The Get By
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The Get By

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"The Get By Talk “Let Go” Album, Group Dynamics and Day Jobs"

Toronto, ON – On October 28th, The Get By released their debut album Let Go. The album offers an easy, cool throwback old school vibe complimented with wit, social commentary and confident “do-you” pronouncements. Let Go features clean production complete with live instrumentation from the group’s Mantis and Pangea as well as Rich Kidd. Guest appearances on the album include acclaimed Canadian artists Shad, Tona, Saukrates, Richie Hennessey, Promise and Tanika Charles. I got a chance to catch up with the group after their appearance inside Rivoli at Droppin’ Knowledge.

Although Mantis and Justis (both emcees/producers) each experienced some success as solo artists, the duo, backed by DJ/producer Pangea, just fit together. Their chemistry is like boys from the neighbourhood and it shows; in person, on stage and on the record. The three grew up together in Kitchener/Waterloo and prior to this album, all relocated to Toronto.



Wearing jeans and t-shirts, The Get By are average, regular joes. No bling, no flash, their anti-brand is a brand in itself. They get by and they get it. They are in tune with who they are as individuals and as a group, socially and musically. On one hand they don’t take themselves too seriously, on the other their ambition is absolute. Their music speaks to the common man hustling for a big dream, whatever that dream is. Their sound exists somewhere between “real hip hop” and a pop edge and they remind you that that’s okay:

“Please don’t place me in your pigeon hole/Hip Hop’s going taupe but I’m so indigo/I mean I still bleed the culture with a crimson glow/ But I am not a slave to the image. I am in control/…Keep the ego low I don’t front like I’m king shit/Ball caps and black jeans, trench coats with wing tips.” -“Stereotypes”

“The underdog status is something I’ve become cool with/Y’all stay inside the lines I’m colored paper and glue sticks/…I keep the money going out quicker than it’s comin’ in – that’s the lifestyle/And it’s probably 4 am before I’m lights out/…worried bout tomorrow but I’m living in the moment/Never turn a deaf ear to good advice and I was told if I’mma do something than I should fuckin’ own it.” - “Music Is For Love”

Although in full-chill mode, Justis, Mantis and DJ Pangea Delphi of The Get By were eager to speak with me. Their passion for music and the grind was evident in their tone, expressiveness and acute awareness of the music business.

HipHopCanada : You are known for bridging the gap between the real (quote-on-quote) Hip Hop and the escapism of a more pop record, or a pop feeling – was it a conscious decision to bridge that gap?


Mantis: I think it’s great to be accessible – the last thing you want to do it alienate anybody. Any listener is a great listener and we appreciate that immensely. We really make records for ourselves first. We’re not goin’ into it saying we need to hit that market.. That really doesn’t matter, that’s more of an after effect. If they like it – great. If they don’t – whatever.

Justis: We try to make records that we enjoy and know our peers enjoy. I think we stay true to what we believe is the foundation of Hip Hop … you can do that without sounding dated. You don’t have to sound like 1994 to “keep it real’.

HipHopCanada: That’s a key point, new records that are deemed more real often sound dated, how do you master an old school sound that’s still fresh?


Mantis: More than anything it reflects our taste. On any given day you can catch us playing a Lil Brother record to a Three Six Mafia record, a Black Sheep record.

Justis: Good music is good music. We don’t label it ourselves. Not like “yo let’s bump a South record, let’s bump some Can-con”. It’s whatever’s relevant to us. From a timeline [perspective] it doesn’t even matter. You can bump Drake, u can bump James brown.

Mantis: I’m an adult now. I don’t have to put everything in a lil’ box. We all listen to different kinds of music. You don’t have to have that boom bap time signature to call it Hip Hop. It doesn’t have to be just samples. We incorporate a lot of live musicians and a lot of synths n stuff like that and I don’t think that’s straying from what people consider Hip Hop. A lot of great records came out after 1990. Keep it moving. Music’s getting better, technology’s getting better, you need to embrace it.

Pangea: Hip Hop is one of the only cultures that pigeon-holes itself as much as we do. Like “I listen to underground” or “I’m about the Golden era” or “F— all that, give me trap music”. Just play music and like whatever’s good for you I guess.



HipHopCanada : How do you choose which cuts make it on the record:

Mantis: We definitely had a timeline so we couldn’t take forever. We were graciously funded by Factor. Going into it we had a basic idea of what we wanted to do and we just had to execute it.

