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Defenders of the Faith [Interview]

Vancouver, B.C. – The Vancity veteran duo Concise and Checkmate – who make up the group Defenders of the Faith – are back at it and doing big things in the studio. Their recent project entitled The Gs Next Door, released by Dow Jones, have some interesting features, including Bishop Lamont formerly of Dre’s Aftermath, as well as our very own Chin Injeti, and Bishop Brigante of Toronto. The boys have been around the block and their impressive production skills along with their savvy writing abilities allow them access to some very influential connections in the game. We talked to the two very differing individuals as they told us about the life they lead at the moment and what it is like to be considered Vancouver rap veterans.

Concise and Checkmate

HipHopCanada: So let us in on what’s happening in the world of Defender of The Faith right now?

Concise: Well we’ve been in the studio a lot as of late. We got a mixtape in the works entitled The Gs Next Door. We’ve also been filming some videos. We shot a video with Bishop Lamont, called “All Tha Time” which you can catch on, and a month ago we released a video for our single called “Neva Happen.” We’ve been grindin hard with the music. A lot is goin on right now

HipHopCanada: What do you take away from working with someone like Bishop Lamont who is signed with Dre’s Aftermath label?

Checkmate: He’s a professional dude. He knows what he’s doin in the studio, and we’re pretty swift with that stuff too, so it was like a seamless, natural process. He just recorded his part out in L.A. and we just slid it on there and it worked perfectly. Whenever we work out collabs with professionals like him it works out real good.

HipHopCanada: Can we look forward to any other features on your upcoming project?

Concise: Ya. We got another Bishop featured on there. Bishop Brigante from Toronto, who is a long time friend of ours. He hopped on a song produced by fellow Vancouverite Savage Beats. We are also featuring Mad Child.

Checkmate: We are from the same town and we have never ever done a track together, and we thought it was about time. He is a respected lyricist. And the song, which is called “Killa On Tha Loose,” is terrible tough man. It’s a banger.

HipHopCanada: A lot of the younger dudes in the game look up to you guys because you are veterans and you have done a lot of work with a lot of people. Are there Canadian artists that you two look up too?

Concise: Yaaa. Maestro. He is a Godfather of Canadian rap man.

Checkmate: He’s an ambassador, and he has become a real good friend of ours. I mean him for sure. Then all the people that we have worked with too. You know Kardinal, doin’ big things, Brass Monk, out in T.Dot, Saukrates of course.

Concise: Red One, Choclair

Checkmate: Red of course you know that goes without saying. He is the Godfather of hip-hop out here.

Concise: You know what it is? It’s the people that came before us that we gotta look up to. That is the way it is. They pave a way and you add to it. The people after you look up to you.


HipHopCanada: A lot of MCs talk about Vancity as being sort of a cold scene as far as working with each other goes. Would you guys be open to working with younger newer up and comers or are you just down with the guys that know their shit?

Concise: Nah of course we work with everybody. That statement I don’t think is for us you know what I mean? Cause we done work with everybody. Our studio pretty much has a open door policy ya know. We have never been those dudes that are like snotty bout the new kids man. We love the new stuff and the old.

Checkmate: Yo we just finished up a song with Son Real who’s new on the scene. We did a track with Kyprios recently, and Edge One. We recorded that in the studio.

Concise: We’re gonna do a track with Snak the Ripper most likely. It’s gonna be sick though man. We have a lot of people that we work with from all across Canada, and we have a lot of people in our media camp that we work with too.

Checkmate: Hydro, Trajik, Fizal and Heatwave, The Blockstars. They are all in the studio on the daily so you know. We work with em all.

HipHopCanada: I know you guys work closely together on most of what you do but there is obviously an aspect of personal growth that must affect your work. So how does your individual growth affect you as the group Defenders of the Faith?

Concise: Most of the time we agree because we feel the same shit. You know? We like the same type of music, but sometimes we play something where we differ in taste, but we just tryna get an honest opinion. All part of the process. I was a solo artist before we were in a group, and so was he so that makes us stronger as a group.

Checkmate: It’s all about makin the good music.


HipHopCanada: What inspires you to keep on writing?

Concise: New shoes! [laughs].

Checkmate: Man stop clownin. Hearin fresh new music inspires me. I’m a fan of music, I’m a fan of hip-hop, and hearing good shit makes me feel inspired and excited. I get geeked on good shit, and that makes me want to write new shit.

Concise: All the experiences that you have come into play too. If you go through something that difficult you might wanna write about it. It’s inspirational when you have a kid, and it’s inspirational when you go through shit too.

Checkmate: You know it’s good to be in a duo too. You know? I get constant inspiration from Concise cause there will be days when I am just not into it, and those will be the times when he is being productive. And there will be times when he isn’t writing and I’ll just be comin with fire you know? And I challenge him. That is what each of us need to make each other tick.

HipHopCanada: You guys have been in it for a long time. Can you tell us what has changed?

Checkmate: When we were first starting out we were mailing out wax records to thousands of people on mailing lists for distribution lists. The whole business has changed ten fold man. I was at the tail end of the business.

Concise: There is still the passion for the music and that is really what it comes down to. That is the important part of the business and that won’t change.

HipHopCanada: What do you wanna leave with the kids as your message? What do you want your legacy to be?

Checkmate: The music is the legacy. Everything that we put out tells our story. Our mixtapes and records will let you into a huge piece of our lives. If you wanna run out there and be a G with that more power to you. If you wanna go out there and be a rapper or producer do that. Whatever it is that people do with our music though is outta our control. But it’s out there to tell our story.

Concise: We want to be known as people that made some good ass music.

Concise and Checkmate

Interview conducted by Samantha Cairns for HipHopCanada
Photography by Amalia Judith for HipHopCanada

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