Late nights on the road are to be expected from any rapper. But for Halifax hip-hop artist Quake Matthews---who's currently celebrating his first national tour in support of Classified this month---it's business as usual for the Fairview-born rap phenom.
"I never stop recording," he says when asked about video of an all-night recording session posted on his Twitter during a day off from the tour. "I'm always working. And when I have the right collection of songs I feel could make and album, that's when I do it."
It's that work ethic that has made Matthews one of the most-watched and talked about local rappers in recent history. From his early days as a battle rapper, to the breakout sophomore release of Book of Matthew in 2012, the 24-year-old has made a name for himself for his brand of breakneck beats and unadulterated rhymes.
So it's fitting that in just a year shy of the official release of his last album, Halifax's hardest-working rapper would be back in the studio, working on a new song before his third full-length has even been released.
Quake Matthews, Corrado
available April 4
"A few of my friends said they liked the first one [2010's The Myth] better," Matthews says about The Book of Matthew. "So it made me want to top both of them."
He may get the chance with the April 4 release of Corrado, an ambitious 14-track LP that showcases the enigmatic rapper's confessional rhymes and atmospheric beats to create one of his most dynamic albums to date.
A longtime fan of HBO crime drama The Sopranos, Matthews got the name for the album while rewatching the series and finding himself relating more and more to one of the shows most curmudgeonly characters.
"He's been in the game for years and he's very bitter at the way the new people do shit," Matthews says about Uncle Junior, AKA Corrado, the character who inspired the new album. "He doesn't feel like he gets his worth or reward. He feels like he deserves more because he's been at it so long. That's kind of how I felt in music."
But it's that apparent bitterness that has pushed Matthews to the top of Canada's hip-hop elite. Whether it's the brash rhymes of album standouts "I Hate Money" and "Lucy," or the biting tongue-in-cheek criticisms of hip-hop's new school in "Dance Song," it's Matthews' confessional approach to songwriting that continues to garner attention three albums into his career.
"That seems to be what people want from me. They want the raw, brutal, honest truth. They want me to point out my faults and tell it like it is, rather than dress it up and sugarcoat it like other rappers do," he says. "I found it works better when everything is organic and I'm just saying how I feel."
Even if that means rapping about The Beatles. "My manager pointed that out. He said, 'Dude, you reference The Beatles, like, five times'," he says about Corrado, which references the death of John Lennon on "We Can Do Better" and offers an ode to the Fab Four in "Let It Be," adding that he began collecting Beatles t-shirts for inspiration during the recording of the new album.
"I'm not gonna front and say I'm the hugest diehard Beatles fan," he says. "I just think it's that people associate greatness with greatness, you know? And that's as high as you can get." --Matthew Ritchie
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