Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
First there was Run-DMC and Aerosmith. Then there was Public Enemy and Anthrax. And now, finally, Toronto’s got its own high-profile, unlikely hip hop and rock courtship. Two Songs by Shad and Dallas Green is, very literally, two songs that the crossover-capable wordsmith and Alexisonfire melodist flung together in a couple of nights at a studio. All profits from the EP go to Skate4Cancer.
The first track (streaming right) is “Live Forever,” a co-production based on a brooding vocal hook and chord progression that Green wrote behind a piano, all Chris Martin–like. A workout-worthy rap-rock banger this ain’t: “Live Forever” is a pretty dreary affair, the sort of dirge you’d expect to hear soundtracking a dying scene in a John Singleton–directed urban drama. If you’re not a Dallas fan already, this won’t be the song that converts you. Green kicks it off in his characteristic vaguely religious quiver-croon, lamenting that we’re all sinners who’ll one day get what’s coming to us. Luckily, top-shelf beats from DJ T-Lo and nail-on-the-head flows from Shad save this number from being a complete elegy. The Old Prince waxes theoretical about the transience of life and the concept of legacy, noting at one point that he aims higher than most MCs because “most conscious soul food for thought’s like tofu: no flavour.” Sheeeeeit. Them’s fightin’ rhymes.
Following suit with the somber, contemplative vibe is a reworking of Shad’s “Listen,” off of 2010’s brilliant TSOL. Green was actually supposed to provide guest vox on the album version, but had no time to do it because he was busy being Dallas-fucking-Green. The remix sounds much like the original, but with the City and Colour crooner adding background woah-ohs and a humdrum hook about keeping a song in his heart. Phoned-in as they are, Green’s additions complement the tune—at least melodically.
All in all, Two Songs is the sort of EP you can have a good cry to. Some of you may weep because you find beauty in the way such disparate artists can operate on the same emotional wavelength; some of you may bawl because Green just desecrated your favourite rap tune.