Published Feb 12, 2013Toronto, ON underground vet Theology3 has been building his resume one project at a time since way back in 2003. Along the way, he's collaborated with a vast array of Canadian talent, including the likes of Shad, Ken Starr and none other than your boy Drizzy. On his latest project, Theo3 hits the mic over some organic, soulful production, with guests Andreena Mill, Tanika Charles, fellow Freedom Writers cohorts Tona and Frankie Payne, and contributions from board vets such as DJ Eclipse and Grouch. Airplane Over One Way Streets is a solid record that certainly doesn't deserve the "Screwface" T-Dot fans are so prone to wearing. (SFC, www.theology3.bandcamp.com)
It's been over a year since your last release, (the Elevator Up mix CD with Tony Touch) and over three years since your last album (2009's Featuring No Features). What has the building process been like to get to the release of Airplane Over One Way Street?
I've kept very busy. Airplane Over One Way Streets was compiled before, during and after those two records. The creation timeline spans from five years ago right up to three weeks before the release of the new album. It's a constant process.
Toronto urban legend cites you as labelling our fine city as "the Screwface Capital" back in 2000 or 2001. Is this true and why the hell didn't you copyright it!?
This is true. I came up with the term in 2000 to describe the indifference — not hate — in the area I grew up in. There were a lot of hardworking peeps on Vaughan Road in Toronto and the grind made it harder to penetrate that gruff exterior. But Toronto has the biggest support system once the veneer of tough is cracked, just like sports fans in Philly. We ride to the death for our heroes and reps. Yes, it's a registered trademark with the government of Canada's intellectual property offices. It's only right.
What's the relevance of the title and how would you want your fans and new listeners to interpret it, along with the new material?
The concept relates to being far beyond the traffic, the congestion and the enforced directions of what people want and expect from you. When you look down from your "airplane" at those familiar "one way streets," there's a freedom of thought and action you wouldn't have had if you stayed on the ground level. It's time to fly!
You have a number of guests on the album, from fellow Freedom Writers cohorts Tona and Frankie Payne to board vets like DJ Eclipse and fellow Canuck DJ Grouch. What were the sessions like for this album? Was it an organic, natural vibe created in the studio with some of these dudes or was there a lot of sending zip files back and forth?
The process was very fast. I'd book a time at Blaow's studio and bring people through, because our vibe is nurturing, creative and full of respect for the craft of our peers. I wrote all the hooks, except for Frankie's amazing "on the go" vibe, which fits perfectly with the song. Ironically, the farthest collaborator sent his piece the fastest! DJ Eclipse, from Queens NY, took an hour from when I sent the template, and thus "Trust" was born. He's a pro.
In a burgeoning Toronto rap/urban music scene that has gone international, thanks to likes of Drake, the Weeknd, producers like 40, T-Minus, Boi-1da, et al., where does Theo3 fit in and how far do you want to take this rap thing potentially?
Very well, thank you. A legacy of music, community support and skills. Shouts out to Drake ("All Figured Out" on the Tony Touch mixtape), 40 (long time ally in Toronto) and Boi1da (who you can hear on the album with "How I Flow part 2"). Once you have the people's bly, which in layman's terms means their vote of confidence, you can take the time to give them what they need and want, just like Mr. Roam said on da Grassroots classic LP Passage Through Time. I want to do this for a living and, thanks to Toronto, I am. Now, let's keep moving forward and reaching the whole world.
I recently found out that you're quite involved in the community; you were the coordinator at the Parkdale Youth Space. What exactly did that title entail and why did you do it?
It's intrinsically linked, in my eyes; I can't separate community work and hip-hop. Just as a reminder to those who may be watching World Star right now and witnessing an entertaining yet wholly unnecessary beating live on camera, hip-hop was founded on the principles of anti-violence, community-building and as a reaction to marginalization and racialized oppression. So turn off the T.V. and Internet, like, now. This is who we are; we love each other no matter what fuckery the mass media projects as hip-hop. Sorry if that's unexciting, but I'd rather promote unity than watch separation.
You represent the T-Dot. Who in your opinion has next for this city in the rap game?
Freedom Writers (www.freedomwritersmusic.com); it's a powerful collective with support and strength. See you soon.
What do you have planned for this upcoming year? Are there plans to get out on the road to support the new project?
I'd love to get out on the road and meet the fans and supporters. I booked my own tour in 2009/'10 and touched Van. It's a very picturesque place; I actually missed a meeting walking from the ocean to the mountains looking up, like, "holy shit, this is amazing." I'm working the album, which in reality has six singles, so it's pretty easy to extend the life. In conjunction with that I'm delivering the new album, with production from Scam and Tone Mason — why run from the team? We've got something big.
Give me your itinerary for the perfect hip-hop-flavoured date night in the city. Valentine's Day is coming up. Even thugs need to show love, right?
I keep my love life and music completely separate. Shouts to my baby. Insert "awwwwww" here.