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The best kept secret in music

Press


"Hip-Hop trio are exception to the rule"

One of the most derivative things about a lot of underground Hip-Hop is the number of generic rappers who brag about being original; luckily for fans of the genre, groups like Montreal's witty, unique, and passionate Specifics exist to prove there are exceptions to that rule.

The trio made up of MC Golden Boy, producer Think Twice, and DJ Goser each bring distinctive elements to their craft.

Vancouver ex-patriot and Concordia film production major Golden Boy (né Spencer Miller) balances a line between reflective nostalgia and cheeky braggadocio in songs based on his own life experiences, "A lot of my raps are about reminiscing about the past. There are a million stories I can tell about back in the days, about friends and girls' cause that's a part of who I am."

In songs such as "Takin it Back" and "Under the Hood" everyday occurrences such as an evening breeze or a chance encounter take on a deeper meaning, "I'm trying to take the significance out of ordinary events," he says.

Golden Boy's syncopated verses, rhymed in a flow that glides between notes, are intricate yet clearly enunciated. Instead of feeling it necessary to yell into the microphone, he uses a steady and soulful delivery, which makes his stories more affecting.

Goser is the group's DJ and hypeman. After watching him perform with Specifics recently, it was obvious that he has a real enthusiasm for the group's music, which can't help but spread to the listeners. Goser doesn't just scratch (although he does so and well) he also does back up vocals from behind the turntable and generally livens up the crowd.

But probably the most impressive thing about Specifics is their jazzed-out, string-heavy, melodic production. Think Twice (Phil Kennedy) says his emotive beats can be defined as "heart music."

The Specifics' producer is also a Concordia electro-acoustic major and it shows in the high-end production value of the group's recordings. Think Twice is hoping his 'real education for the real world' will mean more gigs with the group, "I really only have one goal with Specifics - to make this my job, so I never have to work a real nine to five job. So whatever I gotta do to make that happen, that's my short and long-term goals."

Thanks to the group's hard work (and a little help from the Concordia Student Union) Specifics has already got the chance to open for the likes of Hip-Hop innovators such as Styles of Beyond, Blackalicious, and Common.

Keep an eye out for Specifics, if they stay on track, watch for them to start headlining the tours.
- The Concordian- Julian Nemeth


"Eyes on the Prize"

Like a lot of Montreal hip hop artists, the guys from Specifics try to balance time in the studio with regular live shows, and keep the prospect of a formal release right up front. With Vancouver transplants Think Twice on production, Goldenboy on the mic and MTL native DJ Goser on the turntables, Specifics have managed to pull off a fresh and focused musical equation.<br><br>"There's a lot of things that are developing right now," says manager and LP Music label head Arash Nazhad. "We're entertaining an offer to take LP Music and Specifics to another level, and I think it will be a great step for all of us." Think Twice has graduated from the Jay Dee/Hi-Tek/Just Blaze school of production, capable of creating intricate, emotive tracks, as well as well-oiled bangers. He's lucky to be working with an MC like Goldenboy, who seems to be paying attention to all the mediocrity out there. Lyrically, he's taken things up a notch for sure, inspiring heads to listen close to his particular point of view.<br><br>"Things are looking good for a collaboration with MF Grimm on his new album, and that's super encouraging, and as the live shows continue to develop, DJ Goser's role will become more pronounced, in the pursuit of being just as hot on stage as they are on record." Songs that have been bubbling for months now include "Under the Hood," "Takin' It Back" and the classic "Velas."<br><br>"Specifics make hip hop that they wish other people would make," explains Nazhad. "The production is off the hook and Goldenboy's flow is unmatchable." While steadily churning out joints and jams here in Montreal, things are sizing up for the long awaited debut release of these dedicated heads. Let's hope that Montreal is ready to get down to the Specifics.<br><br>SCOTT C - Scott C


"The spec sheet on the Specifics"

