Music Interview: Offsides ready to get onside

By Nathan Atnikov

Some musicians choose to be independent, while others have independence thrust upon them. Of course, those in the latter group are commonly referred to as unemployed. Such is not the case for Montreal-based hip-hop group Offsides. After forming in 1996 the group briefly shopped their demo for a major label deal before deciding to come out on their own label, OdoubleF Records. Made up of emcees Malicious, Bailey, and Lokey, along with dj D.R. One, Offsides speak as confidently as they rap. It’s clear they take music seriously, both as a business and a passion.

“Seeing the people around us,” says Malicious. “What’s happened with them when they’ve gone on either an indie label or a major label that’s shelved them for a little bit, we just felt it would be good for us to take the initial step with our own product. Being on our own label we’re able to dictate our own moves, and if all else fails, we take the brunt of it and reap the benefits as well.”

It’s easy enough for a group like Offsides to say they don’t need the support of a major label, but to actually stick it out is another thing. This summer’s Foul Language is the group’s first lp in eight years and as an independent act they’ve had to use their own money to promote themselves. Malicious, however, seems confident the end will justify the means.

“As a camp, we’re ready to take a little bit of extra time to get the public notice that we would get with a major,” he explains. “But there’s a lot of benefits that you get out of being independent. We pride ourselves on quality in terms of the product that we put out. If you play a G-Unit track in a club, and we have a banger ourselves, I don’t see why it shouldn’t get rotated too.”

The business sense Offsides possess isn’t without a purpose. Under all of the business strategy is a true passion for the music they make, and the group seems genuinely flattered, if not a bit overwhelmed, by the positive reactions they have garnered internationally. While proud of their first studio effort, the group’s first love is live performance, evidenced by the fact they light up when given the opportunity to talk about their current Canadian tour.

“We come out to entertain the people,” Bailey says, “if you guys are not entertained, then we did not do our job.”

“For all those who haven’t had a chance to actually hear Offsides or see Offsides live,” Malicious adds, “one of our strongest suits is our live performance, as opposed to what we do on record or in the studio. We prepared ourselves before actually going in to record, to make sure our stage show was up to par. When people come out to see us, they get the actual Offsides experience there.”

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