Justis: We just kept recording, basically picked our favourite songs. We didn’t really go in with too much of a vision we just wanted to do something that’s honest and represented us well that we thought people could connect with and make music that speaks to people instead of down to them.


HipHopCanada : Justis, Mantis, you each had solo records, how is coming together? Any ego?

Justis: I don’t really like Mike (Mantis) all that much (laughs). On my record, Mike was all over it with production, We’re always hypeman-ing on each other so it’s a natural progression. I prefer the collective thinking.

Mantis: Less sixteens to each have to write. We’re lazy as f—!

Pangea: I’ll tell ‘em when shit’s whack. And I know they would do the same. Its more ideas. Its three minds coming together for one purpose.

HipHopCanada: Do you feel the vibe is much different in Toronto than back home in Kitchener/Waterloo? Especially growing up; Toronto was called the “Screwface Capital of the World”:

JUSTIS: Not at all, we were always here. We never thought of Toronto that way.

MANTIS: If you sucked, yeah people might get screwface. If you didn’t, than people would probably enjoy it. We have been blessed and embraced.

HipHopCanada: Your records often have the DJ cuts and scratches. Is that a conscious effort to include the DJ in the record for the live stage show or it’s really about incorporating the DJ on the record itself?


MANTIS: A – we love the sound. B – that’s why [Pangea’s] in the group. The DJ is an integral part of Hip Hop

JUSTIS: We gotta pay him for something!

MANTIS : Not try’na be biased, but if you’re a Hip Hop group and you don’t have a live band then you need a DJ

PANGEA: And I know when to drop out and step back and let them rap. It just adds another flavor in the pot.


HipHopCanada: You’re all producers in the group. Why branch out and why branch out now, to other producers like Rich Kidd?


MANTIS: Most of the collabs on the album, we knew them from years and years of shows and events, we kicked it. We were interested in what they were doing and they were interested in what we were doing. So we didn’t even have to reach out… We do production for outside the group too but we’re not focused on that now. Wouldn’t be fair selling beats to people after it’s gone through The Get By ringer first.

HipHopCanada : You talk about the struggles of being an everyday person with big dreams. Now, you get by, when do you get there? Is there a marker for when you have established that your dreams are realized?


Pangea: $3 million cash

Justis: And a Bentley! Nah. As an artist, don’t you always want to attain more and get better and keep making good music? It would be nice to gain more fans and notoriety and I could use a lil’ – (coughs) -money.

Mantis: The day you think you have peaked at anything is the day that thing is done, so no point in thinking that way. Even the greatest of what they did, the Miles Davis’, the James Browns, I’m sure until the end they were still finding new ways of listening and interpreting music. There’s no end to music.

Pangea: There’ll never be a Got There.

Justis: A milestone may be quitting our respective jobs and doing [music] full time. Doing this for a living is the goal right now.

Mantis: We’re not try’na fool anybody. No one makes money in Hip Hop unless you’re one of the six or seven dudes that tour nationally and make money. Don’t kid yourself. No one makes money in Hip Hop in Canada unless they’re touring or producing.

HipHopCanada : So what is your day job?


Justis: I work at a record store, Cosmos records.

Mantis: I work at furniture store right now, I manage distribution, but I’ve had a lot of get-by jobs.

Pangea: I’m a race-car driver and a professional astronaut.


HipHopCanada: So when you’re not outta space with Kanye West or doing music, what would you be doing?

Pangea: A baseball player.

Mantis: I could go for being a really respected journalist – write for the Globe and Mail. (Everyone laughs)

Justis: I wanna play X-Box professionally and have Rockstar sponsor me.


HipHopCanada: Any shout outs?

Mantis: Anyone who’s listening, following, everyone on the record, HipHopCanada.com. Thank you! - HipHop Canada


"The Get By - Let Go - Album Review"

Good chemistry is hard to come by, but spend a little time with the Get By (rappers Justis and Mantis, and DJ Pangea) or listen to their new record, Let Go, and you get a feel for the creative potential. Over a decade after meeting each other while attending high school in Kitchener-Waterloo, ON and honing their skills individually, the Get By decided to pool their resources. The result is a polished first attempt that feels inspired by the everyman simplicity of Little Brother, with a uniquely homegrown bent. A number of guests, from Rich Kidd to Saukrates to Tanika Charles to Shad, enhance what the core trio do well: fluid, engaging back-and-forths over crisp, interesting production. Charming references ("I'm Canadian, shouts to TBTBT") and altruistic exchanges pair well with the two rappers' ability to craft expressive, memorable hooks. Pangea bridges DJ traditionalism, like sample-freaking and scratching, with synth-y melodies, resulting in a contemporary sound that no one else is really doing right now or not as well, at least. Let Go's beating heart is "Faster," a pulsing Rich Kidd production flowing with heady vocals from Brassmunk's Richie Hennessey.

