Above: Photo via bandcamp.com
By Arts Editor Brendan Barlow
Released October 1, and handed to me in public outside The Vault Cafe on an actual cassette, Nowstalgic is the debut release from Nanaimo rappers Teenwolf and Static. It is an 11-song album produced right here at The Chamber studio right down by the CHLY headquarters. The album is presently available for whatever you can pay on teenwolfstatic.ca, and also found on a wonderfully nostalgic red cassette tape.
There’s plenty to like about Nowstalgic, not least of which is the pleasant lack of blatant and outward misogyny, attitudes that can sometimes be found in some genres of hip-hop. Teenwolf and Static both focus on relatable issues that many of us face, like being broke, trying to make rent, and the struggle of trying to combine doing what you love with actually making a living while doing so. There is a real sense of honesty and reality present in the songs.
It may seem a strange thing to praise, but Teenwolf and Static are white rappers who sound like white rappers. There is a tendency in hip-hop to put on a “voice”—making the artists sound more “hip-hop” (which usually means “black”). For a perfect example of this, listen to any song by Iggy Azalea, Riff-Raff, and even Eminem (particularly early in his career). I’d compare the sound of this album to other Canadian hip-hop acts like Classified or even Sweatshop Union, which I genuinely don’t know whether or not is an insult, but it’s certainly not meant to be. This honest representation of who they are and what they stand for does make the album much more enjoyable and fun to listen to.
While Nowstalgic isn’t exactly treading any new ground, or making for a revolutionary piece of hip-hop, their self-awareness and their clear love of the craft is on display in every aspect of the production. It’s a great sounding album that comes off as being honest and manages to avoid problematic elements sometimes found in the genre. The album is free, or at a price you choose, and there isn’t a reason I can think of not to check this out if you’re looking for some new local hip-hop.
Brendan is a horror-loving, left-leaning, feminist presently studying at Vancouver Island University in the Bachelor of Social Work Program. He has been a lover of all things arts and entertainment for as long as he can remember, with a particular fondness for horror films and other spooky media. He lives in Nanaimo with his partner Melissa, and their cat Adler.