In the spirit of hip hop borrowing or sampling from other genres, Vancouver emcee Cityreal (Remi Huot-Mazur) teamed up with blues guitarist Wes Mackey to create the Western Canadian Music Award nominated Good Morning Blues, a 10-track fusion album featuring Cityreal’s conscious lyrics and tight beats over the incredibly soulful licks Mackey lays down. (It also features two Leadbelly covers and collaborations with Madchild and D-Sisive.)
After hearing Mackey play at a Vancouver restaurant, Cityreal asked the legendary bluesman who has backed the greats like Muddy Waters, Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker, to meet for coffee.
“He was playing a lot of old soul, Al Green, Sam Cooke,” says Cityreal. “I really like soul and was thinking on the same wavelength.”
What was going to be a single collaboration grew into an EP and then to a full-length album. “At first he was cautious. ‘Who is this kid asking me to make rap songs?’” says Cityreal.
The unlikely team made two tracks for Cityreal’s first album The Beginning (nominated for the Western Canadian Music Award for Rap Recording of the Year), starting with “Passing Me By.” That single’s video garnered Cityreal and director Stuey Kubrick a second WCMA nomination.
“He and his partner liked it so much they agreed to make some more,” says Cityreal.
Both “Passing Me By” and “It’s Time” appear in their original form on Good Morning Blues.
Cityreal recently released a second music video (thanks in part to a FACTOR grant, and help from Greenpeace) for “Nightlife” featuring incredible aerial footage of Alberta’s Tar Sands (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIDsorcz0ow). Greenpeace gave Kubrick the aerial footage, shot by documentary filmmaker Peter Mettler) at a reduced cost, allowing for an impressive video to be made on a tight budget.
As a former political science major, Cityreal doesn’t shy away from giving his political opinion. While “Nightlife”‘s video showcases the horrors of the tar sands, “Passing Me By” illustrates the homeless problem on Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. He also released a single called “Fuck Stephen Harper” (free online) after the Prime Minister won the May 2011 election with a majority government.
Cityreal is currently working on his second solo album, and just got back from a recent trip to Toronto where he worked with Bulgarian-Canadian composer Todor Kobakov (who has worked with Metric and K-os), who is helping co-produce the album. Kobakov has written a sting arrangement for the album, to be played by the Vancovuer Film Ochestra (who have worked with the likes of Bryan Adams and Michael Buble). “I’ll have about 10 per cent of the string section they use,” he says with a laugh. Mackey will also be featured on a song on the new album.
Cityreal is opening for The Pharcyde Wed., Feb. 20 at Club 9ONE9. Tickets are $17.80 at ticketweb.ca. M
Stream Good Morning Blues here