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Hip Hop

MC Phylis & Maxime Robin: “Twilight”

by Rupert Bottenberg

Some artists make records to break records. Others make records, and are broke. Oddball Montreal producer Maxime Robin, master of the dollar-store jam, and blue-chip investment partner MC Phylis likewise, are anything but millionaires, as they made abundantly clear on the series of mixtapes they banged out five to ten years ago – Bling de pauvre, Mix de pauvre, Epopée de pauvre, you get the idea.

Bling de pauvre is the title of the first mixtape that me and Max made together in 2010,” MC Phylis explains. “It set the concept of the band, taking the prestige of hip-hop’s bling-bling and doing it with a poverty-punk attitude.

“From then on, Max and I tripped out a bit too much on the idea and decided to make as many mixtapes as possible with the concept. We like the basic hip-hop formula, beatmaker and MC, and it represents a more underground sector of keb hip-hop culture that’s a bit neglected these days.”

One of their tunes, 2012’s “Twilight”, has just resurfaced as an animated video, with the original track given a nice polish. It seems like a surreal reflection on the pandemic vibe, surreal enough itself, but MC Phylis admits that the matter isn’t quite so honourable. “The tune is the true story of weed anxiety I had on Ste-Catherine St. that year. To add to the absurdity, I had to run into an old buddy who hadn’t seen me for a long time.”

There is a Covid connection to “Twilight” popping up again now. “The director’s name is Matthieu Bonnier” says MC Phylis. “He’s a great guy, a fan-friend in the film and television business who has a very passion for helping out crazy underground artists like us. Five or six years ago, he wrote to me to tell me, in the simplest way in the world, that he was quietly working on an animation clip for a MC Phylis and Max Robin movie – which is just too exciting, considering that Bonnier is a professional, he worked on a clip by Claude Bégin, among others. All this for free.

“So two years later no news of the video, and when I ask Bonnier, he seems a bit desperate, the guy is really busy with his post-production career. That’s when Max and I gave up on ever seeing the video some day. Thanks to Covid, though, Bonnier found the time to complete this magnificent project. The dated 2012 track was a bit too shitty for the visual quality of the clip. So I decided to re-record it for a better sound quality. And here we are! We got a great gift that would probably never have seen the light of day without the pandemic!”

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