What is “Powerfunk,” exactly? Just ask Montreal producer Shash’U. The subgenre, which he created, fuses funk and disco from the past with trap and electronic aesthetics of the future to present a potent sound for the present day.
Shash’U is a favorite of one Bad Gal Riri. Rihanna integrated the beatmaker’s “Man Down” remix into her 2016 Anti Tour, which would soon become a fixture of Navy stans as well.
Like many in his field, Shash’U is doing his best to keep the party going during the pandemic. He recently teamed up with the Montreal Canadiens for an exclusive pre-game DJ set via their official Twitch account.
Shash’U has released projects through both Fool’s Gold and Joy Ride Records, the latter label a powerhouse for Quebecois rap music that he helped incubate. With 43,000 SoundCloud followers and counting, it’s safe to say that Shash’U’s cult following will soon evolve into worldwide acclaim.
Lunice first stepped onto the scene in the late 2000s as a member of the Turbo Crunk collective. Soon after, he would meet Scottish beatmaker Hudson Mohawke and form the duo TNGHT. Their work was praised by many and caught the attention of Kanye West, who flipped their “R U Ready” track into the brilliance that is “Blood on the Leaves.”
Kanye is not the only major artist who Lunice caught the attention of. In 2015, Madonna asked the beatmaker to open up the European leg of her Rebel Heart Tour. Lunice’s DJ sets are just as energetic as his music. He doesn’t just spin a record, he becomes it. There is never a still moment, with Pierre bouncing around the stage the entire set.
In 2017, Lunice hit the world with a one-two punch, dropping both his debut album, CCCLX, and Moving Parts, a collaborative EP with The Alchemist. The producer has been relatively quiet since then but whenever he does drop, his music is always worth paying attention to.
Jamal “Jamvvis” Davis positioned himself in the local scene from an early age. During their time in CÉGEP (a Quebec-only two year university preparatory collegial system), Jamvvis was already opening for big shows across the city, including TOKIMONSTA and Ekali.
The closest thing to our very own J Dilla, the producer’s style is rather sparse. Less is more with Davis, leaving room on their musical canvas for his audience to paint the rest of the picture.
Jamvvis has been open about their struggles with mental health and says that working on music can be very therapeutic to him. “To be honest, it’s very hard to realize that you are depressed in the moment.,” Davis explained in an interview with VICE. “It was only after [a depressive state] was over that I realized that I had been genuinely depressed since I was 12.”
Earlier this spring, Jamvvis released a deluxe edition of his VAGAB0ND mixtape with rapper DO, the Outcast. The pair make the underground sound more accessible — its music for introverts that you can play around your friends.
1. Vnce Carter
Rap Keb is an anomaly in and of itself. The subgenre is exclusive to the province of Quebec, blending together the “franglais” (anglais-français/english-french) dialect of its citizens. When it comes to the French side of Quebec’s rap culture, VNCE Carter is one of the most dominant forces on the production end. The beatmaker is a longtime affiliate of Dead Obies, the South Shore fivesome who arguably spearheaded the Rap Keb movement. The group’s notoriety seeped into the US market last year, when they received a profile by the New York Times.
Carter’s production style is comparable to the club-ready aesthetic of US counterparts like Tay Keith or Mike Will Made-It. He is Montreal’s answer to the sound that is currently impacting American airwaves. VNCE is considered a unifyer in the city who works just as intently with the francophone side of the scene as he does with anglophone artists. When COVID-19 isn’t in the air, Carter regularly hosts a club night titled VNCE & Friends where he groups together some of Montreal’s most exhilarating artists for evenings of live entertainment.
He is one of the best music producers in Montreal to look out for.