The Lytics - Winnipeg Hip-Hop Heavyweights

Andrew: Long time. Seriously, I guess like 4 years. Before that, we’ve all been writing music for a long, long time. He’s been doing it for a really, really long time. <Points at B-Flat>

Loni: But the Lytics as a group…?

Andrew: The Lytics as a group about 4 years.

Rags: So you guys are family right? What’s that like to work so closely with family? Is there more bickering? Are you able to get over it quicker?

B-Flat: More bickering and quicker to get over. Both. We can get past a lot of stuff real quick, which is awesome. The fighting is actually not…even though it can be bad, it’s a good thing because whereas I think a lot of groups will fight about something and it won’t get out…you can have a knock-down, drag-out fight and just air all that dirty laundry between the other person and you and then be fine the next day or even a couple of hours later. That allows you to…there’s not that nasty scar tissue that builds up where you’re picking away at something but you never actually get it out. When you can be super-comfortable with somebody…not that fighting is a good thing, it’s never a good thing, but when it has to happen, it’s over. Whereas I think a lot of other bands it’s this fight and unfortunately a lot of horrible things are said and it’s still not addressed because there’s not that connection where you have to make it work and you have to work it out. I think it’s really good. You have more fighting but better results because you’re over it real quick. Not to say that fighting’s what we do all the time but when it happens it’s good because it actually solves something rather than just…Constructive fighting. Positive fighting.

Rags: What do you guys like about working in a group? There doesn’t seem to be many Hip-Hop groups anymore, a lot of them have just fallen by the wayside. Guys just gunning for their own thing. What is it you like about being together?

Munga: It’s an energy. We feed off each other.

Loni: You’re right, there’s no more rap groups. It’s selfish. Dudes are selfish, they want all the shine and the money. But yeah, it’s great, the energy, feeding off each other.

Rags: What parts of Winnipeg do you guys keep and bring with you?

Anthony: Our apartments? <Laughter from everyone>

B-Flat: They’re right. It’s cold there, so you spend a lot of time making music. Whatever you do, if you’re a painter you spend a lot of time painting. Whatever it is, you get a lot of time by yourself to be creative. You can come up with things that…I can’t speak for everybody but we figure out a lot of stuff that we probably wouldn’t figure out if it was a really nice day or we could run out and do whatever. You have three months of awesome weather in Winnipeg and you have nine months of horrible weather and those nine months make you get good at what you wanna do. Winnipeg is a small, friendly place, so I think if we take anything from Winnipeg wherewe go it’s trying to engage a crowd on a smaller level.  You might see a lot of acts where they’ll try to engage a crowd with things like, “Aw, you guys are lame. Why aren’t you getting into this? Duh duh duh…” When you’re from Winnipeg, we don’t do that. you can’t just do that. “All you guys are lame! I’m from a big city, this is how we do it out there!” You can’t do that.

Munga: You just appreciate just having people there.

B-Flat: Exactly. He’s not jumping around and bobbing his head, but he has a big smile on his face. That’s a win. You’re good and that’s a Winnipeg thing I think. Maybe a bigger city, not to call out any bigger cities, but in a bigger city they might come out to a show and be like, “I was just in this town and they were losing it, why aren’t you doing this?” I’ve literally heard that, where they berate and insult the crowd. They (the crowd) is like “I’m already from a smaller town, relax, this is how we’re doing it.” So when you get to play a big crowd it feels like you can relate to the whole crowd on a one on one level which each and every person. It’s good, it’s how it is.

Rags: What’s the best part about live performing? What do you guys love about being onstage?

Andrew: People, they’re awesome.

Munga: Yeah, I like to see people getting into it. And it’s always dope to see people singing songs. When they know your songs, that’s always dope to see.

Andrew: I think it’s fun to see you kind of win over a crowd. We’ve had times when there’s no one in front of us and there’s people dancing near the end. That’s probably one of the best feelings, they actually like go for it.

Rags: What do you listen to that someone would be surprised by?

Lonnie: We all know the answer to this <Laughs at Andrew>

B-Flat: What? Who is it?

Andrew: He’s just making fun of me because my favourite artist is James Taylor.

B-Flat: I don’t even who James Taylor is!

Andrew: He’s one of the biggest pop stars ever.

