Posted by Scott Willats
After a string … no, scratch that, a rope of shows across North America, two of Toronto’s finest producers return home to celebrate a successful 2011. How do these two celebrate? By melting your face. Get grimy.
DC and Hooks, a.k.a. Zeds Dead, embody exactly what you think of when it comes to Toronto musicians. Humble, focused and swagged up. Humble in that they know luck as well as talent has played a part in their success: your songs coming out at the perfect moment; Skream and Kissy Sell Out both dropping your tracks on BBC Radio 1; the insane evolution of Bassmentality; and the fact that they and The Killabits have helped one another rise to prominence. Humble, too, in that they don’t take credit for creating a scene in one of Toronto’s most “over-scened” communities.
Focused in their dedication to their craft. The earlier Zed sounds had a hip-hop influence. Originally known as Mass Productions (2004 – 2008), they were the type of producers the real hip-hop heads loved. The DJ Premier type of feel, but with an ear for the new culture. They kept that urban feel and evolved it. I truly think that Zed’s tracks are so heavy because they are made for rappers. They are made for you to jump up and down, with lyrics going off in your head, like your Sean Price of Boot Camp Clik or Lil Fame of M.O.P. They got that “Ante Up” sound that keeps you energized and thirsty for blood. And even as they’ve evolved, that sound has stayed present.
“Keeping it real” is one of the most ridiculous phrases of our generation. Check out Dave Chappelle’s classic “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong” to see the perfect example of how flawed that idea can be. But thetre are exceptions to the rule — and sticking to your roots is one of them. When it comes to their production, Zeds Dead keeps it real.
Swagged up. You don’t get this good without having a little skank in ya step. You have to believe there’s nobody out there who can rip the crowd apart like you do. When you’re in the studio, you have to be able to hear a finished-seeming track and know what it is you can add that will take it to the next level. You have to believe you’re doing something nobody else out there can do.
It’s a weird time for dubstep. With the emergence of Logic, Ableton and the millions of VST that you can find online, the process of creating these tracks has become extremely watered down. Zed’s Dead have been innovators of the dubstep movement, and they remain ahead of the pack because they don’t stick with the simple dub formula. They are creative and choose songs to remix that most others wouldn’t even think about. Most of all, they don’t strictly make dubstep; they strictly make good music.
Let’s be straight: I don’t need to tell you how good these guys are because you’re Canadian — you already know. What most Canadian fans really seem to love about DC and Hooks is how proud they are to rep the maple leaf. They helped create a scene in Canada’s biggest city, and brought the hottest international acts to smaller venues at a time when the big clubs were overlooking these talents. (Now these selfsame acts are headlining the world’s biggest festivals and being nominated for Grammys.)
Saturday night at Kool Haus celebrates the fact that the boys made it — and brought everyone along with them.