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Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada | SELF

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada | SELF
Band Rock Punk


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TONES @ The Lo Pub

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

TONES @ Royal Albert w/ Electro Quarterstaff

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

TONES @ Double Decker

Brandon, Manitoba, Canada

Brandon, Manitoba, Canada

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Hip Hop in the Woods
By Michael Elves

If you were to ask anyone who’s ever spent some time at Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park about the great activities and pastimes to be had there, the list would be long. From lounging on the beach to boating, lawn bowling to golfing, eating an ice cream cone to roasting a hot dog in the campgrounds, the ways to spend time are numerous.

But it’s unlikely that most people would list “recording a hip hop album” as a great Clear Lake activity. John Vogan and Dustin Karsin are not most people. And the pair thinks recording a hip hop album at Clear Lake is a great way to spend time.

“We started about four years ago, just messing around … making all this music not thinking it was even going to ‘come out,’ and then it got down to it and we decided ‘Let’s go to the cottage and finish this record.’ Up ’til then, we’d been busy doing other stuff, but there came a point when we had some free time. It ended up taking about a month of hard work out at the cottage. Me and John would wake up, work on the music and then hang out in the evening,” says Karsin of the genesis of Greatest Hits, the debut record from the project the pair dubbed Rebel Yell.

As unusual as recording at Clear Lake is, the mere existence of Rebel Yell is unusual in itself. Both Vogan and Karsin play in the Winnipeg punk band Red Blanket—Vogan on guitar and Karsin on drums—and nothing about that band suggested they’d create a hip hop album. But the pair have seized on punk’s DIY ethos and crafted all the beats themselves, capturing a punk energy that harkens back to the Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill.

“We just used the knowledge that we had from Red Blanket, playing music and then in changing the beats-per-minute and the genre a little bit, and it started happening,” Karsin states simply. Vogan adds that, initially, it wasn’t premeditated. Wwe were having some beers in the afternoon and being like ‘let’s rap on this, it’d be funny.’”

Being funny and having a good time is central to the material on Greatest Hits, notes Vogan, because “Red Blanket was so serious for us and Rebel Yell was like blowing off steam.” Karsin quickly adds, “It was never a joke band, but there was no seriousness involved in working on it.” From “This Reggae Weighs a Tonne” to “Stop Thinking, Start Drinking,” Vogan and Karsin (or Critical Jim and El Te Gringo, as they refer to themselves) chronicle the parties that fuelled their recordings and write anthems for future parties.

When asked about hip hop influences, Karsin mentions Big L and Mos Def and these are telling reference points. Both balance party tracks that move asses and socio-political commentaries that move minds. Greatest Hits’ opener, “Environmental Science,” touches on the Kyoto Protocol and corporate waste and challenges those who look to God for solutions to global warming—heady stuff for a party record.

“People are living in this stupid, ignorant stage, unaware of all that stuff, and when you start learning about it or you feel passionately about it, then you start to bring it up and raise those concerns. I bring up these topics with my friends while we’re drinking beer and to bring it up in a song is even better because people who wouldn’t want to talk about or listen to those issues will listen to a song,” Karsin explains.

Whether they’re rhyming about whisky or wind power, the pair doesn’t think of this juxtaposition of material as anything other than completely natural—as natural as the process that resulted in Greatest Hits. Says Vogan, “It’s a reflection of who we are as people …. Whatever we’re into at the time, we write about.”

- Stylus Magazine
By Jared Story

Hip hop duo Rebel Yell will release its debut album on the same night as it plays its first show

Peg City merrymakers rejoice; Rebel Yell is fighting for your right to party. Initially just a shits-and-giggles side project by Red Blanket's John Vogan and Dustin Karsin, Rebel Yell is now fun for the whole family. This Saturday, the hip hop duo will officially release its debut album, Greatest Hits, at the Pyramid Cabaret.

"It's weird how something you do for fun starts to gain credibility," says Karsin, 28, whose rap pseudonym is El Te Gringo (Vogan, 23, goes by Critical Jim). "Even though we spent so much time playing in a serious band, just doing all the right things, our for-fun side band is starting to get more recognition than our real band."

It's not like Red Blanket doesn't get plenty of recognition, but its sans-vocals spastic hardcore/metal/punk fusion just isn't for everybody. Rebel Yell, on the other hand, is. With beats catchier than herpes and rhymes just as infectious, one would need a serious musical barrier to not get into this - especially a Winnipegger.

