Introduce yourselves, crew’s affiliations etc!
We are The Intelligentlemen, and have been for the past 5 years…give or take. The crew consists of producers: Beats Me, and Oliver; DJ Known, and emcees: Rewind, Polty and Gescha. We release records through our label NEKIND Entertainment, are affiliated with a handful of other organizations, and represent planet earth.
How did you come up with the name The Intelligentlemen and how does it represent you as a collective?
Rewind: I think we just wanted to come up with a name that was easy to remember.
Polty: I don’t think I was even a part of things when the name was chosen, Rewind had that shit pre-meditated, just like his freestyles. haha
Rewind: Filthy lies… I remember brainstorming in the studio and throwing that name out randomly and everybody seemed to be feeling it. We had the name professionally checked (Google) and it seemed up for grabs and we’ve been using it ever since. In one way, the name is like the complete opposite of what the mainstream rap culture represents…and I think the name is a pretty good representation of what to expect when you listen to us. We always try to make songs with a purpose and a definite message to them, and the names definitely a reflection of that.
What were the challenges associated with releasing your sophomore CD?
Gescha: With Rewind living in a different city and all of our busy schedules, it made it difficult to all get in the studio and bang out a hot track together. That’s the reason why there weren’t as many crew tracks on this album..
Rewind: I think I speak for a lot of independent artists when I say that money was one of the biggest challenges in releasing both of our albums. We are a collective of 6, all with completely different lives; some of us are in school, others are artists or work 9 to 5’s…and it was a bit of work to get everybody on the same page as far as financial deadlines and recording deadlines etc, because we were all going through different phases of our lives. In the end, the new album was eventually funded by an outside source, and without their help, the album likely would have been pushed back even further than it already was. It got a bit hectic with me constantly moving cities, but that’s the breaks. In the end I think we only gave about 5 different release dates though….haha.
How would you describe your sound?
BeatsMe: Bangin…To me it’s all about the drums smacking you in the head.
Gescha: I don’t know how I would really label our sound. You’ll find a lot of diversity in beat selections on this album, and with all 3 of us having very different rapping styles you end up with a very diverse sound.
Rewind: Yeah I would say our sound honestly varies between every song, because we all have completely different tastes and styles of music. Our albums were recorded over periods of between 1-2 years each, so there are a lot of different emotions and stories being expressed throughout them; they were meant to be compilation albums of sorts. At the end of the day, we are a group of emcees, producers, and DJ’s who all do our own respective thing. Weather it’s battling, working on solo and side projects, or working on Intelligentlemen project’s, or whatever…we never try to conform our sounds, or try to sound like each other when we rap. Every member of our crew brings something fresh and different to the table, so I think there truly is something for everybody on all of our releases.
What have been the limitations and positives to being a second generation Saskatoon Hip Hop artist?
Gescha: Having a scene that existed in Saskatoon well before we had started doing this music thing was definitely a positive. Having established local artists that we were listening to at 13-14 became an inspiration in a sense to actually picking up a mic. Side Road and Clotheshorse really set a tone for Saskatoon rap and gave it a certain distinguished sound. I think the only real negative of being a second generation artist in Saskatoon would be trying to break away from what’s been done here and really bring something fresh to the table.
Rewind: Yeah we definitely owe a lot of the support we get to older heads who built those bridges, created the scene, and put us on. Back when they were starting, the problems were finding good venues, and shows were few and far between. Now we have a good show coming through Saskatoon every week, so it’s almost watered-down to the point where the problems we face now are planning local shows around the huge flux of tours coming through.
BeatsMe: I would say the limitations are due to the size of the city and the fact that not a lot of people would check for what’s going on musically in a city like Saskatoon like they would in Toronto or New York. And because of that, it’s unfortunate that to really pursue a musical career you have to at some point leave Saskatoon. It’s been positive because now that hip hop has somewhat of a following in Saskatoon people who are interested in hip hop have let me know that they appreciate my music which has given me the confidence to pursue/perfect my sound and passion further.
How has the Saskatoon hip hop scene helped or hindered your progression as artists?
Gescha: The scene itself has helped because they’re the ones buying the albums listening to the music, and coming to the shows.
Polty: Because of the good job the promoters in this town are doing, there is a continuing stream of shows here, which results in opportunities for local artists to gain exposure by performing live. Also, everyone’s really chill. Even though every artist in town is competing for the same handful of listeners’ ears, eyes and money, it never really seems that way. Everybody is supportive of everybody else, and that is good thing, obviously.
Rewind: There are a handful of hardworking promoters that deserve a lot of credit, and without their support, as well as the relationships we have built with other artist’s, I can say we wouldn’t be where we are at now.
What drives The Intelligentlemen?
Rewind: I do this for the love of it all. I enjoy spending time on tracks, and releasing music that means a lot to me. Weather or not it goes un-noticed is not the point. Nothing inspires me more than the music my friends make.
Polty: Exactly. Having a scene filled with a large number of people making different styles of hip-hop creates a desire to produce something worth listening to. The inspiration gained from a well-done local record or successful show is unbelievable. That, and I always challenge myself to make each project better than the last.
Gescha: I started listening to hip hop at a fairly young age. Me and my cousin were always listening to Tribe Called Quest, Nas, Pac, Biggie, Outkast, Jay-Z, Wu-Tang, The Roots, etc…and that to this day is still what drives me, and keeps me in love with this music
BeatsMe: Just wanting to make good music, that’s about it. If you can’t find enough good music out there then make your own.
