Butta Babees Urbanelo

Butta Babees Urbanelo

To Montreal’s Butta Babees, Urbanelo represents "urban eloquence.” However, Urbanelo also represents the culmination of years of recording and releasing well-received singles over the last few years. While previously released tracks like the jazzy piano-fuelled "Science” and the respectful ode to single parenthood "Baby Motha” make the cut here, their presence does not make the album feel stale or past due. In fact, due to the addition of previously unheard mixes, attentive and detailed sequencing and strong thematic links, Urbanelo is a genuinely refreshing listening experience whether it's celebrating a Senegal victory in the World Cup or simply inducing you to meditate. Drawing influences from jazz, reggae and of course, classic hip-hop, MCs Manchilde and Zip-Loks and DJ Raid each contribute a number of self-produced tracks to anchor lead MC Manchilde’s intricate, intelligent and positive lyricism. Manchilde shines on message-riddled tracks like "Undertand Yourself” and assertive fare like "In Da Game" but the group due to their long-standing chemistry easily adapts to the contributions of Toronto MCs Motion ("Man n’ Motion”) and Kamau ("Subliminal”) as well as a slew of Montreal MCs, including Manchilde’s brother Sekou Toure, on the Big Daddy Kane-inspired remix of their current single "You Don’t Want It.” Despite its long gestation period due to the music business obstacles many independent groups face, Urbanelo maintains a positive outlook throughout making it a long-awaited debut well worth waiting for.

How does it feel to finally release this album? Manchilde: It’s been a labour of love. Many, many years. If we take some of the older tracks on this album tracks, like "Greensneakers,” that goes back like to the Ice Storm of 1998. The latest track, which is the very last track on the album, was recorded literally around Christmas [2003]. So it really spans the work we’ve done together as Butta Babees and I feel very confident if we never release music again, which I don’t intend to be the case, that this album is a real good representative of the work we’ve done.

Is it really the music from back in the day that’s more inspiring to you right now? Nah, it’s not reactionary, it’s not always trying to hearken back to some great mythic hip-hop past where everything was perfect and there were no guns and violence and it was just all about beats and rhymes. I don’t think that. I try to be forward-looking with it. But I don’t doubt that classic feel. So if we strive to be classic it’s not because we want to go back into the past and dwell there and stay there and be there, but only to know where you’re coming from, to know where you’re going to. You go back to the past to find the things you put in the music today that will allow you to be here in the future. (Dusty Tracks)