SOUND SEEKERS: Jesse Dangerously, rap legend


Jesse Dangerously shows his stuff. Photo by Jeff Ngan



Jesse Dangerously. Photo by Jeff Ngan

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine.

He’s compulsive with his references, dropping names and ideas from the likes of Napoleon, General Hospital, Neutral Milk Hotel, Flaubert and Sailor Moon. His highbrow kowtows and pop culture mulching bring out the rhyme rhythm in all of us.

He is Jesse Dangerously, a self-described rap legend, transplanted from the East Coast. For the past coupla years, he’s been hanging out in Ottawa, observing and interpreting life with drollness.

His newest release is called Humble & Brilliant. (Technicality: The album only exists physically as a chapbook — with a download code. According to Dangerously, “CDs are embarrassing.”)

The book parses Dangerously’s verses and gives insight into his frame of mind. From the self-deprecating introduction:

This book is a work of hip-hop. The characters, incidents, and dialogue are pretty much real to begin with, but grossly distorted by the author’s rampaging ego and deep emotional problems.  Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely accurate except where exaggerated or massaged to make rap legend Jesse Dangerously look cooler, smarter, or sexier.

No pretense or cheap sentiment here. Dangerously (né MacDonald) delivers his rhyming and writing with subversive wit. On stage, he’s a showman, working the room, sweating buckets, and living his words. Listen for stand-out tracks Halifax Rap Legend (about his hometown scene) and Hot Commodity, a song that questions the harm of pornography (“form and tradition are sort of worse than neglect, you’ve gone swimming / Both porn and religion distort a person’s perspectives on women”).

With Krista Muir. Saturday, May 14. Raw Sugar Café, 692 Somerset St. W.

“Melodies are easy, it’s writing lyrics that’s the hard part,” says Jeff Meleras, a part-time songwriter (the rest of the time, he’s practicing injury law here in Ottawa). “I want to avoid being preachy, clichéd or self-indulgent.” To do that, he had to spend a lot of late-night hours thinking through concepts and ideas. From there, he sculpted nine songs to form the tracks on his fourth album, Damage, which comes out this weekend. The melodies are spare (created with piano, guitar, voice, a bit of percussion) and were honed by Jack Pelletier (Jupiter Ray Project; Battle of Ontario) and producer Dave Draves. With Ana Miura. Sunday, May 15. 4 p.m. $12. Black Sheep Inn, 753 Riverside Dr., Wakefield.

They call themselves the Improvising Musicians of Ottawa/Outaouais and, fittingly, their acronym IMOO sounds like some of the experimental sounds that this collective produces. David Broscoe (reeds/electronics), Jamie Gullikson (drums) and Mark Molnar (cello/electronics) come together to fuse sounds, bend concepts, and turn longstanding ideas about music upside down. Sunday, May 15. 7 p.m. Umi Café, 610 Somerset St. W.

Punk-a-billy trio Evil Farm Children celebrate Friday the 13th! 9:30 p.m. $10. Elmdale Tavern, 1084 Wellington St. W.

Guitar-drum duo The Ticket celebrate the release of their debut CD. With guests The Late ‘94s and Riishi Von Rex. Saturday, May 14. Elmdale Tavern, 1084 Wellington St. W.

GOOD2GO and The Bushpilots come together for a Full Moon Rock n’ Roll Cottage Party! Friday, May 13. 8:30 p.m. $10. Black Sheep Inn, 753 Riverside Dr., Wakefield.

See hometown heroes Souljazz Orchestra before they take off for a European tour this summer. Friday, May 13. 9 p.m. $10 adv. Barrymore’s, 323 Bank St.