By Vish KhannaFor ear-to-the-underground fans, Noah23 is a hip-hop hero with rap super powers. Yet his conflicted dedication to cult status has meant only small pockets of followers across the globe can wax poetic about the prolific, Guelph, ON-based MC’s gifts, as a culture sponge with a rapid-fire flow and an ear for the sweetest, unexpected hooks. All of this should change with the star-studded semi-bildungsroman that is Rock Paper Scissors, as Noah23 aims high for his first proper solo album in four years.
"If I don’t win the Polaris Prize, I’m going to blow up the CN Tower. And that’s being humble,” Noah jokes. "No, no, I’ve always thought that I have talent and wanted people to see it but I’m comfortable because I’ve made the statement I wanted to. I just hope people hear it because, if they do, they will like it.”
Featuring producers, MCs, and indie rockers from home and abroad, Rock Paper Scissors is a gritty pop masterpiece. The eclectic styles and sounds suit Noah, who’s as comfortable tackling scientific theories as he is children’s games, Pavement b-sides, or John Zorn in his awe-inspiring lyrics. "It’s like my Sgt. Pepper’s and I wanted to really work with a lot of artists who I’ve known or grew up with,” he explains. "Newer artists too like Josh Martinez, Cadence Weapon — I was really honoured to work with cats like that.”
Often straddling a chasm between elitism and accessibility, Noah23 purposefully conjured something for everyone with Rock Paper Scissors. "I challenged myself to convey different ideas and emotions. I always do a free-form abstract thing and some of these songs are more thematic. I’m poking fun at subcultures but that’s the same audience I want to dig the album. I don’t know — I’m like Marshall McLuhan meets Dr. Dre.”