Interview by Jenkin Au and Alan Ng
Words by Ryan Goldade and Jenkin Au
Photography by Jenkin Au
Please introduce yourself to our readers
It’s Loe Pesci from Hindu Kush. I also run Montreal’s chapter of King of the Dot (Canada’s official battle league). I’m from Montreal. I’ve been doing my thing out here since I was 12 years old; producing, rapping, anything that has to do with battling.
What’s it like to be a rapper hailing from Montreal?
It’s dope man. There aren’t many people out here that are making noise outside of the city. It’s kind of cool to get out of the city, get some exposure and represent my city. Everyone says represent your city, but when you do it within the city, everyone is repping that city!
What are some of the challenges you’ve had with identifying yourself as a Montreal rapper?
The hardest thing about that would that Quebec is half French so it’s split. There are French artists and a lot of people that listen to French rap. Then there are people that listen to English rap. There are people that listen to both but mainly there’s a divide. It’s not like being in Toronto or New York where everyone speaks English. In this situation I have to basically get outside of the city no matter what to make something happen.
When were first introduced to rap battles and what made you want to stick with it?
I’ve been battling in the streets since I was 15 or 16. Organized freestyle battles and competitions – I’ve done all of that. Acapella battle rap just started coming up a few years ago. Obviously I started watching that shit on the internet and I realized what it’s becoming and I jumped in. My by Osa from Hindu Kush knew about King of the Dot. He was like “I’m going up there, I’m going to do a battle. Come check it out and do the next one.” I went up there and checked it out and was like, “Oh, this shit is crazy.” There was a whole following for it, so I thought, “Alright, let me do this too.” So the next event, I went and started getting busy and it just grew from there.
Have you ever gotten a sore throat from battling?
I’ve gotten a sore throat from over smoking and over preparing before the battle, but not from battling.
Racism is pretty prevalent in battling. Do any of these personal attacks hit a tough place for you?
Personally, being a battler and being an asshole like that, there’s nothing someone can say in or out of a battle that can hurt my feelings. If I was weak at heart and couldn’t handle stuff like that, I wouldn’t be battling. I’d advise people who can’t handle that shit not to battle for that specific reason. A lot of people would say, “Yo I can’t believe you didn’t knock him out for saying that.” I’m not going to knock someone for saying that. I’m in control of the situation. You can say this or say that but it’s not going to affect me at the end of the day.
Has it ever come from the other side?
People can get offended, but that’s what a battle is. People can step in there and say anything they want. I take into account that this person can say something and people might think it’s true but I don’t care because it doesn’t affect my life as much as people might think it does when they watch a battle.
How does a battle rapper like you come up with original content when so much has already been used?
That’s when being an MC and being original and being dope comes into play. Everyone’s doing this shit. Everyone is jumping in and stringing a few jokes together. I don’t care so much about the crowd that’s there as I do about the people that will watch it after. The people that like this kind of hip-hop will be able to appreciate that. It just comes down to how you write and how you are as an MC. I liked to come up with stuff that is a little far-fetched. Double meanings. Things that people might not get the first time listening to it. Some people say, “I don’t understand that” but it is better that people are intrigued and asking questions instead of getting everything the first time. I’m not doing to be complicated I’m just doing it cause that’s my approach to originality.
It’s difficult to keep from recycling lines, even by accident, but people can get called out for that. Have you ever been called out on a recycle?
What they refer to recycling as is re-using your line or biting someone else’ line. What I’ll do is remix a line. I’ll use a line that I’ve said before but it fits to my opponent. I like to that. Sometimes I’ll remix an opponent’s line. I’m facing and guy and I’ll use a line that he’s done before but I’m going to switch it on him and it’s going to sound different. People know his line so they’ll get the correlation. I wouldn’t call that recycling, I call that remixing.
In battles you use the saying “step your life game up.” Where did you come up with that?
Me and Osa, before the psycho battle, did a little blog and Osa said, “You need to step your whole life game up” and it just started from there. It became the motto of the crew and now it’s the website and shirts too.
What’s the most offensive thing you’ve ever said, within context of the situation?
Probably Mischief about the incident where he was going to get locked up for running up on his girl’s ex-boyfriend and stabbed him. That had already been made public so it wasn’t like I ratted him out on it and he is going to be prosecuted for that. I’m not airing him out about it. That’s why battling is kind of shitty in a way cause you’re airing someone out. I don’t like that in battling. I would rather just come out and spit dope bars but the reality is, if you want to win you have to go for the throat. Everyone adapts.
It seems that battle rappers are invading other people’s personal lives. How do they find out this information?
People know each other. In the battle scene, a lot of people know each other. The whole scene is pretty much in Toronto right now. I started the Montreal division, but I don’t hang out with all the people out there too much. Everything you do can be used against you in a court of battling. It’s really up to you keep everything to yourself. A lot of us are all friends though.
Looking at some of the battles in the States, battles can get violent.
Yeah man, a lot of things get said, you know?
How do you make sure it’s a positive thing and not turned negative?
That’s tough man. That’s really tough. When you get in that ring, you can say anything you want and the viewer doesn’t know if it’s true or not.
Within the scene, how many people come with prepared material?
I’d say it’s pretty much all prepared. Since King of the Dot and such, it’s been all written. People come and they know who they’re facing. People might have lines in their heads like in a freestyle battle and string them together with maybe a few freestyle lines in between. As the league started getting, it was all about quality control. You want to come with your best lines.
Tell us about the different groups you’ve been in.
I was in a group with Narcissist, in a group called Patrick Bateman. Ealier on I was in a group called Five Star Crew and we opened for the Executioners. We had a collection called Nineth Majesty with Narcissist and other artists from Montreal. Flight Distance from Ottawa. King of the Dot – Montreal Division. Mostly me and Osa work on music.
Your group Hindu Kush, Osa and the website you run, tell us more about that.
I met up with Osa in Ottawa six or seven years ago at Urban Fest. We met up and started cyphering and stuff. We met up five or six years after that when he moved to Montreal. I knew his girlfriend that he was with at the time. I invited her to a show, and invited him over and he came through and cyphered a little bit. He started coming over every other day and started making tracks. The Hindu Kush record started getting pieced together. Then the website. We found the name – “step your life game up.” We started coming up with the t-shirts and stuff. We run that website now and plan to make it more than just a blog.
How have you lived your own motto?
Battling has actually hampered my life game, to tell you the truth, ‘cause it takes up a lot of my time. If you want to do something, you go to do it well. The reason why I screwed up at the end of the tournament if because I was trying to do other things than just the battle and I guess I chose the wrong time to do that. You got to do other stuff, you can’t just do one thing. This record has to come out so I can’t do battles every month. We got to get the record out and re-vamp the website and do some other stuff that’s really important to Hindu Kush. My priority is making music. Battling is a good thing for exposure but at this point people know my name in the battle scene.
What’s your outside life like?
My outside life game is good, but it can always be better. It can always be stepped up.
What is HYPE?
When something is HYPE, people gather and build around it.