B-Flat: I haven’t checked it out. I don’t know. Really?! That’s your favourite artist?

Andrew: He’s got Copper Line. He’s got a ton of good stuff.

B-Flat: Nah. He’s alright.

Andrew: No, he’s amazing. Anyways we’re not taking about that.

B-Flat:  You know who I like? Dancing in the moonlight…? What’s his name? Van Morrison! Van Morrison kills James Taylor.

Andrew: No way.

B-Flat: Van Morrison is greater than James Taylor.

Munga: I’ve just got into Fleetwood Mac.

B-Flat: This band called Talk Dock, 80’s…I was listening to a song of theirs the other day.

Munga: Toto, Hold the Line. So nice.

B-Flat: Everybody has their iPod, their MP3 players now. You hear something you like you just throw it on there. Grab a torrent pop in on your MP3, you listen to everything.

Andrew: There are people who just listen to one type of music. Those people are lame. How can you really just enjoy one type of music and not appreciate anything else? You don’t know what you’re doing. It’s ridiculous.

Rags: Well, what about Hip-Hop, what are some of the groups that got you into Hip-Hop?

B-Flat: There’s so many. De La Soul, Tribe. I like a lot. Souls of Mischief, Pharcyde.

Munga: Reflection Eternal for me.

Andrew: Slum Village, Black Star.

B-Flat: Digable Plants was a big one. Arrested Development was a guilty pleasure for a little while. There’s just a lot of really good music. Leaders of the New School. Busta Rhymes solo, The Coming was just a retarded album for me.

Rags: I forgot how great that album as. I put it on three or four months ago and was like Wow!

B-Flat: See, nuts. That’s when he was still on that Leaders of the New School tip but he was proving himself. He was really cutting his teeth as a solo artist. He was all obsessed with the world ending and the year 2000 and all those intros all about that was so creepy but so awesome at the same time. There’s a lot of really good music that was there. Biggie! Seriously. I actually liked Bad Boy for a long time. Craig Mack. I have to go back and listen to so much stuff. EPMD, are you serious? Das FX, come on! Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth. Trackmasters. There was a time and I think everybody sitting down here all knows about all that stuff. You get that one song that gets stuck in your head like a sliver and it doesn’t heal properly and it gets infected and then you’re just confused with all this awesome music all the time and then you get to the point where you have to make it yourself because you enjoy it so much. We had a really good talk the other day. Lonnie asked a really interesting question, “If we had grown up now, starting getting into music, would we still be doing what we’re doing now? Would our creative tendancies be what they are now? I can’t answer that question but I thank God I didn’t grow up now and I grew up on the stuff I grew up on. No diss to anything coming out now, I just thank God that I didn’t have that. You like what you like. If we’d grown up earlier maybe we’d be a grunge band.

Rags: What are you most excited about with the new record?

Andrew: That it’s out. It was hellish, man. This record was really hard to make. Lots and lots of bad things happened to us. So it was like a process to get it out. Finally being over this is like “God, this is so good.” It’s a win. There was times when I was legitimately though it wouldn’t come out.”

B-Flat: It was past that. I say the word ‘win’ because it felt like we were losing all the time. I think the thing that’s most important to you is the music because that’s what you wanna do and you’re just losing constantly. Hard drives getting wiped and files getting lost, basement studios – three basement studios flooding, managers quitting, managers plural, losing job, going into personal debt. Just a lot of stress on the family.

Andrew: No money to make a record. It’s just like so much happening.

B-Flat: Money getting stolen.

Lonnie: Shit’s crazy!

Rags: That shit is crazy!

B-Flat: We had a great studio space. We got kicked out. There’s no reason on Earth that this album should’ve got done. Almost going to court with our old landlord. There’s just so many unnatural things to happen with this. The first one came out so easily and this one came out so hard.

Rags: But you guys like this new record more than that first one?

B-Flat: The new record is way better than the first one because we’ve all gotten so much better. Honestly, I feel when I listen to that record, even if I’m not remembering all that crap that went down, I can hear how important it was that it got done. That’s more of a personal thing. Anyone that’s heard it so far, it’s a leap. If the album would have come out how we intended it at the beginning, it would have been a step forward or a big step forward, but because we just got knocked down so many times, we just had to compensate by making the songs so much better. Basement floods, “Okay we gotta do this song so much better.” Okay, basement floods…

Ashy: Different basements. We moved from one basement to another.

