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More Or Les

More Or Les Explains His Schools Of Thought

08/18/09 3:50pm

by Cameron Gordon (CHARTattack)

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As September approaches and thousands of Canadian teens and tweens bear down for back-to-school, domestic hip-hop stalwart More Or Les has his mind on school as well — as in the difference between the old school, the middle school, the present and everything in between.

"One of my favourite lines is from Thurston Howell III when he declares, 'Rhyme like 2020 but I'm old school'," says the Montreal-based MC during a recent chat with CHARTattack. "It's hilarious because it really skewers a lot of the misconceptions or mislabelling that people have about the old school."

More Or Les' music has always harkened back to the pre-bling glory days of hip-hop, when bands like De La Soul and Canada's own Dream Warriors pushed the envelope of the game in both a critical and artistic sense.

His latest effort is no exception. It's a collaborative EP with producer Fresh Kils entitled (fittingly) The Les Kils EP. Les proudly declares the effort "Seriously, Middle School" on his MySpace page and with a ton of lyrical density centred on the nostalgic shape shifter "Pops N Chips," it's hard to argue.

"The way I see it, the middle school runs 1989 to the early 1990s. You've got Flipmode Squad, early Onyx, the whole Native Tongues crew... this is a really definitive spot for me in terms of influence and inspirational," Les estimates.

"But I totally get that your definition will depend on your age and context. I've heard people refer to tracks from as recent as 1995 as 'old school' so at this stage in the game, you can't really have a single definition."

Les and Kils both belong to the Backburner crew, a loose collective of rappers, beatmakers and DJs spread across Canada, and the ensemble are in many ways ground zero for much of the consciously conscious hip-hop coming out of this country in 2009.

As charter members, Les and Kils have known each other for years, but The Les Kils EP is their first true collaborative effort in name and production. The project had been in the offing for quite some time and it was only recently that the pair decided to lift the concept off the (ahem) backburner — a choice that Les comments was a bit of a no brainer.

"Fresh Kils is a dope as fuck producer and it was only a matter of time before we shared billing on a production like this. And what lends to Kils' dopeness is his talent.

"He's not just a producer — the guy is a brilliant musician. He's versatile, especially when we go to perform the tracks live because he's not just a programmer — he's out there mixing up the instruments and the roles with the rest of us."

Les is moving back to his native Toronto next spring, but the move won't in any way compromise Les' future collaboration with Kils and other Backburner members. A video for "Pop N Chips" is already banked and will be up on YouTube shortly, and Les says additional collaborations with Kils are inevitable, regardless of the school in question.

"The EP was a bit of an experiment. I took a bit of inspirational from Jesse Dangerously, who is another member of the Backburner crew. He's been putting out EPs for a few years and I wanted to give it a shot, as I figured it'd be a good chance to give listeners a sample of what Fresh Kils and myself had been working on, and hopefully build some buzz for some upcoming projects."

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