Looks like that blasted bumblebee will soon be losing its title as Concordia University's most celebrated export.<br><br>The Specifics, a local hip-hop trinity, is etching a name for itself in Montreal's diverse musical montage, winning opening privileges for Common and Jean Grae this upcoming Thursday at Le Medley. Card-carrying members of LP Music (www.lpmusic.org), the collective consists of NDG-bred DJ Goser and two renegades from BC, producer Think Twice and MC Golden Boy.<br><br>Diabolic wordplay spikes the trio's understated string melodies and intemperate drums to create a rolling landscape of cheeky rhymes and smooth laid-back rhythms.<br><br>"What I'm trying to do with my lyrics is basically stuff that more people can relate to, something that's real life," explains lyricist Golden Boy, aka Spencer Miller, whose daytime gig is being a film production student at Concordia. "Not glorified fantasy stuff, or stuff that's in the movies, but something that's just real life, in an aesthetic that everyone can enjoy."<br><br>Formed in 2000, the group has slowly been building a fan base in the MTL. In the past five months, the Specifics have had as many shows, and are thirsty for more. While they agree on a common vision, Golden Boy and Think Twice (aka Phil Kennedy) diverge in how they see the hip hop game today.<br><br>"I don't like to feel like I have the right to speak on the [state of hip hop], especially since we're pretty young in the game and industry ourselves," explains a modest Golden Boy. "I don't really like to start shitting where I sleep when I talk about rap, but I don't really have any problems with the way hip hop is right now, underground or mainstream."<br><br>His West Coast comrade, however, proves less guarded in his response. "There's not a lot out there today that keeps me buying CDs," critiques the 21-year-old Think Twice. "Right now, I think that everything that's coming out is kind of hollow. There's not a lot there."<br><br>Though just small fish in a massive pond, the Specifics think big. High-octane Philadelphia rapper Freeway and Slum Village's production hotshot JayDee top the list of collaboration reveries. Jay-Z, Hi-Tek and Ghostface also receive honourable mentions.<br><br>The group is currently putting in studio time and working on releasing an album. Sound engineering student Think Twice will be able to put his schooling to good use on this effort, but the full-time students admit that the process is slow. <br><br>With a tentative album release date set for late spring or early summer, Montreal hip hop aficionados will have something new to bob their heads to.<br><br> - Panthea Lee


"Making it their own"

Specifics are not exactly new to the Montreal hip hop scene, but Wednesday’s show at Tokyo was their first live performance. Their set, which fused rap and hip hop, was not overly original, but DJ Goldenboy’s lyrical prowess did manage to rock the crowd into a dancing and breaking frenzy. <br><br>Specifics is made up of two West-Coast-born Concordia students: ThinkTwice, who hails from Victoria, BC and handles the instrumentals; and Vancouver’s Goldenboy, the rapping front man. After meeting in a Concordia residence two years ago, the pair began to produce songs and put together a few albums. “We have two albums we did for fun…. This is how we got to the point where we are now,” said Goldenboy at a recent pre-concert press conference. They have recently released a four-track demo album. <br><br>Because this was the group’s first live show, one would have expected a lack of professionalism. This was not the case. Goldenboy never faltered behind the microphone, supplying the crowd with a steady stream of rhymes. At first, those attending were content to sit back with their drinks and let the beats wash over them. It was not until later in the evening that the full lyrical ability of Goldenboy, supplemented by the bass-laden samples of ThinkTwice, had the crowd up and moving to their music. Some, perhaps in a display of newfound affection for this blossoming group, kept others in the crowd entertained by breakdancing to the rhythm. <br><br>Goldenboy certainly kept his pre-show promise of providing “a solid hour…a little bit of old stuff and some new stuff.” The group took the stage shortly after 11 pm at Tokyo and didn’t stop until well after midnight. The few people who had copies of the group’s demo album were able to recognize the tracks mixed in with some work that would only be familiar to fans who have known of the group since their days in residence. <br><br>While both members have formal piano backgrounds, it is the young DJ who controls the musical aspects. He is majoring in Music at Concordia, and finds that it helps him in “just knowing how to put stuff together. When I listen to records and samples, just knowing how it is going to progress.” <br><br>Both guys talk about how moving out east affected their music. ThinkTwice claims that “our music sounds more East Coast, so this is more the right place for us right now.” Goldenboy elaborates, “Lyrically, [living in Montreal] has influenced me a lot. Just the act of leaving home and living in a different environment.” <br><br>Their music is not an incredibly new arrangement or variation of hip hop and rap and relies heavily on the influences of Nas and particularly Mobb Deep’s album, The Infamous, which Goldenboy professes to be one of his favourites. However, they have taken what has worked in the past for such rap greats and have made it their own. <br><br>The duo has plans to release a full length album early next summer. They also hope to bolster their Montreal shows with a possible tour in southern Ontario during February.<br>

By Parker Mason - The Mcgill Daily


"Concordia Crew Heads into the Spotlight"


Local hip hop crew specifics gets together with Common and Jean Grae
By Amy Gajaria, The McGill Daily

It seems as if Montreal hip hop crew specifics emerged from beneath their headphones one day and were met with a tide of blaring press accolades.

