CIRCLE RESEARCH with ABDOMINAL , PSY & JSN JNS (ODDITIES) , KAMAU , ASICKS , TWEEZY and others, part of the MULLIGAN STEW CD RELEASE PARTY at the Reverb (651 Queen West), Friday (May 28). $8, with CD $15. www.dorightmusic.com. 416-504-0744. Rating: NNNNN
When last we checked up on astro and Nix, the DJ/producers who form Circle Research, their MCing compadre Yushin had retreated to his native Japan and fallen out of touch with the duo. Four months later, Yushin is still MIA.
"We still haven't heard from him!" says Astro on the phone from his crib in Roncesvalles Village. "Actually, if anyone knows where he is, tell him to contact us, cuz he's gonna get some royalties off the album."
The album Astro (born Gilbert Masuda) refers to is Mulligan Stew, the hotly anticipated debut burner from CR, who have been rocking the decks right since 1995 and have hosted the Circle Research Show on CKLN 88.1 FM for the last five and a half years.
The record, an hour of pure, distilled illness from Toronto's subterranean rap royalty, features four verses by Yushin. For anyone not yet aware of their basic human need to hear a boiling-hot double-time rhyme flow spat entirely in Japanese, you need to go cop you some Mulligan Stew, like, immediately. Promise?
"He ended up on four songs or something," muses Masuda. "At the time, we weren't thinking like, 'Oh yeah, we'll have this Japanese MC rapping and that'll be the hottest thing.' We just decided, damn, this guy is amazing. I don't know what the hell he's talking about, but he sounds good, you know what I mean?
"I was actually living with him for a while. So we'd just get up, smoke an L or whatever, and just start working. A lot of tracks actually came to fruition that way."
It shows. Over smoked-out funk beats nicer than Mr. Rogers's smile, Tara Chase, Oddities members, D-Sisive and, of course, MC Abdominal of Abs and Fase drop more dope than a clumsy cocaine dealer.
Abdominal's Circle Research-produced single, Speak & Read, which features the Stephen Hawkingesque Texas Instruments children's learning toy of the same name, was novel enough to catapult Circle Research into the international underground.
Their Abdominal connection came from a relationship with another character they'd just love to find.
"We knew Abs through a mutual friend, whose name I'd rather not disclose here, who stole a lot of our stuff and we never heard from him again," says Masuda. "But he introduced us to Abs before that all went down, so we continued a relationship with Abs."
Fortunate, because it was Abs who linked Circle Research to the Cryptic Souls crew, who opened a network of microphone rippers including the hysterical D-Sisive, whose track I'm Not finds him rhyming over whistling about the brands of rapper he's not.
Rest assured, microphones will be ripped at this Friday's CD release party, but the event will mostly be about the Researchers.
"It'll be kind of a big show, with Circle Research and then guest appearances. Our friends will come and do a couple of tracks off the album, but the show will be more focused on us."
Already, Astro and Nix are putting their energies into something brand new, a joint that they promise will be even hotter than the last.
"We're pretty much halfway into our next album, honing our production skills and our production quality. And we've updated our studio equipment. It'll be a bigger, clearer, better sound."