Within Newfoundland’s thriving music scene there is a strong movement of talented young musicians flying under many people’s radar. Quite honestly it wasn’t until recently that I found out about how many incredible artists were making hip-hop locally. Obscured in a fog of traditional, folk, and rock music is a bumping underground of producers and MC’s putting on unbelievable shows and releasing straight fire. The following is a brief look at 5 of some of Newfoundland’s top hip-hop projects, with more coming next week. From solo artists to collaborative groups, these acts are shining examples of what this scene has to offer. If you like hip-hop music do yourself a favour and see what Newfoundland has to offer.
Albert Dalton is partially the reason why I’m writing this article. A few months ago, I was finally able to check out a local Hip- Hop show and Albert happened to be opening. By the end of his set, I was blown away. All I could think to myself was: “damn, I’ve been missing out on some good stuff”, a thought that stuck with me all through the night. Albert and his DJ; Lil Ranch (Liam Ryan) rocked the house with their smooth bass- boosted beats, tight rhymes that go hard, and fun but serious stage presence. All of this while Albert took the occasional few seconds for his inhaler. The quality of his music doesn’t stop on the stage, his studio work is fantastic with his debut EP Head in Space released earlier this year perfectly capturing what makes him a fantastic MC, with some stellar production.
Whether you know him as Reggie Morales or one his other aliases (Moyst, Reggie, Reggiegold), Reggie Morales is an experienced member of the hip-hop community with quite a backlog to show for it. Aside from the various groups he is apart of, Reggie has an impressive amount of full length releases, with all most all production done by himself. His newest release Rouge Wave is an emotionally charged, trap-influenced tour de force that’s not afraid to take risks and experiment, like on the reggae break on the track, “Cold Wind”, and the dark, creeping beats on “Escapades (Feat. Tony Delicious)”, giving strong Memphis vibes. His other work is worth checking out as well such as 2016’s Ride Home (put out under Mike Moyst) with it’s frantic, synth-driven opener, “A Weird Dream/ Blue Rare”, and overall aggressive approach and savage execution. No matter the name, his music is always worth checking out.
Another contributor to the scene who not only raps but lays down his own beats is g_sm00th (aka Greg Hicks). His brand of conscious hip-hop is his all his own with his thought-provoking, personal lyrics, and his production work is a must hear. His most recent release At Noon by Midnight shows that he’s both a producer and MC at the top of his game. The carefully layered and well thought out beats keep the album fresh the whole way through, never like it’s treading the same ground. Aside from making beats he also excelled in the mixing and mastering, making the album sound clear and full, with no wasted space. The moments on the albums that go hard with full arrangements and all-out vocals are staggering like when the track, “Stamina” builds, and the quieter, subtle moments like on “Vorpal Blade” stand strong and not get lost in the mix. With several other releases to check out, g_sm00th is one artist not to sleep on.
Steffi The Artist
Steffi, The Artist may not have a large solo output with a few singles, her numerous features with other local acts and various collaborations with Reggie Morales under the name Reggie and Steffi more than makeup for that. Her approach to songwriting is a pleasant mix between hip-hop and pop, with her single Moving Slow setting her apart from the rest with a distinct and more approachable sound, as well as tracks like “Cathedral”, from the Reggie and Steffi release Wondadance, which brings in elements from world music. This all leads to a colourful, eclectic mix of sensational sounds allowing Steffi to stand out in the crowd.
Van Buren Boys
The first group to be featured in this series, Van Buren Boys are a collective featuring many artists already mentioned. Originally a collaboration between Reggie Morales and g_sm00th, the quickly evolved with the inclusion of Steffi The Artist as a third vocalist, and a full live band featuring Liam Ryan, Griffon Simpson, Don Mackey, and Shaun McCabe. The live shows this band does are some of the best you’ll catch on any night on George Street. Three of the islands best MC’s backed by a tight, electric full band is something you’ve got to see, and they’ve got the songs to back it up. Tracks like, “MAGNUMFORCE” are thrill rides with rapid-fire rhymes over hard-hitting funk reminiscent of 70’s action movie scores. Van Buren Boys are a group of local talents that must be seen to be believed. While I highly recommend their self-titled album, if you can go and see this group live. It’ll be a show you won’t forget and a great introduction to the scene if you aren’t already familiar.
This brings us to the end of part one, stay tuned next week when we look at more of The Rock’s glorious and growing hip-hop scene and community.