It’s a windy rain soaked Winter morning in Canada’s Second City, when I get picked up by D-Track and Sam Faye.
The mood in car is light, the guys are talking shop while the album Grosso-Modo, by Seba and sometime collaborator DJ Horg, is playing in the background. The guys are excited about their plans for 2018. We make one more quick stop at Rosemont Metro Station to pick up DJ Eazy El-Dee and we’re now on our way to the tape an interview segment for Les Francouvertes. These guys from the National Capital Region have been chosen out of thousands, to be finalists in the biggest talent showcase East of the Ottawa River.
Their story starts a little over 15 years ago in Gatineau, a western Québec town just a stone’s throw from the Ottawa. In the very beginning, the teens sharpened their lyrical skill by working on their own projects and making a name for themselves battling MCs all over the Outaouais. Sam Faye, who was performing under the moniker Kalibre back then, was part of a duo called Apocalypse.
D-Track, on the other hand, was part of a group called L’Escouade. And who was that group’s hypeman? None other than Eazy El-Dee.
It wasn’t until a few years later that they would have their first meeting at a freestyle battle. It was at this battle that the two young men struck up a friendship that would eventually take them around the world.
They would continue to do work on their own as solo artists, until 2008 when Hors D’Oeuvres was released. That project went on to be named one of the best albums of 2008 by the well respected ‘Bande à part’ on Radio Canada. Soon after the release of Hors D’Oeuvres, Sam Faye moved to Calgary where he would live and work until 2011.
“I was working on building a family and rapping wasn’t a priority for me at the time. I managed to stay busy by doing a few shows here and there, as well as some work with the Alberta’s French Artists Network.” He adds: “I wrote a little but I mainly focused on production. I taught myself how to use Reason and made a lot of beats while I was there.”
On his side, D-Track went to work releasing a critically acclaimed body of work and started collecting accolades almost immediately. Between 2008 and 2016, he would release four full-length albums including the Slam Poetry collection. He won the 2013 Prix Télé-Québec at the Festival de l’Outaouais Émergent and was winner of the Grand Slam for the Ligue Québécoise de Slam (Québec Slam League). It would be his first selection as a Francouvertes finalist.
In 2014, he finished 4th in the Slam World Cup in Paris, and in 2015 he would release a book of photos and writing known as Détroit/D-Track. In 2016, his solo album, Message Texte à Nélligan, was nominated for Hip-Hop Album of the Year at l’ADISQ. (Québec’s version of the JUNOs).
The next time the old friends would join forces again would be in Montreal. “I definitely noticed an evolution in his rhyming and his production. I kind of felt like I was playing catch-up,” admits Sam Faye.
The pair started working together almost instantly and quickly noticed that their chemistry hadn’t faded in the three years they’d been apart.
“The early sessions were very informal. We were focusing on our solo projects.”
Stereo, their latest offering which dropped in April of 2017, makes for an entertaining listen. The lyrics take centre stage, with Sam Faye’s laid-back flow perfectly complementing D-Track’s incisive and layered approach to rapping. The subject matter, sometimes light, sometimes a little heavier, is firmly anchored to the realities of daily life.
Their musings on the irresistible charms of coffee, “J’aime trop le café” or the omnipresence of Netflix on “Jazz Netflix” are always entertaining due to the MCs cunning wit and sense of humour. D-Track says: “Everything sort of started happening spontaneously. We were working on other projects as well at the time and kept sending each other song ideas, that we would end up recording. We were inspired by everyday things.”
He continued, “When it comes to putting it all together, we’re more perfectionist now than in the past.”
Sam Faye adds, “More selective; lot’s of songs we recorded for this project were left off the album in the end.”
The production on the album is stellar. Though the majority of it was handled in-house there were notable contributions made by Dr. MaD and DoubleD (aka RU, ex-Atach Tatuq). The sounds are a mixture of tracks with a classic boom bap hip-hop feel, and tracks with production in tune with more modern sensibilities.
Almost a year after the release of Stereo, the album still has legs.
D-Track says, “As far as expectations I feel this album did much better than we had expected, given that this was all done independently, having our songs featured on Tout Le Monde En Parle (TLMEP) gave us a province wide buzz.”
In September, comedy legend and current host of Quebec’s top rated talk-show, TLMEP, Guy A. Lepage tweeted his approval by sharing a link to the song “Mon Back Pack,” and later featured the song on his talk show.
With all the good will surrounding their latest project, it doesn’t look things are going to be slowing down anytime soon for the trio. Sam Faye, D-Track and DJ Eazy El-Dee are about to take their high energy, routine laden stage show on a two week tour of China in mid-March. While talking about the inspiration behind their old-school inspired stage show Sam Faye recalls:
“That energy we bring on stage was inspired by the likes of Saian Supa Crew and Big Daddy Kane,” two acts known for their high energy stage shows. D-Track adds: “Bringing that extra visual element is very important to us.”
It’s a busy first quarter for the guys and the rest of 2018 is shaping up to be a huge year with new songs and solo projects in the works. But they’re taking things in stride.
Four days after returning from China they will be back on stage to compete at Les Francouvertes in April.
This independent album is now taking the guys around the world and bring their music to a whole new audience. Expectations be damned!
Written by Hugues Lamour for HipHopCanada
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