Aurora, ON – A humble partnership seems like the polar opposite definition of a group by the name of Angerville. Nonetheless, Conscious Thought and Fortunato are the masterminds behind the music. Raw by nature and street smart by choice, the diversity of both artists has allowed for a dynamic duo making dope music.
Hailing from Aurora, Ontario, yet representing Canada on a global front, Angerville is setting a new precedent for hip-hop groups. HipHopCanada got a chance to sit down with Conscious Thought and Fortunato, really stepping into their world – Angerville.
HipHopCanada: How did all of you end up meeting in Aurora?
Conscious: It was high school and he [Fortunato] just came from the city . . . I came from a whole other place and we were both sitting in the [cafeteria] and it was kind of like a stare-down. And then all of a sudden we talked, one dude rapped, a few of us got together in a basement, plugged in some mics to the ghetto blasters and from there we just kind of started doing our thing.
R.I.P. Luke “Ill Da Shystee” MarsonHipHopCanada: So both of you were rapping before you met each other.
Fortunato: Yeah, exactly. Me, not so much, just a little bit at parties and stuff like that but I think Conscious was a little deeper into it. I think he had met Frankenstein and stuff.
Conscious: Yeah, right when I came here I used to chill down at the Eaton Centre, just freestyle outside [of] the Eaton Centre.
HipHopCanada: When did you both realize that this could be something more and that you wanted to take it seriously?
Conscious: I think after our boy, Ill Da Shystee (Luke Marson), he got murdered and it kind of cut our whole crew down from maybe about seven to just the two of us . . . everybody else kind of didn’t want to get involved [anymore] or didn’t really have the heart to do it. We didn’t really take hip-hop like it was a fad, we love doing hip-hop music whether we’re going to make money or not . . . Then we started taking it more seriously . . . We bought a little studio and started from there.
HipHopCanada: I didn’t know the group started with so many of you.
Conscious: There were a bunch of others [who] rapped but they kind of just fell off. Ill Da Shystee, he would have been here. He had a couple of good tracks that were on Project Bounce and he had production from Dirtyman, he was going to make some big moves but, God rest his soul, he got cut short.
HipHopCanada: And how did that change your whole group dynamic when it came to just the two of you?
Conscious: It was cool because it was only the three of us who were the most serious about it. So when it got cut down it was easier to focus to tell you the truth.
HipHopCanada: How did the name Angerville come about and what does the name represent?
Fortunato: It was kind of crazy trying to figure it. [We were] in the backyard just thinking about it and it’s kind of like this place in your mind, it’s like a fictional place. Some people think Angerville is actually Aurora where our studio’s situated but it’s more of a state of mind.
Conscious: Exactly. It’s more like when you can’t pay your bills or somebody dies or you’re going through stress and problems in life, you go to that place in your head . . . And then from there you have to just suck it up and deal with it. It’s more of a way of life. Everybody goes through stress, that’s kind of where the name came from. We’ve been through a lot of different shit.
Fortunato: It’s kind of like a driving emotion that powered our music for a while. A lot of it was in the same vein as M.O.P, where they would stomp out tight music. Then from there we evolved into [using] a whole different method of telling a story and [conveying] different emotions. But it started off very angry.
HipHopCanada: One of the lines in your song “Dear Dad” was “I should have followed your lead instead of living crime to crime”…
Conscious: I just spent a lot of time doing wrong . . . I’ve just always kind of been involved in that [type of lifestyle]. I’ve been in Regent Park, lived in a [place] on Dundas before, Markham Road and Eglington, I kind of just skipped from hood to hood, even from California in Pasadena. It’s always been the wrong side, my dad showed me the right way but it just took a lot of years for me to listen. You always look back and say, “Oh shit, your mom was right, one or the other . . . ” That song was written a long time ago for my dad specifically and I was going to give him that tune on a CD only and never put it out but, God Bless, Fortunato convinced me that we should give it to people.
HipHopCanada: And why did you decide to do a video for “Dear Dad” before many of your earlier ones?
