McENROE AND BIRDAPRES with DJ HUNNICUTT , DJ SERIOUS and DJ FATHOM at Gypsy Co-op (817 Queen West), Wednesday (March 30). $tba. 416-703-5069. Rating: NNNNN
If you check out his show Wednesday, don't be surprised if McEnroe drops the mic mid-verse, whips out his celly and starts making some business calls onstage - he's a busy, busy man.
My call to McEnroe's Van City crib gets juggled with another phone interview from Illinois, during a long night of packing and prep for a rigorous cross-Canada tour. The Brandon, Manitoba-born beat-carver/MC/CEO of indie rap label Peanuts & Corn (which boasts distribution in France and Japan) is on some ol' Bob Vila do-it-yourself shit.
The vim McEnroe puts into all aspects of his label kinda contradicts the totally apathetic vibe you get from his new record with Vancouver rapper Birdapres. Their tone is mostly weary, and the liner notes portray the two sitting on a bench in the burbs, commenting on how Nothing Is Cool. It's a bit off-putting, but as McEnroe points out, also a bit of a joke.
"It's a fun record. The title's not to be taken too seriously. It's like we're cynical old men, which is how we felt. I think everyone's over the whole 'hiphop is dead' thing."
From the sounds of his beats, McEnroe never really thought the culture had keeled. They radiate the kind of energy only a ravenous beat predator could manifest - funk breaks that shuffle beneath the weight of dissected elements from deep dollar-bin plunders.
"No, no, no. You can't sample this break," McEnroe's voice repeats on Break Merchant, ruining things for all the bedroom Beatnuts who'd normally be appropriating the drums. The song also gets into the producer's crate-digging obsession, though he's actually not the biggest collector in his camp.
"Compared to Birdapres, I'm a lightweight," McEnroe claims.
"But the thing about Birdapres is that he'll have a huge collection and then he'll sell them all and start from scratch. I can go to his house and he'll have about 3,000 records, and the next time I show up he'll have, like, 50 left. He just keeps the ones he really needs."
McEnroe, whose records are in storage, is slightly less meticulous.
"Like, I'll just go to the Salvation Army and spend 30 bucks on 25-cent records and see what I can find on them.
"But then again, I've got lots of shitty records."