Unforgettable. If I had only one word to describe the album, The Fly, that would be the word I would pick. There is simply no better way to describe it. Forged in the depths of the local underground music scene, The Fly is a unique and complex compilation of lyrics by Touch, cuts by Nato, and beats by The Dirty Sample (AKA Planit).
Although The Fly has been out since July, a few weeks ago I had to opportunity to interview Touch about the album. This was Touch’s first completely remote album, sent back and forth electronically between him and Planit, who lives in Vancouver. Touch said that although the album came together really quickly, “there was a point where it almost didn’t come out,” due to problems with the producers, and he’s relieved that it did. I must say, I’m relieved that it did too, because the album is a total gem.
Touch went on to say that production of the album was entirely done by Planit. Planit would send Touch a track with an audio sample and after listening to it, Touch would already know what to write. “His beats are very visual,” Touch said. “The musical aspect of it was completely [Planit] and my job was to adapt and to make sure that my lyrics fit the beats and that the concept was smooth.” Now, when Touch says smooth, he really means smooth! I fell in love with sampling since I first heard it used by Eyedea and Abilities, so the use of sampling in hip hop strikes a chord in my heart where my nostalgia lives. I was not disappointed by this encounter with sampling either; Touch raps effortlessly and smoothly over the beats, and the audio samples chosen by Planit are intriguing in their complexity and darkness.
When listening to the album, it is nearly impossible to pinpoint where one song ends and another song begins. “I don’t like to give people the opportunity to hit stop,” explained Touch. “You kinda wanna bring them through the whole story. I like to make my albums with a beginning, a middle, and an end, and I only want you to hit stop at the end.” I complimented him on this, because cohesion in albums is so rare in the more mainstream hip-hop factions. The songs are joined together through the motif of the fly, meant to symbolize a strange and almost grotesque hybridized creature. Like in the film The Fly starring Jeff Goldblum, the hybridized “monster,” as Touch put it, created by the joining of Touch and Planit’s styles creates a grotesquely compelling partnership, which you are reminded of every time the listener hears the words “the fly” hidden in the lyrics of the tracks. In addition to the fly motif, the story in Parts 1, 2, and 3 of “The Falling Eye Technique” joins the entire album together with a storyline to cling onto and relate to. When asked what his motivations were for having a story line split up and scattered across the album, Touch replied, “Every album that I do, I try to at least do one story. That’s one of the hardest things to do in rap: to have a coherent story and make it a song. Telling somebody a story sometimes takes longer than three minutes and twenty seconds depending on how detailed you get. I would have loved to make that [story] one song but I haven’t nailed my story writing down to be able to condense that as well as I could, so we just split it up. It gave the album a little bit of flavor and a little bit of suspense.”
The album features the vocal talents of other Canadian hip hop artists, such as Birdapres, Fatt Matt, and Kaboom, thus showcasing the talents of the Canadian scene. “When it comes to a Canadian artist, I’ll for sure make an effort to do a track with them,” Touch said. And I’m glad. It’s nice to have some more artists to listen to on the album, and they definitely accomplish the goal of adding flavor to the record. Despite so many artists collaborating on one product, a scenario in which artistic and conceptual unity often suffers, the album is one of the most cohesive products I have listened to in a very long time, and it shows the professionalism, time, and thought that went into it. Touch elaborated:“There’s a lot of sloppy ways to put out albums these days and I just don’t want to get into that habit.”
The album is more hard-hitting than I usually like, but I find it a welcome sound. The amount of thought that went into The Fly really makes my heart sing. The album is so much more complex than it appears upon first listen. It is an unforgettable, unique, cohesive and relatable product. If you are a lover of local hip hop, this is one release you absolutely do not want to miss!