By: Nerhys Hall
Toronto has a vibrant music scene that supports an ever-growing number of artists of all genres. Hip hop flourishes particularly well here in the six. The collective Grand Analog shows just how talented the city’s hip-hop artists are. Their latest EP, Survival boasts an impressive list of guest artists, including Posdnuos of De La Soul, Shad, and Adaline. However, even with a variety of featured musicians, each with their own distinct styles, Grand Analog’s album flows like one cohesive package.
The first song, “Survival Mode” and the last song, “Survival: The Levy” tie everything together with their use of the same pulsating rhythm that gradually builds and adds layers. Yet, where “Survival Mode” remains entirely instrumental, “Survival: The Levy” features vocals by Nestor Wynrush and alt-pop songstress Adaline. The male and female voices complement each other and provide an interesting juxtaposition between a more assertive male verse and the ethereal female hooks.
The remaining six songs are a mix of upbeat and laid-back tracks with very distinct sounds. “Quiet Life” featuring Steven Mulcare has a driving, danceable rhythm, soft vocals, and hints at influences from disco and R&B. “Everyday (Is Love)” also features sounds from R&B but with a groovy, jazzy intro, many layers, and ends abruptly. On the other hand, “Mutations” featuring Posdnuos of De La Soul has a much more laid-back feel with a simple percussive backing track and pure hip hop vocals. “Ride On/Oshiya Dub” featuring Clairmont The Second is another that features hip hop vocals and a simple backing track, but has a groovy feel and layers are gradually added into the backing track. Additionally, at the end of the “Ride On” section of the song, the music fades out quickly before more gradually fading into “Oshiya Dub”, which has a much more laid-back feel and reggae sound.
The most upbeat song, “Ballad of the Beast”, also features the most guest artists: Shad, Len Bowen, and DJ Dopey. This song features a simple, yet layered backing track and quick hip hop-style lyrics. Each verse is different and the chorus ties everything together. Conversely, “Stardust” is the most laid-back song on the EP. It’s a slow, sultry instrumental track positioned as a transition between “Quiet Life” and “Mutations”.
If you’re looking for some amazing Toronto hip hop, then you should definitely check out Grand Analog’s Survival. You won’t be disappointed.