Published Feb 17, 2015The early 2000s were perhaps the pinnacle of optimism for Canadian hip-hop. Our artists were getting signed, commercial radio finally began paying attention, rap was no longer relegated to a 30-minute slot on MuchMusic, and even B.E.T. started noticing what was going on north of the border. Scarborough's Irs was riding that wave nicely: their Welcome To Planet Irs was recognized by all of the above outlets and they were touring heavily, celebrating what was to be an all-too-brief moment. Optimism faded, market forces set in and the loudest lyricists found themselves playing second fiddle to lesser acts. There was no sophomore Irs album.
12 years later, one third of the group has returned. Korry Deez' Imago is a well composed full-length consisting of new material and a few songs that have trickled out over the past year. While falling short of an actual reunion, former bandmates Black Cat and T.R.A.C.K.S. contribute a few beats and Cat even guests on "Big Knuckles." The Phat Tony-produced "Watching Me" is a personal favourite, as Korry drops the rapid rhyming in favour of crooning over a Kev Brown-type bass line. Another highlight is the Moka Only-assisted "Stuff Like That," which rides a '96 Dilla vibe until exploding into a soulful chorus. The album is carried by a series of well executed interludes in which scientists and the like walk the listener through the various stages of metamorphosis, leading us to Imago's conclusion.
But is this Korry's conclusion? I'm not convinced. Deez hasn't lost any of the edge he demonstrated way back when; his distinctive stacked rhyme flow and lyricism are on point throughout the project. He's matured, but still hungry, and will eat your lunch if necessary. (Independent)