"The best songs I hear are when I can relate to what they're talking about," Karsin says. "This guy's talking about drinking at Times Change(d) and riding his bike through the Village. I do that! That's wicked! Even our logo has Winnipeg on it. Winnipeg is a huge part of who we are and what we do."

Although Rebel Yell has been working on these River City rhymes since 2004, the Greatest Hits release show will also be the group's live debut. Karsin says he and Vogan are thrilled to finally bring this project to the stage, and can't wait to see who shows up.

"The wickedest thing for me about it is it breaks down so many scenes," Karsin says. "It won't just be some crusty punks at the show or some hip hop kids or some shoegazers, it'll be all those people. 'I like Sonic Youth.' Cool. 'I like Fugazi.' Yeah! 'I like Opeth.' All those people who like all those different bands all seem to like Rebel Yell, too."

With Pip Skid, DJ Hunnicut and The Magnificent 7s rounding out the bill, the Rebel Yell CD release should prove to be an eclectic event as well as a hilarious hip hop hullabaloo.

"We're ready to party just like every other Winnipegger," Karsin says. "A little bit of a soundtrack for life, that's the Rebel Yell record right there. Crack a beer, have a good time and don't worry about what's happening, everything's going to be OK."

- Uptown Magazine

Rebel Yell
Greatest Hits


When Dustin Karsin and John Vogan aren't playing drums and guitar (respectively) in River City riff-rock outfit Red Blanket, they are El Te Gringo and Critical Jim, busting rhymes in hip hop act Rebel Yell. Can rockers rap? Hell yeah! On its debut disc, the dynamite duo rolls with a lyrical flow reminiscent of Licensed to Ill. Stop Thinking, Start Drinking is Rebel Yell's Fight for Your Right. But the pair can be as poetically provocative as it is evocative. "Every single dollar you spend at the mall, helps to promote another nation's fall," raps El Te Gringo on Environmental Science. Reprazent Mutha Nature!
— Jared Story - Uptown Magazine

Began as a fun side project, Rebel Yell has become a focus
for its members

Jared Story

Rebel Yell is focused on fun. Formed in 2004 as a just-for-kicks side project by Red Blanket's John Vogan and Dustin Karsin, the hip hop duo has released an album, last year's Greatest Hits, and is now working on another (look for it this summer). In the meantime, Rebel Yell will release The Kitchen Party EP and two music videos - Kitchen Party and Dayoh! - on March 6 at The Lo Pub.

"Rebel Yell was a total, 'We have an afternoon to kill, let's drink some beers and make a funny track' kind of thing," says Vogan, 24, whose rap pseudonym is Critical Jim (Karsin, 28, goes by El Te Gringo). "Now we're more focused on what we're recording. I mean, we're still fucking around, drinking beers and laughing, but we're listening more and saying, 'Let's be a little more critical about this.'"

The Kitchen Party EP features three fresh Rebel Yell songs - the title track, 15-2, 15-4 and a Pair is 6 and Table Service - and an acoustic version of Roadhouse Blues from Greatest Hits. Like the material on its previous album, the duo's new tunes are full of humour. For example, the restaurant rant Table Service features funny rhymes such as, "The manager comes by, he's acting like my best friend/'how about that weather,' 'got plans for the weekend?'"

"I think that's one of the best parts about rap, the fact that you can be funny and still good," Vogan says. "I don't know many bands in rock 'n' roll that are good and funny. There's one band I like, Municipal Waste, who has songs like The Thrashin' of Christ and Abusement Park, but, for the most part, rock and metal bands are serious."

The humour hits hard, but the beats hit harder.

"That's what we spend more time on, making the beats sound good," Vogan says. "After that, we just try to not fuck it up with our vocals."

Joining Vogan and Karsin onstage at The Lo Pub will be bassist Kelli Martin (a Rebel Yell regular) and drummer Shaun Gibson, both of The Details. Rebel Yell will also play March 13 at the West End Cultural Centre as part of Pip Skid's Skid Row release party. For more on the hip hop duo, go to and, while you're there, check out The Rebisodes. Shot and produced by Trevor Gill, who also produced the duo's music videos, the mini-documentaries provide an inside look at Rebel Yell.
- Uptown Magazine

Punk hip-hop duo Rebel Yell want to invite you to a very special Kitchen Party

by Lee Repko (Volunteer)

Any resemblance to Billy Idol is purely coincidental: To follow up their debut CD Greatest Hits, local hip-hop duo Rebel Yell will be releasing two videos and an EP at the Lo Pub.
When the news came that one half of the instrumental math tech-funk quartet Red Blanket had released a rap record, many fans may have been a little wary.

