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February 23, 2008

The Gallivanting Spoof

Illustration by Nicole Foran

Introduce yourself, crews, affiliations, etc…

Hey hey, Mushinski Family, Frek Sho/Lolo Alumni, and Polar Bear Productions Team.

After the release of the Twisted Spirits/Frek Sho cassette and Patience 12” why did you follow up with the Mocean album and not a Frek Sho crew record?

At that time, Mocean (now Ismaila) was the writing the most songs, had the best stage presence and vocal capability for me to invest money in and put the first CD out in Manitoba history. Its one thing to hang as a crew of like 10 guys… but when it comes to business its tough to make it happen. I was itching to start my small business/label and that was my vision for a first release.

How important were the Patience 12” and the video? Thinking back what could you have done differently to capitalize off of that momentum?

More money and marketing. Marketing a release is more important then anything. We thought we were good, but we just ran out of money to push it hard. It did justice, because I feel it’s a classic Canadian video… people remember that over the 10 videofacts some artists receive. I would have released it with a CD and distro behind it. Being from Winnipeg, there was no infrastructure and no one is listening to your ideas in Toronto, where the industry was; so it is what it was.

There were rumors of you guys signing with a major in those days. Any truth to that and if so what went down?

I personally know that there was one promotions dude that I talked to for months; he was about to be promoted to A&R and wanted us to be his first signee. I won’t name names, but this label would have been perfect cause they were affiliated with all our favorites at the time, Cypress Hill, Funkdoobiest, etc. Eventually, like most major imprints in the U.S., they fizzle away and artists get dropped and new ones of interest are not even an issue.

You were part of one the first few groups to tour Canada on the Rap City tour what was that experience like?

Awesome. We hustled more than anyone, to survive. Sold tons of product and were not even allowed to be mentioned on the bill. Our manager at the time told us we were on the tour… we drove to Ottawa, to find out we are nobodies and we aren’t on the tour… so we basically bum-rushed our way onto the bill. We performed in every city pretty much, without anyone except the fans acknowledging we were part of the tour. It was an eye opener being able to experience hitting all those different cities.

What is the craziest thing you have experienced as a hip hop artist?

Watching my boys being booed for 3 songs.. and the promoter telling me to shut the mini disc off. I didn’t shut it off… the crowd was sticking the finger at us and booeing… and my boys were performing like kings… not caring. Finally after we performed K-Os hit the stage and the same people in the crowd jumped the stage to go after him. Basically the crowd was their to go after him personally cause of some issue, and we received some of the bullshit cause we opened. We found out later, it had nothing to do with us. Other than that, performing in Toronto once and watching the Dream Warriors (my favorite group) come from the back to the front to give us props.

Is it fair to say Frek Sho is the Canadian Wu-Tang Clan? What would you say are the similarities and differences?

Lets be honest… Wu-Tang is the shit. U.S. grimy rappers are not even close to Canadian prairie rappers. But we had a tight lyrical crew that probably had better stage presence and ideas on the stage then they had. Shazzam and Sunil were doing shit with acting before anyone was doing shit like that. It started with Shadows and eventually got props and other members involved. We were original in our own right, but Wu-tang is by far, the best crew ever and I can’t compare us to them… except the size.

Why did Frek Sho not enjoy the success that it should have?

Timing, its all timing.. the Canadian industry is like 10-15 years behind the USA and we just spent our money at the wrong time. We had things in place, but the industry wasn’t set up for us to be successful at the time. Street teams etc. were just starting. Some of us got married and had kids, which can change the whole process also. If you look there is only one crew I feel, Swollen members, who did what we would have liked to do. They ran shit and got shit done for a good amount of years independently. Their whole business concept was genius and I feel they are the only ones that made it work in Canada. Everyone else didn’t really thrive in the Canadian industry.

How did the dynamics of the crew change over the years and what lead to the premature demise of the crew?

Kids had kids. So basically you have to be a man and take care of your responsibilities. Artists grew and started to like different styles of hip-hop, so that many members can’t mesh forever. Everyone had a separate reason why we probably couldn’t do it forever. The whole crew shit is fine when you hustle and your young. Once you start having a family and you need a day job, everything changes… at least it did for me, I won’t speak for everyone.

Will we ever see another Frek Sho record?

Probably never a crew album, solo albums for sure.

