MC Abdominal - Feel The Burn
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
The biographical information on his MySpace is frustratingly limited to the single line "I rap & do things" - peculiar for an otherwise articulate MC.
"It's not like I'm being intentionally elusive," Abs, as he's nicknamed, laughs from his Toronto base. "I've done some interviews... If people come to me, then I have nothing to hide, but I'm not really out there in the city broadcasting intimate details of my life. To a certain extent, I also like the music to be able to speak for itself."
Indeed, Abs is happy to talk up his solo debut, Escape From The Pigeon Hole.
As it happened, Bernstein never set out to MC. "I started off as a skateboarder, first and foremost. I was an avid skateboarder for over a decade. I was just skating around downtown Toronto pretty much every day. The soundtrack to that was basically split [into] 50 percent hip hop, 50 percent punk-rock - and then I just slowly started gravitating more towards the hip hop side of things.
"I started out being a fan. It's not like I woke up on a given day and was like, Yeah, I wanna do this - I wanna be a professional rapper.
"I started rapping along to a lot of my favourite artists and then just naturally started dabbling myself more as a hobby. Lo and behold, 14 years later, I'm still doing it now professionally."
Abdominal's monicker is derived from a running joke - what he refers to as "a slightly embarrassing little anecdote" - about his six-pack with his original ally, DJ Serious. During a gig Bernstein lifted his T-shirt to wipe the sweat from his brow and a female in the audience yelled out "nice abs!". Serious couldn't stop teasing him. "It kinda stuck," Abs says.
The MC cut an early LP with Toronto's DJ Fase, demonstrating a predilection for food themes. But he's best known for collaborating extensively with DJ Format (they even played the Good Vibrations bill together). Both beatmakers contribute to Escape, as does another pal, Cut Chemist. Young Einstein of Ugly Duckling fame is responsible for the single Pedal Pusher.
Abs hopes that, in approaching Escape, hip hop heads abandon any preconceived notions of his style. He's not a "food rapper". "'Cause it was my first solo record, it was my chance to show a more complete picture of what I'm all about as an artist," Abs says.
Strangely, despite its cultural ties with the US, Canada's rappers have rarely penetrated the international circuit - and they're not helped by the rock-centricism at home.
Abdominal expects this to change as the artists grow in confidence. "There's always been this long-standing inferiority complex - we're in the shadow of this cultural giant with the States in general.
"I think for a lot of years Canadian hip hop was trying to find its own identity. It was just churning out watered-down versions of American - and New York - stuff.
"Now people are starting to come through with their own little take on hip hop. It's starting to get noticed a bit more."
Escape From The Pigeon Hole is out through Inertia.