What were your influences growing up? What inspired you guys to make music?
Polty: Around grade six and seven I had friends with older brothers who were listening to a lot of rap and it didn’t take much for it to grow on me. We started listening to a lot of Tupac and Wu-Tang around the time of All Eyez On Me and Forever were out. I was so stoked on Method Man, I always have been. The first show I went to was Choclair and Rahzel at Louis’ early in grade nine. I went for Choclair and even though I knew about Rahzel, I wasn’t prepared for the show he put on that night. That was about it for me. After that, random freestyles with friends turned into battles at parties, which turned into getting together with these guys to record written material.
BeatsMe: It wasn’t really until grade 7 or 8 when I fell in love with rap, and at that time I was listening to a lot of Gang Starr, Pete Rock, Reflection Eternal, Masta Ace, Nas, Jigga…you know basically any of the material that anybody who calls themselves a hip hop head has to know.
Rewind: Rap is mostly what I listened to from around ‘94 up until I saw my first local show in probably ’99. After that I started going to shows whenever they were all ages, and began noticing the music being made in Saskatoon, so my attention switched from what was going on in the mainstream, to what was going on in the “underground” hip hop community. I think the first rap I recorded was about a girl, but I get inspired now when I hear the music my friends are making.
The roster of the group has changed over the years what is the biggest challenge in being in a rap group?
Gescha: There’s definitely a lot of challenges to being in a rap group; orchestrating time and getting everyone in the same place is the first challenge, but I think with everyone going through different things in their lives, it becomes difficult creatively because everybody has got different inspirations driving them at different times. It’s hard to get on the same page some days.
Polty: Communication is a big challenge. It’s not a big problem anymore because of the progression as a group, but initially it could be difficult to let another member know if you’re not feeling something that they have done, or if you think something could be done better. It can be touchy when these are your friends you’re making music with. Business isn’t always seen as just that, and people can easily get offended when input, both positive and negative, from everyone contributing to the project is extremely important.
Who is better Tupac or Biggie? And is Tupac still alive?
Rewind: Tupac is alive and well, he took the ghetto to the moon in a tricked-out space hummer.
Gescha: Legends don’t die, I think Tupac overall has been more influential but
Biggie is the Illest rapper ever. What can I say..?
How would you describe the new album and why did you decide on the self title?
Rewind: ‘At last’ was a collection of all of our first recordings piled together that people had been asking us to release for awhile, so the title was picked as a reflection of that. I think the new album being self-titled reflects the fact that we have established our own sound….and in a sense it’s a more formal first-release. It feels like a first release to me.
What is your favorite hip hop moment and why?
Rewind: When you literally grabbed that kid by the neck and moved him off the stage at the Legends show a couple years ago hahaha.
Polty: This last summer when I traveled to California for the Rock the Bells show. Rock the Bells was obviously amazing, but the real highlight was stumbling across the QN5 Megashow the night before in Hollywood. At the end of the Cunninlynguists set, they called Masta Ace out from backstage and proceeded to rock ‘Seasons’. Afterwards, he performed ‘Born to Roll’ and the place was going crazy. The show probably had around 200 people there, and to be in LA watching Masta Ace completely unexpected with 4 of my closest homies was pretty unreal. And I apologize that that had to be it for me Chaps, because I know you were down there the same time as me for Rock the Bells as well and missed out on that show. Sorry homie!
Rewind: Summer Fling is always a blast…all the shows, painting and after parties…summer in Saskatoon is the best place for hip hop in the world.
My favorite track on the album is “Accept Change” what are your favorites and why?
Rewind: Thanks Chaps…that’s one of the oldest tracks on the album, but I still stand by everything I say in it. My favorite track on the new album that I recorded is probably ‘Miles Apart’ because it details the point I’m at right now in my life. Moving away from your friends and family sucks; so that song was written for everybody I don’t get to see that often. My favorite track that we have as a group is probably ‘The Foundation’ or ‘Times Don’t Lie’ because I had a lot of fun recording both of them.
Gescha: ‘Times Don’t Lie’…I just thought that track came out real hot start to finish.
BeatsMe: I think ‘Push-Up Bra’s & Make-Up’ is a great track because it showcases Polter and Rewind’s infinite ability to diss people who deserve it.
Polty: ‘The Rest of my Life’ is my favorite. It’s probably the oldest track on the album and everything about it feels right to me. ‘Times Don’t Lie’ is another one, and ‘Push-Up Bra’s & Make-Up’ was the most fun to make for sure.
What is next for The Intelligentlemen?
Polty: I’ve got a solo album written that I’m going to be recording more sooner than later with the majority of the production being handled by Beats Me. All of us have been really busy and so another full-length album isn’t one of our main priorities right now because of the inability to get together and plan it out.
Gescha: We’ve been talking about putting together a new EP and there are a few solo albums being worked on within the group as well, so a lot of new material should be coming out over the next 1-2 years.
Rewind: Yeah, if everything pans out we are hoping to release a 12” EP of all new material with a video to accompany it sometime next year. We also want to start doing shows outside of Alberta and Saskatchewan, so we are going to be attempting to hook up a tour here in the next year when we get some free time… so holler at your boys!
Any last words, stories, shout outs etc?
Rewind: Big thanks to everybody who has picked up the albums, came to see us live, or showed us love over the years. One day I’m going to buy Mars and take you all there with me.
Gescha: Shout outs to my family, god, my girl and my people.
BeatsMe: Thanks to UGSMAG for the interview.
Rewind: Free Ras Kass!