Jun 18, 2008

Baracuda

by
Baracuda
Photos by Jon B
Aside from having a staggering quantity of VHS tapes, Guelph’s Baracuda (he’s dropped the ‘72’ appendage) is one of Canada’s best-kept secrets in underground rap. After years of hazy freestyles on train tracks and some prodding by his friend Noah23, Baracuda released Tetragammath in 2000. It was partly with this release that Noah23 and Baracuda started their Plague Language collective and underground rap’s super group Bourgeois Cyborgs. I linked with Baracuda where he proceeded to school me with his knowledge on Werner Herzog – “the John Rambo of film directors.” I asked Baracuda about his personal rap history and his almost fabled Bourgeois Cyborgs project (said to have been in the works for 6 years). Look for Baracuda and Noah23’s west coast tour this September/October.

So how did you get started with rap?

Mostly just chilling with Noah23, I mean I started getting into hip hop fairly young. My father used to take me to a lot of concerts and I guess one of the most memorable ones was Ice T with the Body Count when I was 12. I think the first major hip hop album I bought was [Method Man’s] Tical and I was blown away.

I was always into rock and roll; my dad got me on to Led Zepplin when I was 10. I guess I started chilling with Noah [at] 13 years old or something, back in Guelph. Summer time in Guelph is just grimy; you just sit downtown all day drinking 40s on the bench, yelling at crazy people. [Noah] and I used to walk downtown together everyday, down one stretch of train tracks. He was in an indie rock band back then, but he just started getting into rhyming. We’d get into freestyling on the train tracks, 5 hours a day. By this point I was stuck on hip hop; one day [Noah] said that I should write some raps; ‘cause he was already starting to write some crazy abstract rap shit. Next thing I knew I started making Tetragammath with Orphan.

At this point of my life it wasn’t anything really serious. I wasn’t set on recording albums right away. When I started off hip hop rhyming that was when I was getting into Jungle DJing, that was like my main focus for a good 6 years; Jungle DJing every weekend with Noah and I got him into Jungle and that’s how he started getting into double time rhyming.

Do you DJ much anymore?

Naw, I don’t play out live anymore. I don’t really focus much on it anymore. It’s kind of faded now anyway, you don’t see a lot of good drum and bass jams. I’d like to get back into it.

BaracudaWhy do you rap about abstract stuff?

It’s not even a decision; it’s just an art form. Hip hop is a culture – first and foremost, but at the same time the universal culture is just language, it’s just speaking over music. However it comes out, that’s just how it came out for me at the start.

Are you inspired by the West coast underground?

Uhhhh, a little bit…to be honest I don’t even listen to a lot of weirdo hip hop. I listen to a lot of mainstream stuff; I listen to a lot of everything – not necessarily even rap. I like a lot of jazz, big band music and lots of old soul. You don’t hear that kind of music these days; I get a lot of inspiration from older shit; it doesn’t even have to be vocals or content – just the flow of things.

What’s it like doing shows overseas?

I did one big show in Barcelona.

How did you link that up?

Noah used to have a booking agent in Germany and I guess he just brought it up in passing while Noah was in Germany. A few months later he’s like ‘tell Baracuda Bourgeois Cyborgs are playing in Barcelona.’

What was it like, how big was it?

We probably played for about 5000 people in a downtown square. There were like dudes walking around with backpacks that dispense beers; hot Spanish girls everywhere, it was stupid man; people over there love music. There were probably like 5 people in the crowd that understood what we were saying, but everybody was on the same vibe. Shows in Barcelona are nuts; we’d walk around through the alleys and find these little clubs that only held like thirty people. There’s like open mics going on inside and just kids freaking out, all kinds of styles.

Why doesn’t that happen here?

Toronto’s a hating city. That’s the downfall of music, hip hop especially in Toronto – the way I see it anyway. There’s lots of great artists in Toronto, there’s lots of great energy; I just feel that people don’t get together and support each other enough to make things happen. So many other areas – even in North America – people are binding together and coming together as a unit. That’s the only way to make things happen.

BaracudaWhen are you going on tour?

This summer’s going to be a big time for Plague Language we’ve got a lot of releases coming out. Me and Noah are basically setting up a west coast tour; we’re just gonna set up all the dates, get a one way plane ticket and hobo around the country for a few weeks.

We did a show [in Portland] last year, it was crazy, they treated us like the Rolling Stones. That’s the weird thing, if you asked anyone in Toronto if they’ve ever heard of Baracuda I bet you nobody [would know]. I go out somewhere like Portland, kids got so much love out there and they even know old shit, they have my first album.

It seems the way a lot of Canadian artists succeed is by getting famous everywhere else and then they get support here.

Yeah, it’s weird man. The hip hop industry is gone, I don’t even think about it. I just make tunes for myself and my friends or anybody else who can enjoy my tunes – that’s worth it at the end of the day. I don’t even think about trying to get a record deal or push my music on to anybody, especially not in Canada. People aren’t into conscious, abstract shit. It’s sad because everybody is clouded these days.

