2 Bad Dudes: Fortunato talks new collaborative album with award-winning DJ IV
Saint John, NB – Veteran West end Toronto rapper Fortunato got his start in the late 90’s and began to take his career prospects more seriously after the May 2002 murder of his 20-year-old friend and group member, Luke “Ill Da Shystee” Marson. While honing his craft as an MC, Fortunato regularly hosted a local open mic night until Marson’s death prompted him and his remaining partner – Toronto rapper Conscious Thought – to try and take their group Angerville to the next level.
In an interview in 2009, Fortunato explained the Angerville concept in an interview with former HipHopCanada contributor, Chantle Beeso.
“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.”
The duo had several releases before ultimately going their own ways a couple of years later. Conscious Thought is still doing his thing too, click here to check him out. More than 15 years after Marson was robbed of his dream to pursue a career in music, the case remains unsolved.
Fortunato began to focus on his solo career, and started things off in 2008 with the 13-track album, The Grocer. He’s released 5 other projects since then including the most recent, a collaborative EP in 2015 called Blue Collar with producer Sean One. On top of a steady stream of projects – and moving to the East coast along the way – Fortunato has stayed busy on tour circuits around the world, and still considers winning KOTD’s Proud 2 Be Eh MC tournament back in 2012 as one of his proudest accomplishment’s as a MC. Fortunato lives and breathes hip-hop, through and through. Spend just a short time with him and his experience will be obvious.
His latest endeavour is a collaborative album with Halifax mainstay (and Classified’s official DJ), DJ IV of The IV League. The 12-cut 2 Bad Dudes was released on Feb. 17 through URBNET and is available below for streaming and download.
RIP Ill Da Shystee
Fortunato took some time to answer questions about the projects and other new developments (available below), but before publishing this piece DJ IV provided more info on how the album came to be, and how the initial recording sessions went down:
DJ IV on 2 Bad Dudes
I guess you could say it was kind of a fluke that the project came together the way it did. Fortunato came to record a few of his infamous track battles at my studio in Halifax while he was living in New Brunswick, the second time he came down he recorded this track battle between MCs Black Tower and Hermit of the Woods.
And after we recorded that we went in on an eight hour studio session, Fortunato came prepared for that session and banged out 13 tracks; 12 of which we ended up using on 2 Bad Dudes. So it was a great session, I was inspired by the way he worked so quickly and was prepared, I was feeling great about it and I wasn’t even involved in it yet other than just recording it. I didn’t really know what he was gonna do with it because he had left a few hooks blank and although it was a great session, the work obviously wasn’t finished on some songs. Fast forward a month or two and I hit him up to ask him what he had planned for the tracks, and I had suggested turning it into a mixtape. I’d do the cuts on the tracks that had no hooks and I’d put my touch on it by blending the tracks together “mixtape” style.
He was totally with that idea and then I sat with the tracks for a bit to get a feel for them, and just started going at them one-by-one, sending them to him to get his approval, switching stuff out if he wasn’t with it, and we got ’em all finished. I blended ’em together and we had a solid body of work that was on some real raw hip-hop for the heads to knock to.
So we linked up and did a show earlier in the year and we sold some hand-to-hand copies of the mixtape, and then he hits me up and says that Urbnet’s gonna release it on cassette. Which is dope for nostalgic purposes alone, so we put it out for free download with the cassette and the response has been great, getting lots of positive feedback and blogs are really picking it up which is great.
We toyed with the idea of expanding the project into a series… started with “2 Bad Dudes“, so we might add in another dope artist and make “3 Bad Dudes,” who knows how far it could go! I’m not really sure if those are “high-deas” but I definitely look forward to doing some more work together in the future. The whole experience has been great working with Fortunato, I always enjoyed his material when he was doing the Angerville thing, and he’s a huge fan of Duck Down so just on the strength of that I knew we would immediately work well together … RIP Sean P!
2 Bad Dudes by Fortunato and DJ IV is available now on Bandcamp through URBNET. A digital copy of the project, which also comes with a nostalgic looking cassette copy, will cost you $10 USD.
HipHopCanada: Peace Fortunato, congrats on the new album. Can you breakdown the concept for 2 Bad Dudes?
Fortunato: The album is a throwback to the mixtapes of old and the era that made them. Me and IV named it 2 Bad Dudes after the old school video game cause we’re just a couple guys teaming up to wreck shit.
HipHopCanada: IV is obviously one of the top guys coming out of the East Coast to work with. How did that relationship come about and what spawned the joint album?
