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"Backpackers Union"

I really wanted to like the newest project from the Fax 4 family but much of this rushed compilation is marred by mediocre beats and rhymes. It’s slow to start, with track five, “Light It Up,” being the first track to grab any attention, thanks to Jus’s fun production, which combines simple piano and flute with that catchy siren sound made popular by Muggs and the Soul Assassins. There’s also too much R&B for my liking but Bree, Tony Talent and Jordan Croucher are often the stars of the tracks they appear on, although the quality of those tracks depends on whether the producer ends up providing the typically stale R&B backing or drops something unique, like Dr. Syn’s synth-heavy “Keep It On the Low.” Still, scattered throughout this collection are a few wicked songs that are worth a listen. Along with the two already mentioned tracks, standouts include the Jus-produced “Bring It Back” and “Rhymin in Public,” the speakeasy production of J Rich for “We Call the Shots” and Litterbug’s hard-hitting production on “Last Call.” Hopefully they put a little more time and focus into the next BPU project, which is rumoured to already be in the works. (Independent) - Exclaim magazine

"BackPackers Union Review"

The BackPackers Union – Keys To The Studio

This "LJ Deluxe" styled review is brought to you by Luke James


Rhyming out of: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Members: Textstyles, Jus, Spesh K, DJ Y-Rush
Production by: Jus, Spesh K, Dr. Syn, J. Rich, Weapon X, Mastermind, Litterbug
Features: Bree, Jordan Croucher, Joe Buck, Boy-Ill, Tony Talent, Flexxman, Markit, Quake, Don Jeremy, Stolen From Africa, Ambition, Mike Kimber
Website: www.bpu902.com - www.myspace.com/bpu902

ALBUM AVAILABLE NOW! http://cdbaby.com/cd/backpackersunion or e-mail textstyles@hotmail.com

Track by track:

1.Giving It To You – Though not the best way to kick off the album, this isn't a terrible song. Unfortunately, the bland singing on the hook by Bree and the sterile beat makes for a rather dull listen. The rhyming is decent, but there is very little out of the ordinary here.

2.Valerie – Valerie is one of the highlights of Keys To The Studio. Here, Spesh K and Boy-Ill showcase some of the album's best lyrics, skillfully weaving a tale about a girl who has fallen from grace. The hook might not sound too agreeable after the first couple of listens, but it's undeniably catchy whether you like it or not. Boy-Ill is the man behind the music-box sounding beat and has clearly shown that he knows what he's doing.

3.SLSGC&F – Sip Liquor Straight Get Cold & Faint. That's what SLSGC&F stands for, just so you know. The duo of Jus and Spesh skillfully exchange lyrics, with neither outshining the other. Jus crafted the beat, which is simple, to the point, and just plain good.

4.Oh What A Day – Something about this whole song seems rushed. The volume levels seem spotty at times, and the beat is below average. On this song, and as becomes apparent throughout a lot of the album, Spesh K holds up most of the lyrical weight.

5. Light It Up – Here is the pot-smoking song that almost every hip-hop album seems to require. The hook – and the entire song, really - is un-inventive, and thus a little boring. Then again, I guess the chanting of "Light it up!" is probably enough to keep the potheads pleased.

6. Keep It On The Low – In layman's terms, Keep It on The Low is a fun track with a catchy hook, a unique beat, and great vocals. Dr. Syn's piano strokes sound almost haunting as they battle and then come together with the blipping synth. Spesh K clearly shows his growth as an artist on this track. Not only do his vocals show a vast improvement from his earlier years as an MC, but his flow does as well. He sounds amazingly comfortable on the slinky track, and Tony Talent's unique singing voice adds to the engagement.

7. Silver Spoon – Individual parts of this song are good, but when all put together the song becomes somewhat confusing. The synth beat, story-telling lyrics, DJ cuts, rapped hook, and Tony Talent's singing are somewhat overwhelming when combined in the way that they are on Silver Spoon. It's just too much at once.

