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Getting the lowdown on Ninja's Sixtoo


Story: Jack Foley

IF YOU followed the 'underground' hip-hop movement, in North America, during the late 90’s, you may have seen his name on lots of the records, and you probably saw him on stage at many a show around that time.

Buck 65, Sebutones, Sage Francis, Peace (Freestyle Fellowship), L’ronius, Aquasky, The Goods, and various Anticon members all have a place in the story.

Things really started to come together for the artist in early 2000, when, just before leaving Halifax, he released Duration, a record that, for the first time, took him away from the mic, and put him solely behind the sampler.

The results were heralded as an instrumental hip-hop classic, and things started looking up-way up-for Sixtoo.

The following year saw him freshly re-located to Montreal, and signing on with UK-based, Vertical Form Records.

This relationship saw the release of Antogonist Survival Kit, a record that showcased both sides of his skills - back on the mic for half of it, and hitting the SP for the second half.

It was signature Sixtoo production and rhymes, but one also got the sense that his new surroundings, in the North end of Montreal, were starting to bring something different to the mix.

A lot has been written and speculated about the effect of Montreal winters on local musicians.

It takes some long, cold, dark months living by the railroad tracks to produce something like Godspeed You Black Emperor.

By the time 2003 rolled around, Sixtoo had come to the attention of the Montreal Ninja Tune office and he found himself with a fresh new contract, and a turning point on which to really assess his work up to that point and to decide on how he wanted to proceed.

So when it came time to record what would become Chewing On Glass & Other Miracle Cures, a completely new style was employed.

Not content to make another record based on mining wax for samples, he set about tapping into various live musicians to get the source material that would ultimately be chopped up and re-arranged for this record.

Taking the basic idea of sample-based music, he then built the samples from live sources, and, in some cases, just let the live elements take over.

An organic approach, but also one that doesn’t ignore the current movements of micro-sampling and effects programming.

Hence, Can’s Damo Suzuki, Norsola and Thierry from Godspeed You Black Emperor, Matt Kelly, Eric Craven from The Hanged Up, Sixtoo, and many more can all be heard programmed and chopped in the signature Sixtoo dark/sinister way, to create what is essentially a psyche rock/jazz record, as made by a long time hip-hop producer.

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