Abdominal is an MC’s MC, a nice technically superior flow that can adjust to various speeds, tempos, rhythms, instruments and moods. He has a versatile cannon of one-liners and story-raps. He likes rapping fast and his work with DJ Format has certainly built up a reputation for him as one of those rappers your favourite current rappers really respects. As for sound, he sticks to those retro beefy boom-bap type beats and summery vibes. And it works well for him.
I caught up with the Canuck before a recent Jazz Café appearance to chew the breeze on his new album with DJ Fase, “Flowtation Device,” his work with Format and MC Pitman…
How are you and who is your favourite superhero?
I’m great & my favourite superhero is Spiderman. I know it’s not the most original choice, but I’m being honest. I like Spidey because he’s not your typical invincible, square-jawed hero, like a Superman. He’s more of an underdog, everyman type of guy. He doesn’t take himself so seriously & you get the feeling he’d be cooler to hang out with than say a Thor or a Mr. Fantastic.
Tell us about “Flowtation Device”, what attracted you to DJ Fase’s production and what you feel the final product says about you?
With the way I work, I almost place a higher priority on personal relationships than I do on abilities. So, first & foremost, I started working with Fase because he & I were really good friends. Luckily for me, he’s also a very skilled DJ/producer. I think his strong points are his abilities to convey moods in his beats & his sequencing (he listens very carefully to his emcees’ lyrics & will respond accordingly with change-ups & drop-outs, rather than just letting the same loop run for the duration of a song).
“…I like rapping fast & not too many producers are making fast beats anymore. Format likes making fast beats & not too many rappers are rapping fast anymore…”
Honestly, Flowtation Device is where we were at when we made those songs (1999-2001) & although I still like them, I’d be lying if I said I thought our/my new stuff wasn’t better (check the 3 new cuts on the re-release; “A Good Day”, “Slow and Deliberate” & “Sewmehnee (Time’s Fly)”). I like Flowtation because it showcases our different styles & emotions, rather than being a whole record of just battle tracks, for example.
What is it about DJ Format that you feel gets the best out of you?
I like rapping fast & not too many producers are making fast beats anymore. Format likes making fast beats & not too many rappers are rapping fast anymore. Do the math.
As DJ Format is from the UK, have you heard any UK hiphop?
Not too much…I’m digging what I’ve heard from the Aspects and I like the few songs I’ve heard from Ty. I bought the Pitman record, which I know people write off as a joke, but I still listen to it.
“…There’s so many emcees (& actually just music in general) out there, you need to find a way to stand out…”
You recently played some UK shows and a festival or two, what are your thoughts on UK summer bunnies?
By summer bunnies, I assume you mean girls. I’ve been living with the same girl for 5 years, so I tour with blinders on.
What makes you a good rapper?
Technically, I know people say I have good breath control, I can rap fast etc. But to me, the most important thing is originality. There’s so many emcees (& actually just music in general) out there, you need to find a way to stand out. You can have the best voice, flow etc., but if you have nothing interesting to say, I’m not buying your shit.
What makes a good rapper?
How did you develop your style?
Through becoming comfortable with expressing my own personality on stage & on wax. People always say ‘just be yourself’, but you can only do that by finding out who you are & gaining the confidence to express that. There’s no real shortcuts & for me it took (is taking) a lot of work…shows, writing, recording etc.
“…I bought the Pitman record, which I know people write off as a joke, but I still listen to it…”
What is next for you in terms of projects?
I have a bunch of tunes on Format’s new album (which should be out early next year). There’s a few solo tracks & also a few back-&-forth tracks with another Toronto emcee, D-Sisive. After Format’s record comes out & we tour it, my plan is to do an Abdominal solo album, with Format & Fase supplying the majority of the beats alongside a few other producers.
Who would you like to work with?
I’d like to rock a Cut Chemist beat & vocally speaking, I’d love to do a back-&-forth with Kane!
Any final big ups/shoutouts?
Just to all the aspiring emcees out there…keep it up, work hard & put out some dope music (like I’m trying to). There’s so much shit hip-hop these days, we need more beacons of hope out there. Peace, Abs.
– Nikesh Shukla