Jesse Dangerously
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Jesse Dangerously

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Solo Hip Hop Alternative

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Dangerously drops the kind of rhymes that practically demand keeping a thesaurus handy ... he exhibit[s] stamina and playfulness, proving he could wrestle a photographer without breaking lyrical stride. - Matt Semansky - chartattack.ca


After making some noise in Eastern Canada lately as runner-up for Best MC in the Coast’s 2005 Best of the Year poll and winning Hip-Hop Artist of the Year at the Music Industry of Nova Scotia Awards, Jesse Dangerously is releasing his first new music in four years; last year’s How to Express Your Dissenting Political Viewpoint Through Origami was a collection of long-awaited songs recorded in 2001. Rather than produce the album as he did with Origami, Jesse has called on his Backburner compatriots Uncle Fester and Dexter Doolittle for some hype production on the ten songs that comprise Inter Alia. It’s a good decision that results in Jesse’s most accessible release to date, mixing criticisms of homophobia as well as feminist and pacifist talk — all normally absent from modern commercial hip-hop — with his braggadocio raps. Dexter Doolittle produces the album’s two highlights: “Outfox’d (When Pacifists Attack)” is a headbanging, fist-pounding battle anthem, while “The Prestidigitator” is a Jesse Dangerously boxing-ring anthem with a little hint of the snake charmer. However, Dexter’s stripped down “Trouble Brewing (Dex From Above 1979 mix)” does not do justice to the original version, which was arguably the best track on Origami. Fester has better success with his remix of “Righteous Bad Ass” from Jesse's Eastern Canadian World Tour 2002 CD, and lays down a smooth track for “The Altogether,” a posse track with Mr Bix, Apt, Cal and UNIVERSE ARM. First Halifax and then the world!

By Thomas Quinlan
December 15, 2005 - Exclaim Magazine


Just like his last album, Jesse Dangerously collaborates with two Backburner producers, in this case crew coordinator Fresh Kils and Toolshed member Timbuktu, for what is certainly Jesse’s best work to date. Kils and Timbuk create a unified beatscape of up-tempo productions perfect for political party raps and posse cuts, and for Jesse’s rapid-fire delivery. He sounds clearer on Verba Volant but in case his speed and slight lisp interfere with the understanding of his lyrics, he kindly includes them in the CD booklet. They’re certainly worth a look, as Jesse is a very technical writer whether he has something important to say or he’s just reinforcing his status as “your least favourite rapper’s least favourite rapper.” While all three posse cuts — “Verba Volant,” “Butchershop Quartet” and “Safe No More” — mix a different variety of Backburner MCs over banging beats for some of the best songs on the album, it’s opening song “Aw Shucks” that’s the highlight. The fun Fresh Kils beat might be dope but it’s Jesse D’s slow, melodic flow and switching of the rhymes to the beginning of each line that has it standing out from the rest. Also worth checking out: “Celebrity Nudes (Timskin Moon Mix),” a groovy party jam with a superhero call-out chorus; “So! Much! Fun! (Unh!),” a smooth, sun-baked ode to love; and “Naming Names,” a fast-moving, name-dropping concept song. If you’re a fan of lyrical MCs and have yet to discover tongue-twisting rapper Jesse Dangerously, now is definitely a good time to start, and Verba Volant is the perfect place. - Exclaim! Magazine


As someone whose knowledge of hip-hop hovers somewhere between laughable and non-existant, I'm clearly not the right person to pass judgement on whether a rap album is any good. Take Verba Volant, for instance; while I have a strong suspicion that Jesse Dangerously is one of the best rappers in the country, I have nothing to compare it to, so for me to assess it as such carries no weight.

When someone who knows their hip-hop listens to Verba Volant and comes to the same conclusion, however, that's when you should sit up and take notice (assuming you haven't already). For me, the proof of Jesse Dangerously's quality comes from the fact that Hero Hill likes them, and if it's good enough for them, it's most definitely good enough for me.

