By Falice Chin
Even though Calgary’s hip-hop scene is small and unknown, many local urban artists are willing to contribute their mind and soul to the growing culture. Leading the pack are DJ Cosm and Teekay, collectively known as Dragon Fli Empire. Just last month, they released their spectacular debut album Conquest after their single “Mount Pleasant” made it onto CBC Radio’s Top 20. Now, the duo is devoting their time to preach hip-hop to the city.
“I’m honored to be able to bring hip-hop to people who normally wouldn’t be into it.” Teekay comments. “For example, the CBC guys are usually more into electronica and rock, but they liked us because they could see the honesty in our music. We don’t try to be something that we’re not–like gangsters or something.”
Teekay has worked for CBC Television in Edmonton and Uprok Records in Seattle, but now creates rhymes of an easy-going, spiritual, fun, and very conscious nature. Using mostly jazz samples for smooth and melodic samples, Teekay also produces his own beats. As the host of popular CJSW show, Mental Illness, every Sunday evening, DJ Cosm can talk your ears off about any hip-hop affiliated person under the sun. A natural music-lover, a scratch deejay, producer, and promoter for many underground shows, he is undoubtedly the back-bone of the Calgary scene. Combining their talents, they’re able to produce some of the finest hip-hop music Calgary has ever seen in the form of their new album, Conquest.
With a limited budget and only one month to record, the duo rode a Greyhound bus to Edmonton to create the album at DJ Nato’s studio. DFE wanted to stay away from depressing lyrics or beats, opting for a more positive vibe. The lyrics to the track “Beauty Full”, for example, speaks about the wonderful little things a person can encounter every morning and night.
“When I make a beat and if it’s got a more positive swing to it, I give it to Teekay,” DJ Cosm comments about the team’s collaboration. “He encourages me to keep creating upbeat stuff.”
Both members are thrilled about their rising fame, but ultimately would like to help put Calgary on the mainstream hip-hop map, just like Halifax, Toronto and Vancouver.
“Different areas of the country suffer from an identity crisis until someone makes it big.” Teekay comments. “[Canadian rappers] used to pretend they were from L.A. or New York in interviews. It wasn’t cool to live in Vancouver until the Rascals and Swollen Members helped to ‘legitimize’ that city. [Calgary] is just going through that same stage.”
“We’ve built this up from the ground,” DJ Cosm remarks. “It’s important to support your local artists. Burn the dude on MCA Universal Studios with twenty videos before the local guys–that’s the way to keep us going.”