Fundamental is one half of the group “Good Company” with Pittsburgh MC, Ayatollah Jaxx. If he’s not making beats, Canadian artist Fundamental is writing rhymes. As a multi-talented artist he may have the power to produce and rap, but he claims he is a producer first and foremost. Currently he is working on two projects; "H.I.T.S." (Home is the Start) and "Excepted Everywhere Volume 2." These projects are expected to showcase all of his talents, and illustrate his artistic freedom. Stimulate your soul chats to Fundamental about why it is a great time to be a Canadian artist, the significance of sourcing local talent, and how he felt when he was given 200 records from a man at a garage sale. Margaret Tra writes.
You say you are producer first and foremost, how did that start? And what made you start rapping?
As far as producing, for the longest time I remembered listening to music and thinking what I would do differently. Maybe use a different snare, or change the drum pattern etc. So one day in high school, my friend who rapped told me he downloaded a program, and wanted me to make beats for him. From that moment on, I never looked back.
As far as rapping and song writing there are two reasons:
Firstly, I always felt like I was the voice of reason. I would be able to supply logic to the most complex situations for friends and family. So I felt like there was a lot I could offer on the mic that just wasn't and still isn't out there.
Secondly, sometimes I just got flat out tired of making beats and writing and spitting rhymes is a great creative alternative. So now if I'm sick of one, I can go to the other. It also helps me with how I make beats now. I can hear if someone would be able to flow on it now.
There are some great artists that stem from Canada; do you feel there is a big community for hip hop there?
Definitely. There is plenty of great music here in Toronto and throughout the country. And what's even greater about this day and age, is we don't have to worry so much about getting an American record deal. With the internet, everything is at our finger tips, to present our music directly to the masses. It's a great time to be a Canadian artist.
You are finishing up a project with another Canadian artist Elley Jeeze, tell us about that and also is it important for you to keep your music within the local scene?
Well Elley Jeeze has been my favourite Canadian MC for years. There are tons of talent in the city, and southern Ontario region, but Elley is ‘that dude’ to me. He has the skill, the punch lines, the voice, the presence, the subject matter and the ability to write a whole song. He's the total package. For that album, we really have one main goal. And that is to put together the best songs period. It sounds simple, but sometimes people focus too much on trying to get every topic or theme on a project. Although we do have a theme for the project, we really just want each track to be doper than the next. There won't be any ‘skipable’ tracks.
As far as the importance of keeping my music on the local scene, I would say it's important to me to have a balance. My group member for Good Company is in Pittsburgh, so I've never really been that guy to only want to work with local acts. However, I do love my city. There's nowhere else I would want to be. So it's important to show people when I'm out of town, what Toronto is bringing to the table. At the end of the day, I want to work with dope artists only. If they're from my city, than that is just the icing on the cake.
Your next project is "Excepted Everywhere Volume 2" can you tell us a bit about that? What were you trying to achieve with this mixtape?
With this mixtape series, it's a way for me to showcase all of my talents. So there will be tracks on this album that I either produced, remixed, or rapped on. I really enjoy this the most because it gives me the most artistic freedom. As far as features, I'm going to have Ayatollah Jaxx and Elley Jeeze of course. Those two are family. Then other tracks will include Nitty Scott, Thee Tom Hardy, and Mike Classic. More names to come. So stay tuned!
Your production skills are quite underground, who would you say influences you?
As far as influences, I would have to say Q-Tip, Raphael Saadiq, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Just Blaze, Saukrates. There's so many but those are that main producers. I can see why people would think my style is ‘underground,’ but I never set out to make an underground record. I know the musical sound that I like and I just attempt to put my own twist on it so people can recognise my style. If people consider it underground, then it's all good. But I don't like to separate hip hop. Commercial or underground, if its dope then I f*** with it.
Walk us through your production process.
Well I like to start with the sample first. I always look for a piece whether there is either a great melody, chords or composition. If not that, I listen for interesting sounds that I'd be able to manipulate.
Once I get the sample chopped up, I start playing the sample as notes on the keyboard. I create something that catches my ear. Something that gives me a feeling. Once I get that, then I start adding the drums and other sounds. The melody and chords are really important to me. That's the foundation.
Who would be your favourite producer today?
Of all time, Q-Tip. At this very moment, I would say Rich Kidd from Toronto. Very, very talented individual.
Cheapest and or best beat/vinyl you've found whilst digging?
Ah man, I can't pick one record. But the best experience I ever had would have to be when I walked by a garage sale, and this man was giving away over 200 records. Man, I had my mom come by with the car, loaded up the truck. Made my then girlfriend carry some home with me, I was ecstatic. Not so much my family. (Laughs)