Album review: Lap Dog

Brendan Kergin, Arts & Entertainment Editor Ω

The most prolific member of Vancouver hip-hop collective the Sweatshop Union (which he left in 2011), Kyprios is back to the mike on a five-song solo EP, a taste of what to come as he works on a project out in 2013, according to an interview with CBC Music.

The winner of the 2010 Peak Performance Project has been quieter since his win, releasing only a couple of singles over the last couple of years, including the celebration of the Vancouver Canucks Stanley Cup run, “How the West Was Won.”

On the Lap Dog EP he’s introduced four songs and included the 2011 single, “Sweet City Woman.”

Over a decade into his career, the EP is a more mature series of songs than mainstream hip-hop. The music is fairly middle-of-the-road; heavy on the keys, guitar and drums, light on electronics, with some sampling. It’s definitely got the more Canadian style of using sampling and instruments in place of computer based production.

Lyrically, the themes explored are all over the map. The title track opens with Kyprios looking at his past and leadership. “Sweet City Women” is next, a revision of The Stampeders hit of the same name. A fairly straight forward song about a lady Kyprios is sweet on. Using the past hit as the hook creates a great patio track…if it were warmer out.

“We Get Right” brings an entirely different attitude, opening with Will, a homeless man in East Vancouver, discussing his heroin dependency. After Will, it gets more positive from there; “We Get Right” puts the serious subject of addiction in an urgent piece of music. Wrapping up with social workers discussing their projects with the homeless makes this more a piece of activism than a marketable single.

The stripped down, beat heavy, synthy “Ain’t Gonna Get Me,” worries about a “she” and “they” going to get Kyprios. It’s never made clear who they are, but he really seems certain they aren’t going to get him. It seems more of a place for some word play and a more technical vocal track.

He closes with the fun, Samuel L. Jackson sampling “Bad Motherfucker.” More bombastic, aggressive and cheeky, Kyprios may be more mature, but it doesn’t mean he’s old.

A solid preview of what the experienced MC is going to be bringing in the new year, it shows there’s a sharp mind behind the mike, but he’s still having fun.

Kyprios will be touring Canada soon, with a date at Cactus Jacks on Nov. 29.