I’ve seen Def 3 rock a few crowds over the last year and his album Wildlif3 has been in regular rotation on the headphones since its release. This past summer I saw him rock out with the mighty SkiiTour at Shambhala and, more notably, he opened the first night of hip-hop at Phillip’s Brewery on the first night of the Rifflandia festival, here in Victoria. That was more notable for a couple of reasons, 1) It was just Def 3 and his band doing their thing rather than working in support of a DJ, and 2) In a night full of yelling and barking and needlessly profane trap-rap, Def 3 embodied everything I love about hip-hop and specifically, Canadian hip-hop. When Def 3’s joints are pumping from the stage the love and respect for the art form is palpable and wholly addictive. I’ve been wanting to get ahold of the homey for a few minutes now and was happy to get him fresh off rock Portland with fellow Canadian hip-hop masters, Sweatshop Union. We talked about Hallowe’en, Thomas Edison and the current, amazing state of hip-hop. Respect to Def 3 and Saskatchewan, because really, how often to I get to shout Saskatchewan?
1. Do you remember the first album you went out and bought with your own money?
Yeah, actually. It was Wreckx-N-Effect, Hard or Smooth, on cassette.
Do you still have it?
No. I have some of my tapes, but that one I don’t have anymore. I still have quite a few but a lot of them are pretty damaged.
It’s not a particularly hardy medium, eh?
2. Can you think of a movie that had an affect on the way you saw the world?
If we’re talking about fiction, I’d say Magnolia. That was really cool. Documentary-wise – I watched a movie called Forks Over Knives that kind of twisted my head up a bit and turned me into a vegetarian for awhile.
For awhile…You’re not a vegetarian anymore?
No. I’m not anymore. I was for almost a year, not super long. I went to Europe and tried for awhile. Interesting story: I met a person will full-blown cancer who was a vegan and that also twisted me up a bit. I thought, “How is that possible?”
3. When is the last time you did something for the first time?
<Long pause> I don’t know, you got me on that one. I guess…I played for my first arena show on Hallowe’en.
Oh, with SkiiTour, right? How was that?
Yeah! That was amazing. I wish I could always do that. It was so fun. I could just imagine what it would be like to always do that.
Was there anything that really surprised you about doing a big show like that?
I think it was just fun. I’ve done actually bigger shows, but it was a really cool vibe with the visuals and everything. The crowd and the whole environment was really great.
Some good costumes?
Yeah, there were some really good ones. There were a couple people in, like, full-blown Halo costumes, but there some really good ones that people made themselves. There was a couple that was a puppet master and puppet. The guy was on stilts, way up above her, holding strings and she was a girl, standing below. It was crazy. I would say it was the best costume I’ve ever seen. I always respect people who go for it like that.
I always envy those people, but I’m never willing to put in the work.
This year I actually tried my hardest and it wasn’t even that hard.
What did you dress up as?
I was André 3000, in his festival thing with the black flightsuit and the white wig.
4. If you could spend the day with anyone living or dead who would it be and what would you do?
Thomas Edison. I’d like to pick his brain, hang out and see what he’s doing with his day.
Anything specific you’d like to ask him?
You always hear about the myth that he was trying to find ghosts when he invented the phonograph, which is basically the foundation of music. Wondering how that all went and how it ended up so differently.
5. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing hip-hop as a genre, going forward?
I used to be somewhat concerned with the state of hip-hop but I think it’s the type of thing that works itself out. I like the way it evolves and turns into new sub-genres. What’s in the spotlight is changing a lot nowadays. There’s a lot of really good things happening. There’s always going to be the pop rap, but you got stuff like Run the Jewels and Kendrick Lamar who are really dope and are killing it. Times are changing. I think before I was worried about falling in love with something that changed so much from the reason you loved it in the first place. But I think hip-hop is in a really good place now.
6. The guest question comes from Kevan McGovern, director of I/O and the Shambhala Experience, and his question is: “What’s your first line when you’re breaking up with someone?”
<laughs> Truthfully I’ve only ever been dumped. I haven’t dated very many girls but I’ve only been broken up with.