I don't want to convey the impression, though, that Verba Volant is a difficult album to like. Indeed, it's actually pretty easy to enjoy, regardless of how much of a hip-hop fan you are. The title track, for example, starts off with a Public Enemy sample, and then proceeds to live up to that band's pre-suckiness level. Further, on both that song and on "Safe No More", he accomplishes the rare feat of bringing in a host of other rappers as guests, having all of them display impressive rhyming skills, and then consistently showing himself to be superior -- no easy task on the latter track, when you consider that it features Wordburglar and More or Les, no slouches either of them.

In fact, more than what I or anyone else has to say about Verba Volant, this should give you an idea of just how good Jesse Dangerously is: that other rappers are willing to come on his albums and be upstaged. Presumably they appeared for the same reason you should listen: it's just a lot of fun. - iheartmusic.com blog


Viewing the Halifax hip hop scene from the outside, my impression of Jesse Dangerously was as kind of an anti-Johnny Gill figure - he has a tendency to rub some people the wrong way. This probably stems from the fact that he's a smart guy with strong principles and opinions, both of which he has very few reservations taking people to task over. Fortunately, when those same qualities are harnessed and aimed at creating hip hop, some quality music can emerge. There is plenty of quality to be found of Jesse's latest album Verba Volant.

We might as well start with that name. According to captain Google, Verba Volant means something like "words fly way" in Latin. Not having heard much of Jesse's previous work, this title and his rep had me preparing to digest an album full of painfully serious, quadruple-time raps about feminism. Not to say that would necessarily be a bad thing (note: that last bit is a lie), but it was a pleasant surprise to find Jesse covering a wide range of topics, including some good old-fashioned battle raps, and displaying a healthy sense of humor. And, except for a few exceptions, even when he gets the speed raps going, I was still able to discern what he was saying, despite his slight lisp. This is a positive thing.

Believe it or not budding young speed-rappers, although speed does indeed win the day in events like the 100 metre dash or Nascar, sometimes it's better to follow Ultra's advice and ease back on the tempo a tad to ensure people can pick up what you're putting down. In other words, if you have something smart to say, slow down so I can actually hear what it is. Right then, down off the soapbox I go.

Continuing a trend he started on his last EP, Inter Alia, Jesse enlists two of his Backburner mates to split up the production duties. Half the tracks are done by London, Ontario's Timbuktu and the other by Halifax/Toronto's(?) Fresh Kils. Although I don't have a listing of who did which track, I think both did fine work. There's plenty of satisfying drums with enough other sounds layered on top to keep things interesting. Verba Volant also appears to be weed carrier free, as pretty much all of the guest MC's that contribute a verse to the album are solid.

After a rather nice scratched-up intro, Aww Shucks, leads things off with some sinister horns that I enjoy. Jesse uses a cadence that kind of matches someone saying "awww shucks". I have no idea how to describe this, like an inflection rising on the "awww" and then the "shucks" coming out faster like the back end of a sneeze. There we go, he uses the sneeze cadence for this song. That could be the stupidest thing I've written in a while. The bouncy Celebrity Nudes sounds like a nerdcore flip of an Ugly Duckling song. Unless Ugly Duckling are nerdcore, which they probably aren't. "I'll say Jesse, but really can't see me since I got a little fame like Billy Danzini". Here's a little equation that I've found to be correct perhaps 99% of the time: M.O.P. references = goodness.

So Much Fun proves a underground rapper can make a song for his girlfriend that can be enjoyed by people other than his girlfriend. The title track boasts a classic hip hop beat, perhaps my favorite beat on the album. It also features solid verses from Newfoundland's Johnny Hardcore, who sounds an awful lot like Paris in his prime (which is tremendous) and ginzuintriplicate, who combines lines from LL and Scarface into the excellent "Don't call it a comeback when I sit in my four-cornered room stabbing your picture with thumbtacks". Knocking drums, shakers, and (Halifax-based) Newfoundland singer-singwriter Don Brownrigg's fine work on the hook combine with Jesse's speed raps to make The Days Arc a standout. These rapper-indie collabos are in vogue right now, but I like this one, doesn't feel forced as some of them can.

