September 7, 2008


Photos by Jon B
Noah23 is Guelph Ontario’s rap Godfather and Canada’s own “Poetical Prophet.” He is the President of the Plague Language record label/art collective and he’s been “rapping seriously,” for 13 years or since the early 1990s. With about 10 solo albums and a number of other side projects under his cap, Noah23 has been over-looked except by the most arcane underground rap intelligentsia. I myself had only heard of a rapper from Guelph named Noah23 until I listened to his Bourgeois Cyborgs project with friend and label mate Baracuda. I arrived 2 hours late (fucking GO Transit), but found Noah dutifully waiting for me at the Guelph terminal. Our rendezvous took us west to a nice restaurant with lots of pretty ladies. Peep the interview.

Introduce yourself, crew affiliations – all that jazz…

I’m Noah23, the Guelph oracle, Captain Clark, Fuzzylogic, Fulleffect.

How do you approach rapping, you have some more abstract material, how did you end up going that direction listening to Run DMC?

I was really into stuff like Faith No More, Red Hot Chili Peppers…Faith No More was a big inspiration for me, that’s part of the abstract lyrics. Basically I’ve always had an interest in psychedelic phenomenon and poetry, so like Bob Dylan, the Doors anything like that. Anything strange, strange films, strange words are just fascinating to me; I kind of search out strange paranormal things in life. Sometimes I kick more straightforward type of stuff. I think when I started, I had a lot more brain-vomit to kind of spew out; like a lot more abstract, train-of-thought stuff. Now it’s more streamlined.

Is the psychedelic/abstract phenomenon tied to drug-use?

Not necessarily…but yeah, it is. I’ve been reading a lot of different subjects and I’m really interested in Shamanism, ethnogenic drug use, and psychoactive plants. My dad’s dad wrote a poem about smoking gigantic bats –that was the word he used – he wrote a poem the day I was born in commemoration. So even from day one, people were smoking weed, celebrating the day I was born and my dad was a big hippie and used a lot of acid. He used to throw LSD confetti off balconies at Mardi gras. It’s just part of who I am, it’s pretty natural how that works itself into my music.

The last ugsmag interview you did said that you wanted to move to Vancouver Island. How has your music and your life changed since 2001?

Really not a whole lot except for the fact that I think I’m a lot better. It’s funny because a lot of my old fans don’t like my new material and I think a lot of potential new fans don’t like my new material because they didn’t like my older material. I kind of experiment a lot; some tracks I make really off the cuff and other tracks I really try to sculpt and mold them.

I’ve toured a lot and recorded a lot of material. I think I’m better in the studio and a lot better live. I’m still really hungry to show people my live show.

How do people in Guelph respond to your music?

Guelph is a big music/art community in general. I think growing up in Guelph really sculpted where I take my music. We have the Guelph Hillside Music Festival – which is ranked really high among world folk festivals – and I’ve been going there since I was 10. I was really part of a big DIY punk movement when I was 14, so nothing really held me back from knowing that I could make music myself. I play with anything from lesbian folk singers to spoken word artists – I can really apply myself in a lot of different scenarios. A lot of musicians I grew up with have moved on, but I like it in Guelph. Most people know I’m the godfather of Guelph when it comes to Guelph.

How come you’re not bigger in Canada consider you’ve been rapping for so long here?

I think part of it is that we’re isolated from the other scenes, so we’re kind of strong. And Toronto has always been sort of known as a haters spot – I haven’t felt that myself – but the way I see Toronto, it has a lot of pockets, a lot of tiny, small different kinds of scenes that don’t converge together. You need artists to bounce off of one another and different artists to play together to create a bigger movement. Canada’s a hard country to tour in and I don’t get my VideoFact grind on like Classified, so people don’t really know me like that.

How did you connect with the label in Europe?

We released my album Quicksand here in North America in 2002 and a year later a label out of Hamburg SecondRec, they approached us to license the album in Europe. They picked it up and the label helped me get in touch with a booking agent out there. But unfortunately after one tour and a show in Spain, my booking agent died.

Europe’s cool and in a lot of ways I wish I could tap into North America the way I have in Europe. It’s funny when people sleep on you in your own country, but it’s like that for a lot of artists. You have to prove yourself elsewhere before people in your own community take you seriously.


