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Soso's Pocket Hip Hop

This Saskatchewan indie hip hop artist is gaining a core fanbase in Japan with his moving lyrics.

With Jay-Z bragging how being 30’s cooler than 20, platinum credit cards, having a corner office and living on a cul-de-sac and Kanye shopping so much that he can speak Italian, I am tempted to believe Nas when he said, “hip-hop is dead.” Being an optimist I’d say the genre isn’t exactly dead, but over the past decade it has definitely lost its way and pigeonholed itself. The good news is that there exists a group of musicians who are creating hip-hop that speaks to the masses rather than the mid-30s white male investment bankers. One of these artists is named Soso.

Soso may not have a huge following in his native Canada but he does have displays in records stores in Tokyo and throughout Japan in such big chains as HMV and Tower Records. He also has pockets of fans throughout Japan and Europe both of which he recently finished touring. He attributes his popularity in Japan to the fact that they like his pretty melodies and beats. His Japanese record company also translates all his lyrics into Japanese for his album sleeves.

“I recently toured Tokyo, Nagasaki, and Nagoya. All of the shows were really fun. Tokyo is where most of my fans are. They cheered super hard and the response was incredible. A lot of people I met had travelled a few hours to come to the concert. It was really inspiring. We played with some diverse bands like one, which had a death metal singer, an ensemble on stage, and an opera singer all in one band. It was really unusual to Canadian standards. Travelling Europe was also surprising, most surprising was Paris. We played a great venue and I was surprised by how many people were familiar with my music. I had pretty low expectations for such a big city.”

His lyrics read like great literature and that was one of the things that first drew me to his music; the more I listened to it the more I could relate. His commentary on humanity and his personal tales leave you feeling connected and provoked, mentally and emotionally. His songs deal with such topics as cancer taking the life of a family member, breaking up with a long-term girlfriend, and friends moving on and leaving his small city while he feels compelled to stay.

Lyrics from one song: “I went looking for magic in a city of fair trade soy lattes and plastic. Gray days and a clean efficient mass transportation system and I found rooms full of art. I saw spectacular gross displays of wealth and marriages broken apart. People in desperate need mingling with pedestrians and dogs of indeterminate breed…”

“When I started making music, I was responding to that braggadocio generic hip-hop music which is also reinforced in the independent hip-hop scene as well, which you might not expect. I got really exhausted and just wanted to do a very personal album that made myself very vulnerable, an approach, which is kind of contrary to hip-hop. I think my art education helped me broaden my view on what music could be, kind of an art based approach. “

He confessed he never expected to make money from music so that took off a lot of the pressure and gave him the personal flexibility to make his music his own way. He also started his own record label called Clothes Horse Records as a way of getting his music out to the public as well as a way to help others like himself. This year he celebrates the company’s tenth anniversary.  Look out for more music to come via compilations and other side projects over the next year.