Kyprios with Sweatshop Union , Skitz , and DL Incognito at the Kathedral (651 Queen West), Sunday (September 12). $15. 416-504-6699. Rating: NNNNN
Sweatshop Union affiliate, Vancouverite and occasional adopted Torontonian (he lived here on and off for two years, once at 666 Spadina, apartment 911) Kyprios thinks very deeply.
He has no qualms about voicing those deep thoughts in the form of spoken-word pieces performed at poetry slams or by honing his abilities as an MC, leading him to a deal with Sony and the release of Say Anything, his debut solo album.
As he drove from Victoria to Kelowna to rock a crowd, he explained why his words-first philosophy works best in hiphop form.
"I think an MC by nature is a poet. In rap, you're basically riding a beat to the cadence of a four-bar pattern. Out of all types of music, I think MCing lends itself best to spoken word, because it puts your message up front. There are more lyrics in a rap song than in any other type of music."
Say Anything, with its live instrumentation, spoken-word piece and lyrics printed for all to see, reflects Kyprios's pride in his sound and willingness to explore. One track, Hate, earned him a rebuke in a review in these pages due to what was perceived as needless use of racial epithets, but Kyprios sees no problem with its message. He says the majority of those who hear it "get" it.
"I wouldn't do the song if the feedback weren't 95 per cent good to 5 per cent bad. Hate is something people think about, talk about and act on. I find that racism is still as prevalent today as 100 years ago. The message of the piece is 'This is what happens when you talk this way.' I feel like it's an important thing."
TV viewers may recognize Kyprios from his MuchMusic-rotated video for This Is My Hit, a song that pokes fun at the pigeonholing and packaging of artists so they can penetrate pop culture. But isn't he trying to do the same thing, and does it bother him? Kyprios feels his dignity remains intact.
"You try to find a balance. Here I am talking to you about these things, but here I am using the same tools to condemn it. You just gotta stay on the light side and away from the dark side. And it's about me using whatever type of money is thrown at me to put out a positive message, to try to provoke thought, to try to change what we see as pop music. If it's spun on the radio, people are going to consider it pop. When Andre 3000's shit got played on the radio, I was excited.
"As far as being packaged, that's the most difficult thing the record label has found with me. They're like, 'What is this? Is it urban? Is it pop?' I don't want people to think they're getting something I'm not. That's why you don't see me with a big image, in flashy cars and all that shit. I'm trying to sell a movement."