You’re going on tour, maybe…

I’m really hungry to get some tours in the States. I’ve toured very minimally, I toured in Florida with Martinez and Bleubird and last year I played a one-off outside San Diego and I played one in Portland, Oregon; both the shows went really well. It’s a catch 22 because if you don’t get out there and hustle and pay your dues, nobody is going to know about you; but it’s not easy to go tour…

Do you find a lot of hardcore rap heads hating your shit?

It’s funny because I have a lot of different reputations. I’m too diverse; sometimes I might make a more abstract song, more melodic or maybe a more tough sounding track; so the styles can be really different. I really want to try to unify my image and try to let people know who I am and really just kind of sell that character. Some people think just ‘cause you’re from Canada you’re wack, but most of that is just bullshit to me, I just do what I do.

Have you been to Western Canada much?

Never. I played in Calgary once, but a brawl broke out and I never ended up rapping.

Your new album Rock Paper Scissors has a guest spot on every song, what’s the word on that?

I wanted to make a really ambitious record. I started to think; I knew a lot of people in the indie community for hip hop and some rock cats too. I really wanted to incorporate a lot of my close friends who are talented artists and other bigger artists who are bigger and who would want to work with me. It was a lot of work. It’s a duets record. It causes a lot of curiosity. I haven’t actually reached out to a lot of people in the past before, so I really wanted to do a crazy, really big project. It came together surprisingly smooth.

You have all these non-hip hop artists doing rap beats for you?

On some of them…this whole new album is my crossover sellout album. It comes out September 23. I want to do a nice package so that people will want to own it. I put a lot more effort in this album than any other album I’ve ever made.

How did the Plague Language label develop?

Well, Plague Language was run by me and a guy Orphan. About 4 years ago, he left the Plague Language and formed Blue Sky Black Death and basically as a label, Plague Language was on hiatus, but as a crew, it’s really healthy and artistic. It got more localized into a Guelph collective or artists as opposed to a label putting out artists from California and all over. It’s always been my brainchild, but Orphan (Kingston from Blue Sky Black Death), it functions as a loose knit crew right now.

What do you think of Canadian rap?

I’m a pretty big fan of Canadian rap, but not so much in the recent years…I have a lot of respect for most artists, but I still think I’m better. I listen to a lot of stuff, DJ Moves, Governor Bolts from London. I’m a fan of hip hop, to me is the reason why I feel I have an artistic edge over a lot of people is because I study it a lot. I’m a bigger fan. In Europe you realize the respect that people have for Canadian rap as a whole.

Do you ever get fed up with a lot of the shitty, American copycat rappers?

Like Toronto…people think they’re in New York? Toronto’s weird because it hasn’t given itself an identity. I feel it should go with a kind of island feel, they don’t know whether to make trap hop or to make New York rap or really what to do with it. I don’t really get fed up with it, like I like traditional boom bap…who’s that producer that made a real boom bap record…my mind’s going blank…it had Masta Ace on it.

Marco Polo.

Yeah, see I haven’t heard the Marco Polo record, but I like boom bap shit. I feel Toronto does have talent; I just wish it would unify its scenes and people would bounce off one another. It doesn’t even need to be positive light, people can even have small beefs, but keep in musical, keep it artistic, keep it creative.

Collage by Sean MacPherson

You talked a bit about being into stuff outside of the collective unconscious, like numerology…

I’m a neophyte. I’m in my beginning studies in a lot of esoteric fields like Astrology, Hermatism, Alchemy, Kabbahlism, Egyptology…all these things are analogous to one another, so it’s really interesting once really learn them, you can kind of apply them and understand.

Do you believe in that stuff or are you interested in seeing the course of humanity?

Both. I take everything with a grain of salt. There are a lot of truths you can realize after studying for years. When you study knowledge and when you see it put into practice in your life, it becomes wisdom because you learn from it. Basically I’m trying to study the secret knowledge that the illuminati has hid from the people. Once the people have the same knowledge of civilization that the elite have kept from us, then I’ll be more adept at fighting the oppressors. And these wacky, off-the-wall subjects are things that your religions are built upon; it’s all from Paganism, it’s all god and goddess sun worship and that relates to your modern day Jesus, but people are just oblivious to this shit.

Do see proof that there’s an elite organization like the Illuminati who run shit?

Oh, it’s obvious. Just look at the Statue of Liberty, the Olympic torch.

What do you mean? What ties all those together?

