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Home » Lyricist Lounge

Rap and roll

Submitted by on February 17, 2010 – 1:38 amNo Comment

Play five facts with Odario Williams and you’ll find out that he`s acted in 15 movies, has opened for everyone from Sum 41 to Public Enemy, was named after the doctor who delivered him and was born in Guyana and bred in Winnipeg.

It was in Peg City, Canada’s unofficial crime and curling capital, that Williams first carved culture from console. Now Toronto-based, Grand Analog’s lead man continues to make music that, writes Cormac Rea of Ottawa XPress, “would not be out of place on a King Tubby sound system.”

For Williams, it’s never a question of whose music can beat up whose. Rather than disparage, Williams tries to marry disparate soundscapes. Grand Analog’s first instalment, Calligraffiti, is a mix of hip hop, funk, blues, R&B and rap and roll, a new wave art best exemplified by Brooklyn’s Mos Def on The New Danger.

Rap and roll, by Williams’ definition, is the Rolling Stones of the 60s, Zepellin of the 70s, NWA of the 80s and Nirvana of the 90s. “When rock and roll started years ago it was that music that parents loved to hate, and then eventually parents loved it and rock was the thing,” Williams says. “Then rap travelled the same road, so I figure rap and roll is the new rebel music.”

Williams calls Calligraffiti unbalanced, dirty – never clean. The 27-year-old prefers to sample dusty old 45s with the crackle still in it. If the record has a crackle, he says, “then it makes it musical to me.”

Like their debut record, Grand Analog is best defined as a project. Analog’s MySpace page lists the collective – Williams, his brother Ofield, Darcy Ataman, Alister Johnson, Arun Chaturvedi and Damon Mitchell – not as a band or group, but an experiment.

Mitchell, who used to open regularly for The Tragically Hip, rarely travels with Grand Analog, yet contributed whole-heartedly to Calligraffiti. On the road, Williams carries along Mitchell’s guitar riffs and samples the man as if he were a record.

“Every show is actually different because I don’t know who in my collective will be there,” Williams admits. “Anywhere from Vancouver to Halifax, it depends on whether the guitarist, keyboardist, or the bassist can show up. Everyone’s working around their own schedules, so it’s a project to me – an experiment, because every show we try something different.”

And therein lays Grand Analog’s mantra: something different. Rather than trying to flow like Fabolous and make Timbaland beats, Analog’s rap and roll is aimed at encouraging people to break out of what Williams calls the apathetic “mental chain they’re in.”

“If you’re trying to sound like your favourite American MC, everyone can read right through you,” Williams preaches. “But when you got your Canadian pride and you’re unique with it, you’ll slip through the cracks and leave a little bit of a mark.”

Remi L. Roy

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