West Indian legacy continues

By Lawrence Bailey

They dropped a Canadian hip-hop definition in 1988 and have been redefining it ever since. King Lou and Capital Q (AKA, The Dream Warriors) are back at it with a new single "Breathe or Die" and a pending album aptly titled The Legacy Continues.

While they haven’t been making waves in the past couple of years, they’ve reasserted their role at the vanguard of Canadian music over the past six months. Their new single and the Muchmusic Video Award it garnered has them marching back into the public eye, sugarcane in hand. These boys from the West Indies, who now call Toronto home, are once again showcasing their musical artistry for all to enjoy.

"Money can kill you," King Lou admits, while speaking of their commercial successes. "But it’s necessary to build you. You gain freedom, you can add more flavour, you can create, you can be yourself."

While many have labeled them as crossover artists due to their heavy jazz influences as well as their more recent work with Herbaliser and Roots Manuva, Lou dismisses the label, stating that as artists they make art.

"It isn’t a jazz beat or a rock guitar," elaborates fellow Dream Warrior Capital Q. "It’s just a vibe that compels you to create."

Categories and classifications don’t sit well with this progressive crew as they are determined to avoid becoming stagnant or predictable.

"As soon as you say that you’re a hardcore hip hopper you’re a follower, you’ve got blinders on," muses Lou.

Their influences and idols are as varied as their music, ranging from contemporaries Common and Guru to the legends of the early 20th century.

"Meeting Slim Gaylard [be-bop jazz pioneer and innovator in the ’30s and ’40s] was incredible," adds Q. "It’s like meeting a piece of history you were never born into."

While the duo won’t classify their music, their cultural roots are well-defined.

"I am a West Indian living in Canada," King Lou states while Q expresses his agreement. "That’s the way it is in Canada. If you kick a Canadian hip hopper too hard, a little West Indian wisdom comes out."

As far as a tour goes, the previews and predictions were grandiose as far as content is concerned, but the only date they’re willing to give is "as soon as the dust settles."