Toronto has been a significant source of quality hip-hop artists for a long time, with artists like Sir Scratch and K-Cut from Main Source solidifying its place in history, a legacy continued by the likes of Saukrates, Kardinal Offishall and Choclair. and of course more recently, by Drake.
A vast country, Canada has a rich and somewhat overlooked hip-hop history. One of these underrated artists is Muneshine, who has been putting out dopeness since 2002 alongside people like Lightheaded, Supastition, Oddisee and Kenn Starr. If you’re into that Native Tongues, Dilla, Premo, Pharcyde sound, you’re going to love this guy. Check out the updated ‘Steve Biko‘ version with Roshin & DJ Sonik on myspace right now to avoid sleeping.
Introduce yourself for those people who are unaware of your work
Muneshine: My names Rob Bakker (a.k.a. Muneshine). Im a producer / emcee from Toronto, Canada. Im 1/2 of The Birthday Boys (with D-Sisive), 1/2 of Twin Peaks (with Ghettosocks), 1/2 of The Residents (with Saint) and 1/6 of Wax Reform (with Dminor, Presto, Illmind, M-Phazes and Emilio Rojas).
What are your first memories of hip-hop?
Muneshine: The first time I ever heard hip hop I was eight years old. I heard some of the local high school kids playing Public Enemys It Takes a Nation of Millions… out of the back of their car stereo at the elementary school basketball court in my hometown of Dalmeny, Saskatchewan. My childhood friend David Lambert put me onto everything else, he had a couple years on me and was way ahead of the curve.
How did you get started as a hip-hop artist?
Muneshine: Soon as I started listening to hip hop I was hooked. I started messing around with writing rhymes and things like that, but at the time (and where I lived) it wasnt considered cool. There wasnt much of a scene at all, so I kept it to myself for the most part. It wasnt until I was in high school that I started DJing. I didnt get serious as an artist until 2000 when I bought my first MPC. I focussed on making beats and finding my style / sound behind the boards until 2004. After that I started writing / rapping seriously.
What is the scene like in Toronto?
Muneshine: The scene in Toronto is a lot bigger than you might think, but like most major cities, its divided into a number of smaller scenes and cliques. I think theres a lot of talent in Toronto, but theres also a lot of delusional artists who think theyre more important than they really are. I imagine its like that everywhere. Toronto is a great place to be though, it seems like one of (if not the) last major city in North America to define itself and really establish its own sound.
Tell us about your recent album and how you made the international connections
Muneshine: Status Symbol came together organically. I was already working with everyone who contributed (production-wise), so it wasnt difficult to compile in that regard. It was a natural process. I set out to make an album that had elements of that classic hip hop sound, without sounding dated. I wanted to write about my experiences and thoughts in a creative way, over timeless beats. Im really happy with the way it turned out. The record came out first in Australia and Japan (2008), and here in North America in 2009. I added a few exclusives to the newest release so the fans in each territory would have something of their own.
What equipment do you use to make your beats (and what would you get with infinite cash)?
Muneshine: I started out on the MPC 2000 and eventually moved to the MPC 1000 (because of its portability, USB capability and the larger screen). I will always stand by the MPC, theyre great machines and a lot of fun to work on. For the last few months Ive been doing most of my work in software as its a much faster process. I also maintain a higher quality of sound avoiding the digital to analog to digital conversion process. I record with Pro Tools, sample / chop / sequence and mix in Adobe Audition. Ive started using Reason as well for additional programming and MIDI composition.
Are you still digging hard? What sort of stuff do you look for?
Muneshine: I dont dig nearly as hard as I used to. I used to be a real snob purist when it came to digging and sampling directly from vinyl. That process still has a place in my heart. Its the way the pioneers did it, and it undoubtedly has its own sound. The main reason I dont dig as much these is I just dont have the time. Im all about efficiency these days. This doesnt mean I dont dig at all, and I dont ever sample from records, I just dont do it as often. I feel like I grew out of that snobby stage. These days I will sample any and everything that sounds good, I dont care what the source is.
