Colony of Losers- Fuck Stigma and Mental Illness, I'm like 25

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

Making of Martinez#3: Ecstasy and Carousels

Posted on | July 8, 2010 | No Comments

His rap career—like most things involving my brother—began as a result of a girl.

While staying at the top of Middle Bay—the  same residence where I would chat with acidheads about my lovelorn life while having a panic attack—my brother was falling in love.

Not with the girl. He was fucking sick of the girl.

After six months of passion-fuelled hatred he broke up with his girlfriend. Only they both lived in residence and avoiding her was near impossible. Especially when she made friends with people in his Bay and would sit at the bottom of the stairs leading to his room like some sort of guard troll.

Thus began a regular diet of death stares and awkward moments.

His frustration grew with her unreasonable demands of his time, patience and concern. Her insanity grew in sync. He began to wonder if she would try to poison his food. And inspiration struck.

You can smell the pit stained stink of a boy’s residence as you move up the stairs. The smell of marijuana is covered by incense. Underneath is the smell of stale beer that drenches the sticky floors. The walls are shaking. Step through the door and music is being made.

My brother has gigantic white boy dreads made of coarse Hasidic hair he inherited from our Jewish ancestors. His baggy jeans threaten to trip him.  The room is filled with smoke and Noah is working the controls. My brother is yelling out words he reads from a page.

In the beginning recording studios were two Ghetto blasters, one playing the beat at full blast, the other attached to a microphone recording the yelling they called verses.

Such were the humble origins of Halifax rap gods Josh Martinez and Kunga 219. Only at this point they were Matthew Kimber and Noah Hasprey. And his first song—recorded via Ghetto blaster in his dorm room—was about a crazy bitch that wouldn’t leave him alone.

Matt’s interest had first been turned to hip-hop in high school. At the time he liked acid, beat poetry and causing an incredible amount of trouble. He couldn’t see himself participating much in the rap he listened to.

One of his constant compatriots in such mischief was a Buddhist boozehound named Noah Hasprey, with a penchant for marijuana, mixtapes and meditation.  He was also obsessed with rap and freestyled at any opportunity.

Noah’s mixtapes circulated and at the end there was always freestyle from Noah. He was the crew’s musical archivist and created highly individualized mixtapes based on what he knew members of his crew needed to hear.

It would take a crazy girl to make my brother to take the leap from fan to musician. At the time Halifax was ruled by hip hop purists Buck 65 and Jorun, who believed rap music needed to be made with a set of defined rules even if they didn’t make that music.

Rap was about punch lines and the best way of expressing your dopeness. Perform with a DJ. Singing was for sissies.  Poetry for weiners.  Matthew never liked being told what to do.

People liked his song on Noah’s album and encouraged him to pursue it.

These were good days for Matthew.

Disliking rap names he called himself Maxwell, after our maternal grandfather.

In the time of five on five acid versus shroom basketball games, performances at all night raves, boozed out freestyle sessions in dorm rooms where his friends would try to outdo each other, each looking to come up with the funniest rhyme, the most ridiculous simile, my brother blossomed.

Somehow a new type of hip-hop was emerging from the most unlikely of places. Halifax, Nova Scotia was setting the stage to change the hip-hop world forever. As of yet my brother was relatively unknown living in the shadow of the Sebutones(Buck 65 and Sixtoo), the remains of Hip Hop Club Groove and Universal Soul.

And then he met a madman from Truro, Nova Scotia who would change everything.

******************************************************************************************************

The first time I remember hearing about DJ Moves, aka Brian Higgins, it involved a come-on line he developed.

He would yell at a passing female, “Stop doing that.”

The girl was supposed to stop and ask what she should stop doing.

He would respond, “Being so beautiful.”

Cue smile; make out session and DJ spins some of his best getting jiggy jams.

Only he has a 160 proof whiskey voice and the girls wouldn’t ask what they needed to stop doing. Instead frightened they would walk faster and wonder what it was they should stop doing and consider how they could stop doing it to avoid being yelled at again.

Despite his gravelly tones and brutal bluntness Moves is the most loved man in Canada hip-hop.

According to my brother, Moves is the best and most prolific producer of hip-hop music that Canada has ever seen. He is also a boozehound, chain smoker and over all disgusting man that will tell you what’s fucked up about you to your face and then buys you ten drinks.

Born in Truro he made music with rap group Hip Club Groove and would one day produce the break out “Steal My Sunshine” for creepy supergroup Len.

His studio was a shitty apartment he shared with his girlfriend at the time. Discarded bottles of OE litter the floor. During recording sessions he would chain smoke cigarettes, forearm pressed with head level against the wall, left hand tapping away the beats and record.  When he removed his forearm it would like he had been spray painted around from the yellowing of the smoke coating his wall.

Brian hasn’t said anything in a while. He looks extremely pissed and seems to have run out of smokes.

A very ambitious project is being attempted.

After three weeks of furious research and intensive writing sessions Matt has come up with a grandiose opus concerning the Holocaust. Which is not exactly typical hip- hop fare.

Inspired by the films of Quentin Tarantino, the two are attempting something that has never been done in hip-hop. “Deny” traces an army captain as he struggles through the horrors of the Holocaust, cutting and back and forth in time creating a continuous story that lasts 9 and a half minutes. Matt knew that there would need to be intense change ups in the instrumental to make it work.

Moves accepted his challenge and began work. Taking samples from German orchestras of shame and sadness created after the war in apology for the horrible crimes committed he made a complex  tapestry. Making four instrumentals and weaving them together was much more complicated than it would be today.

They recorded on four tracks.

