With a quarter-century of rap behind the tie, Aly Ndiaye, alias Webster, can without embarrassment claim the status of veteran. But it does not turn the back at the action so far. In a concern of transmission of his expertise, the rapper historian sign in these days a manual on how to write hip-hop in which he revisits his own golf course. The eyes turned toward the future, it will launch at the same time an album steeped in jazz that has allowed him to immerse ourselves in the writing out of his comfort zone.
Sitting at a table in a café Limoilou, Webster will use a few times the word “old” in the course of our interview. “In rap, there is aging in dog years. It’s been 25 years that I do that, I have 40 years. It is as if I had 100 years in the universe of hip-hop!” imagera-t-it at a time. “I really feel privileged to always be there”, he is added also. True that he has seen other since the 90’s. True, also, that his journey has necessarily been marked by ups and downs. It is precisely in a hollow wave that he has found the impetus to start the double project presented these days.
Webster does not hide it, he had expectations for his previous album, In the shadow of the leaves, appeared in 2013. These have not been met. “I had a small distance in relation to the rap. I had a huge professional disappointment, it was full of things that I tanned,” says the one that some have described as a rapper nerd.
Its questions on his practice led him to undertake what was to become In the shade of the leaf – Manual writing hip-hop, which brings together an overview of his career, a distillation of the techniques of writing rap, and a series of analyses of texts, drawn from his repertoire. The goal : to democratize and add value to the rap as a literary genre outside the context of hip-hop that can be daunting to some — “it is a style which is dense and which will quickly. If you don’t have the codes, it is difficult for you to absorb,” he noted — and put down on paper a kind of oral tradition to their own item
“This is something that we have done for decades in an automatic way. I had this desire to transmit this knowledge was disappearing in the universe of hip-hop in the new generations who are not necessarily interested in the side literary of rap,” explains Webster.
In passing, it touches on some of the episodes rather heated — rivalry (the word is weak!) which opposed its formation, Limoilou Starz, the collective 83 of the South Shore — and outlines the contribution of the rappers who have shaped the local scene. “I wanted to perpetuate the actors of the movement hip-hop in the city of Quebec,” confirms that which has not, however, wanted to dwell on the legal problems of some of them.
“I didn’t want to distract from the purpose of this book, avance-t-il. The goal is to make it a manual. I want it to be in the schools, I want parents to buy. If I start to talk about who has been in prison, we will focus just on it, so that there is a whole work to understand and all a literary movement to focus on.”
Through her writing more “academic”, the rapper and speaker has taken the taste to the music. The urge to reconnect with the studio came to him, but not at any price. “I said to myself : “You know what? I’m going to do a different album, as I want to do it, without concern for radio, and even without a desire to please the hip hop community.””
The rapper Webster and the bassist Mathieu Rancourt of the group 5 For Trio.
THE SUN, ERICK LABBÉ
Jazz fans, Webster asked the group 5 For Trio. Accustomed to working on texts from the music, it gave carte blanche to his accomplices. “I found it interesting the fact that they don’t have a background in hip-hop. I wanted to get out of my zone,” says the rapper.
“We have always made the music a little underground, and with a fairly limited basis,” adds bassist Mathieu Rancourt. It was a challenge and super interesting. Especially that he said to us : “Do your music and I’ll adapt.” He has proposed to us that without constraint.”
Valérie Clio lends her voice to two songs, of which this Summertime in a nod to Gershwin. And if the rapper committed to the opinions shooting a few arrows (on Stage), a feeling resolutely positive emerge from the whole. In his own words, Webster has abandoned the “terrorythme” — “I feel like I just pass on the negative energy”, he said of his texts, more punch — to build on the constructive.
“If I want to contribute to change society, I can’t just want to destroy and be angry, recalls Webster. You need to build. This reflection led me to tell me that if I want to contribute, it must be done positively. And what is the basis of society, it is the human being. It is the human being that we must change if we want to change society…”
Webster will provide a benefit at the House of literature on the 28th of February.
The SLO on the 1st of march
Invited to the Salon du livre de l’outaouais (from 28 February to 3 march), Webster, will speak about his book on the 1st of march, at 17: 30, on the Stage, Jacques-Poirier. He will talk with the moderator, Boris Proulx, in front of public.
While the show “SLAV” by Robert Lepage raised controversy last summer, Aly Ndiaye has denounced the fact that a play about slavery is almost exclusively worn by white performers.
THE SUN, ERICK LABBÉ
CULTURAL APPROPRIATION : “THIS IS NOT MY SUBJECT.”
While the show SLAV Robert Lepage raised controversy last summer, Aly Ndiaye has publicly took the floor to denounce the fact that a play about slavery is almost exclusively worn by white performers. In the aftermath, the rapper and historian, went so far as to leave the C. A. Diamond, theatre of place D’youville, which will welcome the company of Lepage, Ex Machina. More than six months later, the debate over cultural appropriation has he really taken place?
“It happened in some places, he believes. But I think there has also been a lot of people covered by a report to it and who doesn’t want to hear what he had to be made. People are limited to say : “well, the Whites no longer have the right to play jazz.” It lacks depth!”
For the one who raps under the name of Webster, the issue is not there… And the argument only serves to cloud the debate. “Of course that Whites have the right to play jazz and to rap, does it. The question is further : in power dynamics, in terms of representation in the media. To me, it’s been years that I say that there are not enough people are racialized in our media. And there, there is a show that is created about the songs of black slaves and it was difficult to hire black people. At what point do you not find it insulting?”
With the benefit of hindsight, Webster equates the episode “something that I was rotten life for six months.” From its initial release, he wanted to be more discreet about it. Ditto when the documentary Hear my voice, which bears on the said controversy, has been aired in the beginning of the year. And even more so when he was offered to host conferences around cultural appropriation.
“It does not interest me, this is not my subject, slice Aly Ndiaye. I am not the spokesperson of the cultural appropriation. I have spoken about it by default, because I was involved with and that I felt I had no choice to do so. Because I found it important to do that, too. But I have other things to discuss than that…” Geneviève Bouchard
The rapper Webster
THE SUN, ERICK LABBÉ
THE “POLE HOT” .
Last year, Jean-François Ruel — Yes Mccan of his rapper name — has made a mark on the small screen as Damien, the pimp, the abuse of the young Fanny in the series .. In other circumstances, the role might be able to come back to Webster… If he had at first agreed to pass the audition. But this, this was not the question!
When he received a message about a project tv for which he could audition, Webster admits to having let his imagination get carried away. He already saw himself in a kind of House of Cards québécois, thinking of course that it should follow to improve his game… He quickly became disillusioned when he realised that it was a role of a pimp in a history of juvenile prostitution.
“My house of cards has collapsed!” he said laughing, adding have wanted to add to his interlocutor : “You know, I come from Quebec!” Recall that in the wake of operation Scorpion, in the early years of 2000, many rappers have denounced the amalgam that has been made between the street gangs and certain groups of hip-hop. Webster, who had not failed to denounce the racial profiling (particularly in the room SPVQ), didn’t see any interest to lend life to a criminal on the small screen.
“I speak all the time in the fact that when there are people racialized in the media, they play a role stereotyped. I can not get in there and play a Black pimp. All I’ve been doing it for so many years, it is finished. I lose all credibility”, he explains. For the rapper and speaker, he was here a question of principle. “They handed me a pole burning, and I am glad to have avoided,” says-t it.