By Justin Lee
"Help people who listen to it get something from it. For the betterment of the future no matter what people’s skin colour or hair style is or religion or anything like that, help us to band together. You know, I don’t plan or I don’t even pretend to be a saviour or a preacher or anything like that, but I know we can do a lot better job at loving each other in this life. So I thank you for love, I thank you for my life and I thank you for The Book of Daniel, Lord. Amen."
This emotional, heartfelt prayer concludes Dan-E-O’s recently released debut album, The Book of Daniel. The epilogue takes the listener into the very heart and soul of Dan-E-O, dispelling any previous claims made by mainstream media that hip-hop music has negative connotations.
Despite being a key member of the mighty Monolith crew, the Scarbourough native has always been a solo artist first and foremost. Since the now-classic "Dear Hip-Hop" dropped back in 1996, Dan-E-O has arguably been one of the sickest MCs to come out of Canada in recent years.
He first became intrigued with hip-hop music when he heard the Beastie Boys’ License To Ill while on a grade four camping trip. Soon afterward, he began purchasing every release he could find within the genre.
During his early adolescence, the "lyrical shape-shifter" began to develop his skills as an mc, partnering up in the duo 2 Weird. Then in 1991, when he was just 13 years old, Dan-E-O got his first big break when he was chosen from over 100 entries to perform on the popular MuchMusic dance program, Electric Circus. Further down the line, Dan-E-O hooked-up with guys in high school who would eventually go on to form the Lyrical Coalition, and eventually their crew expanded to the 15 current members of Monolith today.
"I don’t regret anything I’ve done in the past or what I’ve had to go through to get here," he stresses. "My advice to people is: don’t take it for granted, work as hard as you can to make it happen."
In the grand tradition of prominent lyricists such as Rakim and Kool G Rap (who he also notes as being two of his major influences), the 22-year-old emphasizes the importance of lyrical content.
"I guess the way I would best describe myself is once again, one who considers himself a lyrical mastermind and does his best to put all the effort he can into lyrics," offers Dan-E-O.
He also recognizes the fact that he is in a position to make an impact on the hip-hop community, especially to some very young and impressional heads out there.
"[I’m] trying to stay true to positivity, you know, trying to contribute to hip-hop and its community [by] putting out messages there, with regards to anything–overcoming struggle, corporate industry, racism."
His words speak of an undying passion and love, not only for hip-hop, but for life. In a time where many of the MCs breaking into the industry are doing it for personal gain, Dan-E-O is a rarity, doing it all for the love of hip-hop.
"So basically, throughout my whole life I’ve wanted to be part of this music thing. I felt like I was destined to do it, I was born to do it." With a slew of releases to drop from fellow Monolith members Charisma, IRS, and Nish Rawks, as well as labelmates Golding $ Skelitor, this will undoubtedly be the year of One Rock Records and the mighty Monolith crew.
Dan-E-O’s debut, The Book Of Daniel, is available in stores now.