It goes without question that the goal of every emcee is to be the biggest fish in the pond. Enter Sharky the Great. With one album under his belt, his tremendous 1999 debut Treacherous Waters, this shark is about to be set loose on the competition once again. Armed with neck-snapping beats courtesy of some of the best producers this country has to offer and razor-sharp lyrics, there can only be one message: don’t go in the water.
l-ementary: Ok, first off introduce yourself and tell the people how and why you got into hip-hop?
Sharky: I’m an enigma. I go by numerous different aliases including Jesse Anderson, Shark the Great White, Slaughter Specialist, Carcharadon Carcharius (Latin for white Shark), Aquanova, Meglodon and Sharkasaurus Wrecks…haha. There are others but these are my most prominent personalities. I like to think of myself as an extremely competitive and confrontational artist…I grew up as child into athletics, music and art so when I first discovered Hip-Hop around age 10 it seemed like a perfect fusion of all three. It wasn’t until Grade 10 that I actually got involved in emceeing…my man Know-it-all had a group and I decided to join…the rest is history.
Alright, I’ve been hearing the name Sharky for awhile now, but it was always associated with you being a battle emcee. Is that what you consider yourself first and foremost?
This is a tough question because I do understand that a lot of my reputation comes from battle skills. The problem is that too much nonsense results from face to face battling these days. I would much rather do a live show where everyone was partying and having fun than spend my night embarrassing cats in a cypher (most don’t take defeat well) but I also won’t back down from a challenge. It is certainly one of strengths but I also feel that too many people sleep on my storytelling and party tracks. I try to be as diverse as possible and I would hate to get stereotyped as a battle mc but it is an important part of Hip-Hop’s past and future and I will continue to sharpen my sword until my career is over. When all is said and done no other style of track allows an mc to flex pure vocab and wordplay skill better than a good old battle crusher.
What was the first rap album you ever owned?
The first rap album that I ever bought was Public Enemy’s Nation of Millions although I had dubs of 3rd Bass, L.L., B.D.P. and Special Ed that I had borrowed off my cousin in Scarborough.
When did you decide that you wanted to make hip-hop your career?
This is easy…it was in grade 13 about a third of the way through the term…college application time…a very stressful time in my life. I had been planning to go to University for Architecture or something mathematical but music had taken over my life so I decided to go to the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology in London to pursue my dream instead.
What did your family say about that? Were they supportive or did they think it was gonna lead nowhere?
My family was very supportive…both my parents are self employed and went their own way when they were younger despite their parents wishes…so when they realized how passionate I was about it they gave me their blessing.
Explain how Treacherous Waters came to be…how long did it take to record, how did you finance it, how did you hook up with some of the artists and producers on it?
Treacherous Waters came about after I appeared on the Beatdown Invasion in 98…the experience hooked me together with Prologic who was the man behind the Beatdown project, and my long time producer Know-it-all…we started working on my first solo. The name was just something that came naturally…almost a warning to those that wanted to dive in to the album. I paid for everything myself although I did get some pretty nice deals on beats and studio time…all together I’d say it took about a year and 3 months to complete. The artists that appear on my album are all friends of mine that I have met over the last decade in the scene. Titus is a friend from Kitchener, Skitz and 2-sense are old boys of mine from Scarborough and The Lyricists and Chosen are from Port Huron, Michigan.
One thing I wanted to say…when I first got Treacherous Waters from Know-it-all a few weeks ago and heard the entire thing for the first time, I noticed that it didn’t seem dated at all, even though it’s like a year and a half old…it was still full of bangers….anyways, were you happy with the album or do you consider it kinda like it was just a practice album, cause I know a lot of artists who kinda distance themselves from older material.
Both…I am happy with it for what it was and at the time I think it was close to my best work…it was my first real project and I learned so much from it that I will never regret making it but as a perfectionist I know that it pales in comparison to the tracks we are working on these days.
What’s your view of the scene in Ontario and Canada in general?
If I had to rate it I would give it about a 5 out of 10. I think we have some incredible talent here but the resources aren’t here, especially outside of T-dot, in order for us to get proper exposure. There are not enough good venues and not nearly enough tours for all of the talented artists to get their shots. On the positive side though I think things are starting to change for the better and we are finally seeing some Canucks getting recognition Southside. Americans aren’t going to know what hit them!
Definitely feeling you on the tour thing…DJ Serious Review seems to be the only big outlet for indie artists….what do you think needs to be done to change the scene?
I think it starts with the fans…they need to start taking Canadian artists more seriously. It seems like they don’t pay us any attention until we have a video on B.E.T. The fact is all Canadian tours don’t make much money…yet…because we aren’t looked at in the same way as the Eminems or the Redmans…etc. What we really need is an artist to break out from here and make it on the same scale as the top Americans…so that instead of saying…”He’s good for a Canadian” they simply say “He’s good”. I personally think that artist is me and I think I was put here to break down all of the walls and barricades surrounding this beautiful country.
Who are you feeling at the moment?
Just about anything from Rawkus, the Liks, Royce, Common, Busta, Jigga, Redman…I really appreciate cats that can sell units without sacrificing mic skills…that’s my goal!
What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you at a show?
One time I got a little too intoxicated and I forgot all my lyrics…causing the crowd to yell at me…haha…I got pissed, literally, and started yelling back forcing the sound man to shut down everything and call it a night. I also had a show a couple of weeks ago where I was too concerned about my buddies surrounded in the corner to pay much attention to the show that I was doing…I ended up cutting the song short and running to help out. Other than that though it’s just the usual…drink…rock…party…play…sleep routine.
If you could do a track with any 2 emcees and any producer on the boards, who would you pick?
Easy question…Primo, Pharoahe and Busta.
Ok, if that was easy how bout this…a track with any two Canadian emcees and a Canadian producer?
If I’m including people that I hang with I would say Skitz, Shug and a beat from Know-it-all…I think he’s the illest producer up here. If it’s people that I don’t know well I would say I.R.S. with the beat done by Kollishun of Nefarius.
What influences your rhymes?
My rhymes are influenced by everything that I see or read or feel. I try not to get too routine with where and when I write because when you write in different surrounding and in different moods you tend to get different sounds. I’m always reading so a lot of things come from world events or stories but mostly I just love to play with words…I love to expand my vocabulary…I love messing with syllables and manipulating the English language to achieve the desired flow…without losing anything in the content.
What’s coming up next for Sharky?
I just found a DJ to tour with me…Everfresh…London’s finest has agreed to be my personal turntablist so things should get moving soon as far as gigging is concerned. I am also working on projects with Skitz, Shug, Final Chapter, 2-Sense, Classified, Age, Curius, The Lyricists, Goldspade, Dubble-J and possibly D-sisive, Mono and Tekniq. My next project will be called “Selacophobia”, fear of sharks, and will hopefully be ready by this winter. You can also look for me to branch out into other musical genres including jungle and hardcore collaborations in the next year. We are currently in the process of fundraising so if all goes well a video and tour will develop before too long.
What do you love most and hate most about hip-hop right now?
What I love most is pure hip-hop…it’s hard to describe but you know it when you hear it. The two things that I hate most are the people who claim to be true hip-hop heads except they hate anything that sells more than 5 units because it’s not underground any more, and the people who could give a damn about the music…pump out commercial garbage and call it hip-hop…giving us a bad name.
Anything to add?
Nothing except…BUY MY ALBUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Peace.