COLD TEA RELEASE PARTY with DJ Serious featuring D-Sisive , Theology 3 and Notes To Self along with DJs Grouch and Musiklee Insane at Supermarket (268 Augusta), Friday (May 20), 10 pm. $10. www.djserious.ca. Rating: NNNNN
Everyone knew Toronto top gun DJ Serious could loop up a bangin' hiphop track - his Dim Sum debut disc from 2000 was full of them - but even after providing Juice Crew legend Masta Ace with some badass beats, there was still some doubt that the "producer's producer" could create a coherent album of his own.
Serious accepted the challenge and came up with the goods on Cold Tea, which cleverly employs the rhyme skills of a cast of well-chosen MCs - including the aforementioned Masta Ace along with D-Sisive, Theo 3 and Notes to Self to bolster his slinky sinister soundscapes. It's a uniquely Serious spin on the taut mid-90s sound of New York; imagine if DJ Spinna turned over his crate to J-Dilla and the RZA for the production of a crime thriller soundtrack and you'll get an idea of the tension-filled Cold Tea vibe.
"When the track Popped came out as a 12-inch and started to make a run," explains Serious, "people kept asking me for a CD, so I finished up some tracks I'd been working on and that became Dim Sum. It was really just a collection of songs, whereas I approached Cold Tea as an album from the beginning.
"I wanted to focus on the kind of hiphop I grew up with - you know, that boom-bap kinda nighttime music. So I set up Cold Tea conceptually as a dusk-till-dawn journey and made it something people could listen to in their car or at home on headphones after an evening at the clubs."
Apart from Serious, the only other holdover from the Dim Sum sessions is confrontational cut-up D-Sisive, and if you're familiar with his knucklehead rhymes, you'll know he wasn't the obvious choice for a darker, downtempo set like Cold Tea. But D-Sisive - who's currently getting a taste of UK stardom thanks to his work with DJ Format - reveals his capacity for thoughtful introspection and proves the perfect choice for Cold Tea.
"We share the same musical vision, and he totally understood the vibe I was after. Many people familiar with D-Sisive's other stuff have been surprised by the track Same Old Song - it's a completely different style and subject for him, but it works really well."
It'll be interesting to see how the chilling sound of Cold Tea plays in a club environment. It's definitely not your typical Friday-night party starter.
"Yeah," chuckles Serious, "it's more like a party finisher. Maybe we should've planned to start the show at 3 am instead."