MORE OR LES with MILES JONES & DJ SERIOUS, ONAKABAZIEN and FRESH FLESH as part of FEAST IN THE EAST 23 at Polyhaus (388 Carlaw), Friday (March 1), 9 pm, all ages. $10, adv $7. CB, SS. See listings.
After 22 editions of food and music in Toronto's east end, the Feast In The East music series may have found its most appropriate headliner yet in More or Les.
The local MC, whose real name is Leslie Seaforth, can fill a room with good vibes, but more importantly he has a deep appreciation for all things culinary. Some previous instalments have had musicians cooking dinner for the crowd. So why is More or Les crossing the Don Valley empty-handed?
"Nobody asked me," he says over lunch on Queen East, mere metres from the spot where he first caught the public's ear as an attention-demanding busker. "It's too bad. I could have made chili."
If fans want to try the rapper's signature chili, all they have to do is pick up a copy of his third LP, Mastication (URBNET, 2012). Seaforth's recipe ("good vegan chili that will stick to your ribs") makes up the lyrics to the aptly named Chili, one of 17 tracks all centred around the same theme: food.
Seaforth isn't an ex-chef like Action Bronson. In fact, he doesn't even consider himself a foodie - more an enthusiast. Instead, he says, his motivation for unifying the album was aesthetic.
"I just believe in the concept of the album as a piece," he explains. "I'm more interested in that than in some loose collection of songs. Instead of trying to grab people's attention as quickly as possible, I'd rather say, ‘Hey, here's something you can devote 40 minutes of your time to.'"
Mastication is actually Seaforth's second concept album in a row. His 2010 EP, Brunch With A Vengeance, presents a whole suite of tracks about common annoyances, from gross public bathrooms to nose-pickers on the bus.
That humour and relatability give Seaforth an Everyman persona and sidestep the larger-than-lifeisms of mainstream rap, often getting him tagged as "indie" or "nerdcore." He says he's worlds away from rappers like Drake (whose success has had zero effect on him as a fellow Canadian "rapper"), but admits he's uneasy about fans who come up to him after shows making statements like "I normally don't like hip-hop, but I like you."
"To be honest, it used to throw me, but I understand where it's coming from," he says. "If your only access to rap is through commercial radio or video, you're going to have a very different opinion of what hip-hop is compared to doing a Google search or looking on YouTube or, even better, coming out to a show.
"Hip-hop is a big genre. To me, the most entertaining rap is a combination of different styles, an audio collage. It's taking something like the horns played by a folk band from Yugoslavia and turning [that sound] into a giant anthem for, I don't know, couscous."