rap market- black guys spitting about hoes, guns, drugs, the ‘hood and equity capital (okay, not the last one!)- then you are in for a surprise- the modern-day Wildean lyrics confound expectations. I love a good song about bitches, messiah complexes and sticking it to the man (as much as the next guy); but yearn for something deeper and more inspired- the likes of The Emsee provide just that. Look around Rap and Hip-Hop (there is plenty) of wit and personality. There may be fewer bitchin’ guitar solos and rapturous drum beats- that can only be a good thing. The mind needs cleansing and enriching; something new in its diet- irrefutable spine-tingle and unexpected joy. Make sure you follow Rap Squared and its stunning equations; the math really adds up- tortured puns aside, it is a thrill-ride that begs for communal love. Our hero is surely planning E.P.s and albums- pulling ideas from his brain and setting his sights high. Capable of covering a spectrum of emotional and sonic ground, the startling Canadian is extolling the virtues of originality- he is one of the most distinct and passionate musicians about. I will leave you with a pithy bon mot: that which looks at 2015. This week- in the mainsteam- there has been a grab-bag of mixed offerings- from the dodgy and mediocre (Twin Atlantic and The Gaslight Anthem) to the incontrovertibly assured (The Magic Numbers). I have sighed somewhat- nothing has been released I would rush out to buy. Next week shows a complete about-face- both Royal Blood and Dry the River release new albums. From Brighton-based Rock swagger to East London-based Folk grace, I could not be more excited. New music has that same imbalance and unpredictability: some weeks stunning acts come out; the next there is bugger all. You can always rely on diversity- few acts are boring and flaccid. When looking around at new music- and who will be in the critical mindset- there is going to be a mixture: a few new bands; Electro.-Pop artists; Soul and Pop soloists- in addition to a couple of Rap acts. I am wholly confident The Emsee will gain some momentum and foothold- make his way into the mainstream’s spotlight. It may take a few more years, but it is definitely coming- few musicians have such a determination and will to succeed. Let yourself get in touch with Rap Squared– and all of its gleaming moments- and keep your eyes trained on the Canadian. While he toils and works his arse off (in the factory)- as we speak actually- I am sure he is fantasising about music; dreaming lyrics and conspiring- the young man is on a roll; making songs summa cum laude. Put down your Arctic Monkeys and The 1975; pick up something new and different- that which inspires the mind. When it comes to inspiring…
FEW do it (quite the same way) as The Emsee.
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