Azrael is a dope emcee from Vancouver, Canada who has put in mad work in the underground and deserves more exposure. He is keeping it moving, blazing a trail of dopeness which I recommend people get on. IBMCs made the connection…

Introduce yourself and let us know what made you interested in becoming an emcee.

Azrael: I go by Azrael, from East Vancouver in Canada, reppin’ Imaginations Treetrunk and POS Crew and shouts to Ill-Legitimate as well. I wanted to be an emcee after I heard Snoop Doggy Dogg’s “Doggystyle” and Kriss Kross’ “Totally Krossed Out”. Interesting albums to be influenced by, I know, but that’s what started it all, those two cassette tapes.

How would you describe the current BC scene and your position in it?

AzraelAzrael: The current BC scene, in my eyes at least, is somewhat segregated. There is cohesiveness in it but I wouldn’t say by the majority. Still, it’s good though, there’s a lot of talented guys doing their thing. The talent is there and the structure is on its way.

You’ve released a lot of music and been in a lot of groups. Tell us a bit about the struggle and the lows and highs.

Azrael: Yeah, I’ve done a lot of group work but have been focusing more on solo work lately. The highs always come from the process of the album, making the songs and just hanging out, shooting the shit. And the lows, or lack of highs, come when the album is ready to be put out and sometimes takes a little bit longer than expected to release it. I mean, it happens at all levels, at least I have more control over it getting leaked beforehand or not.

Are you are digger? What music is Azrael blasting at the moment?

Azrael: I’m listening to a lot of stuff lately. Going through Gil Scott-Heron’s discography, Freddie Hubbard, Art Blakey, The Units -a punk synth band from the late 70’s that were really dope, The Mahavishnu Orchestra… a lot of old stuff. As far as rap, I’m looking forward to the Random Axe album later this year.

Do you think emcees should take more responsibility for their lyrics?

AzraelAzrael: It’s tough. Emcees have different personalities, so, two guys can say the same thing and one means it literally and the other means it jokingly, even if it’s his style, and they would draw different reactions. It’s broad, I know, but I wouldn’t say more responsible, I’d say just be yourself and let the listeners pick up on the natural personality. There is some responsibility but at the end of the day they’re just words heard and the onus is on the listener.

What is your view on the international scene and the multilingual aspect of hip-hop?

Azrael: It’s dope, I just wish I could understand / speak another language! My homie Anonymouz just did an album with Risskant out of Holland called “Klassiek” and it’s a great album, but, I can only understand half of the lyrics. I think the international scene is great, it’s up to us to be progressive and make sure we don’t drag the genre into redundancy or monotony.

Tell us about your album and how you hooked up the UK connection.

Azrael: Well, the album is called “The Doldrums” and it’s been a long time coming. I had wanted to put this album out for a while and it took time but it’s out now. I’m stoked but I just want to keep truckin’ steady. I got a lot of dope features on the album and Aalo Guha kills it heavy with the beats on here.

What forthcoming projects can we expect from Azrael?

AzraelAzrael: I finished my next album, it’s called “Pocket Watch”, and it’s produced by my homie Sythe. It’s a fresh sounding album which I’m really stoked on, it should be out in two months from now if everything goes smoothly. After that, I’ll be working on an album with Zach W from The Heard / DDR who has wild, crazy beats. Can’t wait to get started on that.

Any plans to hit Europe?

Azrael: If somebody asks me to then hell yeah, other than that, I’m too broke to do it right now.

Where do you see hip-hop heading in the future?

Azrael: I was just thinking about this yesterday, because in the mainstream you kind of have all these poppy, rap, r&b, and even rock elements amalgamating together. I’m not sure. Hip-hop originally was based around sampling so if people are using less and less sample-oriented instrumentation, naturally it’s gonna sound different. I don’t know, I just know I’m not a fan of the corny sounding radio stuff.

Do you think it’s important for hip-hop fans to appreciate the four elements?

Azrael: Sure, I hope people appreciate them. Especially the younger people.

Do you get involved in politics? I know BC has some liberal laws… What are some of your political opinions?

Azrael: Not so much involved but I definitely stay informed. That institution is too daunting for me to be involved in but it is too interesting to ignore. We have some liberal laws here but thats a double-edged sword. You won’t go to jail if you’re caught with a bit of pot, but, at the same time, if you’re convicted as a murderer you’ll get out in probably less than 10 years. The court system is what I find the most baffling here. And as you may know, we just held the Winter Olympics here and there was a lot of sweet talk by the government and we’ll be paying for it for the next 50 years – literally. I guess you’ll go though the same thing in 2012.

What is your message to the world?

Azrael: Be yourself.

By: Esh | For international hip-hop:

Worldwide – Azrael ft. Benny Black and Kelvin Smoler video:

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