March 23, 2016
Within the last few years, Montreal has solidified its spot as a key player in Canada’s emerging rap scene. Leading the movement is a three-piece trio from Montreal’s Litte Burgundy neighbourhood called The Posterz. The crew consists of rappers Husser and Kris the $pirit, as well as the group’s producer, Joey Sherrett.
The Posterz have been foundational to the new wave of Montreal rap. The francophone city differentiates itself from the classic Drake “Toronto” brand of rap with its own regional sound that’s best described as “urban jungle.” It’s a breed of music defined by gritty aggressive bars and progressive new wave production. It’s a juxtaposition of sounds that sounds very much like an urban jungle; a high-stakes survival of the fittest playing out in Quebec’s largest urban city centre.
The Posterz met one another in 2010 at Community Center in Montreal’s Little Burgundy neighbourhood. Joey Sherrett – a producer who makes beats using Logic Pro X—made the beat for the group’s first ever song. Joey had a friend named Spider who brought Joey’s beats to the basement studio of the Community Centre where Kris and Husser used to record as MCs. Kris discovered Joey’s beat, did a verse over top of it, and asked Husser to hop on the track, as well. This eventually became the crew’s first song, “Fresh Fade.” The group formed under the name The Poster Boiiz, but eventually shortened their name to The Posterz prior to the release of their first single, “The Bass Song.”
When asked about their early musical influences, each member of The Posterz had a very specific “aha moment” that prompted a love of music. Kris said that his love of hip-hop stems from an early introduction to Tupac and Notorious B.I.G.: “I fell in love with music at 11 years old; watching my old cousins rap and hearing Biggie and Tupac. I [loved] the energy. The tracks that really got me into it was Biggie’s “Come On” and Tupac’s “Watcha Gonna Do.”
Joey’s love of beats first came from an introduction to pop music: “[I] first fell in love with music when my Aunt played me pop music for the first time. I remember hearing the rhythms and melodies flying around, and it was ear candy [and] magic to me. [My] second time falling for music was [when I heard] Missy Elliot’s “Get Your Freak On.” At the time I thought the artists made all the music…but yeah, Timbaland [made that beat].”
Husser credits his love of music to a cult classic 1999 R&B song by Sisquo called “Thong Song.” As Husser explains, “I heard the thong song and my pelvis started thrusting uncontrollably.” That was the moment when Husser fell in love with music.
In 2011, The Posterz locked in their first ever live show as openers for Bad Boy signee, Texas rapper MGK. Joey admits that they only got to perform three songs but it was a milestone moment for the group. Several years later in October 2013, the group dropped their first video for “The Bass Song.”
According to Husser, the idea for the song came to him in the shower one day so he decided to roll with it. He beatboxed his idea on to his phone and brought the audio to Joey, who then made the actual beat for the song: “We had like nine other videos before “The Bass Song” and never put none of ‘em out… quality control,” said Husser.
While the guys were in the studio working on “The Bass Song,” they decided to storyboard a video for the track. After previously unsuccessful experiences with videographers, The Posterz chose more of a do-it-yourself approach to the video: “We opted to storyboard it ourselves because we had had some annoying video experiences with things turning out corny and whatnot. So we wanted to make sure the vision was crystal clear before embarking on the actual video,” said Joey.
The video itself was directed by Aponia Ent, and features a classic Joey beat filled with bouncy synths, wobbly horns, and a hard-snapping drumline. The video intros with a home video sketch of a guy named Felix blasting “The Bass Song” in his room. His roommate storms into the room and yells at him: “Felix! Turn the f**king bass down!” When his roommate leaves, Felix walks over to his Clairtone boom box and cranks up the volume on the song.
Funnily enough, that introduction scene is exactly what The Posterz have done to make their mark on the rap game. While so many up-and-coming Canadian rappers try to emulate the likes of Drake with R&B style hooks and softer bars, The Posterz have —more or less —ignored all precedents by turning the bass up. Admittedly, the guys don’t even want to conform to the “urban jungle” classification of their sound.
“There is no Montreal Sound. We sound like Posterz. We’re from Montreal, but we’re international. We’re an earth sound. We’re from earth, not Montreal,” said Joey.
After the release of “The Bass Song,” The Posterz dropped their Starships and Dark Tints EP, which garnered a surprising amount of media attention. In 2014, Huffington Post named them as one of the “Top 10 Artists to Follow.” The Posterz also started appearing in major publications such as Noisey, Complex, The Montreal Gazette, and more. “[We] didn’t expect anything, so [it] was pretty cool to see people trippin’ out over that project,” said Joey. “The songs were already mad old to us; we just wanted to finally put something out.”
Along with the release of the EP came a slew of comparisons that all too often plague the up-and-coming rappers of Canada. Since Canadian rap is still in its infant phase, people like to compare Canadian artists to American artists because they are so unfamiliar with the Canadian rap scene—it’s like diners comparing frog legs to chicken because that is all they know and the only thing their palates are familiar with. In the case of The Posterz, the group was liked to a Canadian equivalent of East Coast rap collectives Pro Era and The Underachievers.
Although Kris appreciated the positive response, he admits that he didn’t see the comparison at all. Joey was slightly more critical of the comparisons. “We’re nothing like Pro Era or The Underachievers,” he said. “I feel like people just say that ‘cause of the way we look—without listening to the music.”
At the end of 2014, The Posterz went on a two-week tour in France and Switzerland, which marked a major breakthrough for a group so fresh on to the scene. According to Husser, the crew’s first show in France stands out as one of the most memorable shows he has ever performed, to date. “A fan stole my jacket on the stage during a classic Posterz mosh pit [and] I think Jo’s glasses also got took off the DJ table. So, someone’s got some valuable Posterz memorabilia right now…”
In October 2015, The Posterz released their highly anticipated six-track Junga EP. This project was one of the defining bodies of work for Montreal’s rap scene as it introduced listeners to the urban underbelly of the city. “Junga is the city. The concrete jungle. It’s a concrete forest. And the projects is about Husser and Spirit’s lives in that,” explains Joseph.
The project campaigned with the video release for the first song on the EP, “Bulalay.” The song itself was noteworthy because no samples were used on the entire song. Every part of the work—from the vocals to the beat—was either programmed, sung, or performed. The beat is carried by a repetitive chant: “Bulalay! Bulalay! Lay! Lay!”—which was actually recorded by Joey on his laptop while he was in bed.
Using a budget of only $2000, The Posterz enlisted the help of their friend Vinoth Varatharajan and—once again—opted for a do-it-yourself approach to the planning of their video. The video was entirely shot in Montreal and was arguably one of the most polished Canadian rap video releases of 2015. The guys simply dressed up in different outfits and got Vinoth to film the video at different locations around the city. It was a very simple concept but the video is now already nearing 100,000 views on YouTube.
Although the Junga EP was only recently released, The Posterz are already making major moves for 2016. The guys just got back from Austin, Texas where they performed at SXSW—one of the most important international music festivals for up-and-coming artists. The group also recently announced they are working on their first ever full-length album, as well as accompanying visuals for more of the songs off the Junga EP.
Each member of the crew is also working on his own solo body of work. Husser already has an extensive solo catalogue of music he’s released, including a freestyle over ScHoolboy Q’s Mike WiLL Made It-produced “What They Want” and a video for an original song titled “Name Another N!99@.”
“We’re musicians. We each have our own voice,” said Husser. “Things need to be expressed. Plus people gotta see what we offer, individually.”