Chronicle Hearld “Halifax Rappers Latest LP”…
Chronicle Hearld piece < Read the Piece Here
For the past decade Halifax MC J-Bru has approached hip hop much the same way he took to the basketball court as a college and semi-pro player. Jason Bruce, commanding the stage with a confident stride, passing rhymes back and forth with teammates like Classified, Mic Boyd and Spesh K, and slam-dunking his words with from-the-gut gusto.
On 2007’s Identity Crisis, J-Bru began exploring the differences between the braggadocio of his onstage persona and the day-to-day existence of a neighbourhood guy trying to make good, a thread that continues on The Jason LP, which the thoughtful rapper drops with a launch show at The Paragon Theatre on Sunday night.
“A couple of tracks are similar in that they continue with that really personal mood,” says J-Bru of the release on his own label Bru-Print Music. “But that’s me too, if anyone knows me closely, and with The Jason LP I wanted to show more of who I am for people who only know me as J-Bru.
“We go on the road a lot, and you encounter people who don’t know you from a hole in the wall, and they just assume certain things. I do shows for kids, and they all think you drive big trucks and have 10 houses, just because you’re a rapper, and I want to steer everyone away from that stereotype of what a rapper is and show everyone that everyone’s a real person.”
Thanks to tours across Canada and overseas with Classified, and appearances on the Enfield MC’s CDs Boy-Cott-In the Industry and Hitch Hikin’ Music, J-Bru is one of the most visible of Maritime hip-hop performers, and he fits in comfortably with local rappers’ emphasis on being yourself with as few pretentions as possible.
Sure, he can boast about his skills on How We Do, but he’s just as likely to joke about his former days working at Foot Locker or bare his soul about the shock and pain brought on by a close friend’s suicide on Identity Crisis’s It’s Raining and The Jason LP’s Hard to Forget.
“It’s easy as a musician or a songwriter to make music that’s not about your life, but when you tell someone a story about something that really happened to you, it hits them at a personal level,” says J-Bru. “It’s a huge thing for me, especially on the song It’s Raining that I did with Jordan Croucher. That’s probably the one that people most want to hear at shows because it’s the one they most relate to.”
Like Identity Crisis’ guest spots from Croucher, Ghettosocks and Jay Bizzy, The Jason LP features collaborations with Classified (who also co-produced some tracks), Rochester, Kayo, Quake and Ghettochild — look for a some prominent guest appearances at the Paragon on Sunday, with DJ IV on the decks — while J-Bru indulged his love of classic R&B by including Nova Scotia soul man Dutch Robinson in the mix.
By featuring up-and-coming talent as well as some serious urban grooves, J-Bru hopes his latest project will grab some of the international spotlight that’s shining on hot Canadian hip-hop acts like Drake, K’naan and Shad, not to mention his biggest booster Classified, who first took him out on the road when they were sleeping on floors and playing to crowds of 20.
Now they play to thousands, including their upcoming date on the Halifax Commons with Black Eyed Peas and Weezer, and the timing for The Jason LP couldn’t be better.
“I’ve been touring with Class for almost 10 years now, and to see what he’s done, and guys like Shad and K’naan, it’s been a long time coming,” he says.
“But at the same time, in Canada we look at it a little bit differently; we do it at a grassroots level where it’s tour, tour, tour and get out there and meet people. In the U.S., I think it’s more studio driven, where you get signed to a label and the priority is to make a radio hit, or a ringtone hit, while in Canada we have a little more freedom to make what we want to make.