Featured Artist of the Week: Sythe

Written By: @CopaseticSoulz

Producer, emcee and much more, Sythe has been making that Vancouver hip hop and representing his city around the globe for over a decade. He was heard first
on “Beatsmartz” from the Anonymity album in 2005 after which he’d go on to feature his talents on many international albums, and eventually his own.

In 2010, he released ‘Pocket Watch’, a fresh jazz/hip-hop collaboration concept project with Azrael. Following that album, the two combined for the harder, more aggressive five track EP, Medium Rare.

His attention to detail and work ethic have awarded him the respect that both his production and lyrics deserve on an international scale. Sythe has just recently released his first self titled solo album along with a dark and politically charged video featuring local and international talent.

You’ve been working with ILL-Legitimate for over a decade, what was the impetus behind releasing a solo album now?

Over the years I’ve been sharpening both my rap and production skills, learning from some of the illest in the world. We’ve been very busy growing Ill-Legitimate as a business which is more then just beats and rhymes. We all work in depth on our videos, website and media. After releasing ILL-Legitimate “The Album” and 5 videos for the project, I was ready to head up my own project. A huge step as, for the first time, every decision for the project was mine to make. I’ve found my style through the making of this album and I can’t wait to start the next one.

What are some of the underlying themes of this album? How did you choose which songs made the cut?

I’m a very passionate person. When I’m happy, I’m really happy and when I’m pissed off, you can tell. In my effort to portray strong emotions throughout the album over the most dense production to match, I chose to use a rock theme because of its eclectic range. As a producer I had a lot of source material to select from and that made it easy to exact the specific emotional tone and feel. On top of that, I added popular rock quotes from the past few decades as a sort of narration for the project. You’ll also hear me testing out numerous different rap styles, but it really is a producer’s album… there is as much instrumental music on it as there is rapping.

Who are some of your biggest influences? What specifically did you learn from them that helped shape your style?

My biggest influence is Vancouver and the people I work with. My crew consists of guys from all different backgrounds and ways of approaching their art. My family pushed my music from all sides as well, as both my grandfathers taught me a lot about jazz and classical music. Music theory was always a big part of my life. My early influences in production would have to be Sammsonite from Brisbane, Australia and Matt Brevner from Vancouver. Both very different in their approach to the craft but both have the same hard work ethic. Those guys really taught me how to tighten up my mixes and showed me sides of hip hop I hadn’t experienced before.

For rap my biggest influence would have to be Wu-Tang but specifically Ghostface Killah. Guy is so raw
and can paint amazing pictures with such simple language. Still my favorite rapper to this day.

I’m constantly learning though. Not just from guys who have had success but guys just starting out who still have that raw talent and fire in them.
Sometimes you forget how fun just kicking frees can be.


Having been active in the Vancouver scene and internationally over the last ten years, what are some of the nuances you’ve noticed that separate the hip-hop scene in our city from others?

In Vancity, we have a very well rounded scene. Not just one crew getting all the attention. Also there are many video production companies and the amount of artists on their video game is amazing. Videos are really the next level. There’s also a great deal more venues throwing hiphop shows then in the years past. Seems like any day you can find a show in the city. I’m really excited to see whats next for the scene here. Big things.

Who are some of your favourite artists, past and present, from Vancouver?

I’m really diggin what Snak and the whole Stomp Down team are doing.
Inkspill, Reflectionz, Ashleigh Eymann, D-Rec, Brevner, Azrael and of course Anonymouz (the guy basically taught me how to rap). So many different styles its hard to name just a few artists. I’m a super fan of hip-hop first and foremost.

What was the most difficult aspect of putting together your own solo album?

Not having an extra set of ears, probably. Sometimes when your working on a track for a while, you lose all objectivity. Guys I do work with would have heard bits and pieces before the release but aren’t there in the studio through the whole process. I’ve been very accustomed to having another opinion, as all my previous projects have been collaborative efforts. With that said, the end product is exactly as I imagined it, it is only my tastes on this album.

Rapping or producing? Which do you prefer and why?

Hmmm. That’s a tough one. I get more excited over a dope beat then a dope rap, but there is more emotion I feel in writing something amazing and laying it down. Still I’d have to say producing. As a producer I’ve had the chance to work with so many gifted emcees and musicians, and as a producer you really control the final sound and vibe of the track or album. I’m trying to be as well rounded as possible. Its really not enough to just be a rapper or producer nowadays. Competition is more intense than ever and with the bar being set so high with in house recording and video work, you really have to know the ins and outs of the music business.

What is it about this album that will stand out from the other projects you’ve worked on? What can people expect?

This album is an emotional ride. Lots of different sounding tracks that usually wouldn’t fit on the same album. Because the overall feel is achieved with my brother’s guitar and the rock style of beats I selected, I was able mess around a lot with styles within the many different faces of rock or rock influenced music.

Every feature spot on the album came to spit. Anonymouz holds me down on 2 choruses and a verse over the 2 MetaWon beats I used. Brevner kills 2 verses and a chorus. I also used this album to do work with new cats like jay, Maddhattr and Jeff Spec.

What are your plans for 2014? What should audiences stay looking out for?

I’m planning two more videos for the Sythe album this year.

Also Ill-Legitimate shows and touring throughout the spring and summer, as well as solo shows for myself.
I’d really like to start work on the next ill-legitimate album too.

I have an album release event happening on the 10th of April at Tavern at the New Oxford and I’m planning two more videos for the Sythe album this year.

Thanks for taking time out of your schedule to speak with us!


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