From Mirror touting them as one of the top noisemakers of 2004 to their landing a spot on Common’s upcoming show, the three (Producer Think Twice, MC Goldenboy and DJ Goser) seem to be headed for “next big hip hop thing” territory.

Opening up for a crowd at the Le Medley seems pretty far removed from where they were a little while ago, in Concordia University residence.

Think Twice – Phil Kennedy in real life – and Goldenboy – who’s also known as Spencer Miller – met in residence, bonded over their mutual hip-hop-headedness and decided to, in Miller’s words, “make an album for fun.” A few years later, after meeting DJ Goser, specifics really got down to business.

Much of the praise is due to their slick production, relying on the smooth jazzy sounds and laid-back beats produced by Kennedy, a Concordia Electroacoustics major. Though he and Miller both have formal music training, Kennedy doesn’t put a whole lot of emphasis on that formal training in relation to the sounds he creates for specifics. He goes so far as to note that they “don’t necessarily advertise to people” that they’re university students.

Despite that, being at Concordia has definitely helped push these guys into the limelight. Besides tonight’s show with Common and Jean Grae, specifics have performed at Concordia in the past, opening for Blackalicious.

Both the Common and Blackalicious shows were financially supported by Concordia’s Student Union which, according to CSU Orientation Coordinator Craig Desson, is fronting approximately $35,000 to put on tonight’s. The Union hopes to make back most of that money through ticket sales (Concordia students get in free) and fundraising through sponsorships and deals with other student associations.

Explaining how he came to be involved with both Blackalicious and Common, specifics Manager (and LP Music owner) Arash Nazhad explains, “[Desson] just said, ‘yo, let’s throw a hip hop show together.’”

Nazhad, also a student at Concordia, took the financial backing from the CSU and, along with Desson, “did all the legwork” to put the concert together.

He found the biggest challenge to be the promotion of the concert during the ice-box style Montreal winter, noting that spending “six or seven hours outside with no gloves” isn’t anybody’s idea of a good time.

That being said, Nazhad has promoter’s blood running through his veins, and still manages to talk up a storm about the upcoming concert and its lineup through chapped lips.

“Common represents Concordia’s concept; he’s a conscious artist the way the student union is conscious.” He also believes that Jean Grae represents Concordia, citing the fact that “she’s a female from South Africa who has seen struggle and speaks the truth.”

Of course, the true businessman at heart, Nazhad saves his strongest praise for specifics. “They’re the hottest group in Montreal right now, and I’m not just saying that because I represent them.” Nazhad goes on to say that “they’re a gem, a diamond. I’ve never handed their demo to someone and received a negative response.”

Nazhad cites the group’s “slamming beats and fantastic production” among the reasons he thinks they’re worth so much praise.

Of course, it’s not just their manager who thinks specifics is worthy of more than a little praise.

Mirror columnist Scott C has credited them with dropping “a serious bomb” with track “Under the Hood” as well as including them in the category of 2004’s future noisemakers.

And though their future looks promising, Goldenboy still seems to think he’s got room to move. “I think my lyrics are 50 per cent right now. I haven’t gotten to where I want to be yet…. I want to do it better, come up with stuff that has both a good flow and that’s funny.”

With sweet sounds, a persistent manager and the press on their side, specifics look ready to hold their own on the hip hop stage.
- Mcgill Daily


"Mirror"

Along with precious gems from 9Majesty and Euphrates this past week, local hip hop crew Specifics have dropped a serious new musical bomb with their new song "Under the Hood." This joint has been on heavy, heavy rotation at my place and needs some checkin' for sure. Resident MC Goldenboy bleeds life like MF Doom, over a melancholy roller from producer Think Twice. Peep www.lpmusic.org for the new song and some of their other stuff as well. You can check out these dudes live opening for Blackalicious on September 11. Big up to everyone that came out to Salon Daomé last Friday for Soulcite. I'll be back like Arnold. Check the prime selections of Philharmonics when he touches down this Friday for some dancefloor niceness.
Seven reasons I need to take Pilates:
1. Specifics "Under the Hood" (LP)
2. Euphrates "Klaochi" (independent)
3. Mr. Roam "LuvOvaDu" 12" (Choice Cut)
4. Frank 'n' Dank "Marijuana" (bootleg)
5. Cody Chesnutt "Bitch I'm Broke" (Ready Set Go)
6. Reign "Lookin' for Luv" (DKD)
- Scott C


