On the surface, the lyrical flow of Calgary rapper Infoe resembles the raw, confrontational delivery of notable Canadian underground rap artists like Snak The Ripper and Merkules, two artists that Infoe’s appeared on tracks with over his ten year career.
His beats, however, fuse elements from genres like drum and bass, neurofunk, and trip hop.
In fact, bass music is a significant enough staple in his music that he’s carved out a niche for himself in that community, appearing at festivals like Shambhala, Fozzy Fest, and Costa Rica’s Bamboo Bass Festival.
For Infoe, who’s real name is Dylan Gordica, and the artists he began performing with, this musical direction was borne early in their career out of necessity, as it was one of the few platforms available.
Ten years ago, before rap events filled large venues like Marquee on a regular basis, Gordica had the streets, in particular the corner outside of the now defunct Drum and Monkey.
This is where Gordica and his friends convened to freestyle. He’d been introduced to the craft a few years prior through the graffiti scene, and the numerous bars on 12th and 1st at the time provided a readily available audience.
“They used to have the cheap pitchers of beer there, I can’t remember what they were, seven or eight bucks or something,” says Gordica.
“So we used to go down there when we were younger, and that’s where a lot of our freestyle, and getting comfortable rapping around people came from.”
These outings soon spawned a group comprised of Gordica, William Cold, and DJ Jimmi Riggz. They called themselves “Block Parents,” an ode to their origins on the street.
However, as Gordica explains, Calgary’s hip-hop landscape at the time of Block Parents’ creation was far different from the present day opportunity-wise.
“Ten years ago the Calgary hip-hop scene was pretty different from where it’s at now, there wasn’t a lot of venues that you could go out and rap and be received well,” he says.
The group often found themselves performing at community halls, or smaller venues like Dickens and Vern’s.
“Getting the love going, and getting the companies going, and getting the interest going in hip-hop were the challenges,” says Gordica.
“People weren’t that interested in it, or at least in the sense they are now where we got things like 10 At 10 and Beat Drop, where you can go and actively pursue your interest in electronic music, in hip-hop.”
Luckily, the creation of Block Parents also coincides with a new chapter in Calgary’s electronic music history.
Names like Calgary audio designer PK Sound are beginning to appear across the club circuit, ushering in an era of packed dance parties soundtracked by thundering UK bass music.
Seeing an opportunity to gain visibility the Block Parents soon begin partnering with some of the genre’s key promoters.
“They’d be throwing the big parties and the big raves, and that’s how we started getting an audience,” says Gordica.
“People were like ‘woah these rappers are pretty crazy, maybe raps not all bullshit.’
“We started getting fans like that and doing some cross promotion. I just feel it kind of grew up together.”
Rather than perform a separate hip-hop event at the start of the show, the Block Parents find themselves weaving their way into the rest of the night, MCing live over jungle and bass music.
“Hip-hop and drum and bass have a lot of similarities, mainly because one’s normally around 90 [beats per minute], and one’s normally around 180 which is exactly half time, double time of each other,” says Gordica.
“So they’re kind of offsprings of each other, it’s funny that a lot of people don’t recognize that in hip-hop.”
Although he was initially inspired by the boom-bap flow of 90’s hip-hop, Gordica’s upbringing through electronic music shifted his whole outlook on music, and where he wants to be as an artist. He cites the genre Neurofunk as a reflection of his current self.
“Neurofunk, it’s almost like a cross breed between hip-hop, dubstep, and drum and bass,” he says.
“And that’s really where I like my flavour to be.”
This in turn has affected the delivery and flow of his rhymes. While he still aims to be lyrical he also prioritizes energy, and the ability to whip a crowd into a frenzy.
“Just check out Harry Shotta or some shit like that, you know what I mean, it’s pretty off the hook,” he says.
“The whole UK drum and bass scene, the whole entire European drum and bass scene, it’s like a whole other style of rap that’s just very influential, but I feel like a lot of people sleep on it and just listen to North American rap.
“It’s good to bounce between both, and that’s what I want my style to show, it’s kind of a whole fusion of everything. That’s how I like to express my music.”
Gordica’s ability to cross genre lines gave him a strong foothold in the local scene, and four years ago he used it to create a platform for other
local artists. After a friend gave up the lease on a space in the industrial district Gordica jumped on it, and 4thway Studios was born.
“We ended up making a full control room, and a really nice vocal booth, we had a green room in there,” says Gordica.
“It was a full on recording studio, we had quite a few cool heads come through there.”
Gordica estimates that over the course of its three year run, 4thway hosted between 30 to 40 percent of Calgary’s active rappers. It not only bolstered the community, but gave Gordica a valuable opportunity to forge relationships with other artists.
This is how the recent collaboration with acclaimed Canadian underground rapper Merkules came to fruition.
“That tune in particular, ‘No More Mr Nice Guy,’ came together with my homeboy Decipher from Nova Scotia, he was doing some recording with me and he came through 4thway,” says Gordica.
“That’s actually what cultivated a lot of artistic relationships.”
Although Gordica’s profile has grown to the point where he’s able to attract these major features, he pledges that his forthcoming album will be primarily focused on his own introspection.
It’s his first major endeavour as a solo artist, and his chance to show the culmination of a musical evolution that began as a way to get exposure by any means necessary, then became a sound that’s entirely unique in its own right.
“This upcoming album I’m really trying to focus on myself lyrically to give fans a dose of my shit instead of a ton of features,” says Gordica.
“Really just give them where I’m at, where my head’s at, where my heart and soul is at.”
Connect with Infoe at https://soundcloud.com/infoe4thway