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Swollen Members - The Upcoming Erection

Author: Jane Stabler
Thursday, 8 November 2007
Canada may not be the first place you think of when you hear the words ‘hip hop’, but Swollen Members positively swell with pride over their homeland. 3D’s Jane Stabler talked to the clever dicks who brought hip hop to – and from – the north.

For many, hip hop is synonymous with the ’90s. The explosion that introduced the sound to the world was dominated by G-funk, Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg – all of whom became household names – and the proliferation intensified. Hell, even white people gave it a shot. Amidst all this, up in Canada, Swollen Members were beginning their own hip hop journey, which has now well outlasted just one decade.

Group member Prevail acknowledges that the hip hop landscape has changed a lot since Swollen Members first started doing their thing. “It’s been interesting and it’s obviously been very exciting as well, especially for Swollen Members. Now, for the first time in a couple of years I feel hyped – the culture is coming back. I think the market got hit really hard with different products and now it’s going back. People who may not be educated on hip hop are now being educated. People wouldn’t say [Canada is] a focal point for hip hop. But now it’s a global market, and we want to shed some inspiration for kids coming from where we’re from.”

Where they’re from is Vancouver, and, hailing from Canada, you could be forgiven for thinking that Swollen Members may have struggled a little in the credibility stakes when they first started out. The boys made sure they paid their early hip hop dues in the States to avoid the backlash. “I honestly think in [the early] Swollen Member days it worked out differently,” Prevail recalls, “because we’d been spending time establishing ourselves in California and learning the tricks of the trade. We used to freestyle all the time in California so people knew us. We had some validity down south before we took off – it went in reverse really.”

Since then, the Swollen crew have won global accolades for their innovation and style. The group’s tour schedule is both hectic and far-reaching, with the Elements tour soon on their agenda. With the act described as a representation of the defining aspects of global hip hop, Prevail is slightly lost for words by the praise. “I hadn’t heard that mantra being attached to the tour and we’re flattered. It’s funny, right now all of us are living in a house and [we] wake up in the morning... well, the afternoon... and we make songs… and having something like that said on the other side of the world is incredible.”

With their new album Beautiful Death Machine due for release next year, the tour Down Under about to kick off, and affiliations with the likes of Rock Steady Crew, there is no denying that these boys from the north have skills that will pay off – but they’re not the only ones who’ll benefit financially. “Last year I threw my party at a theatre and it [was] a charity event for a children’s hospital. That’s why we’re making tunes, quite honestly: to spread good vibes. My momma raised the nicest skate boy in the world!”

WHO: Swollen Members
WHAT: Play the Metro
WHEN: Saturday 1 December