Good Times with The Lytics [Interview]
Winnipeg, MB – The Lytics are a blazing new hip-hop collective reminiscent of a younger version of The Roots. These insightful dudes are from Winnipeg and have created a following which has allowed them to share the stage with the legendary likes of Kid Sister, Buck 65, and K’naan. These young talents are composed of three brothers, plus a cousin and a close friend, respectively: Anthony “Ashy” Sannie (MC), Andrew “A-Nice” Sannie (MC), Alex “B-flat” Sannie (Producer), Mungala “Munga” Londe (MC), and DJ Lonnie Ce. HipHopCanada sat down with these guys before their show in Vancouver to talk about touring with Cadence Weapon, their sophomore album They Told Me and of course, Rocket Pops.
“We need to start paying attention to…what’s happening at a local level. That’s the way Canada is going to be able to own its culture”
HipHopCanada: Can you tell me about They Told Me and what this album means to each of you?
Ashy: At first we didn’t really know what direction we were going in but by the end it came together as a full project. Alex (B-flat), the producer drew from everywhere and everything. He took new sounds that people don’t put us in with, and was experimental on the record.
B-Flat: We probably recorded 3 albums to make this one album. We started off with what we thought was going to be on the album. We ended up recording, realizing a bunch of those weren’t going to work. Then changing and recording a bunch of new songs and ending up with what we have now. So it actually took 2 years to make the album but 3 albums in that period of time to get the one that we have now.
HipHopCanada: What is your first childhood memory involving music?
A-Nice: For me, and I’m sure Anthony (Ashy) and Alex (B-Flat) would agree, our grandpa used to play the guitar every time he babysat us. I remember sitting in the basement and playing the guitar, that was my first musical experience.
B-Flat: My Mom would sing me lullabies and play me Raffi records every night before I’d go to bed. There was always some sort of music playing when I would go to bed. The music was the only thing good about bedtime.
Ashy: Before I even started listening to hip-hop I was about 8 years old. My family used to go to different Nigerian functions and at every function there’d be Fela Kuti playing.
Munga: Michael Jackson was my first big artist. I was born in Zambia and on the TV there’d be only 2 channels that ever played. One played Arnold Schwarzenegger…one played Bruce Lee movies and Michael Jackson. He was huge back then.
HipHopCanada: If you could collaborate with anyone dead or alive who would it be?
Munga: The Roots…or Amy Winehouse.
B-Flat: Anyone involved in classical music it would be interesting to pick their heads and see how they made that happen.
HipHopCanada: Beethoven collaboration?
B-Flat: That would be insane. James Brown, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson. That question is too massive and powerful to choose.
HipHopCanada: The five of you seem to have really good chemistry on all of your songs together. How do you all push each other forward?
Ashy: Everyone raps in the group. So you don’t wanna be the weakest link because you’re going to have to listen to that over and over again. There’s a level of perfection that has to do with that. That propels every one of us to be like I’ma be the best on this song.
Munga: Whenever I feel like my rhymes are kinda whack its good that we’re family because no one is really going to diss me. If I’m not feelin’ it everyone always has good ideas because everyone here is a real student of music. Everyone knows what they’re talking about so I can go to them for advice.
HipHopCanada: What do you know after making They Told Me that you didn’t know when you made The Lytics EP?
B-Flat: How to work with 4 people to make an album. The first one, everyone went in and did their little parts. But actually sitting there from beginning to end, going there with an idea in mind and actually executing it. We all knew how to make our own stuff but we didn’t know how to make songs together from beginning to end when we made The Lytics EP.
HipHopCanada: You’ve been touring with Cadence Weapon– what are your thoughts on him, and what can you learn from him?
DJ Lonnie Ce: We love Cadence, he puts on a hell of a show. He really gives ‘er, puts it all out there. I praise the way as a performer he moves onstage. That man can dance!
Ashy: And his confidence onstage.
B-Flat: We’re trying to re-create steps he’s taken to get to the level where he is.
HipHopCanada: What’s the story behind the little boy eating a Popsicle on your album cover? Who is the little boy?
B-Flat: I’m the little boy – that’s literally what I would stop the ice cream man to buy. That’s who the boy is in the album cover, it’s me. I was actually fishing that day with my uncle and cousin and I didn’t catch anything. I got angry so they just sat me down by the car and gave me a space pop. Shut me right up.
HipHopCanada: You guys clearly have a love for Popsicles, there on the cover of They Told Me and in your new Ring My Alarm video. You’re just lovin’ it.
B-Flat: The Popsicle thing in the video was inspired from the album cover. You know what’s funny is, I don’t eat popsicles anymore. I can’t stand Rocket Pops, they taste so strange to me. I think there was one summer where I was being babysat by my grandma where I ate so many of them that they started to taste wrong to me. They don’t taste like anything edible anymore.
HipHopCanada: How many did you have to eat in your new Ring My Alarm video?
B-Flat: I ate a lot. I ate hundreds and thousands. I guess it was a nostalgic thing. In the video we’re riding ice cream trucks so Mike Maryniuk [the director] put the Rocket Pops in the video.
HipHopCanada: What’s been the most exciting person you’ve met in the music industry so far?
Munga: (Laughs) Madonna. Just kidding.
Ashy: Meeting Wayne Gretsky.
Munga: I had an awkward moment with Rakim in an elevator…
HipHopCanada: What is the worst pick-up line you’ve ever gotten?
B-Flat: A girl told Mungala once that she wanted black babies. That was really bad. He ran away.
HipHopCanada: Thanks for your time. Any last words for the HipHopCanada community or shout-outs?
B-Flat: Shoutout to D-sisive because he tweeted at us that he liked the album. Thank you for the tweet.
DJ Lonnie Ce: We love you back D-sisive!
B-Flat: Love to anyone who likes the album, downloads it, or buys it. Respect to everybody in the country trying to make their own move whether it be any type of music, or art, or video, whatever your doing to keep the inspiration going. That’s the way Canada is going to be able to own its culture. We have to take control of what we’re going to do and stop looking outside the country. We need to start paying attention to the people inside the country and what’s happening at a local level.