Ok, now this is awesome. Hopefully you’ve already had the chance to check out some of our “Deeper Into Music” posts where we ask an artist to jot down a few thoughts about each song on their latest album. They’ve gotten a really positive response so far, and I have to say I think they’ve made for some great reading. So there’s been plenty of good posts in this vein so far, but I’ve been wanting to feature a hip hop record in this same fashion for a while, and we’re finally getting it done with a great one: Heatwave from massive Canadian hip hop collective Backburner.
Backburner is a collective of nearly 20 MC’s, Producers and DJ’s with the members scattered across Canada, but with the majority of the members calling Ontario or Halifax home. Heatwave was some 3-plus years in the making which is hardly surprising considering the Ack and I have trouble organizing even the simplest hill-related task - I cannot imagine if there were 18 more of us. Anyway, if you’re even a bit of a hip hop nerd, as I consider myself to be, the process behind making an album, especially one like this with so many people invovled, is always interesting, and we’re lucky to have two of CDN hip hop’s most interesting dudes to run it down for us. Timbuktu and Ghettosocks are proud members of the burner (not to mention 2/3rds of the amazing Teenburger with Jorun), and they’ve been kind enough to go through the album and give us some thoughts on all 14 tracks.
There’s talk of crotch-punting, MC Sven and even a Sebutones ref. Classical material and perhaps one of my favorite posts from the last few years, so thanks to Tim and ‘Socks for taking the time to do it. Enjoy this one, and do yourself a favour by picking up Heatwave ASAP.
BACKBURNER - Heatwave by Hand’Solo
“Straight out the Vault”
Ghettosocks - I remember when they played this Dexter Doolittle beat in the Vault. Half the squad went nuts and headed downstairs to start writing and half stayed to work on something else. I thought the build up was hype, and Jesse definitely championed this beat. I think you get that impression from his monster howl right at the beginning. I’m not really on this joint so I can’t really speak on it too much. Fester killed the cuts, and Ambition rocked it.
Timbuktu - Yeah, Burgie and I jokingly call this track “Jesse D’s Muppet Show” because of the howl. I really love this track and think it’s a good example of a Dexter Doolittle beat. It’s also one of the two songs on the record that Dex mixed. I believe Jesse, Choke and Ambition threw down on the spot and Bizzy’s raps and Fes’ cuts were added later.
Ghettosocks - This joint has some of my favorite moments on the album. The beat is awesome and I was a little pissed I missed the bus, but nevertheless the boys killed it. Choke set it off perfectly. The hook is dope too. It was sick to rock along with this song live. Still upset I’m not on it!
Timbuktu – Yeah, “Lifers” was thrown together last minute for the record. The Toronto-based Backburner guys (Choke, Les, Burgie and myself) had always wanted to add another track to the mix. At the time we only had 12 tracks, and we also wanted to have something more recent as most of the album was a few years old at that point. We tried to meet at Kils the day after a Backburner showcase in Toronto to rock something over a Kilgour beat, but nothing came of it, other than hanging out hung over and eventually getting drunk again. I made this beat several weeks later, the morning everyone was coming over to write/record. Everything just kinda fell into place. The hook follows the horns and Socks threw in some cuts. Done.
Ghettosocks - Timbuktu and DJ Dubble killed this one. When I heard this beat I knew it was on. Me and Jesse wrote our verses for this first, he recorded first. When I heard Fester’s cuts I made a stink face. So sick. Ambition also crushed this junt - the whole joint goes hard as fuck. I especially like the creepy Microkorg keys that wander in and out. Big ups Jammy Jay. Jam Jar.
Timbuktu - Yup, tall props to Jam Jar! He and I threw this together one day at his apartment over a live drum break from my boy Danny Miles. Dubble was playing some stuff on some moog and korg synths and I remember telling him, “Play something mean! Nothin’ friendly!” And that aesthetic shines through the rhymes, the cuts, everything. One of my favorite jams for sure.
Ghettosocks - I had a chance to visit Troy (Ginzu333) out in Osaka, Japan last year. I feel like I have a special insight into his verse because of my visit out there. He was super amped to have some Canadian homies visit him - I don’t know if anyone had visited him before. Anyway, I feel this track even more for having chilled with Troy out in Japan. That being said, Japan is a trip, and I can see how spending
extended periods of time over there would make you long for turkey and gravy. I also dug Thesis’s verse on this song. It’s cool to hear Thesis kick some story-time rhymes, and I think he did it well.
