Photo: Mathieu Villeneuve
What an insane week. In the span of 10 days at Les FrancoFolies, I managed to see approximately 12 shows, which were all pretty spectacular, but hands down the best two I saw were Alaclair Ensemble and Maybe Watson (a member of Alaclair Ensemble!).
The Alaclair Ensemble collective has been making epic waves in French Hip Hop scene for a while now, so it's about time that the FrancoFolies gave them a big outdoor stage. And man did they ever deliver. On every aspect of what I consider a great show, Alaclair aced and innovated. Actually, let's do a breakdown so y'all can understand what I'm taking about.
- Beats: If you don't have good baseline to your music you just lost 90% of your fan base; Alaclair is probably most revered for their beat making with members such as Ken Lo, Sevdee, and Vlooper on the production team you can only expect blow mind material. Actually weren't these the cats that started the whole Piu Piu Movement!?!
- Lyrical Content: Baaaahh! These guys kill it. First off they've created their own language so your mind is automatically intrigued to figure out what they're saying and when you do, you're on the floor crying it's so funny. Actually it's more than just funny it's that it's so relevant, witty, cheeky, and real that you can't help but relate. Plus they've got these crazy hook lines that stick with you forever. I swear for days after the show I keep waking up saying, "Champagne, Caviaaaaar".
- Flow: Collectives are often hit or miss for me 'cause it's too easy to have a bunch of MCs that sound the same, or even worse, a few weak-link MCs in a group can really bring the vibe down. This ensemble, however, is just busting with talent. They can each hold their own on a solo status (as Maybe Watson demonstrated), and as a collective they just reach higher heights. You'll never catch yourself mistaking Ken Lo's flow for Odgen's. As a cherry on top of this sundae these cats are hyper-genius at playing with voice intonation, bringing you smoothly from a gritty grim vibe to a bubble gum pop flow on their sillier tracks.
- Stage Presence: Flags, Face Paint, Big Hair, Choreography, 6+ MCs on a track... do I really need to say more? No. But for real, this is Alaclair's specialty, which is such a joy to see 'cause honestly it's hard to fill those big FrancoFolies stages and if you don't go hard it's pretty painful to watch. So Chapeau les gars.
- Collabos: This isn't in anyway a criterion for a good show, but I really need to applaud Maybe Watson for inviting not only his associated fam Alaclair Ensemble and K6A to the stage, but also the up-and-coming rap trio Gullywood. When you've only got an hour to shine in front of a crowd every second counts. I'm glad that, for Watson, promoting other local artists he respects was also a priority.
- Crowd Connection: This is where Alaclair blew my mind. See, I know that I know all of Alaclair's tracks and love singing along, but I'm a radio host whose job is to search for music and I particularly enjoy the local scene. Sixteen year-olds, on the other hand, are hard to impress, rarely respect music coming out of their own city, and have the attention span of a goldfish if you don't keep them entertained. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw hundreds yes hunDREDS of young cats screaming for more Alaclair, spitting all the lyrics, and following the choreo. If you can get youth to say 'Yo man ça c'était un sérieux gros show man', 'K6A, le WuTang de Montreal man' and 'Alaclair for life', you know you did something right. It was crazy how hype the crowd was, which really shows the need for this kind of sound in Montreal.
- The Full Package: I hope that many of you have seen Billy Cogan's (from The Smashing Pumpkins) interview with Brian Solis where he goes on to explain that an artist can't just make it off one good track. An artist has to be offering his audience the full package if they want people to continuously follow them. Well, Alaclair Ensemble gives you the full package and then some. I mean seriously, they have a flag, they created a country, they have their own language, they're continuously dropping dope free mixtapes, they work solo as well as in a unit, their videos are psychedelic, their merch game is outrageous, and their music is unrivaled.
I think that sufficiently explains why Alaclair Ensemble wins the Say Word Francofo Award.
Much Respects and Big Ups Guys
Looking forward to more Alaclair