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Grand Analog

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Album Review

Canadian hip-hop will probably never get the respect it deserves south of the 49th parallel, at least as long as there's a segment of the American pop audience that remembers the atrocious white rapper of the early '90s named Snow, possibly the only rapper with less street cred than Kevin Federline. (A licky boom boom down indeed.) That's mostly a shame for the United States, though, because collectives like Winnipeg's Grand Analog are releasing hip-hop albums as musically rich and lyrically inventive as any of the best underground rappers in America's cities. Musically, Calligraffiti has a loose-limbed, jazzy feel reminiscent of vintage A Tribe Called Quest and mid-'90s De La Soul mixed with the live instruments vibe of the Roots, and leader Odario Williams' mellow, low-speed flow emphasizes his clever, carefully constructed lyrics. Songs like the spacy "Around This Town," with its whistling hook and instantly memorable sung chorus, blend dub production techniques and pop hooks in a way that showcases both. The clear album highlight, however, is "Mixtapes: The Slow Ride," a slow jam about the romantic powers of a well-chosen flow of tunes for a girl who "respects the analog." It's a hip-hop song that even middle-aged Nick Hornby fans can get behind enthusiastically, and that applies to the rest of this expertly constructed, fiercely intelligent album as well.


Formed: 2006 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s

The brainchild of Winnipeg, Manitoba, MC, singer, and producer Odario Williams, Grand Analog is an acclaimed reggae/dub-driven hip-hop project that has served as a conduit for Williams' more eclectic inclinations. Williams, also a member of Canadian rap group Mood Ruff, actually first put together Grand Analog as a genre-bending rock band in 2002, but this first incarnation of GA never took off and collapsed shortly after its creation. Four years later, Williams restarted the project, assembling...
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Calligraffiti, Grand Analog
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