Loud
Une année record

by Jim Di Gioia

June 18, 2018

Une année record finds Loud laying claim to his spot in the growing pantheon of Canadian urban music.

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Loud first rose to prominence as one-third of Montreal-based hip-hop act Loud Lary Ajust. After the band’s dissolution in 2016, Loud started forging a name for himself as a solo performer, releasing the New Phone EP in April 2017, and amassing over 2,500,000 views on YouTube for the song “56K”. Une année record, a brilliant, vivid record with stellar beats and slick, sophisticated production, caught fans by surprise when it unexpectedly dropped in November 2017 and rocketed Loud to rapper du jour status in his native province.

Une année record first came to my attention during deliberations for a particular music prize’s long list, and over the last few months, it has crept into my consciousness with a stealth-like determination to challenge my implicit biases towards both rap and francophone music. It took some immersion into Une année record to extricate myself from the suppositions I wasn’t even aware that I was making: that rapping in any language other than English has an inherent tongue-in-cheek quality that’s less serious than its anglophone counterparts. Though my conscious mind finds Loud’s substance and style utterly captivating, there was a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that insisted: a) Loud was somehow taking the piss out of his audience, and b) he wasn’t a serious rapper.

Starting with brooding album opener “So Far So Good”, Loud’s lyrical blend of French and English may have been what first triggered my unconscious attitudes. Its dark, almost menacing tone, coupled with Loud’s self-assuredness and ready-to-take-on-the-world attitude could have just as easily flowed out of OVO Sound. He and producers Ruffsound and former bandmate, Ajust, are not messing around. Loud knows how to craft exquisite pop: “Toutes les femmes savent danser” is rap-pop hybridity at its finest, blending a staccato dancehall rhythm with precision flow. “TTTTT” contrasts Loud’s rapid-fire rap style with a sultry, slow-burning musical arrangement right of The Weeknd’s playbook.

What finally exorcised any lingering prejudices was “Devenir immortel (et puis mourir)”, Une anneé record’s cinematic peak. Inspired by a line of dialogue in Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless, “Devenir immortel (et puis mourir)” finds Loud laying claim to his rightful spot in the growing pantheon of Canadian urban music. Though I don’t believe that any prize, whether juried or voted on by the public, is an accurate judge of artistic merit and worth, you’d be hard-pressed to convince me of an award’s relevancy if, at the very least, Une anneé record doesn’t get a nod for Rap Album of the Year in the next round of Juno nominations (its November 2017 release date puts it in the running for next year’s awards).

We all carry some level of implicit bias with us, and at the risk of sounding like I’m standing on a soapbox, I’m proud of the efforts DOMINIONATED as a whole has made to challenge and confront stereotypes and attitudes that marginalize members of the Canadian music community. I also recognize that in our first two years, both francophone and rap music have been vastly underrepresented in our posts. I know I hesitate to take on writing about both rap and francophone music because I don’t have enough confidence in my opinions to express them publicly. That’s not an excuse; it’s a barrier that I need to overcome.

Music is a universal language, after all. Regardless of what language it’s sung in or style it’s performed in, what’s always mattered is that the music we write about and share with readers has connected with us, challenged and engaged us. At the start of 2018, I wouldn’t have expected a rap album by a francophone MC from Montreal would challenge and engage me as intensely as Une anée record. As we round the corner and head towards the last half of the year, I realize it could have well been my favourite record of last year if I’d only been open enough to let it in. Better late than never at all.

Jim Di Gioia

CoFounder at DOMINIONATED
Jim founded the music blog Quick Before It Melts in 2006 and was its principal writer until 2016, when its decade-long run ended 10 years to the day it started. DOMINIONATED is its spiritual successor. Jim currently serves as a Polaris Music Prize jurist and Prism Prize jurist.
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