So what are you working on right now?

Just released Knucklebone that’s a whole album with MadAdam. I got Galac and Astral Black, I got Modulok on it, Noah, I got Friendlyness – a Toronto reggae artist. Aside from that I got the Bourgeois Cyborgs album, look for that. I’m just starting a project with a good friend of mine from Guelph, Leon Murphy. I’m just building a library of tunes, wherever they go, they’ll end up.

Do you want to survive off of music?

I want nice things like the next man [laughs]! Of course I’d love to live off music; with time and effort provided. I’m definitely moving towards that direction in my life, where you know if I can find the time and space to get the music done…I feel like this upcoming tour’s going to be a big step towards that. I’m pretty low in terms of networking online and stuff, I could be doing a lot more work, but I feel like yeah man… ‘Build the Plague Language mansion!’

BaracudaDo you think there’s a problem with rap in general?

Sure man! There are so many different kinds of hip hop these days; it depends on what you’re talking about. From where rap came from and what it’s turned into now, fuck…you may as well call it ‘Queen Street West.’ I mean there’s great music out there, there will always be good music out there. In terms of what you hear on the radio or like what most of the generations are listening to right now it’s just…corporate sex on television; kids talking about having guns.

Has that changed since say 1992 or 1993?

Well…I grew up on Wu Tang and Mobb Deep; it’s fucking violent music; that’s not to say I’m into promoting violence or shooting people. Back then, that’s pioneer shit; those guys grew up in hard places, they came up and music and made something of themselves. Maybe that aspect of it is positive – which is something I can respect. These days, gangster rap is so played out and commercial, but some of it is still good. I listen to lots of Lil Wayne and he’s like everything; he raps about killing people, but he’s also one of the weirdest abstract rappers I’ve ever heard.

Hip hop is doing what I expected it to do a few years ago where the weird shit comes out into the mainstream. Look at the Hyphy movement, those guys are crazy! That shit’s nuts, it’s super super hype and it’s all over the place.

Why’d you move to Toronto?

I actually moved here to do an album with Vincent Price.

When did you move here?

6 years ago.

BaracudaI just needed a change. Guelph’s the spot, Guelph’s my home; but I just wanted to open up some new avenues. Just started networking with some different people. I never even ended up even doing the album with Vincent Price.

He seems to have burned some bridges with some people.

[Laughs] He’s a professional bridge burner – not to even speak that he’s burned any with me. I click with people when I’m working with people making music and we just don’t click like that. He’s doing his thing, I’m doing mine.

Shouts?

Plague Language, ugsmag.com, everyone else who supports conscious, positive crazy music, keep your chin up. Everyone else, thanks for nothing!

http://myspace.com/baracudafish
http://myspace.com/officialplaguelanguage
http://myspace.com/bourgeoiscyborgs

  • ceej

    Word up, i have that old Baracuda72 album lying around somewhere still, nice to see he’s still active!

  • http://www.myspace.com/royaltreatment Royal-T

    Baracuda’s dope. i haven’t hard anything since like 5 years ago or more from him but he used to kill it and he proly still does, gotta check that new shit.

  • http://www.handsolorecords.com DoogieHowitzer

    Props for bringing some light to Baracuda… He did a couple of tracks with Noah 23 at the Hokey Religions & Ancient Weapons mixtape release party in Toronto. Should be some live audio up on the Hand’Solo site soon.

    Also, check out this review I did of his new album for HHC:

    http://www.hiphopcanada.com/_site/community/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=541238#541238

  • http://www.sonicbids.com/noah23 Noah23

    PLAGUE LANGUAGE IS BACK. WATCH FOR ME AND ‘CUDA TOURING CALI IN SEPTEMBER

  • http://www.newcocoon.com wormhole

    nice read, baracuda is defintley dope. staplemouth turned me on to 72, and i was digging it. cant wait to hear the album. everyone gotta unite. we are all one.

  • http://www.deweysaunders.com UNLESS

    Baracuda kills the microphone with innovative lyrics. Cyborgs for life lord.

  • dvice

    good read, thanks!

    -mulberry skies

  • GT

    Good Job Guys! Great interview. Insightful and enlightening.
    GT

  • http://www.riccarazorsharp.com Ricca Razor Sharp

    I love these interviews, especially the ones with the underground Canadians. It’s like school for the know-nots, such as myself.

  • http://nomarslevik.com nomar slevik

    Yes! I love Baracuda… great read

  • http://www.bare-records.co.uk Bare Beats

    Is this gona be out over in the UK . Baracuda is one sick emcee ! ! Pz . Beats

  • Pingback: Noah23 – Interview – UGSMAG – Canada’s Independent Hip Hop Magazine()

  • soso

    We recently stocked a bunch of Plague Language related titles including Baracuda’s new solo album, Knucklebone >> http://www.phonographique.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=964

    and his album with Noah23, Bourgeois Cyborgs

    http://www.phonographique.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=958

  • http://http:www.myspace.com/noah23 Noah23

    Word up Soso, thanks for taking some!

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