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A look at the rap scene in Charlottetown

by Kelly McClean

It seems that every time you turn on MuchMusic, you see a rap artist doing his or her thing-driving a big car, wearing fancy jewellery, and surrounded with lots of dancing women. Up until recently this genre of music wasn't represented here on PEI but now seven young Charlottetown men are taking it on.

Dice Mob (Eric Broadbent, Tom Biggar, and John Michael Kelley), Evil Consequence (Jeff Gallant and Kyle Francis), and Basemint (Tyler Gallant and Ray Corkum) are three closely linked Charlottetown rap groups who work both independently of one another, as well as joining forces to form The Basemint Crew. I met with Broadbent and Bigger, from Dice Mob, in early January to find out more.

Dice Mob formed officially in January of 1999 but members had been together, on and off, since 1992. That is about the time when they began to listen to rap music, becoming influenced by artists such as Tribe Called Quest, Beastie Boys, Maestro Fresh Wes, and NWA. Broadbent says he recognizes that they are just "two white rappers from PEI" and makes it clear that they rap about what they know, and their daily surroundings, rather than the all too common topics-guns, gangs, and violence. Biggar adds that it's all about coming up with "clever lyrics, and good rhymes" not about portraying the thug image.

All three members of Dice Mob are also DJs. Broadbent creates backing beats by sampling records. "I'll sit in my room for an hour or two making beats," states Broadbent. "We get together to sort through it and see what we like. Our formula is to start with a good drum loop."

Once they have their material ready to go, Dice Mob run into a problem that most Charlottetown musicians face–lack of venues (especially for underage shows and for bands who perform all original material). They've played the Parkdale Fire Hall (the new Boys and Girls Club), Barney's, Mike's Sports Bar and GenXX in Summerside. Broadbent and Biggar both agree that the opportunities to play these venues are few and far between. "It's a desperate scene," says Broadbent. "My dad's a musician (Paul Broadbent), so I've always known that if you want to make money, you don't play here."

Nonetheless, these guys plan to continue rapping and hope to release their debut CD, yet to be titled, in February 2000. Shortly after that they plan to form their own independent label to assist other musicians. They also want to take their act to the city of Halifax where there is a growing hip hop scene with artists like Stinkin Rich, Platoon, Classified, and good ole Hip Club Groove. Not only do they hope to gain respect off-Island, but, eventually, right here in their own province.

When asked what they think about the ECMAs, both replied, "we'd love to win an award." After all, it would mean that they helped to spread and popularize rap and hip hop here in Atlantic Canada.

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