Canadian hip-hop has been busting out ever since the single Northern Touch brought the cream of this country’s MCs and deejays together last year in a happy confluence of rhymes and beats. “Ain’t nobody can’t hang with us,” rapped Vancouver’s Rascalz on the infectious song. To prove their point, the crew from “Van City,” as they call it, brought in guests including Choclair, Kardinal Offishall and Thrust, all of whom hail from Toronto—dubbed “T-dot O-dot.” Northern Touch won a Juno and became an instant anthem. And now, both the Rascalz and Choclair have released strong new albums—each with contributions from the other.
On Global Warning (Figure IV/BMG), the five artists who make up the Rascalz funk it up with multicultural instrumentation. High Noon mixes sitar over a driving rhythm track, while Population Control features steel drums and orchestral strings. Some of the album suffers from hip-hop boastfulness. But the Jamaican-tinged Top of the World and the laid-back sermon Priceless prove that some of the most inventive hip-hop flows from the Rascalz’ home town.
The solo rapper Choclair can also be a tart-tongued chest-beater. In his case, the braggadocio deals almost entirely with his sexual prowess. But on Ice Cold (Virgin/EMI), his much-anticipated major-label debut, Choclair makes a convincing case for himself as a rhyming Romeo with the smoothest style around. Both Rubbin and the title track, full of moans and squeals, feature imaginative descriptions of libidinous behaviour. Filled with blockrocking beats, Ice Cold is a winner. And Canadian hip-hop—from T-dot Cidot to Van City—is better for it.
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