Published Jul 12, 2010The story of Canadian artists going stateside in order to pursue dreams viewed as unattainable here at home is as familiar as the ear-perking hum of a vibrating cellphone, and it's one we seem resigned to accept as the price of success. In the case of newly aligned MC/producer tandem Eternia & Moss, the skills gained through setting out to, and then conquering, moderate degrees of stature in hip-hop holy land NYC are readily apparent on their new album At Last.
The fierce, boom-bap rhythms bearing producer Moss's pronounced sonic signature wind their murky way through the unrelenting force of Eternia's tough-as-nails verbal assaults, as each carries a sense of purpose that belies the leaps both have made towards perfecting their craft. In terms of the impact of her move to foreign soil, Eternia is up front about the role setting up shop in the Big Apple has had on her artistry and drive.
"On a creative level, it really made me hone myself a little bit more, step up my skills more, and see what I was up against," she explains to Exclaim! in a recent interview. "You know how they say that if you play with professional basketball players, you're gonna be doing something different than just playing with kids around the block, even if you have a professional-level skill at playing basketball yourself? It's kinda like jumping into the NBA, but for rapping, and that's how I felt about moving to New York."
Of course, the respectful lyricist isn't about to take anything away from her Toronto hometown. "That's not to say that there aren't amazing MCs that were inspiring me back [in Toronto]," she insists, "but just that I had been there for so long that I didn't feel like I had anything to prove there anymore. I needed to move somewhere and start from scratch. I came here and I was treated like a new artists that nobody cared about, and that's good because it makes you fight and swim upstream and prove something, and that really does a lot for me creatively."
But while New York may have provided the professional challenge she was looking for, it was a fellow Canadian in collaborative partner Moss who's likely responsible for shining the feisty MC in the most positive light to date. The seasoned beatsmith not only provides her ample ammunition in the form of a slew of battle-ready soundscapes, but over the course of an album that reaches both deeply and impressively into the personal, guides his lyrical muse through the disc's near exhausting set of raw and rivetingly emotional midsection.
Tracks like "It's Funny" and posse cut "BBQ" deliver the muscle flexing quotient, while "Pass That" draws the subject matter into a deep stretch of head twisting reflections on development and adolescence, with the crowning jewel coming in the chilling "To the Future." There's a prevailing sense throughout the record that this type of depth would not have been possible had the project been constructed by a series of fly-by-night producers. It's a point Eternia is upfront about in lauding the fruits of working so closely with a single person towards a common end.
"What I think is really different between working with just one-off people giving you beats and working with one person for an entire project is the amount of perfectionism, care, and passion for the project [that they have]," she confirms of the importance of that relationship. "It feels like I'm working with someone who really cares about this as much as me, and never before did I experience that. And with Moss, this is the first time he's really gone to the studio for every singe track on an album for an artist. So, he was more hands on musically than he's ever been before, and I wanted him ever single session because I wanted him to say 'I don't like that take, do that again, this kinda sounds corny,' and he did!"
That combined passion definitely shows the record's cohesion, and the mind of an MC who's gone her lengthy career in search of a stable running mate, it's what Eternia expects listeners to most come away with.
"People who have followed me know I can rap, but when it comes to my sound, like, what does Eternia sound like, what is she the best at, I think this album with MoSS displays that strongly. It's kind of like a coming of age, or 'now we've found ourselves' project. It's comfortable, it suits me and it's up my lane, so pervious to this, it's not to say that I didn't make good music, but it was all over the place a little bit when if came to vibes and sounds. But this is the first time that it's literally been like, this is Eternia's sound, and this is the kind of music she makes."
At Last is out now on Fatbeats.