8.Oh Why – At a show – or anywhere, for that matter - Oh Why would certainly do the trick. The hook, sang by Don Jeremy, simply asks "oh why" over and over. In writing that doesn't sound too impressive, but it certainly works! I'll be damned if you don't find yourself singing along! The beat on Oh Why - produced by Jus - is practically flawless, and the BPU bring some of their best flows and lines to the occasion. Joe Buck makes an appearance that while not overly-energetic is some of his best work, proving that he has the potential to rise up the ranks.

9. Bring It Back – Bring It Back is quite bland, and once again shows one of the main problems with this album – mediocrity. There just isn't much about this track to comment on. It's there, it's not terrible, and one listen is good enough. A little jam on toast would go a long way.

10. We Call The Shots – The sample that sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher is just a little too annoying to be enjoyed. It wouldn't be so bad if it were turned down some, but it's not. The drums are the best part of this track.

11. Tell Me What Happened – This is a very awkward song. The beat stutters about and seems to have no real sense of direction. The vocals, too, are all over the place, making this a track that in my opinion, should not have made the cut onto the album.

12. That Style – The beat here is light-hearted and nicely done, but again, it's the lack of enthralling lyrical styles that holds this track back from being as great as it could be. Also, the hook seems a little out of place as it doesn't mold together well the soft flutes.

13. I Believe – Jordan Croucher makes an appearance on this track and as expected his vocals are crystal clear. Dr. Syn once again shows his potential as a producer, and Spesh K's 2nd verse is the best verse on the entire album.

14. Rain – Bree really picks up her vocals on this one, showing all of the listeners that when she belts it out she can really add to a song. Unlike some of the other tracks, the beat on Rain has feeling and personality to it. Though the soft and gentle rapping fits the track, it seems almost too quiet – to the point of being hard to hear.

15. Going Back To Hali – The tempo of this track makes for a fun listen, and the quick, back and forth rapping really adds a flare. You can probably guess what the chorus is.

16. Rhymin' in Public – This is another song that is just kinda there. The beat is repetitive, and frankly, the high-pitched hit throughout is not very enjoyable to the ears.

17. It Was Jus – This is another one of the most solid tracks on the album. The beat is reminiscent of a Mobb Deep track. Although Kimber's aggressiveness and unique style is a breath of fresh air, the randomness of his lyrics will surely undergo much scrutiny. On a side note, Kimber says "Jesus was a Jew and I'ma prove it on 'em"....not, "Jesus was a Jew and I'ma poopin' on 'em". I thought it was the latter until I asked about it.

18. Last Call – Last Call is a fun track that feels like the classic, fun-loving days of hip-hop. The chorus gets the point across, but could have benefited greatly from a larger dose of hype-ness. There are some Mario Bros. 2 sound FX in the chorus. Just thought you should know.

The LJ-Dar:

Standout Track – Keep It On The Low

Best Beats – Valerie, Oh Why, Keep It On The Low, It Was Jus, Rain, I Believe

CUT IT OUT! – Tell Me What Happened

Best Flow – Spesh K's 2nd verse on I Believe

Favorite Line - "Pump it up like Budden take the money n' leave." - Spesh K on Oh Why


All in all this is a decent album, especially when you consider that it has 18 full tracks. Only one track really seems out of place (Tell Me What Happened), and that cohesion really gives this album the feeling of an album, rather than the feeling of a bunch of songs crammed together. However, if some of the tracks were cut or worked on a little more, this release would've been much better.

The main problem with Keys To The Studio is that it doesn't leave too much of an impression. Most of the rhyming sounds like "that guy you know who raps". What I mean by that is that the rapping isn't bad, it's just not that striking. The same holds true for some of the beats; many of them seem to have been rushed. Nonetheless, Keys To The Studio does have its bright spots, and should not be completely overlooked. With a little extra polishing, The Backpackers Union certainly have the potential to make a mark on the scene.

Originality - 3/5
Album Cohesiveness - 4/5
Lyrics/Flow – 3/5
Beats - 3/5
Overall score – 6.5/10

- Red Matter.com Luke James


Luke James: Here I am with Textstyles of The BPU (The Backpackers Union). Their first and latest release, Keys To The Studio, is now out and available on-line and in stores!

