By Nolan Lewis
Hip-hop music has been steadily declining since its glory days in the ’80s. The emcee evolved from a street conscious spokesman of the urban culture to a Scarface-quoting, gun-totting, womanizing “gangsta.” As a result, hip-hop music has become a pile of steamy repetitive thug crap. But underground Canadian hip-hop label Peanuts & Corn is here to pinch off a nugget of that substance missing from hip-hop for the last 10 years.
Now celebrating their 35th release and its 11th year, Peanuts & Corn still releases records at an amazing rate and alienated fans of mainstream rap are starting to take notice. mcenroe, founder of Pïœ¦C and emcee, has been featured on the label’s last three releases, the newest from his group Farm Fresh–a solo EP and a collaborative effort with Vancouver’s Birdapres.
“2004 was the first year that I would wake up every day and my main objective was the Peanuts & Corn label–no day job, no other lines of business,” says mcenroe.
This focus resulted in a barrage of releases for the label in the last four months.
mcenroe and Birdapres’s collaboration on Nothing is Cool garnered them some attention outside of Canada. Some reviewers praise their originality in bringing back an old school feel to hip-hop.
“A few U.S. reviews have had that angle, others think we’re old school [and that’s bad],” says mcenroe. “Others think we shouldn’t rap because of the colour of our skin, we hear more consistent praise and understanding of what we are all about from Canada and Europe.”
The cynical voice of two kids who were always picked last for dodgeball in gym class can be heard in some of the lyrics on the album. mcenroe and Birdapres go as far as to attack the genre for neglecting them as long as it has.
“I am not as cynical about music and hip-hop in general as I maybe come across,” says mcenroe. “I love music and I am a big fan of hip-hop.”
The album boasts witty rhymes and inventive beats produced by both mcenroe and Birdapres, with influences going beyond the hip-hop of yore. Conceptually, mcenroe admits to being influenced by punk music in addition to ’80s pop.
“I have been a music fan for a long time, not just hip-hop. I love so many kinds of music and it influences me a great deal.”
The Nothing is Cool album is turning heads in the hip-hop community worldwide and drawing a lot of attention for Pïœ¦C. With each release the label sprays a whiff of air freshener into a genre overpowered by the scent of feces. And with their furious pace of producing albums, they are snowballing to the forefront of the underground Canadian hip-hop scene. The modest mcenroe has his doubts on the possibility of the worldwide hip-hop scene squeezing out more peanuts and corn than actual offal.
“Realistically, it is not likely on a large scale. The realm of popular music and what we do is just too different.”