It’s July in Reykjavik, and a small crowd mills around waiting for a local hip-hop show. A prototypical-looking Icelander, wearing a cassette tape around his neck, does his thing before Josh Martinez takes the stage, with the soon-to-be-shirtless Irish DJ, Flip. Perhaps it’s when DJ Flip spins the opening of “Eye of the Tiger,” accompanied by Martinez’s air punches, or when Martinez sings with a pint of beer on his head, but soon the Canadian hip-hopper wins hearts and dancers. “A lot of what my show is lower the tension and make the audience feel like I’m comfortable with whatever they do,” says Martinez, back in Canada. Originally a Hali-boy, Martinez moved to Vancouver years ago and now calls Portland, Oregon, home. His latest, The World Famous Sex Buffet, four years in the making, is an irreverent party album that uses humour like De La Soul once did. “I learned a long time ago that humour and harmony are great ways of sneaking in relevant, positive messages,” says Martinez. Closer to a “Lily Allen than a Jay-Z,” the Sex Buffet mixes rhymes with 1960s-styled harmonies. Growing up on a solid dose of hip-hop, listening to Buck 65’s radio show, the “ADD songwriter” became a scavenger of sounds from his parents’ record collection (dad is Coast writer Stephen Kimber), which led to an appreciation of “hippie rock stuff,” and sweet sounds like The Beach Boys and roots-reggae trio, The Mighty Diamonds. “My goal was to make sure that it’s as interestingly accessible as possible for a hip-hop album. I don’t even consider a lot of it as hip-hop other than the fact that I rap on it,” Martinez says.
Expect that on Sunday, the nostalgic but clear-eyed track “Going Back to Hali,” featuring Skratch Bastid and Classified, will win over the hometown crowd, too.
Skratch Bastid’s Labour Day Barbecue w/Josh Martinez, Gordski, Sunday, August 31 at the Marquee, 2037 Gottingen, 10pm, $6, $9 after mignight.
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