Published Jun 18, 2013As the Godfather of Canadian Hip-Hop, Maestro Fresh Wes (a.k.a. Wes Williams), gets set to drop his Orchestrated Noise album next Tuesday (June 25), he tells Exclaim! that the upcoming album was perfectly timed with the 25th anniversary of his debut project, Symphony in Effect.
"The [new] album is crazy man. I just wanted to do one or two songs, but it led to creating an album," he says of Orchestrated Noise, which is now streaming in full here on Exclaim.ca.
After whetting appetites with last year's Juno-nominated Black Tuxedo EP — which featured the Classified team-up "Reach for the Sky (Try)" and a collaboration with the Trews on "I Wanna Know," two tracks that are also on the new album — Orchestrated Noise represents a highly ambitious project created as a "conceptual extension" to his seminal 1989 debut album, which, of course, featured the rap classic "Let Your Backbone Slide."
The Orchestrated Noise LP represents his first official album since 2000's Ever Since, and it's a project that Maestro says he's very excited about. "A lot of the album," he says, "just deals with life — growing, and the trials and tribulations."
Orchestrated Noise features 18 diverse tracks with a wide range of guest appearances, including Public Enemy's Chuck D, soprano singer Measha Brueggergosman, Sam Roberts, K-os, Lights, Brand Nubian's Sadat X, Kardinal Offishall, Kool G Rap, Divine Brown, Saukrates, and more. And though 18 songs sounds like a tall order, it's a good fit conceptually, Maestro says. Of genre-bending "Symphonia Destino," featuring Brueggergosman, he says "the opera joint is crazy."
The album was recorded in various studios across Toronto. Maestro also notes that rapper Shad was supposed to be on this album with a track called "Praise the Lord," which unfortunately didn't make the final cut.
"Shout out to Shad. I really wanted to remix it but there's only so much songs that could have made it on the record," Maestro says.
While being away from the hip-hop scene for what seems like an eternity, he never fully left the public eye; Maestro wears the hats of actor, public speaker and author of the 2010 self-help book Stick to Your Vision. You can also currently find him on the CBC television sitcom Mr. D.
The fact that the Black Tuxedo EP was nominated for a Juno Award was "very exciting for me," says Williams. "It meant that people were still checking for me. For me, I think that reinforced that, yeah, I'm still one of the best and that I'm still here, still out of Toronto."
Still, Maestro knows why he's here, and he's proud of his achievements in music, his first love.
"At the end of the day," he says, "the music is a foundation. I could be the greatest actor in the world, [but] I ain't Denzel. I could be the greatest author in the world, [but] I'm not Margaret Atwood. You feel me? The foundation is the music. Although I'm doing these different things, I've got to fuel this engine right here. So the project just came together — I'm writing songs, meeting artists, [and] what came from just doing one or two songs came out to an 18-track body of work."
Orchestrated Noise is out June 25 via Fontana North, but you can stream it all over here.