MORE OR LES CD release with RHYTHMICRU , SJ THE WORDBURGLAR and SHEBANG! at the Reverb (651 Queen West), Wednesday (May 31). $8 at the door, with CD $10. www.moreorles.ca. Rating: NNNNN
More or Les knows how to sell himself.
Last summer, while other artists sweated it out on Queen West hawking "conscious hiphop no guns no violence," the Scartown MC established himself as the city's first rap busker, freestyling through an amp in the downtown core.
The move got him loads of attention, even catching him the ears and business cards of a few major A&R reps.
More or Les is actually so good at putting himself out there in creative ways that he can smell a terrible approach coming from miles away. And it usually ends with the same phrase, one he named one of his new tracks after: "Yo, let my boy rap!"
"That song title was literally what somebody said to me at a show," says Les, chatting on the phone instead of postering for his album release party because of shitty weather.
"I was DJing, and this guy comes up to me (I don't think he really was a manager) and was like, 'I like what you guys are doing.'
"I was like, 'Cool, thanks.' I thought it was gonna end there. Then he kept saying stuff like 'Yeah, you're doing your thing, you're cutting it up, but you should really hear what my man's saying!' I was like, 'Uh-huh,' and finally he goes, 'Yeah -- like -- yo! Let my boy rap!'"
The phrase would haunt him right through to his times hosting In Divine Style, the former hiphop open mic night at Hooch.
Tracks like Yo, Let My Boy Rap or Everybody Outside (The Busking Song) -- recounting the real-life experiences of the rising rapper, who first caught people's ears with 03's I Only Stop For The Red Ants -- really make his second album.
With a Del-reminiscent flow and a comedian's good-natured wit, Les delivers a refreshingly blunt take on being an MC. Or he goofs off and raps about food (quite a bit -- he'd one day like to follow in Cibo Matto's footsteps with an all-food-themed album).
But his candour is underlined by the 1,000-degree rhythm sections tossed out by The Truth About Rap's 10 producers, himself included.
It should boost an already promising career due to his newfound relationship with the Herbaliser. After he was hooked up for some Canadian jazz fest dates, the deadly Ninja Tune hip-hop band invited him to play in London, England, last November, and back to play France and Belgium this summer.
Shortly thereafter, he'll begin recording on their new album, which could lead to some interesting things, as they're pretty buddy-buddy with Jean Grae, among others.
Between major festival gigs in places like Dour and Ghent (Belgium) and Annecy (France), More or Les tells me he'd kill to do some Euro-busking. He's just making sure he's prepared.
"I'm calling everyone I know there, asking, 'Is there any way I can do this without being arrested, beat up or robbed?'
"Having any of those happen to me in Europe would not be great."