The Seahorse Tavern, 2037 Gottingen Street, Dec 5
In a west end backyard shed, there’s a framed photo of Drake, drinking a shot out of his upturned Grammy award. It’s lit with soft reverence, hanging above recording equipment like a cross above an altar. Adyan Brown, Cornell Reddick and Luke Berryman—a handful of members of the 11-person hip hop collective LDN, Halifax’s answer to Odd Future—are looking down, backs facing Drake, harvesting the perfect words from the shed’s low-pile carpet. “That first song...if I dropped that and the next day in school I got roasted by everybody, I just wouldn't even be here right now,” says Brown, who raps under the moniker Mano SOS. “But it didn’t go like that.”
Luckily for him—and luckily for all of us who love rap that skews boom-bap—hyper-local fame came knocking, instead: He recalls the night his Snapchat was lit up with everyone at the school dance rapping along to an LDN hit—and the mushrooming Soundcloud streams. He and his best friend Kye Clayton—the group’s nucleus, who isn’t hanging out today because he’s in the studio with local hip hop heavyweight MAJE—both had a knack for MCing, so they kept going, bringing other friends along on their against-the-odds plan to make professional music. Never mind that most of them are under 20—most of the rappers they idolize started in grade school, anyway. The result? A group of galling young talent calling a host of influences (like J Cole, Future and, yes, Drake) to mind—all over beats composed and verses spat in this very shed.
“We put a beat on and then we'd all just take turns rapping, singing, doing whatever,” explains Berryman, who knows the beat he made hits when everyone pulls out their phones to start writing a verse. Two sonic generations after The Roots crowned themselves the last hip hop band, LDN rounded out its hefty catalogue of solo albums with this summer’s eponymous group LP—a brash, addictive effort with bars that lacerate. If they believe in the old adage that dreams don’t work unless you do, these kids are making sure theirs are clocking overtime.
“I feel like it's more or less just keep working towards it,” says Reddick, who performs as Nelly2Drippy, when asked about the air of possibility that surrounds him and his friends. Adds Berryman: “We genuinely believe that we are different than everybody else making music right now, and that we will be at the top.”