The iPod generation is solidified. On Colin Munroe‘s acclaimed …Is The Unsung Hero [click to listen] mixtape, his ballad “Piano Lessons” sings of a boy finding salvation in his room with his instruments. As the crooning comes to a crescendo, Black Milk and Joell Ortiz jump in, bringing some Hip Hop flavor to the emotionally-charged moment.
This is Munroe‘s unique territory. He’s not a rapper, or a Hip Hop genre artist. Then again, he doesn’t admit to being a Rock artist either. Instead, the fresh-on-the-scene Toronto native is making tangible, heartfelt music, that knocks in the earphones of many.
These things come across as the DXnext artist talks about his love of Detroit Hip Hop, his unique childhood, and how iPod-era artists like him ought not mourn the death of the album.
Where He Was A Year Ago: “It’s been a year since the ‘Flashing Lights’ [click to view] thing started to go down. Just before that, I had just started up my relationship with Dallas Austin [click to read] and his people. We had, at the time, a project I had finished and brought to him. We were supposed to start meeting labels and all that, doing that thing. It was that usual place of ‘Okay, alright. People kind of believe in this. But where do we go? What do we do? How do we get people to pay attention? That’s when other music started being made. That’s when I [did] the ‘Flashing Lights’ thing, and have some fun. That force takes over, and takes it out of your hands and hang on.“
How He’s Embraced The “Unsung Hero” Image: “To me, that persona, I’ve worn it for a while. I think a lot of people do, in various walks of life. When you’re trying to get noticed or say something in a world that’s difficult to get heard in, I don’t think it’s something that I will completely ever drop. It’s been such a part of me for so long, being the kid that no one really expected much of. I was never the biggest kid, the best-looking kid, yada yada, all that stuff. There’s always that sense in myself that I need to prove something to someone.”
Working With Hip Hop Acts Like Black Milk And Joell Ortiz: “The thing about these guys, myself and a lot of people that are coming up in this generation, I think we’re the first generation that’s not truly genre-bound. You’re no longer divided by whether or not you’re a Hip Hop kid, a Rock kid or a Punk kid. Most kids kind of listen to just everything on their playlists. It’s a generation that’s familiar with that, grew up with that, and is able to [accept] collaborations. They’re no longer novelty items anymore. It’s no longer Run-DMC and Aerosmith, it’s an honest [creative artform].
It wasn’t a stretch. Black [Milk] [click to read] came to me. He reached out. It’s been me that’s been more shocked than anyone else at how the Hip Hop community in general has embraced what I – and a lot of other people that are trying to bend genres, are trying to do. Hip Hop has always been the community that’s embraced my music first.”
On Music Being A Release: “It’s been the escape. The story that’s told in [“Piano Lessons”] is pretty true to life. Music was pushed to the forefront as an escape. I eventually, over the years, retreated further and further into my own head, and into my room. Eventually, I had my first recording studio in my bedroom. It was the most crowded room you’ve ever seen in your life, but it was my own little world. I felt like I could get outside the walls of the house. Being home-schooled and whatnot, in a small house with a lot of kids, sometimes it’s the only way to get away.“
Intentions To Connect With Specifically Underground Hip Hop Throughout His Career: “For me, it’s a natural aesthetic, taste thing. When I was getting into Hip Hop back in the day, and I’m not by any means a big Hip Hop head – I wouldn’t claim to be – but what got me into it was the Detroit sound. For whatever reason, with a few exceptions, that sound has always remained slightly under the radar. I think it was a natural thing. Joell [Ortiz] [click to read] isn’t necessarily of that school, but I think has some commonalities with it – some of the other guys [I’ve worked with] too. So I’ll probably always be coming back to that, as an entry point. It’s a sound I enjoy. The production, what’s talked about in the lyrics. That’s what I get down with most.”
Albums Versus The Present-Day Playlist Era: “I’m not necessarily one of these people that is lamenting the death of the album, if that’s in fact what we’re coming face-to-face with. I think it’s partially because I like to see things as opportunities and less as [disappointments]. Not to say that the album form isn’t a great form, and it’s given us some amazing bodies of work. But really, it was a commercial invention. It was a combination of a new technology that allowed records to be a little longer, and a way for record companies to get people to pay a little bit more money for them. Artists find a way. That’s what I do. I like the famous John Lennon quote: ‘I’m an artist. Give me a fucking tuba and I’ll get something out of it for you.’ Obviously, there’s some albums that have a very special place in my heart, and there will always be a place for some albums. [Others,] it could be dying, and that’s not necessarily a bad a thing. There’s opportunities though – maybe several smaller, more frequently released projects, maybe it is a more steady flow of singles. It’s hard to say, but it’s opportunity.”