For Winnipeg hip-hop group the Lytics, the old adage is proving true: when it rains, it pours.

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This article was published 28/8/2015 (2168 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

For Winnipeg hip-hop group the Lytics, the old adage is proving true: when it rains, it pours.

And this is a most welcome deluge.

The fivesome begins a second stint of European tour dates in the fall, opens for legendary rapper Nas at the MTS Centre on Thursday, has an EP set for release in November and, earlier this week, was selected as one of the 84 acts taking part in the Converse Rubber Tracks global studio takeover.

The Rubber Tracks program offers free recording time to a select group of artists in one of 12 iconic studios around the world. The Lytics will work in the Converse Rubber Tracks studio in Brooklyn, N.Y.; other artists will be in such famous spots as Abbey Road Studios in London, Sunset Sound in Los Angeles and Tuff Gong in Kingston, Jamaica.

After two days in the studio, working with some of the best producers and sound engineers in the business, the artists retain all the rights to their music.

"We heard about it, we applied for it and just kind of forgot about it," says Andrew Sannie, founding member of the Lytics. "It was kind of crazy — one of these things you just do because it’s there — and it ended up working out."

Lifestyle sneaker company Converse set up the Rubber Tracks studio in Brooklyn in 2011 to provide free recording time with producers and engineers to emerging artists who otherwise might not be able to afford it. The company’s iconic canvas-and-rubber Chuck Taylor basketball shoes have been a favourite of musicians since the 1950s and the brand was looking for a way to pay back some of that loyalty.

More than 900 solo artists and bands have taken advantage of the program.

This year, the Rubber Tracks went global — artists from 28 countries were selected — and the Lytics were one of only six bands from Canada to make the grade.

"As we received over 9,000 applications from emerging artists around the world, it was challenging to narrow down the applications to 84," said Jed Lewis, Converse global music marketing director via email. "It required a thorough decision-making process based on a key evaluation criteria including talent, dedication and commitment to their craft, as well as how active they are in their local music community."

The Lytics will head to Brooklyn at the end of September.

"You never expect to win these kinds of things, because so many people apply," Sannie says. "So you kind of head into it not expecting a ton, but at the same time, any time you apply for something, you obviously believe you’re good enough to be chosen."

The Lytics were also good enough to be chosen to open for Nas at the arena on Thursday, a gig Sannie says the Lytics could not be more excited about.

The Lytics

The Lytics

"He’s a person we all grew up on. One of my favourite hip-hop records of all time was Illmatic; it’s probably the first one I really learned the words for front to back, so it’s kind of insane that we’re opening for this guy," says Sannie.

It’s also the first time the Lytics will have performed at the MTS Centre, something that’s been on Sannie’s bucket list for a long time. "For me, it’s exciting; it’s sort of like one of my last boxes to check as far as things in Winnipeg go," he says.

The band has begun to actively pursue avenues outside Winnipeg, too. The Lytics’ trip to Europe will be their second this year, with the intention of jump-starting a growing fan base. Sannie says the Europe approach to the culture of music is something that instantly resonated with the group, and the response encourages them to keep going back.

"They have a real appreciation for things over there. You see it in the way they come to shows — they’re genuinely interested in hearing new music, and it doesn’t even have to be in their language; they just want to hear it," says Sannie. "It’s such a different understanding and appreciation for music that I’ve never seen before. So it’s exciting to head back over there."

For those who have been waiting patiently on this side of the pond for any sniff of new material since the Lytics’ 2012 full-length, They Told Me, Sannie assures music is on its way sooner rather than later.

"We’ve finished the newest record and we’re going to be putting out a new EP in the fall and then a full-length early next year," says Sannie. "From there, hopefully, it’ll just be continuous music... no one will be waiting too long for new material or videos or anything."

Twitter: @NireRabel

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Manager of audience engagement for news

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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