Which artists (not hip-hop) would you say you are most influenced by?
Muneshine: I dont really have a list. My (non-hip hop) influences change all the time. Musically Im inspired by all kinds of artists. A couple of my favourite non-hip hop artists right now are Dead Mans Bones and Slim Twig. My head is a little in the sand when it comes to discovering new music, Im always so wrapped up in the work Im doing Im not as in-touch as Id like to be. Luckily my boy D-Sisive knows about all of it, he puts me onto a lot of great music I probably would never hear about otherwise.
How important is the history (of hip-hop culture) to up and coming artists?
Muneshine: I think in any field its important to know what was done, how it was done, and who did it (before you arrived). Especially with hip hop, the progression and evolution of the artform can really be mapped out clearly (chronologically and geographically). On the other hand, its refreshing to hear someone do something free of traditional influence, its just rare.
Which artists would you most like to work with?
Muneshine: To be honest, Im working with most of the artists I want to. I think every producer / rapper has a list in their minds of who theyd love to work with though. Id love to work with DJ Premier, Kanye West, Dr. Dre, Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch, etc. Im still trying to lock down a collaboration with Jeh5t weve been talking about for ages too!
What forthcoming projects can we expect from Muneshine?
Muneshine: The next project youre going to see from me (aside from production work on other peoples records) is the Twin Peaks album Ive put together with my boy Ghettosocks from Eastern Canada. Its somewhat of a concept album, its going to grab you start to finish. Its got production from M-Phazes, Rich Kidd (Canadian producer, worked with Drake, M.O.P., etc.), Freddie Joachim, myself and more.
How do you feel about people who download music instead of buying it?
Muneshine: Its a double-edged sword. On one hand its a problem as it takes money out of the artists pocket (and the labels that are releasing the artists music), but on the other hand its great as it allows fans worldwide to find your music when it may have otherwise been impossible (due to distribution limitations, etc.). At the end of the day, I just hope people see that an independent artist such as myself needs that support to be able to continue making music.
What is your opinion of the Canadian (or even US) political system?
Muneshine: Im proud of the Canadian political system, we live in a democracy. Im not too proud of our Prime Minister at the moment though, as he seems to be avoiding his responsibilities (and its not the first time). Im not too familiar with the political system in the US, I just hear all the media hype and conspiracy theories. Its hard to form an opinion based on that.
Where do you see hip-hop heading in the next 5-10 years?
Muneshine: I see it heading back to the days of independence. Artists being responsible for themselves and in control of everything.
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a musician?
Muneshine: Id be a teacher.
Do you think its important to unite the four elements?
Muneshine: I appreciate the four elements, but I dont take part in all of them. As long as theres people practicing and preserving the elements of this culture it will continue to flourish.
Which UK hip-hop (and other international) artists are you feeling?
Muneshine: Jeh5t, Micall Parknsun, Apatight (producer), Kosyne (producer), Kelakovski (producer), Roeg Du Casq (producer), and many more. Im a huge fan of UK hip hop right now, Im always looking for more.
Describe your perception of the value of a multilingual rap community
Muneshine: Its great, and completely necessary. Hip hop music is the voice of the people, and theres many voices to be heard.
What’s your opinion on the existence of god, destiny, religion and conspiracy theories?
Muneshine: Thats a big question. I tend to believe in people rather than myths and gods. Sometimes it feels like there is something greater watching over us, but maybe it feels like that because so many people say its so. Who knows. I will never knock a person for believing in something just because I dont. I believe people should be allowed to believe in whatever makes them happy and lets them sleep at night. I just lean more towards the logical / scientifical side of the spectrum. It just makes more sense to me.
What is your message to the world?
By: Esh | For international hip-hop: http://www.myspace.com/ibmcs