You've moved since, but what was the hip-hop scene like in K-W while you were growing up?
Mantis: Believe it or not, when we were in high school, the scene was pretty vibrant. A lot of people who hold some stature in Toronto's scene grew up there and came here to make an impact. But there were always outlets and things happening.

Justis: The Kitchener scene was thriving for a while and there were a lot of people we were lucky enough to know and help us out. But like all small towns, people who have bigger aspirations pack up and leave.

Pangea: And the schools ? University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier ? are there, so guys like Shad and JD Era were going to school at the time and they've both done pretty big things. It helped provide some visibility; it is a small city but it's not miniature, and obviously its proximity to Toronto helps.

Why did you guys decide to come together after working solo?
Justis: I had my own album and so did Mantis, but ever since we started doing music we were doing it together, so about a year-and-a-half ago we decided to put a name on it. I think we just spend too much time together and thought it was kind of weird, so we might as well do something with it.

Mantis: Whether it was a Mantis show or a Justis show, we would be each other's hype men and Pangea was always DJing. And we produced for each other, so it was always in-house anyway. It was just logical to Voltron the whole thing and do the record as a unit.

Pangea: It's a bit different because there's no one captain to the ship anymore, so there's a lot more agreeing on things that has to go on. We have to ask each other a little more and be patient.

There are a lot of features on here. Did you plan it that way?
Mantis: It was not premeditated at all. We'd do shows and meet people and some would reach out. Shad, we knew from K-W, and had worked with him before, so that just came naturally. Rich Kidd, we're good friends with. It just kind of worked out.

Justis: We were really lucky to be embraced by these people, especially as the new guys, the boys outside of the circle.

Pangea: The records also weren't built around features. We'd make a record and be like, "You know who'd sound really good on this…?" and then just reach out, so it felt a bit more organic.
(Independent) - Exclaim!


Discography

Let Go - Album - 2011
The Get By - EP - 2010

Photos

Bio

For years now hip-hop has slowly been segregating itself. Today, the divide between fans of mainstream, more marketable hip-hop, and those claiming to be "true school heads" has never been as large. Caught between these 2 hip-hop alter egos is a generation of people who can appreciate the positive aspect of both, but are disillusioned with mainstream hip-hop's lack of substance and its disposability. At the same time, these fans are also disheartened with the attitude and exclusiveness of the underground. Paving a new path from the middle of this crossroads is The Get By.

2 emcees, 1 DJ, and a nation of hip-hop lovers left in limbo. The Get By is the amalgamation of Justis, Mantis, and Pangea Delphi. For years now each of these artists has been perfecting their respective crafts as solo artists. Fresh off the releases of their acclaimed solo albums "Just Is" and "Still Life", Justis and Mantis decided to combine their efforts for stage shows. Recruiting renowned Radio and club DJ Pangea, the trio very quickly earned a reputation for having one of the most entertaining, and energetic live sets in Canada, with the captivating, honest and innovative music to match.

It is this reputation that has already had The Get By across Canada sharing stages with the likes of Afrika Bambaataa,Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek (Reflection Eternal), Asher Roth, People Under The Stairs, Rapper Big Pooh (of little brother fame), Kardinal Offishal, Classified, Shad K, DJ Red Alert, Scratch from the legendary Roots and many more.

As solo artists Justis' “Just Is” was an international release from Do Right! Music. The album was successful in Canada, charted on the earshot! Top 20 of 2008 for hip-hop on Canada wide college radio, and gained an even larger following in markets such as Japan, Germany, France and the UK. Mantis' “Still Life” has also made waves across Canada and had singles charting in the top 10 on many American college radio stations.

The two Emcee/Producers and their DJ have been long time friends, collaborators and have always shared the same view of Hip Hop. And at long last, they have decided the time was right to realize that vision. On October 28, 2011, The Get By released their debut album Let Go. Featuring production from Mantis himself, along with Toronto's Rich Kidd, and guest appearances from acclaimed Canadian artists Shad, Saukrates, Tona, Richie Hennessey, Tanika Charles, Promise, and others. The album is a testament to both the blue-collar lives that we all live, along with the blue-sky ambitions of making it someday.

Fresh as a new shirt and cooler then the other side of the pillow, The Get By is all of us.