An album a decade in the making, Montreal-via-Melbourne's Cee and Oakland-via-New Mexico's Po3 have delivered a soulful, authentic, introspective and head noddin' project in "Bad Habits".
Conceived in 2008 in the Bay Area after a collaboration, work begun on the project in early 2015. What started as a collaborative EP quickly turned into a 15 track, full-length album as Cee and Po3's creative synergy blossomed.
Positioned as the beginning of the "Notion Island" series, which will see Notion team up with one producer for a full-length project, this first volume puts Notion and Toronto-based up-and-comer Egward in the lab to create a soulful, introspective yet head noddin' piece of work.
Today, Thursday November 8th, is Notion's born day and we're kicking off with the first visual from his new project with Toronto-based producer Egward. "Notion Island Vol. 1" is a soulful journey through the last 18 months since Notion's debut album "Heart On My Sleeve", and this first visual acts more as a teaser than a full length video.
Shot by serial collaborator Richard Bastarche exclusively in the vertical format, "Taste" is one of the first Hip Hop music videos of its kind in Canada. Bastarache's flair with visual FX blend with the Montreal views to create an engaging piece of vertical content, built specifically for Instagram's IGTV platform, and the perfect complement to the summer banger.
While Notion is putting the finishing touches on the EP, he connected with his brother Cee, Toronto's The Mighty Rhino and regular collaborator Digital Junkie for this uplifting, soulful banger. "Back To Life" sees the three artists drop positive bars focusing on progression, dedication, focus and the neverending search for happiness, all tied together by Digital Junkie's razor sharp cuts.
Back in December, Cee dropped his 12th single of 2017, "Net Neutral". Once again helmed by Notion, soulful harmonies provided the backdrop for Cee's timely bars, touching on the recent Net Neutrality repeal, social media addiction and cryptocurrency, all contributing to an appropriate year-end wrap up.
Now Cee has teamed up with King Richard yet again for the FX and message-heavy visuals, shot in Montreal.
The twelfth and final 2017 single, "Net Neutral", is once again helmed by Notion. Soulful harmonies provide the backdrop for Cee's timely bars, touching on the recent Net Neutrality repeal, social media addiction and cryptocurrency, all contributing to an appropriate year-end wrap up.
After a recent trip to Los Angeles where Cee finally connected with long-time internet homie Teo Hunter of LA-based craft beer experience entity Dope & Dank, Teo had the idea to do a remix to the craft beer-soaked "Hazy" to make it even more dope, and of course, dank. Teo brought in Fort Worth, Texas's J/o/e, a "Brewed Up" craft beer fan and MC, and even dropped a verse himself, to create a fun remix that turned the beer elements up further than any rap song since "BrewHeads".
As haunting and as intense as the song is, the video features The Movement Fam's official DJ Digital Junkie as the antagonist, playing the role so well that we were almost concerned. With vivid violent imagery mirroring that which society pits against specific communities, Cee and Notion find themselves prisoners in a dystopian future (or is it now?) in direct combat with their oppressor, ending in an ultimate victory for humanity, an echo of positivity in world that is otherwise headed for entropy.
The catchy vocal stabs are balanced by the dirty bassline as Cee effortlessly rides the beat, working the "I'll be" and "1, 2" vox into his verses. He confidently speaks on the position he feels he deserves in music, persistence, and the affect the death of his father has had on his life. As real and as poignant as ever while retaining that head nodding vibe, "Kill 'Em" comes in at exactly 2:00 so it's short and sweet, and it's exactly what you need in your life right now.
Once again helmed by King Richard with assistance from 9 Block Productions, "Hurt" follows the four MCs through a dusty Quebec summer, with Notion commandeering a beat up vehicle picking up hitchhiking rappers while they all speak their truth about the pain in their respective lives. Jonathan Emile's moving, reggae-infused hook paves the way for reality bars over Myer Clarity's sample-laden, boom bap production.
Summer in Canada is a time for celebration, and Cee teamed up with German super-producer Shuko for a soulful trap banger to soundtrack the hot months.
Shuko has worked with some of the biggest names in the game, including Omarion, Tyga, Bow Wow, T-Pain, Talib Kweli, Keith Murray and Vinnie Paz, so teaming up again was an honour for Cee. They first connected on "Where I Belong" from Cee's Top 10 album "This Is All I Know", and "Hazy" brings some of that soulful flavour with a modern vibe.
A downtown Montreal mansion provided the backdrop for the visual, where brothers Cee and Notion speak on their struggle for success, their motivations and the recent passing of their father in split screen, showcasing the duality of brotherhood and the different paths we can all take through life.
Produced by, and featuring, frequent collaborator Myer Clarity, "What We Want" captures a Jackson 5-esque, "College Dropout" era Kanye vibe with both MCs delivering positive messages of their dreams, aspirations and plans, with a splash of side-eye.
Produced by Po3 and Sophia Lucero, "What Do You Believe In?" preceeded the work on the album and is a fitting introduction to the forthcoming group effort. A rootsy guitar lick (courtesy of Noa Bourke) kicks off the track, leading to a sparse, earthy bass-fuelled hook with Po3's conscious chant, while the MCs - including Cee's brother Notion - trade introspective verses about the state of the world as they see it.