Lonnie: Who knows, maybe all those events were supposed to happen to us to put out a CD like this. You never know. It’s easy to just pack and quit when things are hard. Now that this album’s out I’m just glad it came out and we persevered over all the bullshit.

B-Flat: It’s good. When you go through that…

Andrew: It would take a lot to kill us at this point.

B-Flat: Imagine a boxing match where one dude got his ass kicked for 12 rounds. And with three seconds left…he didn’t even knock the guy out, he seizure and somehow his hands went up and popped the man and knocked him out.

Andrew: Ali-Forman.

Rags: It sounds great. There’s a really immediate sound to it. It’s lively, there’s a cleanness and brightness and an energy to it. Don’t hear it in a lot of Hip-Hop lately. Quite a variety of instrumentations and beats.

B-Flat: Everybody sitting down here with you got to put a really solid stamp on some stuff which was really cool.

Rags: Do you guys each have your own songs on here? Are there songs that are more one guy’s baby?

Andrew: Charles Bronson, man. <Points at B-Flat> That’s your baby.

B-Flat: It was mine. Everybody hates Charles Bronson but me. “Toot”[Your Own Horn]  Lonnie put his stamp on. Andrew put his stamp on “Can We Run Away”. Munga put his stamp on a bunch of things. Me and Munga lived together for awhile so he, even when I’d get up from starting the foundation, I’d go away and Munga would be there coming up with ideas. You come back and it’s just like “Cool”. “Drown Me Out” Munga stamped that hard. Actually Lonnie and Munga stamped that out hard because that was just a song that wasn’t even going to happen and then Lonnie was really digging the beat and made it point that we have to use it. Then Munga came in and started talking about water and drowning…

Munga: I remember I heard that beat and I couldn’t…I listen to that beat for four days straight, I was obsessed with it. And yeah, I couldn’t stop thinking about water.

B-Flat: Anthony picked out a couple there too. I think it was “On Top”, and you were the first one who came it when I was making it with Mike.

Anthony: I don’t even remember.

Andrew: Everybody got involved.

B-Flat: Everybody hears things different. I don’t think any one person sitting down could have picked all the songs that are on that disc because everybody hears it differently. There’s a lot of salesmanship that happens when we’re hearing a beat. Somebody tries to sell everybody else on it. They may convince you. When you can take their ears and you can hear it…”I’ve listened to it a thousand times and I don’t get it,” but then they walk you through it and you can hear what they’re hearing and you go “Okay, now we have to make this song.” It’s fun when you get on the same page. You have to end up there but it’s nice, that starting moment. It’s like their speaking Italian to you and in that moment you say “I understand Italian now.” It’s awesome.

Rags: Life advice…

Andrew: I don’t think we’re the right people to asking for advice from.

Rags: No, no, no. You’ve overcome tragedy, you had to have learned something from all those setbacks.

Lonnie: If you want something done you gotta do it yourself. Work hard.

B-Flat: Wear clean underwear because you never know.

Lonnie: Or, if they’re not, you just flip ‘em inside out.

Andrew: I had to do that.

Rags: The setbacks just keep coming.

Andrew: Don’t rely on anybody, do it yourself.

Anthony: At the end of the day, even if you pay someone, they will not do as good of a job as you were gonna do on your own.

Munga: At the end of the day it’s your responsibility if that’s what you want you just have to accept that and go forth with that.

B-Flat: Every single band that we listen to probably has horrible stories too, and they didn’t give up. That’s why they’re where they are.

Andrew: That probably the difference, right? I can’t imagine how many bands just quit before they even have a chance. They probably just say “This isn’t going to work,” and they give up.

B-Flat: Do it yourself. Don’t give up. Wear clean ginch. Just be ready. Always, always, always be ready. One thing that I will say that I think we’ve really adopted is when you give us a chance to play a show in front of a bunch of people or an important show, we won’t let you down. You don’t have to win every game but make sure you win the big ones.

Anthony: When it comes to that point in whatever you do in life where you just can’t afford to miss that foul shot in the fourth quarter. You practice your foul shooting, you just can’t miss anymore. We’re just at point where we don’t miss those foul shots.

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