I mean, I could walk down the street in Guelph right now and show you the Freemason temple and the Shriner temple and obviously there’s money in the Catholic Church. To me it’s like Rome never fell, the Pope still runs shit…Israel, everything’s tied in. I don’t know a lot about of World and global politics; I don’t really keep track – you sound a bit crazy when you get into it – a lot of un necessary war, famine, death and murders are done on purpose as a sacrifice, as an offering. The occultist beliefs that I try to study are the same principles that caused the World Trade Center towers down. These things are precisely done and people are just ignorant; people don’t think that the government might make decisions based upon Luciferian astrology, but fuck you, it does. I have my own proof, I don’t really feel the need to prove my own beliefs to other people, if they’re too ignorant to see what’s at hand, that’s their problem.

You see it everywhere; they murdered Princess Diana as a sacrifice under a Masonic site. The shit is everywhere…[Laughs] not like I care about Princess Diana that much, but still they did sacrifice her.

There’s a lot of things. The date April 19 is associated with child sacrifice and April 19 is the day they did the Oklahoma bombing and killed all those kids; April 19 is the day they stormed into the David Koresh building and killed all those kids; April 19 is a day of stealing children, all these sacrifices, this shit’s ancient. You have Mardi gras, it’s a Catholic, Paganized ritual. All this shit, Lent, Mardi gras, Easter and the Resurrection. I’m here to tell people that the connection between Christianity and Egypt and the reason that Christmas is what we worship is because of the solstice. But December 21, 2012 is the day of Judgment, it’s Judgment Day, it’s the day, it’s the time…

What does that mean?

The world won’t end, but time and space most likely will. There will be a rip in the fabric of time and space in the whole dimension. It’s the theory of Relativity. You can only measure 5100 years of time before time overlaps upon itself. So basically time and space bend one another; so you can’t measure a million years of time, it’s impossible. Time starts to overlap and warp itself. In 2012, time will collapse. It doesn’t mean you’ll be gone, but you gotta fit through the black hole or your soul is weak. It’s a 40-day transgression through the black hole; we really are going through the galactic center; it’s called the Alligator’s Mouth, it’s the dark rift of the galaxy. There’s a lot of theories; my one theory is that we will have a meteoric catastrophe similar to what was 100 years ago in Tunguska the tragedy that happened in Russia, where there was a meteoric impact where 20 million trees were decimated instantly, but there were no crater impacts because all of these were tiny tiny little stones that disintegrated and caused a gigantic megaton blast in the atmosphere. Many people think that we’re [doomed] to have that over the Northern hemisphere and it’s coming. I don’t know if I believe it or not…it doesn’t really matter to me either way, just buy my record.

Does this scare you? If your soul’s at peace you’re completely fine…

You can say it in different ways, but it means the same thing as ‘giving yourself to the will of God,’ people don’t really understand that it’s actually ‘giving yourself up to the will of the universe, not being afraid to reconnect with a universal Buddha mind or when you do heavy psychedelics [and] you have a near death experience, you connect to the Buddha mind while you’re still alive. You do really need to get rid of your Karmic traps from this plain to move on.

Is this material wise? Relationship wise?

I think everything…but to me I have more of a Dionysus, like a kind of Aleister Crowley type of thing where I believe in Hedonism. Some people believe that abstinence will lead you to god, but I believe that an abundance [will lead you to god]. You get drunk off Absinthe and have an epiphany; you could even be smoking crack and you could be Buddha. I’m pretty against drugs nowadays…but I’m into Salvia Divinorum.

Salvia Divinorum is “the eye of the shepherdess,” it’s the “diviner’s mint,” I’m heavily into it, I’m not afraid to leave my body temporarily. I have a big ego, but I also leave it quite often.

Why do you like Salvia?

I honestly feel there’s a consciousness from the plant, uploaded into my soul. Plants communicate to you and they talk to you. The book The Food of the Gods by Terence McKenna; it says that humans evolved by eating mushrooms and evolved a human consciousness. It gives you more sensory acuity, so in case your hunting, maybe you’re in a trance-like state, you really have a connection with god.

To bring the whole discussion full circle; to me rapping is a way to connect with those more Paleolithic times of passing things down by the word, or really connecting to the word. To me the word is powerful and universe is made of syllables and sounds. The reason why I do rap is to hopefully initiate a spark of a new kind of consciousness in the mind of the listener and also just to have fun and shit. It basically expresses the whole human condition, the sad, the happy…

My new album I feel does that; it’s got some dark moments, some light moments, some sad moments, some funny moments, that’s all I can hope for as an artist.

