Frank-N-Dank as part of the Style In Progress fest with Masia One , Craig Rip , Matter of Fact , More or Les , Mindbender and more, at Dundas Square (Yonge and Dundas), Saturday (July 3), 10 am - 9 pm. Free. www.styleinprogress.ca Rating: NNNNN
Waiting is harsh - whether it's for a test result for shingles or to find out whether you won a People's Choice Award. But waiting is exactly what Detroit duo Frank-n-Dank had to do after an album slated to debut on MCA was shelved. For the two years it took to secure a new deal, the two spent time playing the world with their pal and oft-producer Jay Dilla, and recording in Toronto.
Now their time to shine has arrived, and their full-length is out. Frank explains that he doesn't blame a lack of familiarity with rap for MCA's leaving them hanging.
"There was a time when rap got pushed to the side because people thought it wouldn't make any money, but now it's the number-one fuckin' art form," says Frank on the phone from Detroit. "Really, most artists in general get disrespected. For years, Alicia Keys couldn't get a deal."
The touring seems to have paid off. The two have terrific onstage chemistry and have organized show that puts a lot of other acts to shame. Frank elaborates on why they honed their live shows, explaining that their exposure to the best at Detroit's famed Hip Hop Shop spurred them on.
"It's all about who we came up with - being able to watch Common play a show, or the Roots do a show. We come from a place like that, where a live show is a live show. We do it all the time and for long stretches at a time. And the show is ever-evolving, too. As our status goes up and demand increases, the show's just gonna get better and better and better."
The factually titled X-Tended Play has a wide range of hot beats, many of which seem more club-oriented at first listen than they actually are, and lyrics mostly about babe-wanting and horndoggery. The songs, they explain, were based on their experiences recording the album in the Big Smoke, a place they hold dear, although they're unimpressed by our poor selection of sauces and food seasonings.
"It's just how we were living at the time," says Frank. "When we came to the T-dot, we were just kinda ushered right into the party. The party vibe comes from being in the club, because the people we were hanging out with were all DJs. It's not like we set out to write party songs. They just came out cuz that's what we were doing.
"But we were also dealing with the MCA thing, and having your homeboys in the D doing what they do - hustling, getting caught up in bullshit - the album is all of that, too."
X-Tended was recorded over the course of a year using a veritable smorgasbord of Toronto talent, including Dopey, Saukrates, Kardinal Offishal and even comic Russell Peters for various tracks. Dank says it bred a family atmosphere.
"All those cats are just team players, man. They had no reason to give us beats except that they heard what we did and appreciated it. There's much talent out there. Thanks for the love and the support, Toronto - for holding it down for Frank-n-Dank."