We met up at Merritt Skate Park for a quick session with Protest rider Jay Mykyte (the King of Style) to kick off his week long annual skate tour through the okanagan.
Featuring: Jay Mykyte, Carrie Williams, Big Rip Kaelen Faux, AJ Zabell and Hippie Mike
Hi, and welcome to Episode 6 of GLORY DAZE with Hippie Mike. Tonight we’re travelling through the internet to Barrie, Ontario to hang out and to learn about the styles of a Neighbourhood Rapper who wants to change the world for the better. An amazing snowboarder, a positive creator, and part Owner of Unity Market and Studios, he is known on the Hip-Hop scene simply as L.S., give it up for Shane Dennis!!
Hippie Mike: What’s Up Shane?
L.S.: How you doin’? I’m excellent
HM: Let’s start out with a little bit of History. You and I were very close friends in our teenaged years, almost inseparable. We skateboarded, snowboarded, and got into a lot of mischief together. In that entire time period, I cannot recall either of us imagining about becoming a Rap Star. Can you tell us when you’re life changed and why you took the path that you did…
L.S.: Well let me start by saying that I do think back to those years a lot and you were definitely a mentor to me, though we were a lot younger then. But how I got started on that path, I mean I was writing music when I was young and listened to Hip Hop. I was in a band when I was in like Grade 5 or 6 and writing some music, you know, and had been taking piano lessons when I was a kid and I always listened to Hip Hop and loved it, and then it was after that I moved in to like those teenage years of being like, taking some of the lyrics I was writing with music and started writing “Raps” with it. You guys moved out West and from riding/snowboarding, I hooked back up with Jordi LaForty [Jordan Peters], and we just met up again. This was years and years later and we were just talking and I was like, “Yeah, I’m writin’ some rhymes” and he was like, “Man, I’m makin’ beats” and that was a huge step in the right direction by linking with Jordi. That passion definitely grew with me for a long time and I knew that i wanted to do things with music, but I think really the lyricism and the poetry and the creative wits about Hip Hop and certain styles of Hip Hop for me just struck that passion again and that’s really the start of how I really skewed into the life that I live of Music and Hip Hop…
HM: When we were kids, I recall you learning a lot about snowboarding from myself, and you were reaching a very high skill level when I moved away to BC in ’98. What happened from there with your “Snowboard Career”?
L.S.: Yeah, I got hooked up with Burton when I was like 16 or 17 with Eric Frankcom and Dennis LeBlanc, which you know both very well, and we were kind of a trio riding hard and doing all the comp and stuff. I rode for Burton for a long time, I had some other hook ups through Quiksilver as well and Skullcandy, which is a newer company. Obviously you know of Skullcandy but this was more when like Skullcandy was first coming out. And yeah I did some National Circuits and did well in some of the competitions in halfpipe riding. Snowboarding was, as you know, was like my life, and then music, so yeah
HM: Yeah , so it just went together. Back in those teenaged years you were a little younger than the rest of us, and a little bit shorter. We always called you “Lil’ Shane”, is that where L.S. comes from?
L.S.: Well, yes. That’s a very sturdy stand point of where that comes from. Little Shane Dennis but I dropped the”D” so it just became L.S.. Yeah and I remember you used to call me Lil’ Shane and it’s too funny because even before like Lil’ Wayne and stuff, that was back before that. And like when you guys left to go out West I was like thinking about a name and it was actually my boy James D that’s here at the Studio, he’s an Engineer, and he was like…. man I contemplated for like years about what am I gonna call myself and then it was just like okay, L.S….
HM: Hey, and it worked out! How hard is it to make a name for yourself in the Music Industry as a Rap Superstar without following the trends of Gang Life and the other negativities portrayed by most Rappers?
