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"Review: Conscience @ Fortune Sound Club"

Hip hop has long been filled with stories of artists who have come from great depths to discover truths worth bestowing on the world. The strongest beasts of the hip hop world have been those that have become masters of their own destiny and have not only lived to tell the tale, but have done so with a true sense of honour, courage, and raw honesty. It is fun to listen to Kanye West talk about how he will Godzilla you down with his heft and power as you raise a glass to the douche bags. It is invigorating to get leaked mix tapes and tracks written from the inside by Weezy that are filled with that definitive sense of survival known well by those who walk the walk in hip hop culture. But every now and then, you get a tale of redemption that doesn’t involve swagger or guns blazing; those tales bring richness to the hip hop genre and inject that old feeling of coming from nothing to embrace what a man’s power really can achieve.

Conscience is a local hip hop project spearheaded by two artists who came from the dark corners of addiction and frustration to realize what power really is. Local hip hop, any hip hop really but especially local hip hop, is full of warriors with something to say, something to believe in, and something to sway about. It’s about coming clean and laying it out for real. Nothing is more transparent than a hip hop act who poses.

I had a chance to talk to founding member Brandon “Noetic” Richards before Conscience took the stage to open the benefit show for the Bullys Studios showcase at Fortune Sound on December 16 and he was nothing but optimistic about the chance to perform their first Vancouver gig for such a good cause. They have been working their balls off to get a gig in town and were filled with genuine enthusiasm to get the nod from Bullys, a place they worked on music often during their development here. With Vancouver being such a tough nut to crack for artists just breaking in, it’s pretty decent to see outfits like Bullys giving a leg up to acts they believe in and venues like Fortune for giving them a quality stage to do it on.

Once Richards and his partner in crime Brody “Stokes” Mudryk took the stage with their posse of third rapper known as “Too Fat” and r&b voice extraordinaire Lyndsay Johnston, the crowd was a good size and was surprisingly ready to embrace the sole hip hop act in a bill that was populated by rock acts (seriously, they three MCs had to perch at front stage, avoiding a drum kit and several stringed beasts).

They started their set with the large and gripping Loonie Bin which enabled Richards and Mudryk to display their surprisingly poised and confident stage presence. The music that backed up their confident vocalization was well produced sampling and deep throbbing bass. It was a quality hip hop flavour, one that fundamentally benefitted from the optimism in the lyrics. These guys write about taking control back, and not in a fascist or egocentric way, but in a way that promotes the power we all have to ensure our lives go the way we want them to. During one song, they calmly bestowed the important line on us while talking about taking care of one’s physical and mental health: “my life is all I have”. So completely true…and so easy to forget when you are taking yourself and not your life too seriously.

A perfect example of this was the hipster prick and his intentionally ironic date who spent the majority of the show talking rude nonsense behind me through the set. I realized as a result of this annoyance why Conscience is great; it is music by people who take life seriously but not themselves. They have blasted past image and all the exhausting posturing that goes with it and have found the true meaning of “priority”. I thought Ingrid and Buckwheat could have learned something if they actually took the time to listen to something for once instead of clinking their Red Stripes in celebration of their droll misery. Self-importance is not the same as self-worth, kids; if you listened to the lyrics, you’d see that. Luckily for humanity, there was a majority group on the floor who were pleasantly surprised by the hip hop group that bravely opened a rock show on a cold night in Vancouver.

They finished their set with many genial thanks and the very tight and very honest No Regrets, the single that spawned a video which plays on Much Vibe. They put their chests out and admitted to the slips and tumbles they had allowed themselves to take, knowing full well that the only thing that mattered is that they got up afterwards. Cause shaking off regret takes courage. Hip Hop takes courage. Having a Conscience takes courage. I would expect to see these guys using that courage to promote courage, conscience, and truth for a long time to come.

If you want to see for yourself, make your way to the Cobalt on January 27th for the official release party for their album Criminal Chemistry. It will be a good use of your time and energy to promote the idea that goodness can come out of badness, something real conscientious warriors know a thing or two about.


2010 - "Criminal Chemistry LP"

2010 - Single "No Regrets"
- Much Music/Vibe Video Rotation
- Airplay on various radio stations

2011 - "Under Promise Over Deliver" LP



In 2008, Brandon “Noetic” Richards and Brody “Stokes” Mudryk combined their talents to create the up-and-coming Canadian hip hop group Conscience. Both aiming to self-produce music that is honest and does not follow commercialized standards; they collaborated and moved to Vancouver to write their first album. There, they started working with singer Lyndsay Johnston; her incredible, soulful voice contributing immensely to the group’s already rare dynamic. Their debut LP “Criminal Chemistry”, released in 2010, created a buzz across Western Canada and allowed Conscience to establish themselves in the industry. Their music video for “No Regrets”, directed by Brandon Christensen, was picked up by MuchMusic and put into rotation giving the group national exposure. The track “Can’t Fade Away” received attention from various organizations and has been showcased across Canada and the U.S. at many different youth seminars and functions. Previously featured artist Lyndsay Johnston joined as their official singer shortly after the release of the Criminal Chemistry LP. After much anticipation, their newest album “Under Promise Over Deliver” was released in July 2011 under Standstill Records. Features on the brand new album include Khingz, Too Phat, and Ray Black from Okay City. Conscience has spent the year adding to the growing list of artists they have worked with; they recently got off tour with hip hop legend Kool Keith and have performed shows with Beatnuts, Snak the Ripper, Random Humans, Tassnata, Rochester, DJ Dopey, CityReal, Kai Skywalker, Boombox Saints, and Khingz. A major highlight of the year for the group was performing at the Global Youth Assemble in July. Conscience was proud to take part in an event that addresses issues affecting youth around the world. They aspire to continue to perform at events that send a positive message to young kids. Their fans have a lot to look forward to, including two brand new music videos, also directed by Brandon Christensen. Lyndsay Johnston will be collaborating with Kool Keith on a track produced by the late J-Dilla. Conscience is also currently working with the Missing Persons Foundation and will be an integral part of this year’s Squeaky Wheel Tour, featuring Bif Naked.