Introduce yourself, your crew, affiliations etc…
I’m Birdapres. I am unaffiliated at the moment. In the past I’ve been affiliated with a number of different crews. Break Bread, City Planners, Cryptik Souls, etc.
Why did you start rapping, why not sing? Write poetry? Play the guitar?
I’m not really sure why I started, it just felt right. That late eighties movement seemed like my whole world at the time, and I couldn’t really imagine myself at the time getting involved in anything else. I’d like to learn the guitar, but strictly to play in my backyard in summer. On some real soft part time sucker shit.
Has the declined output of P&C Records affected your production of albums at all?
I don’t let it affect me, but other things in life have definitely taken precedent in the last few years. I decided to go back to university about a year ago, which has slowed my output down more than the P&C situation ever could.
Why the move back into University?
I went back to school for personal reasons, not to get a job or so that I could put a diploma on the wall.
Do you think that your location/habitat has a profound impact on your rapping?
Yeah, growing up in Vancouver and Victoria really gave me a lot in terms of personal context. I was always trying to escape from some sort of west coast hippie burnout rut, and at the same time I ended up drawing a lot of creativity from that sort of thing. I have yet to make my definitive Sunshine Coast record, but it’s coming eventually.
Winnipeg has given me a whole other backdrop to work with. This new EP was recorded in Vancouver, written in New York on a holiday and the beats were done here. If you listen closely, you should be able to hear the slamming of cab doors and the drinking of airport drinks.
You recently moved to Winnipeg after living in Vancouver for a few years, what brought you to the prairies?
The prairies started out as a matter of economics. I found a spot in a building that I could afford and just make a living off of music for a summer then bounce. It wasn’t meant to be permanent, of course. Four years later I’m still here, and have started getting used to the cold. Bad sign.
Your new album is called the Toothpaste EP. Why the name, any significance to it or are you just fucking around?
It came from a story a friend had told me about somebody not being into rappers who rap about Toothpaste. Like there was a whole genre of Crest Hop or something. I knew that the guy in question meant MCs with more abstract lyrics or who were possibly into the minutia of every day life, but I thought it was funny. Since I seemed to fit the category, I figured I’d run with it…
Where can real heads like me grab your older albums?
Thriftshops, yard sales and auctions likely. I also have a memory stick with my name and a drawing on it. These you can find if you can find me, they have most of my spotty recorded output on them.
Do you produce at all?
I do produce. I did an EP for my man Pip Skid. I did this Toothpaste thing. I have a few other things in the works right now. I’ve been a minor sort of beat digger for years, and it was bound to happen eventually.
I joked with you earlier about the “bastardization of black culture.” Is there any truth to this, being a Caucasian rapper from Canada? Are other visible minorities absolved of this so-called “bastardization”? Does real hip hop have to be based on a struggle?
It’s all diffusion. Good useful ideas in music, as in anything else, tend to spread. Although there is definitely some truth to what you’re saying, there are always a few ways of seeing things. Maybe they’re just justifications, I don’t know. Even referring to “black” culture is a bit of a generalization. Say we split hairs and say “black American” culture. Hip Hop began as a very marginal little corner of even that. B-boys etc in the seventies were pretty far outside of the mainstream of a larger black American experience.
Anyways, most white dudes that do/make what passes for Hip Hop these days are actually bastardizing white culture bastardizing corporate culture bastardizing that larger black American experience bastardizing the culture of the people who created Hip Hop bastardizing what Kool Herc brought from Jamaica. That’s a lot of copies, and the whole shit starts to get a little thin after a while I would think.
For me it’s really about a certain energy. Struggle could be a catalyst, but it isn’t the root cause of it. I think that’s something that people who haven’t lived with much struggle believe. Creativity and the divine side of human nature are responsible for Hip Hop, at least the Hip Hop that I understand. I don’t believe that anyone is above or absolved of making a mess of something, and at the same time I don’t think that anyone is excluded from the pursuit of anything. All anyone can do is try.
How do you respond to charges that any rap that’s not American is wack?
That’s a matter of opinion. There’s a pretty narrow spectrum of current Hip Hop I would consider not wack, regardless of where it’s from. I bet the wackest rap music has probably been made by an American (just based on numbers), which isn’t to say there aren’t hundreds of awful rappers in Canada. You ever been on myspace?
What is your most vivid performance experience?
I played for a hockey arena full of metal fans in 1996. My set was like an hour long too. You can imagine how that went over.
What are your thoughts on sample clearance/music publishing “killing” or sucking the soul out of hip hop music?
Sample clearance doesn’t exist for me. Even when CD sales were steady, it wasn’t much of an issue. I do what I do, and I’d imagine that I’d be pretty hard to catch even if these Birdapres CD’s ever cracked the quadruple digits. I will likely never stop sampling other people’s music, so it doesn’t matter a lick.
Any last words, thoughts, shout outs?
Shout outs to George McJunkin. They should have named those shits McJunkin points.