Josh Martinez
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Josh Martinez

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE
Band Hip Hop Comedy


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"CBC 3"

Youth may indeed be wasted on the young, but according to Josh Martinez, retirement is wasted on the elderly. By his own admission, the 25-year old rapper is one of the most selfish people around, a self-avowed ‘perma-teen’ who refuses to grow up. Self-indulgent though he may be, the Halifax native is one of the best hip-hop artists in Canada, an articulate entertainer whose career has been driven by a single motivating theme: the unabashed pursuit of happiness.

"To be a perma-teen is to do things for yourself," explains the Vancouver-based MC. "You've got to cut everything off in order to do exactly what you want. You have an entire life to be chained down to children and jobs and a mortgage. In your twenties, you've got this window of opportunity where you have the energy and the openness to new ideas. If you aren't taking those opportunities, you're missing out."

If Martinez had not followed his dreams, Canadian hip-hop would be short one of its most intelligent MCs. Since breaking into the scene with 1997's Josh Martinez & the Hooded Fang, the spindly spitter has turned hip-hop heads with his hyper-literate floetry, a style which has earned him comparisons to fellow Haligonian Buck 65 and the brainiacs in America's Anticon collective.

As the owner of his own label (Camobear Records) and as a tireless live performer, Martinez is enjoying an early retirement from the everyman's rat race. "I've benefited greatly from being retired the last two years," he says with a laugh. "I would encourage everyone to try out retirement; I call it Freedom 23."

Martinez is that rarest of young adults, a man verily bursting with positivity, an artist who seeks to reverse the complacency of what he calls the "do-nothing generation." In concert, the MC plays the part of motivational speaker, albeit one who veils his exhortations in a subtle veneer of comedy and self-deprecation.

"The joker is a front," admits Martinez. "I want to convey my message in the most attention-deficit-friendly way possible. That means quick cuts and lots of flashes, but in the end, the content is real; I'm talking about stuff that everybody goes through and everybody feels."

The affable rapper cites Hunter S. Thompson and Abbie Hoffman as inspirational figures, modeling his own delivery after their devil-may-care styles. As Canadian MCs go, Martinez is as subversive as they come, whether he's examining the effects of communism on "Marxchism" or demanding the legalization of marijuana on "Weed Weed." (Both songs can be found his 2001 album, Made in China.)

The recent resurgence of American imperialism has given the rapper yet more fodder for his art, precipitating his most pointed political piece to date, "God Bless America." Martinez first performed the song at this year's edition of the South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. Playing to a roomful of ballcap-clad heads and boot-sporting cowboys, the Canadian delivered these lines with unerring rage: "God Bless America?/ What the hell does that mean?/ Why would you suggest/ God bless a corporate war machine?"

While Martinez insists the song was well-received by hip-hop fans, one of the festival's organizers voiced his vociferous opposition to the rapper's lyrics, resulting in a near-physical confrontation after his performance. The Nova Scotia native shrugs his shoulders at the suggestion that he has taken leftist his stance one step too far.

"In all honesty, I think every artist should thank George W. Bush for giving them inspiration over the last two years," he offers. "There's no question that this man has rejuvenated the movement. Dissent has been catalyzed by the fact of what this madman and his thugs are up to. It's scary."

These days, Dubya Bush may be providing him with fodder for his writing, but Martinez is no stranger to political engagement, having penned some of his most powerful tracts as a teenager. Chief among those is "Deny" (from Made in China), the MC's sprawling meditation on the holocaust, Canadian racism and his own Jewish identity. Clocking in at over nine minutes, "Deny" is a certifiable classic, a half-sung, half-spoken piece which set the bar high for the rest of the rapper's career.

"That was the third rap song I ever wrote," he says. "I was only 18 years old when I did that, but I would still stand by that as the best piece of writing I've ever done. It's a bit awkward to have that be your opus, but if that's what people talk about when they talk about me, I'm happy. And if I'm ever able to make something which tops it, I'll be ecstatic."

- Martin Turenne


Josh Martinez: "Under Abstract Art"
Despite being offered record deals by both Anticon and Ninja Tune (neither of which would have insured a much larger rate of distribution), Josh Martinez opted to take the road less traveled and, with the release of his excellent Made in China LP, established his own record company, Low Pressure. His is probably the most evocative voice in indie hip-hop and "Under Abstract Art," an introspective number that finds him uncharacteristically restrained, is one of the best tracks I've uncovered through endless crate-digging and Google-searching. - Ryan Schreiber


“When people. . . talk about ‘intelligent, progressive’ hip hop, they could easily be talking about Josh Martinez. . . Go and check out 'Deny'. Copy it from a friend, download it, steal it... do whatever you can to hear this cut — it really is that important. . . This is more spoken word than actual emceeing, but this approach actually does the subject matter more justice. . . Martinez speaks from the heart about the Holocaust. The amount of detail he pours into the words really must be heard to be believed — when people speak about music having the power to change situations, and spark intelligent debate, they could easily be speaking about this track. Its raw emotion and uncompromising descriptions DO make the listener feel uncomfortable, but that's what its MEANT to do... this is real.”
- A-Rod

"Now Magazine"