So Text, tell me a bit about the BPU experience. How did that group come to exist?

Textstyles: Well, it kinda started with Spesh K wanting to make his own label, if you wanna call it that. The other founding members would be Jus and myself. We just needed a way to get our music heard and out there in our own way, without other people telling us how it should sound, when it can come out, and all that. Basically, the union is a collective of solo artists working together to create and release hip hop in the way they want it to sound.

Luke James: Yeah, I feel you. In this day and age it's important for artists to keep as much creative control as possible if they really want to stand out from the slew of other artists out there.

You guys just released your first album, Keys to the Studio. How do you feel about that, and what sort of a mental process do you get yourself into - or go through - when you're working on your music?

Textstyles: The first album I feel great about. It gets play in a few clubs downtown, a few of the songs are on digital cable stations, and sales are pretty good. Hand to hand we are up to about 1,500+. We're also making some decent on-line sales through iTunes. A few of the songs on the album sound rushed, but hey, we had limited time due to grant restrictions and wanted to get the album out there.

Luke James: So knowing what you know now because of what you've learned from - and gone through - with this album, what would you like to improve in regards to the next BPU release?

Textstyles: Well, there are already a few slated releases from the BPU this year. Kimber is coming out with his album which sounds amazing! He has some spoken word over hip hop beats, live percussion, and a really unique sound. Also, Jus' album is almost done and the second BPU album is about a third done.

I guess what we learned is to have more songs to pick from for the next album, and to keep more of everything within the crew. We want to have a more solid track list, and less features. I mean, look at how good Markit's album did, and he only had a couple others on there.

Luke James: Sounds like you guys are really thinking things through for your upcoming releases. I understand what you mean when you speak of features, too. Too many features can easily break up the cohesion and "feel" of an album.

Speaking of features and other artists, how do you generally feel about the local scene? As in, how do you think it could improve and what do you think makes the Nova Scotia scene unique?

Textstyles: The local scene is hitting both high points and low points right now. The attendence at local shows is going down and the support just ain't there for a lot of this. But if you go outside of Halifax, to the rural areas? Fuck man, its crazy! People really respect that you come see them and actually spend time with them. After the set I like chillin' and mingling with the crowd because they appreciate it, they really do.

The main high point right now is The Elements League! A lot of the battles in the league have huge turnouts, which is good! I'm glad that the TEL acts as a sort of medium in Hali. It really grabs peoples' attention and gets them saying things like, "yo man, there's a hip-hop scene poppin' off in Atlantic Canada and it's pretty dope!". Hopefully through that, people will become more and more willing to check out shows and help out the scene.

We actually had the cd release party for Keys To The Studio not too long ago, and a lot of The Elements League crowd was there for that. From that fact alone, more and more people are beginning to recognize The BPU. About once a week when I'm walkin down the street, someone will stop me and say, "ohh, your Textstyles from that BPU crew!". That is what I think is gonna help our local scene: events like The Elements League and the battles at Lifted that gets people talking.

Luke James: Speaking of battles, do you have any interest in that? If so, is there anybody out there that you might want to call out?

Textstyles: Hahaha! Well, speaking of battles, I've been challenged once or twice from the same crew. Most people don't know the whole story behind that ish, but the people who need to know "the truth", know. As for the rest...well, this is a need to know basis, and you ain't need to know, hahaha!

Battling really ain't my scene - written or freestyled. Written battling to me isn't pointless, but when there are so many projects slated for release in one year and im involved majorly in two of them, I just don't have the time to take two weeks off to write for a battle and then memorize it all. Sure, being active in battles can boost your fame a little, but I got too much to do as it is and I don't need something else throw onto that pile.

Luke James: You know that for the sake of the readers and myself I have no choice but to ask about the dude(s) that want to battle you, right? So for the sake of possible clarification, what's the deal there?

Textstyles: If you read Halifamous (.com), you probably know. If not, let's just say this: it's a crew that used to be down with BPU, but then started the hating game once they decided that they didnt get enough love from our camp. Honestly, I ain't really worried 'cuz from what I been hearin' they have enough problems in their own camp to worry about. Besides, Hali is too small to start beef because you end up seein' the people you beef with all the time. It's stupid, really.