Timbuktu - This track was originally written and recorded over a Fester beat, but I think because of the time that elapsed between recording and mixing, the beat stems got lost or corrupted. So Mister E stepped in and threw down this beat and everybody loved it. I remember More Or Les got at me on a Friday to ask me to send the acapella to him so he could get Mister E on the job. I sent it and went out to get some food and literally and hour later Les was texting me bugging out over it. Mister E handled that shit. This tracks is also cool because it features verses recorded in Toronto and also sent in from Japan, Newfoundland & B.C. Backburner is world wide.
“Show of Hands”
Ghettosocks - Beatmason produced this banger. Not to toot my own horn, but this is another case where I QB-ed the track (similar to “8 Rappers and the Mason,” off Burglaritis) and everyone brought the heat. Fester killed his cuts, probably some of the best on the record. The cuts are heavy as a muh and go perfectly with the 808-laden heater.
Timbuktu - Another winner. Beatmason crushed this donkey out the park. Socks’ verse is a punt in the crotch, Choke is stylin’, Burgie’s is maybe my all time favorite Burgie verse, and the hook is out the napkin at shows. Topped with sweet Fessy cuts. So hype. That’s a crowd rowdy rumbler.
Ghettosocks - Although this isn’t necessarily my “cup of tea”, the boys went in on this track and the video should be dope as hell. It was also really dope to rock it live (even though I just filled in for Jay Bizzy) at Rancho Relaxo in Toronto. The crowd really felt the tune. This is the type of beat Timbuktu really excels on, and not just because he made it, either. Same goes for Jesse. Too bad Jesse didn’t wear Timbs in the video… hay!
Timbuktu – Yeah, video track, album title track. I’m really proud of the chops on the beat and everybody knows I love the uptempo stuff. What I love about this track, and the album really, is just throwing verses, you know? Burgie wanted to jump on the track after it was already finished so he’s on there for 8 bars. Bizzy just throws a 16 (definitely one of my favorite verses on the record) and everybody else has 12s split up. Just the crew having fun. When we wrote this out at the Vault in Hali – in 2009 it must have been – it was right in the middle of an insane heatwave. We were dying sitting in the sweltering studio with no air circulation, writing and recording, drinking growlers outta plastic cups. Some of my best Burner memories ever, but damn was it hot!
Ghettosocks - I had this one in the chamber and brought it out when we were showing beats. This jam turned out real nice. I like how Timbuk & Choke and Jesse & WB had conversational split 16s. They turned out dope. I even like how Jesse encouraged WB’s playeristic tendencies at the end. Very rare/based Jesse D.
Timbuktu - Haha, Jesse… Don’t know how Burgie turned him to the dark side for a second there, but I love it. What can I say about this beat? The cuts? Not to mention his verse. Socks is a one man wrecking crew. Alaska!!!
Ghettosocks - I feel this beat. Kils rocked it even though I think it was an old thing he had sitting around. Regardless, it’s dope. Frank Deluxe body bags this track. Overall it reminds me of old Halifax rap, kinda Sebutones-ish.
Timbuktu - Yeah, Frankie D murders, for sure. Everybody brings it and it’s great to hear my boy Psybo (Toolshed alum) doing his thing. We wanted this combo of dudes together on a track because of the shared style influence. This was our lyrical mayhem jam.
“Long Story Short”
Ghettosock - You know when you hear some beats and you know they need raps on them? Well this is how I always felt about this beat. It’s creepy and mischievous and the drums are snappy and punchy and all that. Kils did it. I remember joking around with WB before we were writing for this and he was telling me a story and at one point he had said “To answer your question, we six-nined in higschool.” That cracked me up. Also, Burg refers to the Borg in a sexual way as he did previously (yet differently) on his “sexy” joint from Burglaritis. Props!
