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Energized vibes

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Choclair Baby Blue Soundcrew kick off WSSF

Who: Choclair with Baby Blue Soundcrew

Where: WSSF Mainstage, Skier’s Plaza, 3 to 6 p.m April 12

Where: Garfinkel’s (evening set), April 12

You might think a musical hip hop artist, growing in popularity, might have a) a big chip; b) a big entourage; or c) a big attitude.

But Choclair breaks down the stereotype with a calm, polite manner that made this interview one surreal endeavour.

"Choclair is the person who can express even the smallest of thoughts, but it’s not a challenge to me, because it is me," says Kareem Blake, Choclair’s alter ego.

The Toronto-based artist performs from Memoirs of Blake Savage , at kick-off night at the World Ski and Snowboard Festival, with Baby Blue Soundcrew.

But just who is Choclair?

He took a moment to talk about what’s new in grooves on his latest album from the Chocolate Factory, and about hip hop music.

"Choclair is like a bridge, between letting people know what is real and what is not," says Blake.

"Hip hop music is a big collage of things, if you will – political issues and a party are out there on the dance floor. The music style definitely covers a lot of topics. It’s news of the street" he says.

The song Legacy is about what he learned from his mom.

"A lot of times I just write down songs on a napkin, but a song like Love ’Em All was completed in the studio in just a day, an improvised session that worked out well."

He keeps the focus on developing as a musician.

"One of the key things is how you’re evolving. There’s a lot of fake hugs and smiles in the entertainment business, but I try to write my songs about stuff I’m going through," says Blake.

"I’ve always been a fan of music, which allows you to expand yourself."

With his latest release, the sky seems the limit.

"We had a different direction where we wanted to go with Memoirs . With the last record it was more just doing tracks to just put out a record. This record has more focus," says Blake.

The album has a gamut of guests, including Saukrates on Roll Sumthin’, Mr. Mims and Baby Blue on Love ’Em All, and Solitair on 3Some. With Choclair in a white button down and blazer, looking out on country views from an old mustang, the album’s jacket also gives off the dream-like quality.

Baby Blue Soundcrew also plays at the show.

Dubbed "Canada’s urban ambassadors," they bring their party sound with songs from Private Party Collectors Edition, Vol.2 .

Kid Kut chats about the energy vibe produced by the collective, whose backgrounds include Jamaica and Guyana. They are based in Toronto.

"We put together songs we feel set the tone for Canadian hip hop," says Kid Kut.

"If you see the crowd isn’t feeling it, you’re not projecting the vibe properly. Audiences show their appreciation in different ways. In Toronto they might not be screaming out ‘whoa’ like in Regina (he mimics), but the energy remains the same."

Kid Kut emphasizes they are DJs for the people in the audience, and play all different kinds of music for all different parties.

"We’re not rappers or hip hop artists, but we give energy to your city and let them know ‘hey, this is what we’re doing’."

After 10 years of making music, people are starting to take note. The band’s appearance at this year’s WSSF attests to that fact. They started on college radio at York University and Windsor, and the rest has been history.

Sampling and loops are all a part of the energy equation.

"We make music all the time, and hip hop really borrows from things like jazz. We’ll take loops from older records, or some artists use clips from T.V. shows," he adds.

The four-piece band, with GreenHill Productions, makes no bones about the fact that their songs are purely entertainment.

"We try to capture the party vibe so if you’re at a barbecue or a house party, you could play our CD straight through and catch a vibe," they say.

The band describes their music as "thumping hip-hop, soul-stirring R&B with booty-shaking reggae," and live up to the description on Salsa Lady. The Latin-infused melody is led by Canadian MCs Solitair and Ro Ro Dolla.

Baby Blue Soundcrew, established in 1995, was featured in Angel Eyes, the Jennifer Lopez vehicle about a man who loses his identity post car-crash.

Catch the bands not once but twice on April 12.

The WSSF concert is a free, outdoor show.

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