Markit's solo album Mark My Words isn't motivated by misplaced ambition and delusions of grandeur.
This isn't Markit's big move in an effort to "make it." If anything, Mark My Words seems part of an organic process, growing out of his love of poetry and concepts, and a desire to work outside the collaborative process he was so familiar with as a member of Fax 4.
Markit "spent a lot of times in kitchens of bars" as an 18-year-old member of local hip-hop outfit Fax 4, waiting for the time when he and fellow underage Fax 4 MC Quake were old enough to take to the stage. Some people may call it a by-product of Nova Scotia's archaic liquor laws; Markit happily calls it paying dues.
Writing outside the confines of 16-bar verses is one departure for Markit in his solo work. Mark My Words also features only two collaborations, "Carry On," with Markit's longtime best friend and fellow Fax 4 MC Boy-Ill, and "Pass it Off," with DC MC Blurum 13. Mark My Words is also notable for featuring a number of concept songs at its core.
The songs Markit is most eager to share and discuss aren't the bangers, or I'm-number-one cuts (which there are very few of anyway), but songs like "The Forgotten" which "pay(s) ode to older artists like Earth, Wind and Fire, Otis Redding and Miles Davis," he says. "They're the reason why hip-hop is what it is right now." "For Us" is a tribute to the forest, featuring a Frank Zappa interview sample, which Markit hopes to rework into a submission for a Dalhousie poetry competition.
These are what Markit refers to as his concept songs and they seem to be driving his work. "Primary Colors," with each verse about a different primary colour, features clever lines such as "Some of these kids they gotta wake up and smell the roses/I hope you notice each petal/Hey DJ! See the flashing light if my voice peaks levels!" Its playful nature is indicative of an MC pushing his previous lyrical boundaries.
Markit clearly grabs musical influences from outside hip-hop—smart artists are always expanding their horizons. That might not be groundbreaking, but the rapper comes by his influences, from poetry to soul to jazz, honestly.
Off-season reading lists from Halifax Grammar School, supplemented with less scholastic and slightly more racy recommendations like Bukowski and Martin Amis by his father, formed the basis for Markit's love of the spoken word. "It was the reading more than anything," he says.
His poetical leanings would lead one to assume that Markit's academic and career aspirations have him destined for a life of writing and performing. Of course, considering this is a 21-year-old rapper who says, "I don't really listen to rap music," that isn't the case: Markit has one more year left in a biology and psychology double-major. Despite his aptitude for poetry, hip hop was never considered as anything more than an outlet. "Rap has always been a sideplate," he says. "I'd never want to have as my be all and end all."
With Markit hoping to "hop over borders," his work has reached Poland, the Czech Republic and Switzerland, resulting in offers from overseas producers wishing to work with him.
Future projects for Markit include work with Metropolis Votary on a dissonant jazz- influenced collaboration called Legato Block.
Before that, though, Markit has his official album release party at Tribeca, a venue he calls "favourite bar in the city." The show, which includes appearances by JoRun and Ghettosocks, is being put on in collaboration with Tribeca's hip-hop night Doin' Damage, to which Markit gives a lot of credit.
DJs Cosmo and T-Woo, the night's hosts, are "doing a big thing for hip-hop in this city," he says. And though this release show, with its many co-conspirators, seems a little bit like a leap back into the collaborative process, it's one with Markit planted firmly at the centre.
Markit CD release w/Boy-Ill, Ghettosocks, Jorun, DJ Cosmo and DJ T-Woo, September 24 at Tribeca, 1588 Granville, 10pm, $5.