Taigenz talks Muntree(al)
24OurMusic interviewed Taigenz, a rapper from NDG who’s been making waves in Montreal’s hip-hop community with his stylistically varying sound. As can be expected from someone who’s never confined himself to one sub-genre of rap, Taigenz covered a broad range of topics during the interview. From analyzing Anglo-Francophone relations to opening up about his creative process:
First off, who are you as an artist and what should readers know about you?
I’m just a kid who just observes things. What people should know about me is to not put me in a box. The second you put me in a box is the second I’m in a different zone.
So how would you describe your sound, and what artists and genres would you say have contributed to it?
I don’t really have a distinct sound as of yet since I’m still in the development phase. But what I do like to mess around with is contemporary stuff mixed in with some old school. You might hear either that boom-bap kind of sound, or some of the more current trap elements. I try to mix everything all together and come up with something original. Some of the artists who influenced me are the classic line-up of 90’s artists, like Biggie and Pac and Nas, as well as the guys in the current era, Kendrick and J. Cole and Drake. Even Nipsey Hussle. I listen to a lot of non-hip-hop things too, like Adele and African music, since I’m from an African background. So artists like Fela Kuti and Sarkodie have been influential too.
Can you give 24OurMusic some insight into your writing process? Do you find yourself writing primarily when inspiration strikes you, or do you hold yourself to a more regular writing schedule?
It’s kind of both, but I hold myself more to inspiration than routine, because as an artist and creator you don’t really want to force anything. I try to be inspired every day. In the last few months, I’ve been going through a really creative phase, writing three to four full songs a week. Sometimes I could be taking the bus and I write it down; if I find a beat for it, so be it, and if not I just keep it in the vault.
Hip-hop often has as a recurring theme representing one’s city. In what way has Montreal shaped you as an artist and is there anything about it that you’d like to see changed?
Montreal has shaped me in the sense that I can’t be put in a box. Montreal is so multicultural and multilingual, multifaceted in general, and it doesn’t let you put yourself in a box. The fact that I’ve taken time to get out of the city and do shows elsewhere gives me perspective when I get back into the city. No city is perfect, but I would like to see some more support. We want to have huge lines leading up to venues and whatnot. There’s also the language issue, the French and English stigma, and it’s a big issue here. I downplay it all the time and I don’t want it to be a negative thing because I don’t want the idea of learning an extra language to come off as a liability; it’s always an asset. You can never get hurt learning something new.
Speaking of Montreal, could you pinpoint any local artists who’ve helped you along the way? Any shout-outs to give?
Me and Ba2sim made a song way back in 2009. We’re from the same neighbourhood and went to the same school so it was only a matter of time before we did something together. I was very adamant about doing that because it was the first time I did a collaboration with a French artist and he brought me a lot of attention from his followers, and vice versa. So shout-out to Ba2sim. I want to keep doing stuff like that. I can’t really give any other shout-outs because I’m still watching everybody and seeing how they can influence me. Shout-outs to everyone who’s taking the craft seriously. Some people just try to do it for the buzz and it takes away from people who are actually trying to do something with it. Anyone who pushes through and perseveres, I salute you one hundred percent.
Mind telling us about any upcoming or ongoing projects?
Currently I’m pushing my Muntree EP, which is essentially me appreciating the city. Every song is a different sound but it’s based on a different aspect of what we have here. You can find that on SoundCloud or Bandcamp. At September 4th, I’m performing at the Open Air Pub at McGill. I’m also doing some music videos, and just working in general. It never stops.
If you haven’t heard Taigenz yet, treat your earbuds to something sweet:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH59MuU2m-8 (Take a Look (feat. Ba2sim))