L.S.: Well I was lucky with a great upbringing and you know through struggles and stuff, I had the support of parents and my grandparents that were very culturally musical people. And I wanted to make a positive difference in music and as I got more into Hip Hop I really looked at these things and you know, I’m in Barrie, Ontario, which is just North of Toronto and I’ve lived back in this city for like 5 years and worked with a lot of kids from different turfs in Toronto and just using music as a tool and that same very thing of helping them to realize the influence that they are. And a lot of these kids are hardcore in Gang Life, and they’re not faking anything you know. There’s a settlement in lots of big cities, especially in Toronto, from like the 70’s where like Bloods and Crips. There’s this one youth that we worked with, his father was killed, he was raised by his uncle, and they were Bloods. He’s an incredible young rhymer, he’s a huge influence to his surrounding peers and stuff, and his community and trying to help build a positive light of it. Because really I feel like where Hip Hop started from was that it was an outreach for people to voice things of oppression and stuff, and unfortunately in the mix, there’s so much that we can’t really get into, it’s where a lot of the Pop Culture of where Hip Hop is directed, or the machine that is directing it is to project more violence and all that kind of stuff. So, I probably could have taken an easier road for “making it” as a Hip Hop Artist or whatever that is, but I’m really just at the beginning still, but just passionately feeling and wanting to make a positive change and knowing how much and powerful the music is and that kind of kept me from getting on the negative side of expression… I mean, not like my stuff is all Lodi Doddi and everything’s great, it’s definitely not, but you know it’s about the message of what’s being said
HM: Yeah. So I’m personally not a huge fan of Hip Hop, but I do enjoy meaningful lyrics and I find a lot of deep thoughts about the ways of the world in the words you write. Your songs are mainly about bringing out controversial truths for the blind world to recognize, but do you think your lyrics might be too powerful for the majority of listeners to understand?
L.S.: (long pause and nodding) Yeeaaah… What I was gonna say with that is Yes it is definitely. I have a message and so there is some simplified stuff, because I do really love the complexity of lyricism, and that part was the thing that really got me into Hip Hop huge so, the complexities of it yes, sometimes it combines with a lot of things that to the masses are already going over their head anyways, or they maybe aren’t awake or whatever to certain things in the ways of the world and I combine that with complex lyrics about it, it like definitely can go over people’s heads. But when you add passion into that, like truly, and really expressing things, then it becomes more tangible. But there’s also more stuff to grasp, and there’s gonna be a variety versus, I don’t wanna say dumbing it down at all, but in a sense it is more musical, and there’s singing and maybe parts that are made more clear or easier for people to get, because there’s an important message I’m writing about, and I don’t want people to miss it. But there still will be the stuff that like the heads will go crazy for the lyricism and be like “What did he just say???”
“Steadily we rock, no force can hold us; Enemies we watch, remote control us; We’d better beat the clocks as the voice of soldiers, deadily we stop, the Broken Warrior…” – L.S. (Broken Warrior)
HM: In the song “Face Odds”, which I consider one of your most powerful messages, you’re focusing on George W. Bush and publishing the lies he portrayed and the negative influences he had on so many people while he was the President of the United States. What provoked you to write this song? It’s a pretty serious song
L.S.: Ummm. I’m always involved in society and doing things like digging in to the deeper side of certain subjects and I had kind of a hardcore thoughts at that time of making that song. And that song, though I think it is a positive song, it definitely has a like Rah Rah kind of feel to it, like we need to Wake the Fuck Up!! kind of vibe and maybe that kind of degression with it. That song was coming from judist things from seeing in the news or reading about or just seeing in the world, and I do you know follow, I mean I’m no politician or whatever, but I do follow these worldly issues that are going on and it’s just a lot of researching things. And from watching documentaries to digging into readings of people and conversing with people about those things and that’s where that song came from for me, and uhh, yeah… It’s kind of like how Bob Marley, he would speak about some things that are horrible things that happened in the past or whatever, but it’s got a vibe to it. It’s uplifting. So yeah, that song came from just all of these depths into the things that were going on in politics and with that you know people were like, oh I don’t follow politics or whatever, but we are all creating the system of all the things that we don’t like, or taht we do like. I mean, I really believe that. I’m really about trying to make people recognize how powerful we all are, you know, how much of an influence we are
HM: In the video for “That Summer”, you’re surfing the wake behind a boat while rapping. How good are you at Surfing?
L.S.: (laughs) At real surfing?? Uhhh, yeah, at real surfing… I haven’t had the privilege or honour of real surfing behind nothing but Mother Nature. But it’s pretty easy to do behind a boat. We go out sometimes and have fun, and then the environmental side of me is like more and more conscious of like Man this is wasting a lot of gas for us to have fun here. I don’t do it that much, but yeah, the wake surfing’s pretty easy so I was like rapping the tune while I’m surfing (laughs)
HM: I caught you on Youtube on the Howard Stern Show and he was dissing you hard calling you a “White Guy” and telling you to start up a “Hip Hop Construction Company” How tough is it to be respected in the Hip Hop Industry when you’re white?
