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Hip Club Groovin'
- Subject: Hip Club Groovin'
- From: Adam S Rodenhiser <ac768\!/ccn.cs.dal.ca>
- Date: Fri, 12 Jul 1996 18:38:03 -0300
The Daily News Worldwide
Friday, July 12, 1996
Bye, bye bubblegum
After taking a knock for writing lightweight houseparty rap, Hip Club Groove
comes back heavy with a new EP
By ANDY PEDERSEN --The Daily News
Hip Club Groove spits some serious venom on its second record, Land of
the Lost (Fun Trip Records). Even the title is a thinly veiled attack
on all things Haligonian.
"We were all pretty angry when we were putting these cuts together,"
says Derek MacKenzie, the hip hop trio's broad-shouldered lyrical
"I deem this record reactionary," he says. "We were reacting to all
the stuff that went down out here in terms of the way people treated
us and the way we've been mis-used."
"So it's in your face: this is who we are and we don't give a f---
about who you are."
MacKenzie, Cory Bowles and Brian Higgins (all 22) haven't had the
easiest time since they busted out of their Truro trailerpark two
years ago with Trailer Park Hip Hop (Murderecords).
First, they drew critical barbs from the Halifax hip hop scene for
being white, for being from Truro and for hitching their cart with
Sloan's Murderecords. (Rappers can be a pretty close-knit group, and
Hip Club Groove was criticized for breaking the hip hop ranks and
associating itself with the city's rock crowd).
"You know, I can even understand all that," says MacKenzie, who goes
by the name Underground onstage. "We were really pretty new but we
were getting lots of shows and then we got this record going.
"So I can understand the bitterness, but I don't understand what they
all wanted us to do about it," he says. "We were giving this community
props all over the place - we took Jo Run tapes and Ruff Neck tapes to
all the radio stations that had us in for interviews."
Then the group took flak for the music itself. Trailer Park Hip Hop
was a cheerily raucous six-song EP of party music that was a long way
from the menacing diatribes of hardcore and gangsta rap dominating the
hip hop charts at the time.
"People got this real bubblegum image of us from Trailer Park,"
MacKenzie says. "But we were so young when we put those songs together
- like 16, 17. It was stuff we wrote for house parties - stuff people
were supposed to dance to."
Almost a year after Trailer Park Hip Hop came out, the trio's working
relationship with Murderecords soured. The rift is a question of money
- the label says it's owed some, the trio says it's not paying a cent
until it sees some proof.
"But none of us have anything personal against those guys - I don't
think they're trying to screw us on purpose," MacKenzie says. "I saw
Jay (Ferguson, Sloan guitarist) in Kensington Market last week and we
got along fine.
"It's just a business thing. Money's a vice, man - turns everything
So it was with lots of frustration that the Hip Clubsters hit the
studio in January and it shows. The tracks on Land of the Lost are
darker and crabbier than Trailer Park's, but they say that's exactly
what they were looking for.
"It's dope, man. I have no doubt that this is about 300 times better
than the last one," says MacKenzie.
"Yeah, it's a little more mature in the lyrics and in the beats," says
Bowles, aka Checklove. "It feels like we're starting fresh, that's why
we kept it as an EP (instead of doing a full-length record). We even
had a couple of songs we decided to leave off."
In perfect pop psychology form, the three say they feel a lot more
positive about Halifax and their rocky couple of years after venting
their frustrations musically.
"Things are getting a lot better from that first scene - everything's
a lot smoother," says Higgins, or D.J. Moves.
With the ill-will exorcised, the Truro trio is mounting a veritable
assault on Halifax stages this weekend. The group was onstage at the
Birdland Cabaret last night (along with its side-project, Hot Butter,
a nine-man funk ensemble.)
Tonight the group plays an outdoor set on the Halifax Commons to help
kick off The Atlantic Earth Festival, and then it cruises down to Cafe
Ole for a few more all-ages sets. The trio performs again tomorrow
afternoon at the Skateboard Festival across from Queen Elizabeth High
School in Halifax.
Within a couple of weeks, the three should be on the road for a
cross-Canada tour. They're just booking the shows, but are hoping to
get at least a dozen lined up.
Still, the Hip Club Groove's future isn't altogether rosy. While
there's no suggestion members of the trio are even thinking about
going their separate ways, they are having to learn to live with a
long distance relationship.
MacKenzie moved to Toronto just after Christmas. With a job and a
girlfriend there, he's settling in quite nicely.
"There's lots going on up there, and I'm really starting to find my
feet," he says. "But now that I'm settled I plan to come back this way
every couple of months or so."
They may accept his move, but it doesn't mean Bowles and Higgins are
happy with it.
"I know he's got to do what he's got to do, but I hate it," Bowles
says. "It's hard 'cause we don't get to hang around and write songs
together all the time or play lots of shows."
Bowles says that even though the hip hop grass looks greener up in
MacKenzie's new neighborhood, there's no chance the trio will move up
there with him.
"I don't like the whole idea of getting caught up in that Toronto
scene. It's pretty cut-throat up there," he says. "I don't want to get
caught up in all that one-up-manship and competitiveness - I think
we'd start losing focus if we did that."
Focus is what the group is after right now. The trio is planning
another studio trip, probably in the fall, once the summer touring is
"We've got big plans to take another step towards the experimental
stuff," Bowles says. "It's going to be a dope time."
Hip Club Groove performs tonight at the Atlantic Earth Festival on the
Halifax Citadel Garrison Grounds at about 7 p.m. (admission is free)
and at Cafe Ole on Barrington Street at about 8 p.m. (Admission$5).
Tomorrow, it plays through the afternoon at the Halifax Commons
skateboard pit during the first Atlantic Skateboard Festival.
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