Conscious: We both came to the conclusion, me and Fortunato, that this was a very universal track that people could relate to, it was a great one to get out there. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback; we’ve had guys tell us from jail that their kid is giving them this CD and it reminds them of their relationship and all kinds of things. It kind of just worked out that way, it worked out by itself.
Fortunato: When Sharpshooter got involved we gave him a few tracks, “Dear Dad” was one of them, but we were expecting that one to get chosen anyways. So then when he came out with his vision for the video we were just blown away . . . that’s how it all came together.
HipHopCanada: Do you have plans to create videos for songs on your current album?
Conscious: We have new [track] from our new album called “Gotta Go”, we’re going to try to get that video done. This is going to be very similar to “Dear Dad” where a lot of people can relate…
Fortunato: We plan to keep working with Sharpshooter for as long as we can and as long as it’s manageable. The next two videos we got lined up with Sharpshooter as well. The “Gotta Go” track is going to be a new one, we haven’t released it yet. That’ll probably be coming out at the end of summer.
Conscious: Sharpshooter’s a great look, we’ve stuck with him and he’s stuck with us. It’s been a great combination; he helps us [translate] our lyrics into a vision. He’s a really talented dude.
HipHopCanada: Does Angerville Entertainment manage any other artists, can you break that down for us?
Fortunato: Right now we don’t have any contracts . . . we try to make friends with as many talented people as we can in the business.
Conscious: Right now it’s more of just [making] connections, we’re not really putting anybody on at this second but in the future we have plans of doing that. We’re trying to do us before we can do a lot of other people right now . . . We’re independent and that’s pretty expensive as it is. To do other people right now would be crazy but we’re going to get there sooner or later. We’ve got t-shirts that we sell and stuff like that. We’re trying to expand into a lot of different things eventually but that’s when the money gets better. You know the rap game [Laughing].
HipHopCanada: [Laughing] I know, especially in Canada.
Conscious: Yeah, a lot of people pretend they’re rich but they’re far from that.
HipHopCanada: I would assume that all of your lyrics stem from real life experiences. How do you translate those raw experiences tastefully into your music, especially when you’re trying to convey certain messages?
Conscious: That’s a good question. It’s kind of like how my name is Conscious, it kind of contradicts with the name Angerville. Life is a humbling experience, truthfully. We go through so much shit that the anger is there but you’ve got to learn to deliver it in a different way than just yelling. We try to do a lot of concepts too, we don’t want to be one of those people who can only spit bangers or can only do this. We don’t do it because we think people like it, we do it because that’s the type of music we make.
Fortunato: On my side I’ve had some vulgar lyrics as well but at the same time I’ve had times where I’d make it more tasteful. I’ve been a father since high school so I’ve been around kids, raising my kids, my son’s 13, my daughter’s 10 and I didn’t want to exclude them from what I was doing. I didn’t want hip-hop to become a negative so I always found ways around it so they could still find tracks. They may not be able to listen to the whole album but there’s always going to be songs that they can take in so they can realize what I’m up to.
HipHopCanada: Your Anger Management EP made Top 10 in Exclaim Magazine’s list of Canadian albums – how did that make you guys feel?
Conscious: It got put together [quickly] so I don’t know if we really expected that but it was a good look.
Fortunato: I didn’t expect that at all. We had Bluntologist come in on it, we had Rob Kelly from Ireland fly in for one day and then had to leave [and he] managed to squeeze out a verse for that “Grimey” track. I don’t know what elements were involved but it was great for sure.
Conscious: We’ve got a lot of connections like Rob Kelly from Ireland. We do a lot of tracks with a whole lot of people.
HipHopCanada: Is there anyone that you’re particularly interested in working with?
Conscious: We just did a collabo with Tek from Smif-N-Wesson, he was in the studio. For our new album we really want to bring it back to the old school and kind of get people’s old school favourite rappers on it. I’d love to work with all kinds of guys from Canada to Smoothe Da Hustler to Graph, I like a lot of the underground stuff. I love hip-hop, a lot of this new stuff is really candy.
HipHopCanada: Let’s talk about the Rebellion album – how was the process of putting that together? How long had you been working on it?
