Q&A: Halifax Rap Legend Jesse Dangerously

Interview with Halifax Rap Legend Jesse Dangerously.

MK: How did you get into Backburner and what is its history according to you?

Halifax Rap Legend Jesse Dangerously: I used to see Fester, Dex and Kils at Halifax hip-hop shows around 2000. We were at all the same ones, and I think they knew I was in The Sentinels with ginzu333, and we'd put out a tape in 1998 that had a good review from SixToo on his legendary Triple-Bypass webzine. Plus, almost all of us had made a few beats for Josh Martinez, so we knew of one another that way. We started striking up conversations and they kept telling me about their ever-expanding home recording studio, and I thought maybe doing some tracks with them instead of on my cassette four-track would be fun. Also, Fester and DJ Beef were excellent DJs and the one thing my tracks needed that I couldn't give them was sharp cuts.

The crew that would come to be known as Backburner was formed mostly around students from King's College Dalhousie, and a few who attended NSCAD. Ginzu and I were part of the second wave of inductees, people who would hang around messy parties at the student flophouse on Chebucto Lane that housed Andrew Kilgour's closetful of eggshell foam.

We spent a few years building in the city, making moves with local stalwarts such as SixToo and later Jorun and Buck 65. We owe a lot of opportunities and inspiration to those guys. We always felt fortunate when they indicated they were feeling our material, and if we had never earned their blessing we probably would never have felt like we were doing the right thing in hip-hop.

Then we all moved away from Halifax in cheap bids to sell out, except for those of us who didn't (because they of moral ascendancy). Now we cover the nation in a sticky film of freshness from very nearly one coast to just about the other!

MK: What are your latest and greatest moves within the industry?

Jesse Dangerously: I sent out a really good press release! I think it was charming. Other than that, the industry remains a mystery after 13 years. I just want to stay chillin' and say some good raps that people will hear and get open to...that's not really conducive to industry moves, is it?

MK: What should we expect from a Jesse D stage show?

Jesse Dangerously: Panache! Fast talkin'! Ordinarily, a little bit of theremin, slide whistle or kazoo. I used to have a habit of dropping my pants during certain songs, and that pleased some members of the crowd more than others; another thing I would do is punch ceilings until something broke. Sorry, George's Roadhouse in Sackville, NB!

MK: What is one of your funniest moments from the road?

Jesse Dangerously: Being accosted in Guelph in 2002 by tough guys who wanted to fight us, and who demonstrated this by blasting "Barrett's Privateers" out of their SUV when they learned we were from Nova Scotia. I swear to you, that drunken young man shouted "HIT THE MUSIC!" to his compatriots, and do so they did.

MK: What do you think of the present Halifax scene as it compares to when you were coming up?

Jesse Dangerously: I have rose-coloured glasses for the scene of my teens (the late 1990s), when so many artists were working so hard to make hip-hop the best way they knew how, and the city brimmed with hundreds, if not thousands, of die-hard fans who loved local and underground hip-hop. And everything seems to be more low-key now, but there is still mega talent and I always love coming home and seeing what's being worked on by the stalwarts. I just get wistful for when there were more fans, I guess? I loved being part of a movement.

MK: What is something no one would ever expect about you?

Jesse Dangerously: That I'm serious about hip-hop, apparently. The number-one remark I get when I exit the stage is, "Wow, you didn't look like you had it in you! No offense!" Yeah, none taken... twerp.

MK: What was your favorite video game as a kid?

Jesse Dangerously: Punch-Out!! or Sierra Quest games on PC.

MK: Which celebrity would you sleep with?

Jesse Dangerously: I actually think fetishizing celebrities like that is weird. I know enough hot people who genuinely like me in my actual life that I don't spend a lot of time making up fake sex parties in my head. Smug about it!

MK: Who is the coolest person you have rapped with?

Jesse Dangerously: I just threw a verse on a new track by Kupek, the musical alter-ego of Bryan Lee O'Malley, creator of Scott Pilgrim comics. So yeah, Michael Cera is starring in the movie based on his comic, and I'm rapping on his Good Time Singles Club. That feels cool enough for me!

MK: If you could be any other rapper in the world who would it be?

Jesse Dangerously: Chip Fu from Fu-Schnickens, or maybe Casual from Hieroglyphics. Somebody black, brilliant and pushing 40.

MK: What movie character most inspires you?

Jesse Dangerously: The chick in Y Tu Mama Tambien, maybe? A combination of her and the wristwatch from Stranger Than Fiction. And Barbarella!

MK: Where would you get a good sandwich in Halifax?

Jesse Dangerously: If it were 2005, I would get a pulled pork from Blue Moon on Gottingen St. In 2009? Any place that puts gravy on a roll has burned down or closed up as far as I know. I'll just go to my parents' house I guess.

MK: What is the sexiest thing you ever said to a feminist?

Jesse Dangerously: You couldn't print the SECOND sexiest thing I ever said to a feminist, homie! Refer to "The Prestidigitator," track seven on Inter Alia.

MK: What else should I know?

Jesse Dangerously: How to build a fire and construct a simple lean-to. It's going to be very necessary to adapt to the world after this Backburner group album drops.

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