By Justin Lee
Instinctive Reaction to Struggle have represented the Canadian hip-hop underground for a few years now, as part of one of the tightest crews in Toronto known as Monolith. They were responsible for most of the production behind Monolith’s 1998 EP The Long Awaited… in addition to performing on the album.
Like other multi-membered crews such as the Hieroglyphics and Wu-Tang Clan, Monolith functions as a whole entity and on the flipside, breaks down into individual solo artists who make up the crew. With recent solo albums from fellow Monolith MCs such as Dan-E-O and Charisma, IRS is hard-at-work recording their debut album set for release this summer.
"Hip-hop is one of those things that when you are struggling, you can use that as a reaction to get out of something, but [with] us, it’s instinctive, it’s a natural reflex to react to our problems in that manner," says Korry Deez of the group’s moniker.
Deez is joined by Black Cat and the recently recruited t.r.a.c.k.s. who together, make a point of rising above the current shallow state of hip-hop. Using lyrics and beats that not only make heads bob, they create an awareness among hip-hop fans everywhere. Unlike many MCs who produce their music in relation to what will sell, IRS does not compromise their musical integrity for anyone.
"A lot of people get in the spotlight and do a sing-and-dance for everybody else just because they know that’s what people are going to watch," states Deez.
"It just seems like generic shit and gimmicks are what people want," a frustrated t.r.a.c.k.s. adds. "Were just trying to break the mould."
With hip-hop’s current state, it’s hard not to be a little cynical about hip-hop’s present and future.
"As sad as it is, it’s not about how talented you are; it’s all about politics," affirms Black Cat.
The last few years saw the underground success of IRS inadvertently, through the success of their crew, Monolith. However, after playing $100 shows in hole-in-the-wall clubs, and not getting the local and national attention they deserve, IRS has decided not to sit idle or wallow in self-pity.
Instead, they transformed their frustrations into a positive and productive form of energy, motivating themselves to make an impact in Canadian hip-hop.
"Things are gonna turn around, you know what I mean? Things are gonna change," says an optimistic Black Cat.
"I see a lot of people that should be giving us love [that] aren’t giving us the love that we deserve in the industry. The only way I can tell them or show them how we feel is to turn the tables on them.
"We want to make it to a level where it’s like, ‘yo man, we don’t need you, but you know what? I’m still gonna help you because I’m a better person than you,’" continues Black Cat.
Having toured with such hip-hop acts as the Rascalz and Kardinal Offishall, IRS is slowly gaining the respect and love from heads all over the country, bringing an intense amount of energy every time they put on a show.
"I can’t fathom the last time that we’ve left the stage and people haven’t said, ‘You know what, you guys are putting your heart into what you are doing, you guys are wicked, you guys have a lot of energy," recalls Deez. "Sometimes people say we got the crowd over-hyped… that means people are feelin’ what we’re doing."
With the recent release of their debut 12" featuring such cuts as "Whatchuwantnow?" and the club anthem "Party People," and IRS’ much-anticipated full-length LP on the way, true hip-hop heads are definitely "over-hyped" about the promising future of IRS