The duo, made up of John Vogan (a.k.a. Critical Jim) and Dustin Karsin (a.k.a. El Te Gringo), formed under the moniker Rebel Yell and released their first record Greatest Hits in 2008. The record is a blend of musical styles, mixing punk with hip hop in an infectious and often hilarious manner. Driven by their ridiculous rhymes and lo-fi beats, they deal with Winnipeg, touring, drinking, the environment, cribbage and travelling in a manner you probably haven’t heard before.

“It was just something for us to goof around with and a couple of years later here we were with 10 or 11 songs. It was either waste them and just share them with friends or craft an instrumental and compile some artwork, press it and put it out,” said Karsin.

Even though Red Blanket is primarily an instrumental band, the offshoot duo have gone from saying basically nothing onstage for years to being an almost chatterbox stream of consciousness.

“With Red Blanket I always took it so serious and I had to portray myself this certain way. With Rebel Yell I don’t really care what people think. As long as we’re not hurting other people’s feelings or being negative towards a community or group – my filter is totally off,” explained Karsin.

“It’s really unpretentious and Rebel Yell is just really goofy because we’re goofy” added Vogan.

The group is now ready to release Kitchen Party, a four-track EP that features two reworkings of older tracks and two from the upcoming full-length release.

The group blossomed into a three piece recently, taking into their fold Keli Martin (The Details) on bass. For the EP they also enlisted Paul Lindell (The Hearsemen) to fill out the bottom end on acoustic double-bass.

The whole experience is decidedly lo-fi and keeps the organic vibe created on their earlier release going.

“If I was a rapper in Winnipeg and heard our music, I would be like, ‘Fuck This!’ We had a good time recording it and put a lot of time into it, but we’re not so serious about rap that we need that acceptance into the rap scene,” Vogan said.

With economics and environment degrees behind them, the duo are not all fun and games, but also bring some pretty heavy topics to the table.

One particular track, Apa Khabar (or “How you doin’?” in Indonesian) from their first record, certainly contains an underlying message of anti-corporatism.

“Our political mindset is not really putting a message out there. We’re just saying what we think and take it as you want,” said Vogan. “Social justice [issues] are things that are important to me. When I am writing songs that just comes out. I don’t want to drive around from Wal-Mart to Tim’s to Home Depot in my truck. I wanna walk to Beaver Lumber.

“Travelling totally changes your perspective and I use those [experiences] to try to create awareness.”
This article appeared in Volume 64, Number 21 of The Uniter, published March 4th 2010.

- The Uniter


Greatest Hits (2009)
Kitchen Party EP (2010)



"With beats catchier than herpes and rhymes just as infectious, one would need a serious musical barrier to not get into this" - Uptown Magazine

Riffs, drum beats, some booze, humility, and an attitude to please no one but themselves. These are the ingredients that make up Rebel Yell's aptly titled debut album "Greatest Hits". Critical Jim and El Te Gringo are the two masterminds behind this punkster hip hop party record, recorded over a few years and beers in several makeshift studios around Winnipeg and out in their favorite lake spot getaway, Clear Lake, Manitoba.

Jim, a guitarist and Gringo, a drummer were already playing in the prog punk band Red Blanket when they discovered they both had the flair to write rhymes. They got together and made some funky sounding beats with guitars and drums and were pretty impressed at how well they did. The styles on “Greatest Hits” are about as eclectic as it gets, ranging from the sped up Spanish love ballad “Dayohh!” to the gritty inner city hip hop sound of “Silent March” to the bouncy dance riffs of “This Reggae Weighs a Tonne”.

So who in the right mind thinks they can be in some punk rock band and just go and do a hip hop record? The duo relies on their musicianship and a just don’t a &*%$ attitude to put them wherever they want to be.

The masterminds have assembled a band to bring these songs to life on stage, creating a fabulous blend of musical styles; bringing the energy of a punk show with the dancebility of a hip hop style they bring a live show that is a non-stop dance party. They top it off with such bonuses as dual drum jams and righteously self indulgent guitar solos from Critical Jim.

Jim and Gringo have not stopped the Rebel Yell the train there. They have been furiously at work on a sophomore album and the new material is absolutely blistering with good times. Critical Jim and El Te Gringo tackle such gripping issues as sexual promiscuity in foreign countries, avoiding debt collectors, the social phenomenon known as the restaurant, having parties in your parents house, being in a band and making no money and the unfortunate occurrences of rookie moves.

So keep tuned in because it appears as though they’re making this record on purpose this time.