"Get to the Specifics"

The Link  <br><br>The Specifics are anything but newcomers to the Montreal hip-hop scene. Their brand of chilled out underground rap has been resonating in eardrums all over Concordia for some time now, swiftly gaining recognition in Montreal as being one of the most promising hip-hop crews around. And with recent performances at Concordia's Hip-Hop Symposium, Tokyo Bar, and Concordia's Art Matters Festival, they have become busier than ever. <br>The members of the Specifics crew come from all over Canada and a variety of backgrounds. This diversity is what makes the Specifics sound so distinct. When asked what makes the group so unique, the group's manager Arash Nazhad said, "We are a collective group of diverse musicians, therefore there is an intense collaboration between all of our members. This is what separates us from others." The current members of the Specifics are Thinktwice, Goldenboy, and DJ Goser. <br>Goldenboy, hailing from Vancouver, has had enormous experience as a writing and MC-ing. Goldenboy's talent is clear-cut every time he steps on the mic. When asked what he was working on for the future, Goldenboy said, "I am forever writing down lyrics, practising with others, freestyling, I never stop working on new stuff." <br>The crew's affiliate, Chiggy, who is also a very talented MC, has been doing a number of shows with the Specifics, opening up for them and rapping on Thinktwice's and DJ Goser's beats, Chiggy's performances are always interesting. <br>Goser, one of the crew's DJs, has also had some standup performances. DJ Goser's scratching and turntable abilities are not to be missed. Goser has been plugging away trying to come up in Montreal, for some time now. When asked where he thought the Specifics were going, DJ Goser confidently said, "only time can tell, we will just have to see how things work themselves out." As for now, it seems that DJ Goser is just enjoying what he does best, spinning records and laying down tracks that make the crowd move. <br>The band's producer, Thinktwice, has developed a real talent over the few short years with the Specifics. A Vancouver native, Thinktwice has been involved with music since he was a child. Nowadays, by mastering beats and synchronizing them with Goldenboy's melodic raps, the Specifics display extraordinary flow at all their shows. <br>At a recent performance at Tokyo Bar on March 19, DShade, a member of the popular Montreal group Shades of Culture, commented that Thinktwice's beats were "organized and well put together." DShade, who has been a hip-hop icon in Montreal for over 10 years time now, introduced the Specifics and stayed to enjoy their show. <br>When approached about his thoughts on the Montreal hip-hop scene and what it has to offer, Thinktwice was skeptical about the success that the crew has had, and will get in Montreal. Thinktwice said, "Toronto hip-hop has blown up, whereas Montreal is several years behind Toronto's popularity and success." This attitude is typical of many hip-hop musicians in Montreal. Montreal is a mecca of music cultures and often it is very hard for one musical preference to gain enough support. Despite this skepticism, Thinktwice assured us that Specifics will never lie down, and will continue to produce music for all their supporters wherever they are. <br> - MURRAY SNIDER


Discography

"T.G.I.M." RAPATTACKLIVES DJ ONLY PROMO 12" Summer of 2004
"Under The Hood" Btw "Thats Just Gold" 12" LP Records Fall 2004
"Craigs House" Btw "That is Why" 12" LP LP Records Spring 2004

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Specifics are a three-man crew coming out of Montreal under the LP Music banner, composed of local DJ Goser and west coast transplants Think Twice and Golden Boy. The young group had its roots sewn back in 2000 when Golden Boy and Think Twice linked up - making home pressed albums in university dorms - as the duo Green Dragons. Later meeting Goser, an NDG DJ who completed the trinity, they became the Specifics and started making noise in the Montreal hip hop scene. Specifics' sound is a landscape of Twyson's chopped heartstrings and bangin' drums, laced with Gold's virtuoso rhyme schemes and wordsmithing experiments; Goser lays down the cuts and is known to get busy at the shows when he grabs the mic. Mission statements and group philosophies will inevitably fall short of these guys' goals and perspectives on the rap game - suffice to say, the three comprising members are each dedicated hip hop heads in their own right and combine to form a collective of great depth.

Recent Developments:
Nominated for the diesel-u-music.com Competition
Taking it Back Heavy.com compilation
MontrealMirror.com Noisemakerz 2004
Finalist for Killer Demo MimiGala.com 2004
Talent Scout Reflexfm.nl Netherlands
Featured on Up North Trip Compilation