SOS aka Sauce [Interview]
Langley, B.C. – SOS aka Sauce has to be one of the hardest working MCs in hip-hop. He recently released his solo album Butterfly Over Barbwire and has no less than four more album collabs in the works. SOS’s style always pays homage to his influences, from Michael Jackson to Sage Francis, and he’s very aware of his place within the larger musical context. SOS’s base is the Influents crew, a socially active, old-school hip-hop group from Langley, about 40 minutes out of Vancouver. Consequently, he’s got some unique insights into the Vancouver scene, and some unique projects on the go.
HipHopCanada: How have you found it, settling into the Vancouver hip-hop scene?
SOS: It is very difficult. It’s so fractured, and very cliquey. It seems like that’s breaking down a little bit and some people can circumvent those walls, but it’s been really hard. A bit of a hard front going on when you’re trying to meet people and everybody likes their own shit and they’re promoting their own stuff, and it’s harder to get people into other people’s stuff. You’ll find if you go shows of a specific artist, you’ll keep seeing the same people there. What we need to do is have more of a crossover within those individual pockets and it’s been really hard to get that to happen.
HipHopCanada: Why does hip-hop seem inclined to that braggadocio, self-involved behaviour?
SOS: It changed sometime during the eighties and early nineties when things started getting away from DJs, breakdancing and graffiti, and just focusing on MCing. All of hip-hop is about making your presence be known, letting the world know who you are, letting the world know where you come from and the situation that you grew up in, and having your voice. So especially for an MC that’s even more so – with a graffiti artist it’s your name on the wall and everybody sees that. With a b-boy it’s about putting out your explosive moves. With a DJ you can appeal to so any different crowds through what you select, and with and MC it’s just bam, this is me, this is what I’m thinking. And because there was such a long period in hip-hop where it was just braggadocio rap – LL Cool J, any of the old school stuff that’s like I’m fucking dope, here’s why – and that’s translated in there somehow. And on the other hand, within Vancouver there’s so many people that are real artistic people, in their writing and beat selections, so it’s just kind of the nature of artistry to be somewhat reclusive and somewhat inward. Sometimes we go to shows and you try to get that camaraderie going on it can be kind of hard because you’re dealing with a bunch of people who are somewhat introverted. And you’re protective of your art as well, it’s a piece of you. Other communities that have a longer standing tradition of hip-hop don’t have that problem because I think they went through it earlier. And now they’ve decided that you can’t grow, can’t build that way. But it seems to be becoming more and more inclusive here.
HipHopCanada: You and your crew are originally from Langley: has that affected your reception in Vancouver?
SOS: It’s been hard for us to get acknowledged love cause we’re outsiders. I’ve heard the expression “a little too Langley” before, I don’t know what the fuck that means, we never had any banjos or anything like that going on.
HipHopCanada: You guys have a pretty distinctly old-school style. What pulls you in that direction?
SOS: The guys in Influents crew are older. Thom (Estea El) and Steve (Abyss) got into hip-hop in the mid-eighties so that’s their bread and butter. I got into it in the late eighties so I always come back to my core. With us, because we were into it in old school times, combined with the fact that Thom is a youth worker, Steve is a youth worker, Dave and I have both worked and volunteered in community centres and stuff like that, we just generally gravitate to that old school style about having fun and social consciousness rather than trying to front or tell the story through a different perspective that would be more hard. We never lived in those harder areas, so to do strictly that wouldn’t be self-expressive, really.
HipHopCanada: You have several diverse projects coming up, what can we expect from you in the coming months?
SOS: Smokey Vocals is my group with [producer] K-Rec, we’ve got a soul album called Boom Bap Soul. My first musical love is Michael Jackson, so I always listen to that and as an artist I want to explore everything that I love and I want to dabble in it. I felt it was time to go a little more head on. It’s about acknowledging influences and trying to add to that sphere as a tribute. Just the fact of getting it out really helps me exist in life and enjoy the world.
With Amoeba Sound Design, that is lyrically focused on being much more poetry-based in its writing. Less simile, more metaphor, just trying to be very honest. It’s a style of lyricism that I have always experimented with but when I first heard Sage Francis I realized that other people want to write like that too. A guy named Lekz Beats does the beats for that, very talented dude. We’ve got stuff that’s rocking sounding, some mellow, airy beats, a lot of different sample sources from the Flaming Lips to Led Zeppelin – really diverse and really poetic.
Fully Faded is gonna be coming out in the winter, the project is going so well. Me, Steve and Clinton are best friends so it’s really fun to get together and we’ve just been taking our time and really making sure. We’re really focusing on being meticulous about it and not compromising. That doesn’t work for any of us any more. We’ve got stuff that samples banghra, funk, straight old school hip-hop, and topically it runs the gamit. Political, fun, straight up rap styles. Again, acknowledging all the different influences that make up what we like and eventually who we are.
The final project is called Spitz and Giggles, and that’s me and Mr. Archive, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Straight up hip-hop as far as lyrics. Half the beats are dub-step produced by Bevy Swift or Frank Grimes, who are doing really well in that scene. The other half is straight up hip-hop beats from Lekz to K-Rec and a few others. It’s about us hanging out and having fun, not getting too serious on anything. Gonna be the most underground, raw album of the four.
Written by Amalia Judith for HipHopCanada
Don’t forget to check out http://www.myspace.com/sossauce.