Frek Sho 1995-2005
Twisted Spirits – Wet Dreams (1995), Frek Sho / Twisted Spirits – Uncivilized EP (1995), Frek Sho – Sho & Tell EP (1996), Frek Sho – Patience 12″ (1996), Mocean (1997), Frek Sho – Kingpin/Elegant Mess 12″ (2000), Frek Sho – People In Your Neighborhood (2000), Tournament Edition (2002), Frek Sho – Papercuts (2002), Stepwriter: The Dollar Bin Vol.1 (2003), dead cant bounce – I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost (2003), Micill Shazzam Write (2004), Ismaila – Just Stretching (2004), Ishq Bector – Ishq De (2004), Ismaila – Mark of the Zebra 12″ / CD (2004 / 2005)

You have always been a guy who has worked hard behind the scenes looking after the manufacturing of music, the servicing/promo etc. What is one thing you know now that would have been extremely helpful back then?

Marketing is everything if you want to release your music and sell it. Everyone can rap and produce good beats now because its so cheap to have a studio. If you want to be a player in the industry it’s a whole different ball game. Like I said, there is only one crew I have seen that really ran shit. Mostly everyone else answered to people that don’t care about the music. If you can find a happy medium and money then you can survive.

How frustrating is the Business of music?

Its not frustrating… its only frustrating if you don’t have cash to play with.

Is a Canadian hip hop industry futile?

It’s very broad and diverse, and the people listening are usually making the music, so they won’t go buy someone else’s music 9/10 times unless you’re a tight U.S. rapper. Reality to me is we spend too much time copying the U.S. style and not enough time buying our own music.

If you could change one thing throughout you’re your musical career what would it be?

Find lots of money first, then do it all as a hobby. Like be a lawyer, and then do it on the side for fun.

“I work, go home, eat supper, hang with kids, coach b-ball. Sorry, but that’s friggin boring to rap about and no one will buy that.”

I heard the rough demo version of what was to be your solo record with mcenroe. Why has that record never seen the light of day?

I honestly hate to rap now. I think it’s a young man’s sport, I have an 11-year-old boy that listens to rap. I think you should rap about what you do. I work, go home, eat supper, hang with kids, coach b-ball. Sorry, but that’s friggin boring to rap about and no one will buy that. Rap is crazy and risky and always on the edge for the youth, that’s what people want to hear. I would rather just listen and be involved behind the scenes.

What was the key to Frek Sho’s live performance and why has it now become something of folklore?

Original, wild and unique. The people involved were some of the most unique, popular, groundbreaking artists ever to be raised in Manitoba, and it was reflected on stage. We really practiced and tried to do mind blowing things on stage… it was a mission.

How would you describe the footprint Frek Sho left on Canadian Hip Hop? In essence what is the legacy?

Premier stage show and the original Prairie sound.

You are a great story teller and have experienced a lot of highs and lows and opened the doors for the scene’s we have today. Any plans to write a book?

Sure, if someone paid me… hahhah

Any last words, stories, shoutouts etc?

Please listen to the 80’s and 90’s hip-hop before your mind gets messed up with today’s rap. Its okay to like today’s rap, but you must know the roots first. A wise man told me that those that diss Kanye for wearing faggy clothes or colorful shit, etc… don’t know rap. Rap started out with unique styles and over the top shit… that is rap. Watch Beat Street and how they dressed, and the dude walking around with a brief case… that’s hip-hop. Hip-Hop is not wearing the same clothes as everyone else. Hip-hop is doing shit different whether it be clothes or music or djing, or graffiti. When you see the same shit, that’s the business. When you see difference than that’s the culture. Shout out to everyone who pushes positive shit.

19 Responses

  1. “I work, go home, eat supper, hang with kids, coach b-ball. Sorry, but that’s friggin boring to rap about and no one will buy that.”

    I would buy that album Marty!

  2. “I work, go home, eat supper, hang with kids, coach b-ball. Sorry, but that’s friggin boring to rap about and no one will buy that.”

    I’d buy it too. this has to be one of the best quotes in ugs interview history hahaha

  3. i agree, ugsmag has been really on point lately, lots of updates, good articles & interviews..big ups staff!

    good read!

  4. best interview ever. this makes me really proud. Shazzam is my favorite rap person. i would buy that album for sure.

  5. That was fuckin’ top notch. An on-point, no bullshit, straight facts interview.
    One of my favorite live Frek Sho moments: Gumball bringing 3 other Frek Sho members out on stage, one by one, in black hockey bags at Le Rendezvous (R.I.P.) during a set at Peg City Holla. Can’t remember the year…that might’ve been the year Jeru headlined. Fuckin’ classic. Props to Chaps and Spoof.
    And I gotta agree with everyone on that pull quote…I laughed my ass off at that. 😀

  6. Spoof is bigger than life! what he says is just an inch of what he knows. This interview could have been 60 pages of great information. Great interview Chaps!!

    To the rest of the old Frek Sho fans…..glad you were around for such an important time in Canadian Hip-Hop history. peace and love

    Stay tuned……

    still alive and well