Hip-hop artist Ghettosocks calls his songwriting style “unorthodox.” The Ottawa native, who launched his music career in Halifax after moving there to attend arts college 11 years ago, says it’s mainly due to the subjects he tackles. “I try to address fresh ideas,” says the MC/producer whose real name is Darren Pyper.
On his 2006 debut album, Get Some Friends, he wrote a song called “Read A Book,” in which he drops author and literary names. “I make a commentary on how a lot of rappers need to read books, to like, smarten up,” he says. “The message is ‘it’s for their own good,’ but it’s always fun and light-hearted. So in that way, in terms of the rap genre, it’s unorthodox.”
Ghettosocks’ two recent side projects, both duos with labelmates Teenburger (with Timbuktu) and Twin Peaks (with Muneshine), are also a little different. Both albums, Burgertime and Kissing Hands and Shaking Babies, respectively, are themed.
“Twin Peaks is loosely linked in to the work of David Lynch, and it’s a little bit darker, rooted in braggadocious raps over a variety of aural landscapes,” explains Ghettosocks. “Whereas Teenburger – which was produced entirely by Halifax legend DJ Jorun Bombay – is themed on ’80s movies and teen movies, so a lot more funny, more like a party record.”
Ghettosocks’ adventurous writing ways have earned him recognition from the music industry. His most recent solo album, 2009’s Treat of the Day, landed him a 2011 Juno Award nomination in the Rap Recording category, and a win at the 2011 East Coast Music Awards for Rap/Hip Hop Single for his song “Don’t Turn Around” (feat. Edgar Allen Floe). The year before, he received four nominations at the Nova Scotia Music Awards.
“Nowadays, rap has got stagnant,” says Ghettosocks. “There’s a lot of mimicry going on and emulation, people looking at what’s current or mainstream, especially Canadian artists looking at the U.S. market and emulating the styles and the subject matter. It just gets tired. I write about things that I know or things that I imagine.”’
His new solo album, yet to be titled, is slated for a spring release. At press time, he’d just dropped the lead single, “Invincible,” produced by Fresh Kils and featuring El Da Sensei from New Jersey’s The Artifacts. The album will also include production from Bix, Jorun Bombay, Juju from New York’s Beatnuts, and the Herbaliser from the U.K.
“As well, I’m going to produce half the record myself. I’m going to be handling the beats,” says Ghettosocks. “It’s going to be a little bit dark, a little bit more moody in terms of the sounds. If Treat of the Day was Easter, then this would be Halloween, if I would compare them to holidays.”
Now that’s unorthodox.
• A week after this interview, Ghettosocks donated a kidney to a family member.
• In 2011, he undertook his first extensive Canadian tour, sponsored by Via Rail, and has toured the U.S., Europe, and made an introductory visit to Japan.
• Ghettosocks has a sandwich named after him at the Good Food Emporium in Halifax (made of grilled cheese, tomato and avocado).