Le Rap c'était mieux avant (Rap/Hip Hop was better before). I've heard this phrase a thousand times. And you know what, it isn't true. Perhaps our ears have just become lazy. But I have something up my sleeve that will remind you of your faith in Hip Hop.
3rd: ST, tell me about how you got into Rap and Hip Hop? Being a kid from Morzine, France, then moving to Montreal, Canada, how did you find your Hip Hop voice?
ST: Well, first and foremost, while I do call Morzine one of my homes, I was born and raised in Montreal. However, moving back and forth between Canada and France allowed me to have a larger perspective on life and I try to reflect that in my music. I first got into rap thanks to an older neighbor when I was 7 years old. He showed me the basics: 2pac, Biggie, Nas, Bone Thugs n Harmony etc. From there, I was hooked. Then, I guess push came to shove and I started writing rhymes. I always had an interest in writing and reading, and with the love I was developing for the music, it just felt right to start making my own.
3rd: Have you ever tried producing Hip Hop in your native French?
ST: I have actually. There's a few unreleased tracks that should be out this year. It's not something I really think about, I feel as comfortable rapping in English as I do in French so you should definitely expect some ST tracks in French!
3rd: You featured in the Celestics track 'The One'. Is your ambition to work your way up through Hip Hop? By that I mean what level of Hip Hop artist do you wish to emulate? You have a very similar style to Vursatyl from Lifesavas, for example.
ST: Shouts to The Celestics man! They're very good homies and their work is amazing, it was a blessing to be featured on their album. Honestly, my ambition is to be able to travel thanks to music. I don’t necessarily have dreams of blowing up, I'm just trying to see the world and get a few people to relate to my story, hopefully music can help me with that, anything more is just bonus.
As far as emulating other artists, I try not to. I obviously have influences but I really try to do something that is true to who I am, that is genuine. Much love for the Vursatyl comparison though, it's the first time I hear it but I really like Lifesavas so that's wassup! They also kind of represent what I aspire to do; be independent and travel thanks to music.
3rd: The Hip Hop beats that are sampled on your track are very golden era for me. Nas infleuenced, but then 'Heavyweights' from the 'Fresh Crops' record is the opposite of that again. How do you choose what to sample? And how many of your beats are original?
ST: Honestly, that's more of a question for Liam. I think we don't really have a set plan or style, we just do what feels right and sometimes it's a classic boom-bap sample, while other times we go for off-kilter stuff that's a bit more experimental. We don't really choose who we sample either, most times we just go through 1$ bins at record stores and buy whatever has the most appealing or funniest cover and see if we can work that record into a beat. As far as how many of our beats are original…they all are! For real, fuck what you heard about sampling, we're taking old records and making them fresh again, that's original!
3rd: Who wins in a rap battle between ST and LIAM?
ST: I do, obviously. We've been down that road many times and while Liam's an underrated rapper, he has ways to go before he can think of besting me! He has a lot of good stuff going on for himself though so I'm sure he's cool with me being the better rapper of the two.
3rd: In 'Realness' you play with the idea of what real life and Hip Hop is. For you what is real Hip Hop?
ST: I think real Hip Hop is whatever feels genuine to the people making it. Me making gangsta rap wouldn't be genuine, so obviously that wouldn't be real Hip Hop. However, some dude who's really out there selling dope and living that life could make gangsta rap and that would be real Hip Hop to me. I feel like whenever music is genuine, you can sense it and it makes the songs that much better. We all have our lives, and real Hip Hop stems from artists talking and reporting on what they experience on an everyday basis. When something is fake, you can definitely tell.
3rd: The latest record 'Lava', explain the album cover to me. And also where did the australian voiceover on the intro come from? It's mainly instrumental, does that defy the point of Hip Hop? Or is it a return to the instrumentals which often played on the B-sides to singles in the 80s/90s?
ST: Well, 'Lava' is really Fruits & Liam’s project, I had very little to do with it. The cover is crazy, isn't it? Honestly I couldn't really explain it to you, it's just a fox jumping through some lava pit while jets are flying over. Genius! The voice at the beginning is a random voice we found in a documentary about volcanoes.
As far as instrumental music defying the point of Hip Hop, I would have to disagree. The music plays as much of a role in Hip Hop as the rapping in my opinion. Especially in the last few years, there's been a resurgence of instrumental Hip Hop that's been inspired by the likes of J. Dilla, Nujabes, Madlib and others. Montreal has seen the instrumental side blossom recently with guys like Kaytranada, High Klassified, Lunice, Da-P and others blowing up thanks to their largely instrumental Hipn Hop catalogue. So I wouldn't say it's a return to B-sides, but more so an evolution of the demand for instrumental music.
3rd: What's next for ST then?
ST: I have an album coming out sometime in the spring produced entirely by Tony Stone, an up-and-coming producer/rapper that's making his rounds in Montreal with his crews The North Virus and Planet Giza. The album is called 'Standby' and is based on my recent travels, trials and tribulations. First single out soon! Other than that, I'm working on the first ST x LIAM album as well as the first TTT album and other collaborations with Montreal artists.
3rd: If you could collaborate with one American, one UK and one French artist, who are they?
ST: American: Nickelus F aka Sweet Petey. UK: Skepta or Sam Gellaitry. French: Myth Syzer or Dream Koala.
3rd: It's been a pleasure talking to you. Finally ST, what's your desert island drink?
ST: Fresh water, always!