Nerdcore is a rather unfortunate name for a genre. I can't lie, the mere association of this label has dissuaded me from checking out rappers in the past, Jesse D included. But, and here's where the G.I. Joe styled lesson comes in kids, my enjoyment of this album only proves that making judgements about an artist or album based on how it's categorized is rarely ever smart business. If you are at all interested in clever lyrics paired with quality production, Verba Volant is worth checking out. - Hero Hill


"The rapid-fire rhyme assault and up-tempo beats are designed to rock — with very few exceptions. Jesse, better known as a producer (Restiform Bodies, Josh Martinez, Thesis Sahib, Wordburglar, Bleubird and more), is more than capable as a rapid-fire rapper, influenced by Buck 65’s multi-syllabic rhymes and boundary-pushing lyrics." - Exclaim!

"Jesse is an exceptionally clever rapper. His rhymes are eccentric and coherent, ironic and honest, funny and yet solemn. […] Like the rap equivalent of Dave Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius." - Indieville - Exclaim! Magazine, Indieville


Jesse’s delivery is similar to a Man Overboard-era Buck65, but more dynamic, more fun. […] Things piss Jesse off. They make him want to imitate voices with inane tones. It’s honest as hell and delivered with the perfect balance of intelligence and humour. - DOT:ALT


His obvious audiophile personality showed through in the make-up of his delivery styles. He was very fast at points, but swayed into a jazzier sort of sing song in parts as well... his flavour helped give the show the well rounded feel that made the event a hit. - London Indie


Dropping crystal clear indie hip-hop out of Halifax, Nova Scotia (you heard right), Inter Alia's opening lines set the stage for a lyricist poised to blaze away on a mission: "I can't wear a cap if it's not custom sized/ 'cause I got a swelled head but it's justified."

Embracing that braggadocio but checking himself before it envelops the task at hand, Dangerously studies the golden book of early De La, adds a few footnotes on the perils of misogyny, and revisits the ancient art of discovering new music without the helping hand of the internet. While the tracks are tinged with elements of late 80's/early 90's beat science, the lyrics mirror a mix of both old and new school, melding into a force that's strikingly tough to classify.

In the case of Jesse Dangerously, any difficulty in pinning down his roots or style doesn't hinder his cause in the least. In fact, it's what makes Inter Alia memorable. - CD Baby.com


MC Jesse Dangerously looks more like a Bank Clerk than a rapper but his flows are tighter than most chart acts, providing the kind of pop-culture honesty to interest MC Lars fans, yet still managing to maintain a true hip-hop swagger. A top-ten (SIC; it was top-six) finalist in a Napster-sponsored writing/rapping competition judged by Chuck D (Public Enemy), Jesse happily wanders the line between his 5 years' experience drumming in an indie band. This is whole some indie hip-hop from Canada and for once the MC actually has something witty to say. Worth exploring even if hip hop is not your deal. "RIGHTEOUS..." - KUDOS Magazine (UK)


Discography

SOLO:
B.R.E.A.K. (1997)
Eastern Canadian World Tour 2002 (2002)
How to Express Your Dissenting Political Viewpoint Through Origami (2004)
Inter Alia (2005)
Verba Volant (2007)
Humble & Brilliant (2011)

COLLABORATIONS:
The Sentinels – The Lying City EP (1998)
Imaginary Friends – The ImF Ride b/w Even Exist 7" (2004)
Backburner – Heatwave (2011)

Photos

Bio

Jesse Dangerously has been making rap since before you can remember. He has released five solo albums, and toured Canada and the US. A disciple of 1988 to 1994 "golden era" hip hop, Dangerously's influences include the lilting hyperspeed of Chip Fu; the pop culture whirlwind of Das Efx; the indignant and unabashed political overtones of Public Enemy; the intricate rhyme schemes of Lord Finesse; and the cocky arrogance of teenaged LL Cool J or Fresh Prince. After more than a decade spent carving out a place for himself in the Halifax hip hop scene, Jesse relocated to Ottawa in 2007.

