Montreal hip-hop duo OG Hindu Kush are slowly growing an empire, with top spots as battlers in Canada’s renowned Toronto-based rap battleground King of the Dot, recent collabs with legend-status hip-hop artist Royce da 5’9 and Montreal’s own YouTube stars Epic Meal Time, as well as a fan base now spanning the globe, not to mention a clothing line of their own. These are more than just two more hometown boys.
Rover had a chance to sit down with Loe Pesci, one half of OGHK, to hear a little about what his rhymes are all about, battling and what’s coming up next.
Pesci spits verse after verse of clever rhymes with fellow MC Osa (otherwise known as Sam Osa… samosa, as in the Indian food, for those slow on the uptake) over 16 tracks on OG Hindu Kush’s debut album, In 3D. Complete with 3D glasses and a bunch of varied tracks that cover the last three years of the rappers’ lives, In 3D makes a pretty impressive first shot.
“It’s just basically our stream of consciousness over the past three years, what we’ve been thinking about,” affirms Pesci. “All in all, with the interludes and everything, it’s more like a movie than an album to us – you listen to it from beginning to end and it’s kind of like a life story.” As a result, “there’s so many different styles of beats and different styles of songs on the album,” he explains, but they all still manage to fit together.
Much of their success, says Pesci, must of course be attributed to the pair’s presence on the battle scene. Osa was the first to get involved at King of the Dot, later prompting Pesci to take part, followed by their close friends in Ottawa’s Flight Distance. Now, they find themselves as well-recognized figures in battling, with a widened fan base to prove it.
“At a certain point, I realize that like, y’know, the music that we’ve been able to promote and sell worldwide and [our ability to] get new fans every day is mostly with respect to the battling thing,” says Pesci, “so that can’t be neglected.”
Regardless of this acknowledgment, Pesci still plays the role of a battler with a “puffed up ego,” living up to his rap name, a play on Joe Pesci, an actor characterized as a “short, kinda like loudmouth guy” who just doesn’t care. Pesci embraces this, claiming simply, “I pride myself in the material that I have, and the reputation that I have, which is [as] the guy that will stir shit up.”
While, of course, battling has become second nature to the men of OG Hindu Kush, it can of course get redundant at times. Battling “really becomes annoying [because] you have to write about one specific person – it’s very limited,” explains Pesci. “I definitely prefer making music, I mean, as an MC, that’s what I’ve always been into. But there’s something about battling that’s very unique.
“Especially now, how it’s become with no beats and nothing, [battling is] an art form in itself,” he continues. “It’s almost separated, it’s almost like spoken word, but with more aggression – it’s a mix of spoken word and UFC, you know what I mean? It’s more like wrestling… You don’t know how seriously these people actually get into it. Even though [wrestling] is ‘fake,’ that’s pretty much what I relate [battling] to.”
Just as clever as he is in his battle retaliations, Pesci is quick in finding a solution. “I like to talk a little bit about myself and things that are happening and, you know, spice it up a little,” he says. “At the end of the day, you want people to remember you for what you’ve said, and the way you come across in these battles… The reality of it is that I battle because I enjoy spitting bars and whatever qualms I have with the battle scene, it’s more of an existential thing, it’s more of a ‘Does Loe Pesci exist with no battling?’ Of course he does.”
Certainly a fair claim. In 3D exists as total evidence of Pesci’s personal identity, chronicling everything from real-life issues in I Have Learned to more comical subject matter in Lights Go On, old-flavour beats on The Kid’s Racist, and full-fledged fantasies about breaking into Richard Branson’s sister’s mansion and stealing off to outer space in, arguably, the most popular track off the record, Grey Alien Suits.
With their debut album boasting such variety in subject matter, and an intimate view into the lives of Osa and Pesci, one is naturally led to wonder about the band name itself. Is there more too it, as with their album, which delves past surface meaning, or is it simply meant as a weed reference?
“The Hindu Kush is a huge mountain range that borders Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, if I’m not mistaken,” Pesci clarifies. “Kush actually means murder… OG actually means ‘ocean grown’ [rather than meaning ‘original’] as in [weed that is grown] by the side of the ocean, on the west coast.”
What can we gather from this? Just like on In 3D, the boys of OGHK have managed to cram just about everything into their band name: a reference to their heritage, another to their mass consumption of hallucinogenic plants, and an overall tribute to their bad-assery, as they communicate their hopes of making a “killing” with their work.
So, what is there to expect next? A whole bunch of stuff. Currently in the works are two free, downloadable EPs – one made up of Pesci’s older, unreleased solo material, and another, set to drop next month, as a collaboration between him and The Narcicyst that the two are calling Brownstars. As for OG Hindu Kush, the newest release is likely to be another five-to-seven song EP, which is progressing “slowly but surely.” Despite all these tasks comprising a pretty full plate, Pesci is confident: “I want to… start making beats again and start recording every day, and go to the gym everyday almost,” he says, “trying really to step that life game up.”
OG Hindu Kush with Ghostface Killah and Flight Distance in Ottawa at Ritual Nightclub (137 Besserer St.), Nov. 28 and 29
In 3D is available for $10 here or on iTunes