Luke James: Sounds fair enough! Hopefully it's nothing that ends up getting out of hand. Perhaps there could be a camp vs. camp battle in the future? Just throwing that idea out there!

Textstyles: Hahaha! Maybe - you never know!

Luke James: It's good to keep 'em guessing! That could be a big thing for not only The Elements League, but for the whole local scene as well.

So, before we put the nail in this coffin, is there anything else that you'd like to add?

Textstyles: All I really wanna say is that people need to keep their heads up. Not everbody knows the moves that the other guy is making so be wise about what you say. People are doing big things in Hali, and a lot of them a sleeping giants, you know? There are a few crews about to explode this year. At first glance it might seem like they aren't makin moves at all, but just look out 'cuz you might get hit with it! KEEP YOUR HEAD UP EVERYONE! PEACE!

To keep up to date with all of the action coming out of the BPU camp, plug yourself into www.bpu902.com or www.myspace.com/bpu902 ! BPU -Keys to the Studio is now available!

- Red Matter.com Luke James


S-Class Presents:All About the Music Vol 1 (2006)
Ambition & Textstyles Presents:Got that Ambition Vol 1 (2006)
The Confidentialz Presents:Enclosed Documents Vol 1 (2006)
Jambition-48 Hours to Kill E.P (2007)
BackPackers Union:Keys to the Studio (2007)
Red Matter Presents:Futuristic Money Playa's Vol 1 (2008)
DJ Little Row Presents:Spesh K The Pre-Game Show (2008)
Jus-Broads and Ends (2008)
Red Matter Presents:Futuristic Money Playa's Vol 2 (2008)



The Past few years have been an blur of sort for TextStyles Moving up from small Cafe shows to sold out club nights. From selling 100 copies of a Mixtape to thousands of Albums internationally. The Co-Founder of BackPackers Union that originally started in Nova Scotia (902) has now Grown in size reaching half way across the country spawning BackPacker union artist's in (Ontario 905,416. Quebec 514. New Brunswick 506).

TextStyles taking his ventures to the next level by starting to work with Real Talk Ent's DJ Little Row Who has worked with Hot Rod of G-Unit,BloodRaw & Roccett of CTE/DEF JAM,Khia Shine of Universal and JC of Bad Boy records. To push further Text has started on his debut album slated for release in 2009 with features from Diplomat records 40.Cal and hand picked by Camron, Tom Gist. Aswell Features from westcoast finest SpitFiya, R&B's most underated singer Dion.

Always the person to find new talent TextStyles is now in the development stages of creating a Record label for new artist who have not had the chances of working with bigger artist and getting a professional album heard.

Kings of the East 3 Break dance competition(Palace Nightclub) (Halifax,Nova Scotia)
Urban Culture 101 (Manhattan Nightclub) (Moncton,New Brunswick)
Duplex Boxing day Edition (Hells Kitchen) (Halifax,Nova Scotia)
Set it Straight 2 on 2 Break dance competition (Milford,Nova Scotia)
Sam the record man Anniversary (Gingers) (Halifax,Nova Scotia)
Spring Break Blowout (Calicos) (Truro,Nova Scotia)
BackPackers Union release party (The Pavilion) (Halifax,Nova Scotia)
jambition Release party (One World) (Halifax,Nova Scotia)
Atlantic Canadian Urban Music Fest (Halifax,Nova Scotia)
Music Nova Scotia Week (Antigonish,Nova Scotia)
East Coast Music Awards Show case (Plaza nightclub) (Dartmouth,Nova Scotia)
Set It Straight 2 on 2 dvd Release party (New Glasgow,Nova Scotia)

Shared the stage with/
Jay Bizzy (Urbnet)
Spesh k (BPU 905)
Mic Boyd(Halflife)
Jordan Croucher
Nayles (BPU 506)
Littles The General (Offense)
Sko Shun-Tiez (Homiez Prodcutions)
DJ Serious
DJ Pat Styles
DJ Y-Rush (BPU 902)
Breakdance crew Supernaturalz
Lenny D