Ottawa has entered a golden age of hip hop. Seriously. With acts like Jesse Dangerously, Philly Moves, Flight Distance, Atherton, and Homebased, you don’t have to go that far from the Transitway to find some really seasoned, talented rappers and turntablists making their way in this new capital city reality.
Funnily enough, if one of those names is unfamiliar to you, it’s likely the last one. Stranger still, Homebased has been active and forceful in Ottawa since at least 2009. The trio chalks up their absence from the central discourse on rap in Ottawa to their own camera-shyness. “These days 90 percent of it is shows and putting yourself out there,” says Liam ‘Betavel’ Kendall, one of the two emcees fronting Homebased. But he, along with his bandmates Tom ‘Textstyle’ Bent and the very appropriately named Kane ‘Kane B’ Beard, are about to change all that.
The trio have just released their new album titled Get Busy. And they’re doing just that. While the digital version hit iTunes (note: the price is being adjusted here), Bandcamp, CD Baby and my iPod today, the group is planning a launch party to coincide with their physical release. It’ll take place the day before St. Patty’s – March 16th – an excuse for some early drink at Ritual Nightclub, a venue that is certainly not associated with sobriety.
And the album is good. Really good. Homebased’s intelligent lyrics and beats (courtesy of the Beard himself, Kane B) make for a compelling combination. “We like to keep a sense of realness to our content,” says Kendall. “A sense of depth.” The band is, in a word, real.
“We rap about stuff we’ve actually experienced,” says Beard from behind his beard. “We just don’t embellish much,” adds Kendall, simply.
Overall, these guys are just really friendly, sincere, kind people. Which has occasionally gotten them into trouble. Like when they allowed their friend the first crack at mastering their new album.
“We had people to go to to get it done properly,” says Beard, “but our friend was like, ‘I’ll do it!’” They obliged him, hoping to save some money. The result was a bit of a disaster.
Kendall tells a tragic story in which he boards a 95 bus, headed Eastward, and puts his headphones in to listen to the new album. “It was a pretty sad story,” he says, while Beard chuckles violently. “At the time, our album party was booked, and we had to have an album to support our album party…”
And so the show went on. They played the album party with an unfinished, washed out album. “We only sold eleven copies. Thank God,” says Kendall, adding that the band promised to provide those who bought the original mix copies of the better, later edition. But there’s good news: those eleven fans now have a rare, unmastered edition of a Homebased album which may indeed be worth something someday.
And the other good news is that the album is finally out. Grab it from their homepage. It’s 7 bucks, which seems like a steal to me, but then I didn’t pay for it. The perks of being a journalist.
Catch Homebased at Ritual Saturday the 16th in support of Get Busy.