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The best kept secret in music


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Mentalité Moune Morne ( June 1999 – BMG Music Canada Inc.)

J’Rêvolutionne (November 2002 – BMG Music Canada Inc.)



Much like its forerunners did for the Bronx, L.A., Paris and Marseilles, Muzion put Montreal on the global hip-hop map.

The release of Mentalité Moune Morne and its message to the world were certainly no accident–they represented the culmination of an artistic process that saw Impossible, J. Kyll and Dramatik carry the Montreal hip-hop scene out into the light. A witness to the crossover of US rap into the mainstream and the emergence of its French-language cousin, Muzion watched Quebec rappers try their hand, gradually filling the pages of its songbook, then demonstrating a critical, lucid vision brilliantly expressed in 1999 with its debut album, Mentalité Moune Morne–a skilful assemblage of music and lyrics reflecting the group’s first three years. The album showed clear vision and conscious spirit expressed through incisive lyrics over inspired beats. And although "Rien à perdre" ("Nothing to lose") was a first cry in the form of a warning, it turned out Muzion actually had everything to gain.

Initial media scepticism gave way to unanimous acclaim. Muzion made its way out of the "ghetto" as the general public finally discovered these kings of the underground jungle and their deft sense of lyrical flow. A testament to multiculturalism, "La vi ti-nèg" ("A Black’s life") erased any lingering doubts: speaking of the group’s origins and Quebec’s Haitian expatriates, the rich soundscape was a call for unity between the various communities. The track climbed to the top of the community-radio and MusiquePlus charts. Despite generating widespread appeal, this street anthem was largely ignored by mainstream radio, and Muzion’s musical gavel would soon fall with "Ils n’ont rien compris" ("They didn’t get it"). Scorning this middle-of-the-road attitude, Muzion focused on what it does best, staying true to its urban roots.

A crew of straight-up wordsmiths, Muzion found a new home onstage. Moving from obscure clubs to bigger and better venues, the group quickly built a rock-solid reputation for itself. Soon Muzion had close to 150 live performances under its belt, and could rhyme with the best of them. It seemed that heavyweight MCs like the Beatnuts, Rascalz, Choclair, Rahzel, Eminem and NTM would have to outdo themselves so as not to be eclipsed by the verbal agility of the heralds of Montreal North, whose insatiable appetite for closeness with its audience was rooted in steadfast integrity.

Having conquered Quebec, Muzion changed course, setting its sights on Europe. Warner France’s rap division discovered Muzion during an explosive concert at the Francofolies de Montréal festival, and immediately signed the group. The arrival of Mentalité Moune Morne on French soil would not go unnoticed either–in the fall of 2000, Kool Shen (a member of seminal French rap group NTM and founder of the IV My People hip-hop label) offered Muzion the opening spot on his label’s tour. Muzion rose to the challenge and rocked the house, ending its transatlantic tour with a bang at the Zénith in Paris. The boys began receiving kudos from their hip-hop peers, not to mention the Montreal indie-music scene–they won for best Francophone hip-hop artist of 2000 at the MIMI Awards. The record industry followed suit a few months later, handing Muzion the Félix for hip-hop album of the year at the ADISQ.

Even though Muzion had a growing fan base, its members seemed to be telling it like it is rather than trying to become the voice of a generation–and the band’s next opus, J’rêvolutionne ("I dream of revolution"), is no exception. Two years in the making, the album showed that the Muzion’s talent hasn’t waned in the least.

Muzion never forgets where it came from, even going so far as to tout its roots as a lifestyle–one grounded in the streets, with a family history inspired by the rapper collective Dynastie des Morniers. "Le Concept IV," "C’est pas un hasard" (It’s no accident"), "La classe disparue" ("The vanished class") and "Animal" come across as an awakening for those who refuse to understand the relevance of the group’s brazen approach, which rejects the sell-out and covert fundamentalism in the same breath. Call them irresponsible . . . "M’en veux pas" ("Don’t be angry with me"), a vibrant homage to family, proves they’re anything but. Muzion militantly campaigns all over the map with tireless sociological fervour. Their words are worth a thousand pictures. "Acceptez-vous les frais ?" ("Do you accept the charges?") unpretentiously relates the so-called partners’ travels in and out of the big house. The group also takes more of a political stand, advocating deglobalization in "Démondialisation", with a nod to the 2001 Summit of the Americas in Quebec City. Muzion heartily applauds the right to be different, and also revels in the musical surprises that come with it. With this in mind, the band invited Jacob Desvarieux (of the legendary zouk group Kassav’) along for a spirited ride through the Caribbean gem "Men m