Lary Kidd originally wanted to call his second album Thus Spoke Larry Kidd, something that would have been in character for this Ahuntsic (Québec) rapper who’s fond of literary references, and who once casually dropped the name of Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran. But he eventually realized that a reference to Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra might be heavy, and decided instead to choose a title that was evocative of another concept linked to the German philosopher: The Superman.
Since the album’s release last November, Larry has refrained from posing as an intellectual, and rightly claimed instead that the Superman idea also corresponded to the extreme braggadoccio so typical of the rap scene. “It’s a way of placing yourself above the fray; I love bragging!” he likes to say. “It’s always been part of the hip-hop codes, it’s not just something that you fall into. A good knowledge of the genre’s codes is what helps me explore, go further, and build my sound intelligently.”
His sometimes killer rhymes, however, go beyond mere show-off. While everybody agrees that Surhomme’s production is airier, and that the rhymes are more playful than those found on the anxiety-producing Contrôle, the new rhymes are often very dense, beginning with those of the title piece, whose references to drug consumption are more of a warning than a glorification.
“At my age , I’ve grown somewhat wiser,” Kidd explains. “When I talk about depravity in my songs, I mostly look back to my early 20s for inspiration – rap, after all, is a young people’s music! I hope to still be relevant when I’m 40, but it’s important not to turn into an old man preaching to his audience.”
Put together with Ruffsound and his old sidekick Ajust – the sound builders who’ve contributed to Loud’s success – Surhomme is both punchier and lighter than Kidd’s previous opus, and much easier to take in. “I sat down for six months writing the words, but the music came in a flash,” he says. “The guys [Ruffsound and Ajust] arrived at the cottage, they set up their keyboards, and they worked until 11:00 p.m. every day. They’re just like machines, they can come up with something like 10 beats in a work day.”
Every time he gets a chance, Kidd stresses the importance of beat-makers in his creative work. “They work like maniacs, especially in the weeks following the recording,” he says. “It takes a lot of talent to take a rap album that could easily become repetitive and tiresome, and turn it into something rich and varied, and I think that they succeed in doing that spectacularly.”
“I’ve realized that the hummed, somewhat soft rap that dominates right now isn’t my thing.”
Unlike his old pal Loud (credited on the song “Sac de sport” ), Kidd hasn’t yet broken into the pop scene, but he’s far from feeling sorry about it. “I’m making a good living with my clothing line [Officiel], I never lack work, quite the contrary!” he says. “And the cool thing is that my sideline is providing me with another creative avenue; it’s not like I have to go back to mopping floors!”
That security is making it possible for Kidd to do his own thing without trying to please at all costs. “Of course, I could have a few club songs with women in them,” he laughs. “But I’ve realized that the hummed, somewhat soft rap that dominates right now isn’t my thing. Personally, I’m sticking to a more classic rap, and I hope that when that kind of sound is back in style, I’ll be recognized as someone who has always toed the line. I’m not trying to make myself look like an old purist, but I sometimes feel completely disconnected from today’s sound. When I looked at my Spotify playlists, I realized that the song I listened to the most times in 2019 was Ghostface Killah’s “Mighty Healthy,” a piece that goes back to 1993!”
But don’t believe that Kidd is frozen in time. It’s the opposite: in our interview, he frequently stresses the importance of evolving without losing your character. “This album took me to the next level,” he says. “I feel that the process made me a better rapper, both in the flow and in the writing. Everything I’m writing now is four times more solid. I look for the right turn of phrase, the right rhyme, and I stay away from stuff that’s too facile. Writing half in French and half in English, for instance, just because it’s easy, is something in which I’m no longer interested.”