February 4, 2010



Chokeules is a vet in the game who’s been tearing down mics for over a decade. He’s best known for his work with Toolshed but he recently released his first solo effort, Hypergraphia, featuring fellow Toolshed members Timbuktu and Psybo, as well as Fresh Kils, Wordburglar, Pip Skid and Ghettosocks. We chatted about the album, Toolshed and his perspective on hip hop in Canada.

Most people will probably know you best as a member of Toolshed. How did you originally hook up with those guys?

We all go back basically to the beginning of high school. That’s when we all met each other. It was through a mutual love of music and fuckin’ around havin’ fun. First we started free styling together and recording it for fun. Then that turned into the group and 10 years or so later it never stopped being fun so we kept doing it.

So what made you decide to release a solo album?

Currently, myself and Timbuktu are in Toronto. But a few years back we all got out of London, our hometown and for a second were geographically split up in different cities. We all decided during that year apart it would be a good look to work on some solo projects, then get back together and work on the mother of all Toolshed albums. We re-grouped sooner then we thought but still plan to put out the three solo albums. Timbuktu’s working on his album right now and then a new Toolshed album’s coming next.

Do you find things easier recording on your own or do you feel more creative having everyone else around?

Neither have cons but they both have different pros. Timbuktu, who I write with primarily did a lot of the beats on this album and so did Fresh Kills, who’s studio Toolshed records at. So I’m working with the same team I work with when I record with the group. Sometimes with the writing process when you’re going solo you can go off on a tangent that you wouldn’t go off on within the group. Or focus on some more personal shit or some of your own ideas. But then with the group we’ve been writing together so long we have this chemistry so I enjoy both.

Chokeules - Hypergraphia

According to the handy dictionary on my computer, Hypergraphia is described as an overwhelming urge to write. It is not itself a disorder, but can be associated with temporal lobe changes in epilepsy and mania in the context of bipolar disorder. Would that describe your approach to music?

I think the reason I became a dope MC is from an overwhelming urge to write. Like I said we started out free styling but it’s really the songwriting process and the writing process itself because even when I’m not working on projects I continue to write almost everyday. It’s just part of my process of venting stress or getting the ideas out. I first came across it reading an article about a nurse who had Hypergraphia and it stuck a cord with me. Sometimes I’d have roommates crackin’ jokes at me when I’d empty my pockets at the end of the workweek and have all these scraps of paper with notes and ideas on them. Maybe 90% of the stuff I never use but I keep writing it down.

How would you describe yourself as an artist?

I guess first and foremost someone who loves music. That’s what primarily got me involved. I started out as a fan. I guess I would say I’m dedicated to what I do but only because I enjoy it so much. If it wasn’t something that I still get fulfillment out of then I wouldn’t be doing it this long at the end of the day. Especially in the Canadian scene. You best love what you’re doing other wise there’s no point doing it.

That’s real talk. Have you found it more difficult then if you were in New York or a place like that?

It’s hard to say obviously only coming from a Canadian standpoint. Not necessarily. But I guess at the end of the day maybe it wouldn’t matter anywhere in the world you come from. There’s just so much music being made nowadays and so many talented people everywhere. I’m coming across talented artists I’ve never heard of before everyday. But in Canada it is hard to break out. Being in Toronto has been good for that because all the talented crews out here make you have to work harder.

Would you consider the Canadian hip hop scene really strong?

Oh yeah I think it’s really strong. I could throw out a laundry list of so many talented people. A lot that I’m lucky to be friends and even crew with. Toolshed’s part of the Backburner crew. They started out in Halifax actually. Cats like Ghettosocks, Fresh Kills, Wordburglar and Jesse Dangerously are all from out there in Halifax. Then our boy More Or Les is doing his thing in Montreal and he’ll be in Toronto soon and half a dozen equally amazing cats just in that crew alone. Then obviously there’s a huge pool of talent in Halifax, Montreal Toronto, Vancouver and everywhere in between so I think Canada’s got just as much to offer as anywhere else for hip hop.

For sure. I would agree with that. Who are some of your earliest influences?

I don’t know if it reflects what we’re doing now. But when we were coming up, we were sort of big on the LA and Bay Area underground scene. Cats like Freestyle Fellowship, Solesides, Hieroglyphics. Specifically Gift of Gab and Del were huge influences on me. Later on it branched off. Now I can name cats that I love from the underground to the top of the mainstream. There’s talent everywhere.


Are there any producers or artists that you’d like to work with in the future?

Yeah like I said about the list of talented cats in Canada. The list just goes on. We’ve been lucky to get to work with some of people we’ve worked with. Right now for Timbuktu’s album we’re working on a track with our boy D-Sisive who’s also outta Toronto. He’s doing a lot of great shit these days. So on the Canadian level there are a lot of cats doing great things that I’d love to work with. On a massive level if I could work with ANYBODY it would be hard to keep it down to a few names. There’re still guys like Del who I grew up admiring. Even if they’re not as strong today as they once were there’s still that infinite respect for the artists that pointed you in your direction.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen at a show?

That’s a good question. It’s always funny to see those people who obviously weren’t meant to be there you know? They’re just at the bar but they’re not necessarily there for the show. Maybe you see some old Latin dude with like the biggest mustache you’ve ever seen, just drunk out of his mind and he’s been there since like 7pm. But once the show starts instead of turning up his nose saying, “What’s this”? He’s dancing his ass off to every song. Stuff like that definitely sticks out.

What’s next for Chokeules in 2010?

Hopefully big things for the Toolshed crew and Backburner. Still workin’ up in the Kil Zone, that’s Fresh Kil’s studio. After the solo my crew mates Psybo and Timbuktu got solos coming down the pipe line, we’re still working on that. I’m getting on a few joints on Tim’s album and we also have a Toolshed album; it’s unreleased stuff we were working on in 2007/2008 but we never put down the pipe line. Our DJ homie Young Fes out in Halifax who did pretty much 95% of the cuts on my album. He’s working on the cuts for the unreleased Toolshed album that’s coming out. We also have a Backburner album featuring all the members of the Backburner crew that we recorded over the summer. I’m really excited to hear it because it’s something that we’ve talked about for years and it’s finally happening. There’re so many producers and talented MC’s on there that I’m as excited to be a part of it as I am to just hear it.

Whoa that sounds crazy!

Yeah it should be pretty dope. I haven’t heard final mixes or anything but we’ve got guys all the way from Japan to BC. Everything I’ve heard though has been phenomenal.

Any shout outs?

Well I wanna thank you obviously. UGSMAG is a site that I frequent anyway regardless of if you were lookin’ out for me or not. It’s a great site. Just a shout out to my Backburner crew. Ghettosocks, More Or Les, Fresh Kills, Wordburglar Jesse D, The guys at The Vault in Halifax, Dex, Beatmason, Young Fes and the rest of the crew. And basically anyone who’s been supporting the Toolshed for a long time.

For more info on Chokeules check out:

10 Responses

  1. Nice. Happy to see an interview with Choke. Toolshed is one of my faves.

    Oh, and Hand’Solo Records should be putting out that Backburner album sometime this year. All the feedback I’ve heard so far is great.

  2. Smokeules is the homie. Honestly, Choke is one of the most talented fools from Canada. Go cop this album.

  3. The hope is to get a cross-Canada Backburner tour happening at some point this year, hopefully to coincide with the Backburner album. I’m sure you’ll see Toolshed on that tour…

  4. regardless of our blood relation.. my brother rocks. He is a dope MC – I knew his madness would amount to somethin’…. props and love… keep makin’ good tunes…