10 at 10 Spotlight: Sabo Forte [Interview]
Calgary, AB – Originally published November 1, 2014 – It’s been a minute since we’ve brought you a 10 at 10 Spotlight. But the 10 at 10 fam just celebrated their three-year anniversary so we’re launching up a new spotlight. Last month (volume 37 – for those keeping count) featured local cat, Sabo Forte. Sabo’s been making noise in the city following the release of his third album, Shiners.
Shiners isn’t the typical local album, though. First off, it wasn’t even recorded locally. Sabo went up to Edmonton to record at Nato’s Up In Arms Recording. Which makes sense; when you consider that Sabo and Nato go way back to their early days in Devon, Alberta. That, and the Calgary-based studio that Sabo and Bedroc Ox were using to record their upcoming album was ruined by the floods last year.
The noticeably different feel of Shiners (compared to Sabo’s first two albums) can mostly be attributed to the work of Nato. This is the first time one of Sabo’s albums was firmly in the hands of someone with a hip-hop background. Nato’s fingerprints are all over the album, from (uncredited) scratching on the first track, to engineering and even post-production work. Heading up to Edmo gave Sabo a chance to get out of the city, as well as to anchor the cross-country feel he was aiming for with Shiners. There are features from all across the boards; not only from Calgary and Edmonton, but also Halifax by way of Toronto and Montreal.
During his 10 at 10 set, Sabo didn’t stick to his familiar crowd-favoured tracks. He’s big on throwing a couple of curveballs along the way when he rocks the 10 at 10 stage. It’s a chance to try something new when he knows there are so many people he is comfortable with in the same room, that he knows will give him the honest feedback he needs. That’s kind of typical for Sabo though, he always does things a little differently. You’ll find him around town playing and curating shows at venues that you wouldn’t normally associate with hip-hop. Whether it’s the Ship & Anchor or Ironwood, he welcomes the challenge and says one of the best feelings he gets as an MC is winning over those crowds that wouldn’t necessarily vibe with hip-hop. Check below for the full back-and-fourth with Sabo
Sabo Forte: Q&A
Interview conducted by Sarosh Rizvi for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: How do you define hip-hop, and where do you feel you fit into that definition?
Sabo Forte: Hip-hop is elemental. It’s a force. It’s not just music; it’s a community and a family. In that hip-hop family, I’m your abstract cousin…the notorious skinny talls.
HipHopCanada: How has living in Calgary influenced your sound?
SF: Living in Calgary, my lyrics drift between socio-political protest songs and summertime BBQ party tracks. Alberta is a work-hard, play-hard province. Also, there is a constant paradox between natural beauty and big oil.
HipHopCanada: How was your experience with 10 at 10 and how did you set your set? Explain.
SF: Well, it was my third time performing at 10 at 10. I planned my three-song set by picking two new songs and one older track. I like testing new songs on that crowd: “Innerspace,” “Battle of 1812,” and “Jeebus.” “Innerspace” and “Jeebus” are both off my new album Shiners [and] produced by Fresh Kils. Those songs are both feel-good, move a crowd type beats. The older song is a Prime Watson song produced by Hesamiam. He’s origionally from Saskatoon but now lives in NYC. That Prime Watson song is great live and has some good spots for me to do some toasting, call backs and shout outs. You know… lil’ doo dats.
HipHopCanada: How do you feel the Calgary scene is growing and where does 10 at 10 fit into your own growth as an artist?
SF: 10 at 10 is a place where the rookies get to perform side by side with the vets. That respect alone is what hip-hop is all about. Every 10 at 10 showcase – whether I’m performing or supporting – I leave inspired.
HipHopCanada: Which artists have you worked with that left an impression on you, and why?
SF: Nato is the man and he’s always working, recording, mixing and mastering. I only wish he had all his time dedicated to producing beats because they’re always bangers! Kamega just blows me away. He’s so nice on the mic and his topics are on a higher frequency. DJ Cosm is always so focused and professional. Halfcut is a beast on the mic and a great dude off stage, humble and chill. Apeface is my favourite producer I’ve worked with… aka: the Dirty Sample. He’s turns it out. Definate (aka: Loophole) is a mad talent too. Ambideckstress (aka: Sunup the MC) is a triple threat… turntablist, producer, MC and a decent three-point shot too. Bedroc Ox is dope because he’s got the tone of classic hip-hop mixed with the freshest flow. The Skinny, Bebop COrtez, Scotty Hills, Rap X Flytrap, The Mantles and Andy Sparacino are all original talents that inspire me to keep exploring hip-hop and music in general.
HipHopCanada: Which local and Canadian artists would you most like to collaborate with?
SF: Shad, Block Parents, Timbuktu, Rubix, Jay Thaddeus, Random Humans, Myriad, Boxcutta, Cam the Wizzard, Nikki Valentine, DJ Incognito, Azreal, Pigeon Hole, Grand Analog, Mitchmatic, Politic lIve, Touch, SOnreal, D-Sisive, Smalltown DJs, Chandelier, Philly Moves, Reuben Bullock, Beach Season, Attikus, SBTRKT, Relic, Wordburgler, Kid Koala, Kay THe Aquanaut, Ayoo Angie, Parab, ….. Canada has so many talented people and I feel blessed to be able to even know them; let alone work with them.
HipHopCanada: Tell us about past and present successes?
SF: Honestly, every album and every show is a success.
HipHopCanada: What new projects are you working on? Any upcoming release dates we should know about?
SF: New Blist album. An EP with Bedroc Ox. A solo EP produced by Loophole. And I got a couple features too with KazMEga and FLtyrap – all coming within a year
Interview conducted by Sarosh Rizvi for HipHopCanada
Twitter: @SaboForte | @10at10calgary