Timbuktu - Yeah, this track gets progressively seedier and sleazier as it goes on, culminating with Burgie’s “Save some for me, Mom.” Ha ha. Damn. I think we talked about a sneaky covert loose concept, but then of course Socks has a bit of sexy stuff in there, Burg hears that and doubles down. Les and I kept it PG. Love this track, love this beat, big Kils!!! Also some of my favorite cuts on the
Ghettosocks - Mister E shines on this piece. Other than that, I’m not too sure what to say. I love Nintendo beats.
Timbuktu - This track had an interesting journey to become what it is. There were some additional verses that couldn’t fit, and the beat we wrote and recorded on was the same but stripped down a bit. We also recorded a crew hook that didn’t make the cut. When Mister E entered the fray near the end of project completion, we needed at least a verse (I would have liked to have had more). So Mister E hopped on, Beatmason sent updated stems (slammy) and Socks pieced together the amazing “Phantom Ghost” hook. Honestly, the hook makes the track for me. It’s the rallying cry that brings cohesion to the verses. Fun as hell to rock at shows too…
Ghettosocks - Fester rocked this break. We did short verses. Don’t remember much more. I feel like Choke wrote the hook for this one. It kinda sounds like a Choke hook. I like how Fester rearranged Nas’s cut “…ain’t the kinda [Crew] made for you to start testin’…” Clever! Smoove.
Timbuktu - This was the first track we wrote/recorded for the album back at the Vault in ’09. I think Frank Deluxe was added later in Toronto. And yes, that is a Choke hook. Choke really stepped up to the plate when it came time to unify tracks that were, in some cases, just posse cuts without a centre. Everyone talked about getting together to write hooks, but Choke just sat down on his own and
knocked out a gang of ‘em at once. “Harm’s Way,” “Freakshow Physics,” “Show Of Hands” and the original hook for “Phantom Ghost”. That’s a lot of heavy lifting.
“Freak Show Physics”
Ghettosocks - All I can think of when I hear this song, is that MC Sven or whatever joint, and that dude that looks like Timbuktu singing “I wanna ring-a-dang-dong for a holy-day!” I’m glad Timbuktu has modeled himself after MC Sven. It’s a great look. Classic, timeless. Mellow my man.
Timbuktu - Ha. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Also, Socks? You can eat a moak… This was another of the lost/corrupted Fester beats from the original timeline; everyone wrote/recorded over a different beat. If you heard the original you’d really get why folks were coming with some 80s type flavour. The remake
is a banger, and Fester’s ability to cut everybody’s names into the cut chorus seals the deal.
“Showtime in ’09 (Mister E Remix)”
Ghettosocks - I’m not sure why this track was put on the album as it’s 2011, but let’s roll with it. I guess back in 2009, some of the core members wanted to do a big push for a Backburner release, hence the “Showtime in 09” promise. When we originally did “Showtime in 09,” it was a goat rodeo, and in hind-sight we probably should have left the date out. Large Professor, or someone of that nature, said something about avoiding mentioning the year on record in order to avoid dating the material, as we’ve done here – never the less! We deeeed it.
Timbuktu - This track was intended as a sort of bonus jam, but was put second last on the album ’cause we wanted to finish with “Burn It Down.” I agree with Socks about avoiding the year, but as far as giving people another take on a song that has so many of the members on it (which as Socks says is a bit of a goat rodeo to achieve) Timmy says, why not… Your welcome. Also, another chance to get a taste of some Mister E production. And one of my favorite Psybo verses ever. Manalive too. But
everybody comes dope.
“Burn it Down”
Ghettosocks - I think this was the first joint we did for the album. Dexter made the beat and it’s a beast. It thumps live. In fact, this joint was one of my favorites to perform live. When I heard what Jesse wrote for the hook, I thought of cartoon children trapped in a burning building with a rag-tag band of scrambling cartoon firemen scampering to the rescue. Have you seen the movie Dumbo? The original
one? I think there’s a scene in there that summarizes what I’m talking about.
Timbuktu - This track was meant to be the first song on the album. Track 1. We sent out the invitation to the whole crew to write an 8 for this one assuming that we’d get between 6 and 8 of the players to show up to the table. Instead, almost everybody threw hot heat. We didn’t want to start the album with
a 5 minute joint, and we didn’t want to break it into two or cut anybody, so we left it in the chamber till the end to literally burn it down at the end. Again, dope Dex, everybody brings it and for that many rappers, it’s as tight as it gets. Also kills at shows.