For years, Montreal's underground hip-hop scene has enjoyed the reflected success of producers and beat-makers like Kaytranada, High Klassified and Shash'U, to name a few. On the heels of their success is independent Montreal rapper Wasiu, who first bounced onto the Canadian hip-hop landscape with his 2015 project MTLiens.
The eight-track EP, which included a single titled "This Ain't Toronto," introduced Montreal's 'piu piu' style of rapping, one that merged electronic and futuristic hip-hop. For the better part of the past two years, Wasiu has continued to challenge notions of what Canadian rap can be by forging new subgenres, resulting in his latest release, MTLiens2.
In some respects, the record feels like a Montreal compilation project, as it encompasses a smorgasbord of sounds that have been popularized in the city. Production from the likes of Da-P, Dead Horse Beats, Dear Lola and Tommy Kruise drive the album, but it's Wasiu's lyrical prowess and diversity of delivery that fuel it.
MTLiens2 feels familiar. Songs like "7D Joint" mimics the simplicity and rhyme schemes of Yasiin Bey's (fka Mos Def) 1999 album Black on Both Sides, while the pre-fame Kaytranada production on "Tabula Rasa" imparts a neo-soul feel that evokes Common. "MTLien" turns to the electricity of OutKast for influence.
But of course, it's his experiences as a rapper, and as a Black man in Montreal, that provide the most thought-provoking content here. "Angry Black Man" and "Loi 101" confront discrimination and language laws, which are deep-seated issues in Quebec, while "Sunday Mourning" looks deeper into Wasiu's internal thoughts.
MTLiens2 is rooted in effortless production, a testament to the quality of the Artbeat Movement that launched the scene in the first place, and the artists that continue to follow its path ("Artbeat Cypher"). With this record, Wasiu feels one step closer to proving that Montreal artists are no longer outcasts, but competition. (Independent)