THE ARSONISTS performing as part of planet Bass 2001 with DJ SWAMP, Roc RaiDa, MADAM MERCURY, J-RED, DIGITALGRL, Mampi SWIFT, JOJO ROCK, DJ MARCUS and others at a venue tba, Saturday (November 17). $22.50. 416-410-5812. Rating: NNNNN
After weathering the abrupt departure of key Arsonists MCs D-Stroy and Freestyle and then being forced to re-record tracks with real instruments because sample clearance proved prohibitively costly, the surviving Arsonists counted themselves lucky just to complete their new Date Of Birth (Matador) album.
Naturally, core crew members Q-Unique, Jise One and Swel 79 were looking forward to the release date, cautiously confident that Date Of Birth -- with its head-nodding jams and ferocious lyrical attack -- would out-perform their unjustly slept-on As The World Burns (Matador) debut.
But sadly, the new Arsonists disc was almost completely ignored when it finally and fatefully hit the streets on September 11. No one was looking for hiphop illness -- they had enough of their own to deal with.
"There were so many things stacked against us making this record -- the crew change and the sample situation," sighs Q-Unique from Brooklyn. "That was like the icing on the cake. It made everything feel so... miscellaneous."
On the upside, they fortunately decided against using the World Trade Center towers as a backdrop for their press photos a few months ago and had themselves shot instead before a nondescript neighbouring skyscraper.
"We were actually trying to get our publicity photos done in the courtyard of the World Trade Center that day, but for some reason the shoot got moved -- but it's still Wall Street. It's interesting, isn't it?
"Playing shows since the attacks has been kinda rough, too, because people haven't really been in the party swing of things. But I'm finding it's getting better each night."
Chances are good that the Arsonists will receive a much warmer reception in Toronto at the Planet Bass 2001 party, where the gathering of hiphop headz and ravers will be ready to get down.
"We've played a few raves and there have been some strange situations, but the money they pay you is always awesome, so it's hard to resist.
"Once we did this New Year's Eve rave in Oklahoma. Like everybody else, we were partying and didn't notice that midnight had already passed, but the promoter still wanted us to do the countdown.
"So we went out at, like, 1:30 am shouting, 'Yo, it's about to happen. 5... 4... 3... 2... 1,' and everybody went crazy. They didn't know either!"