Produced by LyricVids.com, "Spaceman" takes the listener on a journey across the earth and around the galaxy as Notion recounts and reflects upon his struggles while showing gratitude for where he's at. The trippy and hypnotizing visuals mesh perfectly with the ambient vibes in the production to create a mesmerizing, engaging viewing experience.
Last week on Friday April 28th, Notion released his debut album "Heart On My Sleeve" to the world, and to celebrate, we threw a party to end all parties. Well, even if the cops weren't called, it was still lit AF, as the kids say.
We connected with the guys at Laylow in Toronto, a Hip Hop-themed bar and nanobrewery to brew a beer - a super juicy, fruity North East IPA called "Hops On My Sleeve" - just for the event at their super dope spot, and we invited a guestlist of our favourite people in the industry in Toronto. In a first for TMF, we vlogged the whole thing. Check how it all went down below, and buy/stream the album!
You never forget your debut, and this project means the world to Notion. As the title suggests, "Heart On My Sleeve" is a deeply personal album, containing music he's worked on over his time in Canada and touching on subjects that he's never spoken on before. At times dark, introspective, reflective, emotional, positive, quietly confident and inspirational, "Heart On My Sleeve" has something all of us can relate to. Notion conveys his emotions in a way that not many other MCs are bold enough to put on display, and this admirable trait makes this project all the more important. Written and recorded through an often tumultuous time of his life, the record expresses the whole breadth of human emotions, while the soulful, boom bap vibe is a breath of fresh air in today's brash, disposable musical landscape.
The dichotomy of Cee rapping his bars to himself (double time = double Cee) expresses an inner desire to give himself a message of hope and persistence by painting a vivid picture of everything he has gone through to get to where he is. Cee as the stone statue slowly breaking the shackles of his confinement represent the MC and entrepreneur coming into his own as a man, cracking through the hard shell of obscurity into the limelight.
With the stunning dark and moody visuals once again shot, directed and edited by the King, Richard Bastarache, the drum-free "Remember Me?" sees the Aussie expat truly place his heart on his sleeve. The song is a letter to himself, with Notion spitting in the third person to remind himself who he is, why he's here and what he's captable of. The raw emotion will surely resonate with a lot of people as staying true to - and more importantly, loving - oneself is something we all struggle with from time to time.
Cee drafted his brother Notion (MC/Producer/Engineer) and Singer/MC Natasha Marie alongside Emile, and the four artists combined their energies to give the cut a refresh for 2017. Cee goes in and delivers some new wisdom while Natasha channels a sultry Aaliyah on the hook, Emile carries smooth and conscious yet hard hitting bars with Notion wrapping things up with his signature flow switch-ups and wordplay.
The second track in his 2017 monthly series is "Separate Ways", both featuring and produced by his brother Notion. It's a return to their historical sound - a driving soulful head nodder, drenched in their signature honesty, passion and genuine aspiration for achievement. With a hook loosely inspired by Nirvana, the boys break down how they're moving away from any negative energy while truly embracing and manifesting their inevitable success.
Initially released in late 2015 as a teaser, lead single, "Holdin' Hands" grabs you as soon as the snare hits with its heart-wrenching sample and Notion's personal, introspective lyrics where he tracks his musical journey and professes his gratitude for his fam and his supporters. Crafted by production team DiazSima based out of Budapest, Hungary, the slick video - expertly shot + chopped by King Richard and tirelessly directed + produced by Andrew Cameron - sees Notion deliver his passionate lyrics alongside his brother Cee with support from the 701 Squad b-boy crew.
Cee is kicking off 2017 with the first single from his new monthly series. "Meta" is nightmare trap; rolling hi-hats, eerie synths, vocal stabs and a drawling BPM that allows Cee to breathe as he casually delivers topical word association, with dark, creepy, Marilyn Manson-esque visuals to match courtesy of King Richard. Notion and newcomer Ben Tramer expertly laced the haunting soundscape; they'll be providing the sonic canvas for many of Cee's singles this year.
"Snares & Soul" encompasses 11 soulful, sample-heavy beats, perfectly sequenced to take the listener on a moody almost-30 minute journey through Notion's recent catalogue. Some of these are the very same productions that were showcased on the super popular vlogs, and they showcase Notion's innate affinity for samples. The tape can be enjoyed as a standalone project, or as a playground for singers and MCs looking for their next hit.
To hold the people over until the album drops, Notion returns with a heavy hitting brand new single "Infected". Produced by Saskatchewan's Rayne Drop, the haunting vocal sample, eerie keys and tough drums provide the soundscape as Notion rains bars for almost 3 minutes straight. One of the few remaining true lyricists, the MC let's the people know where he's been at and what's to come:
"I show love, so we talking 'bout the latter / it's mind over matter, MC over rapper, Notion"
The arresting visuals, directed by Jonathan Emile and shot by King Richard, follow Cee as he discovers his neighbour (played by Angela Nashed) has been a victim of domestic abuse, so much so that she does something very drastic to escape her situation. The upbeat vibe and positive lyrical content are juxtaposed with the dark themes, providing a jarring and thought-provoking experience for the viewer.