L.S.: Oh that’s such a great question. I could talk a lot about that question, but I think these days it’s becoming kind of easier and easier. And it’s funny, the funny thing is though, there’s always been white dudes in Hip Hop since Hip Hop started, I mean look at The Beastie Boys, you know what I mean? But the Howard Stern thing, that was pretty funny. I don’t want to say anything negative about anybody but people were like Man he’s a Dick. Whatever… it was the same when I was on The Dean Blundell Show on 102.1 The Edge, when they were like ripping me up and then I went down there one day and they wanted to be my best friends (laughs)
HM: Tell us about the Unity Market and Studio and how you ended up partnering with Andrew Miller
L.S.: Well, Andrew and I have known each other for a long time through Snowboarding as well and my boy James Dasilva who’s the Engineer here who is a very good friend of mine and also the main person who I’ve worked on all my music with over the years. I had came back from Tour in Europe and we started this thing with Andrew. We called it 40 days and 40 Nights of Holistic Care, and Andrew had his Farming certification and had done a lot of outreach, and I had previously done a lot of outreach with music and we actually did spend 40 days and 40 nights harvesting carrots. We had a lot of time to talk during that and we were thinking of getting some type of spot to do outreach and to involve music and the whole Urban Garden thing. Just somewhere to be , and to be working with youth and stuff. So this place that we’re at now, I had been here from like years and years before as it was a studio before us. And Andrew went by and saw that this building was for lease and he called me and was like, “You know 25 Toronto Street?” That’s the address here, and I was like, “What that place is for lease, man we gotta make that happen.” ‘Cause I had been here and knew that this spot was amazing so I spoke with James who had a studio and it all came together. Fortunately we were able to add in the Cafe and we have an amazing collaboration of people working towards all the things that we believe in.
HM: Cool. Can you explain the “Back to Basics” project
L.S.: Back to Basics Social Development is a Not-For-Profit and Andrew started that about 3 1/2 years ago now. It’s about the outreach of sustainability, the three main things behind Back to Basics are Food, Water, Shelter, and just how many people there are living in some type of poverty, not to compare to 3rd world countries, but locally and all over Canada, and the world obviously. But yeah, Shelter and Water, and what’s happening to the world’s water, and the food that we’re taking in, GMO’s and just so many chemicals on the food, so there’s a lot of consciousness of that. And with Andrew and I teaming together closer and my experience with the youth and also my music, speaking about these things, and even my movement relating with the arts world, really it’s brilliance to convey these messages. The knowledge of these things, healthy food, living, a community, connective collaboration. People actually care about what’s going on. And trying in these difficult times, like that Face Odds type of song of mine, and that world is a messed up place feelings, and then trying to combine all these things in positive ways. For me, it’s Positive Hip Hop, or conveying messages through Music and Art. Back to Basics is like the outreach where we can create opportunities and experience and there’s that element of like re-skilling. A lot of what’s taught in today’s education system isn’t right, and people need to get connected with the Earth, you know??
HM: (laughs) Can you tell us about the 45km Clean Up fundraiser
L.S.: So I skated 45kms around the perimeter of the city. I picked up 7 big bags of garbage. We organized Volunteers to head up different parks and help clean up the parks and the community. Pretty much every Sunday we do a big clean up
HM: Okay, some quick questions…
What’s your most meaningful song?
L.S.: Of my own?? It’s not out yet (laughs)
HM: Name your 3 favourite musicians
L.S.: Okay, Cee Lo Green, Al Green and Mos Def
HM: Beautiful. Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
L.S.: In a Neighbourhood near you (laughs)
HM: (laughing) Hopefully. And the last question – How is L.S. Gonna change the world?
L.S.: Two feet and a heartbeat, a drum, my tongue, my set of lungs, where I been from, and definitely my heart
Well thanks Shane for being a guest on GLORY DAZE with Hippie Mike. I really like everything that you’re doing, the positive attitude you bring to the table, and you’re mind frame to never give up on your dreams. I’m glad that I was part of your life growing up. I miss you lots and hope to see you out here on the West Coast soon for a Tour.