Thursday, April 1
Metty the Dirt Merchant answers the phone sounding like hes in the middle of a morning stretch.
"What time is it?" he asks. When I tell him its 1 p.m. here in Calgary (noon in his home of Vancouver) he replies politely above the gentle rustling of his bed sheets, "Hold on, Im going to light a cigarette." Curious to find out why hes still in bed, I ask if he was recovering from a rough night out."No, I was writing," he says laughing.
As a member of Canadian hip-hop collective Sweatshop Union, Metty says he spends a lot of his time writing and does so in the comfort of his own home bed and all.
Although Metty takes his work home with him, he is not the only member of the group to contribute to the lyrics. When Sweatshop Union formed in 2000 as a collection of high school friends and four separate groups (Dirty Circus, Innocent Bystanders, Creative Minds and solo artist Kyprios) its clear the members were willing to collaborate.
According to Metty, the group offers a collective scrutiny that he is grateful for something more commonly referred to among them as the "B.S. filter."
"That way no bullshit gets out," says Metty, whose concern is not idle what the Union says is as important as how they say it. Metty hopes their music encourages free thought and that their audience explores worldly issues.
"Dont take what people tell you and believe it," says Metty. "Research it for yourself and come to your own conclusions."
But political views are not all the Union members have in common. In the music-message equation, the former is just as important as the latter and their vinyl collection boasts names of rock and roll hall of fame inductees that arent always called to mind when you think of hip-hop. Artists such as Otis Redding, Led Zeppelin, Al Green and The Beatles have all served as inspirations for the Union.
As for hip-hop influences, Metty cant speak for the rest of the group but he cites Jurassic Five, A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul as his favourites. On a more practical level, Metty spent a year at Columbia Academy recording institution with Rob the Viking from Swollen Members, but after tiring of producing other peoples music, he left school to make his own.
Now after releasing two albums with the Sweatshop Union, the group has been nominated for a Juno Award for their latest disc, Natural Progression.
"Its an honour to be nominated," says Metty, "but its just a piece of glass."