I have no memory of Definition, probably because I was not even 8 when it ended its run. But I certainly felt the reverberations because the moment “My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style” came on, I knew it. I’m not sure I had ever connected it and the theme to Austin Powers before, as I gotta figure I heard each for the first time very far apart. (I don’t remember seeing Austin Powers and thinking “Wait, I know this!” But that was so long ago who knows.) But it’s fascinating, all these years later, to discover multiple Canadians obsessed with a Quincy Jones track because of some game show. Anyway…
I have no idea the state of Toronto hip hop in 1991 because I was 9 and because I couldn’t have told you what hip hop was. But this sure feels distinct to me in comparison to some of the American hip hop I’ve heard from the same era. (Though not the “alternative” stuff.)
It’s the samples that feel distinct, whether or not they are. And the production. I don’t know the history of “jazz rap” – I know even less about this subgenre than I do about mainstream hip hop – but it definitely feels distinct from what was going on south of the border.
Of course distinct doesn’t mean better. I agree that “Ludi” is a super lazy song – at least the first verse is – and that maybe these guys aren’t as good rappers as people wanted to believe at the time. (It’s typical for the Canadian press to overreact though I don’t know that they did. It’s also typical for Americans and Brits to be like “Wait? There are Canadians rappers who are quirky!?!?” and just decide they’re amazing because they didn’t believe Canada could do it.)
Because I appreciate the distinct sound, and because I really don’t know enough about these weirder subgenres of hip hop, I’m inclined to give these guys the benefit of the doubt – that this was a pretty unique record all the more so from coming from Toronto.
But I really have no idea.