“Since much of the onstage political commentary in Austin during [South by Southwest] amounted to little more than the Polyphonic Spree's simple gesture of dedicating one of their celebratory hymns ‘to the Dixie Chicks,’ it came as quite a shock when dynamic Vancouver hiphop MC Josh Martinez used his truncated set to blast U.S. foreign policy. . . The tipsy crowd of early-morning revellers were stopped stiff in mid-head-nod when Martinez tore into a caustic Gil Scott-Heron-style ‘no blood for oil’ rant [entitled] God Bless America, with the opening throwdown: ‘God bless America? What the hell does that mean? Why would we suggest that God bless a corporate war machine?’ ‘I wrote the song God Bless America just before I left for this tour," says Martinez before a show in Philadelphia. ‘Every place I've performed it here in the U.S. it's gotten huge applause. . .’”
- Tim Perlich

"Portland Phoenix"

“Our Favorite Things About the Year in Portland Music:” . . . Josh Martinez at the Skinny. Wearing a Burger King cardboard crown, the Canadian lyricist and crew gave the Skinny’s crowd their all, even after two of their members had been refused at the border as a result of tighter security since the September tragedies. - Editor

"The Gauntlet, University of Calgary"

“Josh Martinez is one of the most charismatic abstract hip-hop acts, always leaving listeners stunned with his sublime cloud of words. His music, characterized by sharp intelligence, clever rhymes, and unpredictable improvisations, is slowly heading in the opposite direction of hip-hop norm. . . Many consider him the new-school poet-emcee.”
- Kara Southern


Josh Martinez & The Hooded Fang LP - 1998
Josh Martinez - Made in China LP - 2001
Josh Martinez - One More Coffee 7" - 2001
Josh Martinez - Rumble Pie EP - 2002
Josh Martinez - The Good Life EP - 2002
Josh Martinez - Buck Up Princess LP - 2003
Chicharones - Boss Hogs EP - 2003
Josh Martinez- Midriff Music-March 2005
Chicharones - When Pigs Fly -Sept. 20 2005
Josh Martinez- A Trash Up -February 2006
Josh Martinez/Awol One - Splitsville EP Jan 2008
Josh Martinez - World Famous Sex Buffet - Oct. 2008
Chicharones - Swine Country - Jan. 2009
Josh Martinez - Pissed Off Wild - June 2011



Josh Martinez is a machine. A well-oiled, straight-talking, globetrotting sex-machine, who’s traveled the world more than the avian flu, Martinez has built himself a devout following, addicted to his hopeful perspective, joie-de-vive and a live show that brings the heat like a Catholic school girl in a confession booth.

Martinez has never been easy to categorize. The People’s Champ is one of the most diverse artists in the music game, surpassing the limitations of indie hip hop by pursuing an “innovative and entirely unique hybrid of clever pop melodies and intelligent, layered songwriting that borrows from everywhere and sounds like nothing else.” (Spin)

As an entertainer, Martinez is in the upper echelons of the business, bringing a confidence, urgency and a comedic touch that has converted disbelievers and brought houses down, rocked to their very foundation. Having sold 100,000 copies of his body of work, Martinez has been at it since you were just a pup, a dirty glimmer in the mailman’s eye. Award-winning, quoted in college seminars, and creeping up from the underground like rats in the sewers, “Martinez brand of music is instantly identifiable and entirely unique.” – (Exclaim)

As an artist, Martinez has a rap sheet longer than repeat offenders, but as a businessman, he has only begun to polish his loafers. In the past ten years Josh Martinez has managed to tour 200+ dates per year all over the world, start his own label, Camobear Records, ink deals with European labels Bella Union (UK) and V2 (Europe), license records to distributors in Japan, Europe and North America and headline festivals and showcases worldwide. He recently started a publishing company, Camobear Music Publishing, which has helped license hundreds of songs to action sports videos throughout North America, Europe and Japan. Recently, the Chicharones: “Little By Little,” was featured in NBA2K11, the highest selling basketball video game in history.

And the press love him. Jaded Critics found themselves shaving their mustaches and abandoning irony to lavish his praises. Featured in Urb Magazine’s Next 100, profiles in Rockpile, Pitchfork, Magnet, Spin, CMJ, Exclaim, Incorucktible, countless weeklies and college papers, and reviews from all over, have only served to build the buzz to tinnitus levels. Now with mega-publicist Joanne Setterington of Indoor Recess onboard, its clearly go time in the Martinez camp.

His brand new record, ‘The Pissed Off Wild’ (June 2011), is produced by Juno Award winner Roger Swan, and is an extraordinary leap outside the already limited boundaries that Martinez observes. Taking its inspiration from 60s psyche-rock, 70s blues, 80s punk, 90s grunge and the failings of the 21st century, Martinez has produced an original work of music unlike anything made yet. Full band, no click tracks, mostly live off the floor, and we have an album that took 5 years to make, and represents the strongest Martinez record by far, with a grown up sound that mixes solid production with the whimsy and sexy good times that the big boys are known for. This record could share a room with Gnarls Barkley, G.G. Allen, Black Keys and Beck and still get laid.

With 2011 upon us, Martinez is ready to blow. With a finished opus in the bank, a new Chicharones record and another solo record due out soon, the time has never been nigher. Before hipsters invented sarcasm, before coke rap and hip house, the Martinez lifestyle was there, giving the kids hope for the future, the feeling that all was not lost, that there could be intelligent relevant music that made you move in all the right ways. It’s time to get Pissed Off Wild. POW!