Fortunato: After I moved to New Brunswick, I realized that he was one of the guys I needed to connect with on the East Coast. I shot an episode of Track Battles at TMG studios in Halifax and we ended up recording the entire album during the same session. It was crazy!
HipHopCanada: You also dropped a new video today, directed by Patrick Younger. How did you connect with him and what inspired the treatment for the video?
Fortunato: I knew Patrick Younger as an MC for years but when I saw his visuals I was blown away. The song is called “Built For This” so we capture all kinds of cool architecture to show that we’re bringing new designs that are timeless.
HipHopCanada: Creatively speaking, which song on the album are you proud of the most? Why?
Fortunato: I’m really proud of “Johnsonville” because it brings a powerful message that everyone in the rap game can relate to. I also think it’s a wake up call for anyone who fits the shoe. There’s no filler in that track, just straight talk.
HipHopCanada: Any memorable stories from putting together the album that you could share?
Fortunato: Ok, so I was in the booth for over 5 hours and IV had these programmable lights that could change colour. He asked me what colour I wanted and I said green. By the time I got out of the booth all I could see was green. My wife had to drive after cause I couldn’t even see a red light (laughing).
HipHopCanada: Since moving out East, it seems like you’ve got another big update to announce every week. Most recently I found out about the Canada wide tour in conjunction with Edmonto’s Doom Squad. How many dates will the tour consist of and when can we expect the schedule?
Fortunato: You can expect an official announcement from Doom Squad about the tour in March. Until then I just want to say I’m excited that we’re working together and I can’t wait to show them around the East Coast.
HipHopCanada: Any thoughts on Chance The Rapper taking home the Grammy for Best Rap Album? A lot of people were convinced Drake had it locked with Views.
Fortunato: Chance is like a just so much more musical than Drake in a classical sense. His art is too powerful to be denied and what he has accomplished is really incredible.
HipHopCanada: Speaking of award shows. You were a judge this year for the JUNO Awards. Thoughts on the nominees for Rap Recording of the Year?
Fortunato: I was shocked at the final 5 to be honest. I mean Drake, Trey, Belly, and Jazz are all obvious choices but the people they beat we’re massive stars as well. The competition is so fierce right now that you have to be doing huge things on a global scale to make it.
HipHopCanada: And in even more award show news, you’ll be performing at this year’s East Coast Music Awards (ECMA). Now that you’ve lived on the East coast, what’s your view of the hip-hop scenes in the different markets you’ve visited?
Fortunato: The East Coast is a hip-hop hotbed. The artists and fans take the music really serious and there’s a culture that’s been built over the years with The Elements League, Trailer Park Hip Hop, Fax 4 etc. My style just really suits the vibe out there so for me it’s a good fit. Any market can be good depending on the artist. I never thought I would rap again after I left Toronto but instead I ended up building a solid fan base and recording two albums.
HipHopCanada: No doubt, can I ask why you felt like you weren’t going to rap again?
Fortunato: I felt like I had exhausted all my options in Toronto. I was always playing the same venues on shows with all the same people and it got really played out for me. Jumping in my car and moving to New Brunswick gave me a fresh start and a whole new perspective. Living there introduced me to people like Sean One and DJ IV who have helped guide my resurgence, and I was also able to form a new crew with Metaphyzik, FaithOne, and Scrimige.
HipHopCanada: No doubt, and what’s the name of this new crew?
Fortunato: We’re calling ourselves Squadron, but that’s a working title for now.
HipHopCanada: Can you speak on your European tour going down this August?
Fortunato: Not much to say on that as of yet but I can confirm that I’ll have shows in Holland, Switzerland and Germany.
HipHopCanada: Will there be more visual support for 2 Bad Dudes? What’s the next single?
Fortunato: I shot a video for every song on the Blue Collar EP and I may do the same for 2 Bad Dudes. We’re in the early stages of shooting a video for Play Your Cards which is the next single on the album. we’re already on our third video so you know we’re coming with a lot of visual support for this project.
HipHopCanada: Thanks for your time Fortunato and best of luck with the success of the album. Any final thoughts?
Fortunato: My next project will be the long awaited sequel to Blood Sweat & Tears with Royce Birth, and I’m also going to be recording with Sean One again this April so look out for those projects coming up. Thank you to all the fans for keeping me motivated and my family for giving me the strength to continue. Stay blessed.
Interview conducted by Jesse “Dutchy” Plunkett for HipHopCanada
Twitter: @iamFortunato | @DJIV | @URBNET