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Album Review: ”Le Procédé” Obia le Chef & El Cotola

”Le procédé” from Obia le Chef & El Cotola is an 11 track hip-hop opus from the montreal duo in the tried and tested one MC (Obia) & one producer (El Cotola) format. In the tradition of such bonafied classics as Rakim & Eric B’s Paid in Full or DJ Polo & Kool G Rap’s Wanted Dead or Alive, Obia and Cotola deliver an EP that is thoroughly solid from start to finish. Some have compared this great record to Nas’ seminal debut album Illmatic because of the quality over quantity aspect (the album tops out at 33 minutes of boombap) and lack of featurings (MTL MC L’Xtrmst.Zen is his AZ), however I would go further and argue that Obia is the closest Montreal has gotten to a franco incarnation of God’s Son. At times, Obia’s biting pince sans rire style can be as pretentious as this assertion. However, he backs it up with devastating lines and a bragadicious flow that perfectly complements Cotola’s incisive production. Nasir Jones took the rap world by storm with his cunning verses and painted a grimy picture of hood life using intellectual wordplay. Well if Nas is your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper, Obia is the undisputed French battle king, the most feared lyricist in Quebec. He lays down thoughtful tracks that cover important subjects such as police brutality (État Policier) and teen pregnancy (L’Histoire se Répète) while going after fake rappers (Je Sais) and even tackling the illmatic anthem (Le Monde T’Appartiens) switching it up on the sociopolitical tip. Whether it be storytelling,ego tripping or dropping knowledge, Obia consistently maintains a high octane delivery. But it’s more than ambitious song structures and subject matter that make Obia stand out, his lyrical arsenal includes explosive punchlines with a belle province flair (”c’est des tit-vierges comme Guillaume Lemay”) and complex rhyme schemes whose rich verses are punctuated by an encyclopedic array of references (Basil Parasiris,Summarian tables, Dahomey kingdom ) and verbs (”les bâtards titubent”). Throughout the album Obia manages to stay focused and razor sharp, he walks the fine line between egocentric bragging and insightful politickin’ and yet manages to have more than a few rewind moments and rhymes you get after the fact(”un triplex, ça c’est trois 3 1/2!”).

If illmatic had ten tracks this album has eleven if you count the instrumental track that manages to get a message about immigration across using only a beat and scratches (X immigrés). To say Cotola has deep beats would be an understatement. Obia killed it lyrically but its Cotola’s musicality that will keep you reaching for the repeat button. He has brought back the hard beat, deep cuts production style in a decade where synth led production has flooded the airwaves. Member of the instrumental hip hop collective Metazon (and new project agua negra) Cotola released a beat tape (twin obelisks) in 2009 that made the rounds in the underground Montreal scene. The futuristic thump of Le Procédé’s intro (featuring up n’ coming RnB signer P-Noyze) is an throwback to the sci-fi section of the second-half of that tape. However, Cotola then veers off in a totally different direction and delves into a wide array of sample sources from all over the map to lay down complex beat-scapes that are bangers from start to finish. From the asian tinged meditative Focus to dramatic string stabs and a recurring vocal sample on Je Sais, Cotola brings the bass(Hein!?!),horns(Grosses Bastos), the drum breaks (T’as compris) with some psychedelic guitar licks for good measure and also let’s samples simply shine through (État policier). Cotola succeeds in balancing grimy moods with uplifting rhythms and sprinkles just enough interesting skits to keep things flowing, making the EP an end to end burner. It’s rare to hear a rap album that doesn’t only have a couple of hot tracks, instead this EP is a carefully crafted gem where both MC and producer equally shine. Indeed, the final track Le Procédé features an appearance by Cotola on the mic and announces the greatest conclusion: that the Procédé is only a prequel to the real album (set to drop this autumn) Le Théorème.

This is a strong Montreal record from a duo that truly represents this city’s wealth of diversity and depth of talent. Furthermore, it has benefited from an incredible series of videos the latest being one of my favorites the certified banger Grosses Bastos.

In fact, two of them were produced by Cotola himself (the album does at times have an almost cinematic feel to it) and edited by Obia. I have not heard such a complete album since the Narcicyst (S/T) and in many ways Obia has the same hunger, cynical spite and raw intelligence as the Iraqi Montreal MC (he used Cotola’s Volvi beat for one of his songs) add that to Cotola’s duro beats and you’ve got one the best franco rap records to come out of this city in a long time…so needless to say COP THAT!

 

Piece written by: Antoine-Samuel Mauffette Alavo

(New Member of the Say Word writing Fam. Keep your eyes peeled for more!)

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