Introduce yourself, your crew and affiliations.
Nolto. I roll with the Side Road collective.
What does the name Nolto mean or stand for and how did you get that name?
Nolto is an acronym for “Knowledge of lack there of”, it is often spelled as “Nawlij or lack there of”. I originally went by Nawlij (or lack there of), and rarely said the whole deal, settling for just Nawlij. Then one day, during Third Verse (Ed. Saskatoon based hip hop radio show), Chaps (you) told me that I should just shorten it to Nolto. It was a good idea. So, I did.
What inspired you to be an mc?
I’m not sure. I wrote prose and such for a long time, all the while loving hip hop, and then one day I recorded a song over a Dren beat. That song was a diss to a girl I knew. So apparently I entered the “game” in order to diss a girl. The need to diss girls inspired me to be an mc?
You have released your second full length release with Factor called Red All Over how would you describe it?
As a colour-coordinated collage, in that each piece is independent of the others, yet they share a common bond. That common bond/colour is its concept. The concept is one that I thought up a long while ago. I was originally going to make a “Newspaper EP” with Comma Concept (of A HomeMade Effort) and we even recorded a track for “Obituaries,” and wrote most of “Comics” (which I reused for my first verse with Cam the Wizzard). Each song is a section of the newspaper, though none of the songs are about newspapers.
How is this album different from your first? How have you grown as an MC?
My first album was a learning experience. I had so much to say and so little focus. When I listen to it, I can’t help but think of what I would do differently now that I have more experience making a cohesive art package, instead of it sounding like a compilation. When I listen to albums in their entirety I find that there is no grand picture, just a bunch of isolated pictures thrown together. I miss the albums like Sgt.Peppers Lonel… Aqualung… SF Sorrow… etc. What happened to the art of meta-music? The creation of an artistic world. Hip hop is often boringly simple, even with polysyllabic rhyme schemes and intense vocabularies. That’s what I wanted to combat with this album. I wanted to try it all, while still framing it in a meta-musical concept (the newspaper).
When did you and Factor start making music together?
We went to the same elementary and high schools (in fact, we’re probably the only two guys that went to both of those schools and are this good at rap music), though we were never good friends. Hip hop eventually brought us together, shortly after highschool. Most of my friendships since highschool have been rap related (present company included).
You have addressed many issues like Homosexuality, Abortion, Racism in your music. Do you consider yourself a concious mc or are these issues just dear to your heart?
Conscious Mc, as opposed to an unconscious Mc? Even though I think I know what you are trying to get at by such a label as “conscious Mc” and consider it to be a positive association, I wouldn’t feel proud to be associated with that label. Too much garbage has claimed the title “conscious”, and by garbage, I mean music that requires little to no consciousness to comprehend or appreciate. Furthermore, “conscious” lyrics are not a substitute for good music. So I’d have to say: Yes, Homosexuality, Abortion, Racism and the like are all important issues of which I have strong opinions, but I don’t have to force myself to rap about them. I rap about them, because I think about them.
Where do you get your ideas or inspiration to write songs?
I get my ideas from thinking too much while doing too little.
What is your favourite hip hop momment and why?
Everytime I get a new album that I really like, discover a new group/artist that I really like, or leave a show that I really liked.
What is your favourite hip hop album and why?
That’s like asking a parent which kid he likes the most. Most parents say they can’t decide, when really they’re thinking: “Definately the oldest one.” But that isn’t necessarily true for me. Some of my favourite albums were released in the last few years. If further pressed, I’d probably settle for a response that included one of: Low End Theory, ATLiens, Druidry, Cold Vein, or Varsity Blues.
What do you think about hip hop and technology (Ipods, downloading) and how does that affect you as an artist?
I’m neutral. I believe that technology has aided my music, and hindered it. Selling albums internationally would not have been as successful without the help of online stores such as Phonographique, online publications such as ugsmag, and online messageboards/blogs; But I know that lots of people are burning my album rather than buying it. It’s a catch-22; with technology my album doesn’t sell as many copies as there are being burned, but without technology my album doesn’t get heard let alone bought. It’s a little comforting to think that whilst downloading my album, some may inadvertently be downloading viruses with it. I wouldn’t lose sleep if someone were to catch 22 viruses.
What do you do when you are not doing hip hop?
I work jobs and go to school fulltime. I read and write a lot. I listen to music. I kill shit on the regular too, mostly with friends.
What do you think about the current state of hip hop in Canada and beyond?
It’s in a state of transformation, just like it always has been. Hip hop became a trend in the last half decade, and so we have begun to see a lot of dabblers come and go. In the next 5 years we’ll be able to see where it’s heading next. Already in Canada we have seen the scenes from coast to coast establishing themselves and building ties to other scenes. This will encourage more development of scenes in smaller centers and more diverse establishments within the larger centers.
What makes you the most happy?
Lots of things: Friends, family, Tamara, music, books, inebriation, sleeping in on weekdays, Asian and Latin American food, cartoons, Diet Dr. Pepper, writing, climbing trees, walking and biking (I hate driving), chess, sudoku, juggling, debating philosophical issues, deconstructive philosophy, performing, and much more.
If you could be anybody who would it be and why?
I’m not sure. I’m inclined to say someone like Gandhi, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. I believe that “being” somebody isn’t as fun or as important as “becoming” somebody. So in that respect, I think I’d want to be a being that is becoming Gandhi. Of course, Gandhi was never “becoming Gandhi,” he just was Gandhi. So, for now, I’d like to be an undetermined being, who, for convenience’s sake, we’ll call a fatherless Jesus who promotes pre-marital sex and drug experimentation.
What are you currentlly working on?
The third Nolto and Factor release. It is a short ep called Scott-Free, Red Handed; Each song is a story that has to do with the others, but each song can be enjoyed as an independent track. I wrote it as if I was writing a script for a movie that jumps around in time. Each track title is a specific moment in time (ie: “5:34pm Thursday September 26th”). I think it is the best writing and planning I have done for an album. I’m excited for it, though I don’t know when it will be finished and ready for release. I want to explore what can be done within the medium of a music package. I don’t want to just regurgitate all the things I’ve been exposed to.
If you didn’t mc what would you be doing?
Something else that allowed me an audience. Either that, or I’d need to keep a diary… and that would just be lame. Maybe I’d have an online journal, which would be updated religiously. Or scrapbooking.
Why should people listen to your music?
Because they like it. And if they don’t like it, then they shouldn’t listen to it. If they were to ask me why they should like it… well then I’d just say something like: “You couldn’t genuinely like anything if you’re not using your own subjective standards to measure it against.” Then I’d go on to answer more questions without really answering them.
Who would you like to work with in the future?
I’d like to work more with the people I’ve already worked with. As well as: Die Young, Adverse and/or Adeem, Ahmuse, Qwel, DJ Exile, Yy, Shiina Ringo, Aloe Blacc, HomeSick Nomad, Rachael Yamagata, JD Walker, Gruf, and Listener.