What happens if nothing happens December 21?

Nothing will happen [Laughs]. To me 2012 is an idea; it’s an inevitable idea of the evolution of the human species – in a positive way for me. Basically it is the end of the Mayan calendar, but it is the end of a very very very very large cycle, it’s at least a 26, 000 year cycle. It’s the Halcyon, it’s the Black Phoenix of antimatter rising from the depths of this crumbling, archaic history [Laughs], that’s the way I see it.

Last words? Shouts?

I should say thanks to all the artists who did reach out and get on my record and all the producers. Bigups to Factor for hooking it up. A big shout out to Albane. Big shout out to ugsmag, thanks for the shirt. To all the fans: don’t be a hater because really I might joke around and be a bit cocky, but really I’m a fan and I respect most other artists and I hope most people are going to give me a chance with my work because I’m really trying to reach out to a wider audience. Keep your ear to the street for Plague Language!

Rock Paper Scissors drops September 23.

For more info on Noah23 check out

25 Responses

  1. i bought ouicksand
    lookin forward to checkin out the new album

    on a side note, its all about the ‘iching’

  2. I was in guelph last week, and thought to myself, noah23 lives here, I heard epic say it in a song once.

    good interview.

  3. if you go into the united states you find lots of people who listen to noah 23. more than the government grant rappers thats for sure.

  4. No doubt epic, true shit. Noah’s sick as fuck i been listening to him since his early releases. I don’t have time to read this big interview right now but i’ll have too peep it. My fave Noah 23 track (and imo the best rapping he’s ever done) is either in the track Insect Network (ridiculous wild sick flow) or Resistance. I wonder whatever happened to troubador and penny?

  5. holy christ. You and Conspiracy would get along really really really really really really really really well.

  6. Quicksand is craziness. Best interview on here that I can remember, other than the Low Pressure one.

  7. on the borderline of genius and insane-apathy&eternia on VOICES

    noah23 is one of a supposed 5% enlightened on earth…any kind or type of person

    someone who is processing and internalizing the cosmic intelligece that is coming from higher places in the infinite galaxy

    hate and thats what you get…HATE
    love and that’s what you get…LOVE

    god only does to you what you do to him…

    if you kill 50000 people got will kill you 50000 times [oversimplified justice equality]
    if you spend 1000000 on poor people, god will spend 1000000 on you

    every action has a reaction of balance

    2012 IS the beginning of the next age…..possibly…but probably

    max prime…linear clarity will be your best friend [i dont know what i mean ,but]

    i am on some HTM/PLEAIDIAN light intelligence…i wont even bother to begin how good intergalactic reality is for those that REALLY dont become ‘evil’/wrong-type

    noah, let’s trade books, son

    take a look up at the sun-the earth divides as one
    may you be happy with the things you will have

    make lyrics new fresh smart funny insitful

  8. i still find it weird when a Canadian doesn’t know noah”s music well. Jupiter Sagitarius is dope… much doper then quicksand and Neophyte Phenotype in my opinion.

  9. im listening to jupiter sagitarius right now. if the new album is better then this.. then werd. but with all those guests rappers, its gonna take away from noah… maybe. i wanna hear it yo!!!!!

  10. Noah 23 is dope! Jupiter Sagitarius is insane! I am so happy I was able to get the vinyl and especially the 12″ for the remix! I am really looking forward to the new album and it would be amazing too see a live show as well! Great interview!

  11. thanks for the love homies. i’m in vegas playing pinball games, a couple day off from tour. wanted to thank you Jon B for hookin this up. megabless

  12. Today the world is dripping together like watercolors. What’s a coincidance anyway? Remember to do what thou wilt, but keep it love, homey.

    Just wanted to drop a line & say that Noah always keeps it at the top of his game.

    Heard a rumor that Congo from Nervous System might be producing a couple of tracks on this new album. Much respect.


    -Mysteria Magica Veritas

  13. i got the new album
    and what can i say that shits been on repeat since i got it
    hottest tracks are black ball feat tykus and wordburglar ; half drunk feat cadence weapon and rusty robotz feat baracuda
    an honorable mention is the tracktragic comedy feat epic sole and k the i

    buy this album its well worth it