A cassette has 4 tracks. The right and the left going one direction, and two going on the other and the other side is the whole thing backwards. Put the scratches on another track, then you have to cut and paste this beat together, cutting it all together to get it onto a grid in a row.  You’d almost have to splice the reels to get four beats onto one tape. Somehow the puzzle has come together. A spliff has been smoked and the two have listened to their project.

Matthew doesn’t quite know what to say. Moves isn’t saying anything and that strikes Matthew as a bad sign.

“Smoke?” he says.

“Out.”

“You like it?”

“Yes.”

Silence returns.

The next day he receives a phone call from Moves.

Blown away by the power of what they had created Moves showed the song to local hip hop star Buck 65. Buck instantly declared that Matthew was his favorite rapper in the city.

What began as a drunken joke was starting to get serious.

In a few days five songs have been completed.

An album is ready.

Moves and Matthew go to a teachers supply store and buy up all their 30-minute cassette tapes.  Three songs on one side and 1 song on the other as well as the 9 minute magnum opus “Deny”..

There is only a speed dubber to place the master on one reel and then fast forward record onto the other.

50 tapes are made and the next twelve years of my brother’s life began to take shape.

***************************************************************************

In the depths of King’s College is the Wardroom.

To this day it still serves the cheapest beer in town. Once a year—until dollar drinks were outlawed due to a gigantic brawl at a local whorehouse “The Dome”—they hold the Wardroom’s birthday party. At this event drinks begin at fifty cents and go up by a quarter every half hour.

Yesterday was the release party for my brother’s first album “Maximum Well Being” and the bar manager was a fan of local hip-hop. Yesterday the drink special was forty ouncers of Bull Mac served in a paper bag.  Academics and assholes alike drank from the paper bag and saluted my brother’s efforts as his dreads dangled in the wind.

However it is the next night that Matthew remembers most.

He is playing a rave his friends are throwing called Family Circus. It takes place at a carnival grounds with the ride still in place.

It is the first night Matthew has ever done E and he can’t stop talking. Which is usually a problem for Matthew anyway.

The lights are so bright and the evening is so much more than he ever expected it to be. His eyes have become heating missiles directed at his girlfriend’s beautiful body.

“That is a huge fucking ride. You know that’s where they used to race pigs?” says my brother.

His girlfriend nods and kisses him on the cheek.

He finds he really enjoys being kissed on the cheek and asks her to do it again. She does.

He can’t stop smiling. In a couple minutes he will perform for the second time that week.

But for now it is time to go on a ride and have a drink out of his flask. She holds his hand and he doesn’t want to let go.

The  ferrish wheel reaches the top and stops for a moment.

He can see the city lights and thinks about how much has changed in such a short time.

Tomorrow he goes to Thailand and leaves the city behind.  Why now?

The city is alive in a way that it has never been before. DJ’s are coming from all around the world. It seems like the Sebutones might become famous. People know his name and he feels like he is onto something.

He holds the hand of his girlfriend and knows that he is in love with her.  That may be the E talking.

He can feel his pulse jumping up and down doing cartwheels inside his skin. He is going to see Asia and Australia and find that world he can only seem to touch through his music. He feels so alive yet knows he hasn’t lived at all.

“Can you see that?” he asks her.

She doesn’t know how to reply.

“It’s the world,” he says. “It’s right there.”

Amidst the circus lights, he says goodbye to the best friends of his life.  Goodbye to the Halifax of his childhood, basketball games Acid vs. Shroom, Café Ola, the Khyber, the Marquee and the girls he constantly fell in love with.

The next day he boards the flight to Vancouver, and from there another plane to LA and one last flight to Australia.

Little does he know that his tape will begin to circulate and the dreams of those nights will become his life.

At 20 years old, he would fly away from everything he has ever known to find himself.

The rest of his life will be filled with similar planes, taking him away from the people he cares about to try to chase that high.  Every time he feels that he fits the necessity of his life will take him away.  For now let’s leave him on that ride, with the bright lights of a city that loves him and a world he is about to know.

With the world, right there.

Welcome to the Colony of Losers, a world of quarter life crises, anxiety, depression and the friends and the failures on the way to your future. This is the story of Michael Kimber’s panicked fall into adulthood.

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    Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalist who suffered a nervous breakdown on November 3rd, 2009. On March 28th, 2010 when he recovered from mental illness, he began writing a blog called Colony-of-losers. About falling on your face to figure out who you are and the hilarious antics of a blond jew. What began with a few friends and his mother reading has become a cult phenomenon, averaging 10,000 views a week, receiving praise from Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and many others. On, November 3rd, 2010, the one year anniversary of his mental breakdown he signed with Anne McDermid and Associates, the largest literary agency in Canada. In a year he went from wearing pajamas, making his couch depression HQ to leaving his hometown for the Toronto, where he exclusively wears business suits and the armor of ancient Greeks. Don't worry, he's still choking on the feet he contently sticks in his mouth and making moments awkward just by being part of them. During these struggles he met other talented bastards and drew them into his circle. Peter Diamond became his illustrator. Patrick Campbell his video editor and part time photographer. He recently added the incredibly talented John Packman as Colony of Losers Toronto photographer. Without the support of the Colony of Losers, Michael Kimber would be nothing. Welcome to the losers and the success that comes from utter and complete failure. You aren’t alone. Follow him on twitter.com/colonyoflosersand twitter.com/quimbo. If you’d like to hire him for a public speaking engagement for mental health events in Toronto, like to arrange an interview, offer millions to publish his book or for another reason contact Michael please email him. And join his facebook Colony of Losers.

    Really obvious disclaimer:
    I’m not a trained psychologist. Just a fellow traveler. If you need help seek it from the professionals. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a help locator. You can find crisis resources provided by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. If you are in the states check here. It will give you services by zip code. I’d also recommend checking out Mindyourmind.ca. I think they do great work and have been a help to me personally.

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