Fortunato: I’d say maybe four months but that’s with everything – getting it mixed, getting it mastered, getting all the instrumentals together, pressing it and getting it on iTunes. It was crazy because tracks were just coming out last year and they still are but they were just flowing.
Conscious: It didn’t take too long because we write a lot plus we have our own studio for pre-vocals so we can really get into it at anytime we want. It’s very convenient; when you get an idea you just go into the booth and flow with it.
Fortunato: Me and Conscious are connected at the hip anyway so I don’t have to chase him down when it’s time. We’re always here so we’re always together . . . when we first started off I’d have verses recorded and then he’d come by, record a verse afterwards. It wasn’t a whole creative process. Now we’re together all the time and we’re writing all the time and we get in there and rap for the hell of it, too.
HipHopCanada: What’s the whole concept behind Rebellion?
Conscious: It’s kind of a rebellion against the normal way that everybody else is trying to make music. We might not sing, we might not use autotune, we might not do a lot of tracks with girls on the hooks . . . it’s against all that stuff that everybody doesn’t like in hip-hop. Also, we have a whole theme; all of our albums are going to be themed. So the next one’s going to be The Uprising; It’s kind of going to be a war theme, the Rebellion then [The] Uprising, a victory . . . we’re going to keep going with the albums until we have a whole series.
HipHopCanada: Do you both have a favourite track to date?
Conscious: My favourite track is “Change” because I love to think of change. You see so much bad; it’s nice to see the good sometimes. I like that track because it’s uplifting for me.
Fortunato: I guess “Marauders” is probably one of my favourites . . . Conscious’ verse comes in last and it’s kind of explosive [Laughing]. We’re always like, “Oh man, you’re going to kill yourself doing that live but you’re going to have to do it.”
Conscious: It’d be easy to say “Dear Dad” because that’s the closest to me but that one’s kind of personal so I don’t really rate like anything else. My dad’s the only thing I’ve ever had so it was tough to even release that track and let everybody know what it’s like. My dad didn’t like it either, he was like, “You had to tell everybody about me”.
HipHopCanada: But when it’s personal there are a lot of people who tend to relate to the track.
Conscious: And that’s what it is, like a lot of things that we write, they’re easy to relate to.
HipHopCanada: What do you both see for the future of Angerville?
Conscious: Obviously we’re going to see more music. Hopefully more money [Laughing]. I don’t think I could really get much more than I [already] get out of hip-hop because it’s always going to be there. I hope for the best for our music and for our health and all that stuff.
Fortunato: I guess we’re just going to keep on trucking like we always do and just keep putting out those albums. I like the fact that we’re versatile and Conscious, he’s got a solo EP, I’ve already got my solo album so we can do it on our own, we can do it together, we can do it with other artists. From there, with the collaboration and all the new vibes that are coming out, we’re just going to keep it fresh.
HipHopCanada: What do you guys see as the biggest road block in moving forward as artists?
Conscious: I’d say the business . . . When you start to learn the business I think that was the most important for us . . . The music was already there so the difference was just getting connections and doing a lot of business. Fortunato does all of our promotion and he does a crazy job of it.
Fortunato: It’s difficult getting your foot into the door; when you first come in nobody knows who you are and I see a lot of artists going through that struggle and I tell them just to keep pumping out the music . . . if you’re putting out quality music, eventually you’re going to be heard and you’re going to be recognized. Have faith in yourself and what you’re doing. That’s our basic approach to the business, we were just going to keep doing it until people started to ask questions. Then all of a sudden we were getting messages from people who said they’d heard of us.
HipHopCanada: Any last words?
Conscious: Shout-outs to all my people – my dad, K Dot, P . . . there are so many to name, I could go on forever, Daytona, Dirtyman, DJ Lava. Really, just a shout-out to all the people who’ve helped us get to where we are. That’s why we make connections and that’s why people want to work with us because they’ve met us in person, they know that it’s all cool, we’re not fraudulent people.
Fortunato: Watch out for the new album, the new track with Tek, “No Joke”, it’s going to be on the radio soon and it’s a hot track for the summertime.
Written by Chantle Beeso for HipHopCanada