‘Good ears, good people’ help Weed Man Son to grow
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There’s a lot of Jamaica and a lot of Winnipeg in Dill the Giant’s music.
The cultural mix that is a major part of his life resonates in his 2021 album, Weed Man Son, and a new deluxe version that includes nine remixes created by Winnipeg musical friends of the original LP’s eight tracks.
“That was the goal of the whole record, to see what new life could be breathed into it, and giving a platform for all the other great producers we have here,” says Dill the Giant, who is Dillan Morgan when he isn’t performing solo or with 3PEAT, the Western Canadian Music Award-winning rap group.
Among those who added their spin to Dill the Giant’s music include deadmen, the producing tandem of Royal Canoe’s Matt Peters and Matt Schellenberg, Anishinaabe DJ and producer Boogey the Beat, BBS Steve, his fellow 3PEAT member and producer on Weed Man Son.
Dill said BBS Steve encouraged him to add some remixes to the project, and the rapper found out quickly that others were keen to join his musical party.
“The turnaround on some of these guys was insane, Boogey, the deadmen, all those guys hit it big and pretty quick… Good ears, good people, good community,” Dill says. “It’s something to flair up the summer.”
Deadmen added percussion and loopy synths, common sounds in Royal Canoe music, to Going Good and Morning Dew that match Dill’s high-tempo raps.
Boogey the Beat creates an eerie presence behind Dill in Double Down and BBS Steve adds harmonica and a punchier beat to the traditional reggae rhythm of the album’s title track.
“Some of the stuff we got back, I could see myself playing with a little bit more… you always have to try something new,” he says.
Dill the Giant is a first-generation Jamaican-Canadian; his parents met in the Caribbean island nation and moved to Winnipeg, and he was born here.
He has a two-year-old daughter, so being in the middle of three generations of Jamaican Canadians in Winnipeg has kept Dill’s focus on family, and that has influenced his music on Weed Man Son.
“I grew up in a very Jamaican home, all my cousins, aunties, uncles, same thing, pretty much born and raised over there, so we keep it very yardie here,” he says.
While artists sampling other artists’ music is commonplace, and some have even sampled sounds of nature for their recordings, Dill takes the practice a step further, adding his family’s voices to his album, including early words from his daughter and lessons from his father, Wayne Morgan.
“He speaks throughout the whole record, giving you some food for thought, reminding people you’ve got to love yourself first before you can love someone else,” Dill says.
He also helped provide Dill with a Jamaican musical foundation that includes mainstays such as Bob Marley and the Wailers, Capleton and Jamaican-British singer Maxi Priest, who fuses reggae with R&B.
“(My father’s) like a big focal point in my life. We’ve got an interesting relationship. He wasn’t necessarily around all the way when I grew up, but his presence, his love, always calling, almost annoying with me as a kid, just to talk and share with whatever he knows with me.
“He’s cool man, there’s not that many people with that kind of swagger around here, so I appreciate my dad a lot.”
A new record deal for Indian City will expand the musical legacy of Vince Fontaine, the group’s late founder and frontman.
The Juno-nominated band 2021 album, Code Red, the last one the band recorded with Fontaine will be re-released by Warner Music Canada, the Canadian arm of the global entertainment company, on Sept. 30.
Fontaine, who also co-founded Eagle & Hawk during his lengthy music career, died Jan. 11. He was 62.
“Vince Fontaine used his voice to bring attention and action towards reconciliation, leaving a legacy that will be felt forever by the Canadian music community,” Warner Music Canada president Kristen Burke says in a release. “We are honoured to partner with Indian City to celebrate Vince’s important work and inspirational life.”
The album includes guest appearances by Chantal Kreviazuk and Jim Cuddy, with the Blue Rodeo frontman appearing in a new video for the track Star People, which he sings on Code Red.
Speaking of Boogey the Beat, he is one of 12 grant recipients for the Music Video Production Project, an initiative launched by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television and RBC.
The funding is for a video concept for Boogey’s song Run for Cover, which he performed with the Snotty Nose Rez Kids at the Canada Walk of Fame ceremonies in Toronto in May.
Besides the B.C.-based First Nations hip-hop duo, Boogey the Beat — Les Boulanger — has provided the beat for other acts such as the Halluci Nation, the award-winning electronic music group that was A Tribe Called Red.
Mentorship and networking opportunities are also part of the package.
Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.