AWARDS:
Finalist in the Strange Famous Records contest to remix Buck 65's "Shutterbuggin'"
Voted Best MC in The Coast's "Best Of Music" reader polls in 2006 and 2007
Won the 2005 Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia Urban/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year award
Nominated for Best Rap/Urban Single Recording by East Coast Music Association in 2007 for "Outfox'd (When Pacifists Attack)"
Finalist (top 6 of 500+ entries) in Rapstation.com's "Power To The People And The Beats" Napster rap competition judged by Chuck D of Public Enemy, 1999
Perfect Attendance certificate from Sacred Heart School of Halifax, Grade One (1985)

FESTIVAL SHOWCASES:
North By NorthEast, June 2011 (Toronto, ON)
South By SouthWest, March 2011 (Austin, TX)
South By SouthWest, March 2010 (Austin, TX)
South By SouthWest, March 2009 (Austin, TX)
Sled Island, June 2008 (Calgary, AB)
Pop Montreal, Oct 2007 (Montreal, QC)
ECMA Urban Showcase, Feb 2007 (Halifax, NS)
Midwest Music Summit, Aug 2006 (Indianapolis, IN)
Montreal InFringeMent, Jun 2006 (Montreal, QC)
North By North East, Jun 2006 (Toronto, ON)
Montreal Fringe, Jun 2006 (Montreal, QC)
Juno No-Cases, Apr 2006 (Halifax, NS)
North By North End, Mar 2006 (Halifax, NS)
Canadian Music Week, Mar 2006 (Toronto, ON)
ECMA Urban Showcase, Feb 2006 (Charlottetown, PEI)
Halifax Pop Explosion, Oct 2005 (Halifax, NS)
Nova Scotia Music Week, Sep 2005 (Halifax, NS)

SHARED THE STAGE WITH:
Buck 65, Eternia, Shad K, Sixtoo, mc chris, MC Lars, K'Naan, Cadence Weapon, Abdominal, More Or Les, Josh Martinez, The Dorian Three, MC Frontalot, Knowself, Tachichi & Moves, The Goods, OK Cobra, Wordburglar, Jay Bizzy, Fax 4, Littles the General, Quake, Skratch Bastid, Bleubird, JD Walker & Sontiago, K-The-I???, DJ Mayonnaise, Rebeka Higgs, Mayor McCA, BA Johnston, Wax Mannequin, A/V, Classified, Jordan Croucher, Touch & Nato, Thesis Sahib, Epic, Supreme Being Unit, Universal Soul, Atherton, C-Rayz Walz, Kool Keith, Mickey Avalon, Shock G, and many others in hundreds of shows across Canada and the USA.

OTHER FACTS:
-Hosted CKDU 88.1 FM's weekly hip hop show, handed down from Buck 65 and Skratch Bastid, from Summer 2004 until Spring 2007
-Toured Canada & US with the Perpetual Motion Road Show alternative reading series in 2006
-Guest lecturer at Saint Mary's University and Dalhousie University Women's Collective on the topic of gender issues in rap music
-Licensed songs to the soundtracks of celebrated independent films "Growing Op" and "Nonsense Revolution"
-Scored CBC documentary "Generation XXL," about the need to compassionately address childhood body issues without buying into the panic of the "obesity epidemic"
-Produced beats for Josh Martinez, More or Les, Passage (Restiform Bodies), Wordburglar, Thesis Sahib, Bleubird, Toolshed, Sequestrians, Johnny Hardcore and other independent rap artists.
-Played drums in jazz/rock (Radiohead meets Billie Holiday meets Ornette Coleman meets the Bomb Squad) band called Yeshe from 1997-2002
-Featured on the heavily downloaded Backburner mixtape from 2004, "What Have You Done For Rap Lately?"
-Received over 110,000 visits to www.dangerously.ca between May '05 and December '08

PRAISE:
"Dangerously drops the kind of rhymes that practically demand keeping a thesaurus handy ... he exhibit[s] stamina and playfulness, proving he could wrestle a photographer without breaking lyrical stride." - Chart Magazine
"Dangerously looks more like a Bank Clerk than a rapper but his flows are tighter than most chart acts, providing the kind of pop-culture honesty to interest MC Lars fans, yet still managing to maintain a true hip-hop swagger." - KUDOS Magazine (UK)
"Outfox'd is the hot business" - Sage Francis, Epitaph/ANTI recording artist
"i only like one [nerdy rapper] and will say his name quite happily. jesse dangerously. he's good." - mc chris, nerdcore godfather
"He puts a lot of himself into his music... Jesse Dangerously [is] one of the more original voices not only in Canadian hip-hop, but hip-hop as a whole." - John Book, The Run-Off Groove

Band Members