When Swollen Members nabbed the 2000 Juno Award for best hiphop recording, the only people who weren't surprised were the Vancouver crew themselves.
Kardinal Offishall's televised look of utter disbelief and the firestorm of criticism from Toronto MCs like Maestro that followed the awards suggested that the West Coast duo of Madchild and Prevail might be superstars in the international hiphop underground but they've got a considerably lower profile in the rest of Canada -- or at least in Toronto.
"The Juno was a massive push for us," Prevail admits from North Carolina. "It's the kind of thing your grandmother sees on TV and goes crazy about.
"It turned a lot of people's heads around, both on the street and in the music industry. People were shocked. No one can honestly say that we didn't deserve the award."
Yet that's precisely what critics of the award questioned. How could a group that most of the other major-label nominees had barely heard of grab the award?
In the wake of the controversy that followed, Prevail is hesitant to stir things up. He insists that all is well again between West and East.
"Even in our city, there were a lot of people saying, 'Whoa, how did that happen?'" he laughs. "I'm a passionate person as well, and I take my music very seriously. I think what happened is that some people acted off the cuff. There's nothing wrong with that.
"The positive thing about it is that people might get turned on to something they haven't heard before."
Presumably, that's the reason why Swollen Members hooked up with Nettwerk Records for the group's new Bad Dreams album. However, despite Nettwerk's obvious clout in Canada, it is an unusual decision.
The Vancouver label might have made Sarah McLachlan a household name, but it has no experience promoting a hiphop group. Even with Nettwerk's famed management clout, it's a massive gamble. Prevail's not so sure.
"I'm not sure what you mean," he ventures. "Nettwerk's been doing this for 16 years and it has a broader, uh, network of contacts across the country than we could ever develop.
"They don't have any hiphop experience, but who cares? With their help, we're now getting played on rock radio stations and opening for people like Bif Naked.
"Letting people hear your record is a good thing. I'd hate to think that any artists would cheat themselves out of letting as many people hear them as possible because of a word like 'underground.'"