Montreal rapper Narcy may have made his latest album, Love & Chaos, over a five-week period during the pandemic, but this spiritual continuation of his 2018 SpaceTime isn’t specifically about the pandemic.
“I didn’t want to make a pandemic album,” Narcy said. “It’s about the macro and micro of life. It’s about the now, but it’s more about me and the creatives who are around me who have to shift their existence because of this.”
A self-professed control freak, Narcy has had to cede control of life and music to the whims of the virus. He had five shows in Europe lined up in March that were cancelled and even had a local gig opening for Jay Electronica penciled in that also didn’t happen.
Back home, he famously teaches about hip-hop at Concordia University, and while it’ll be a long time before he can fill a physical room of 200 students again like before, he’ll be teaching remotely as of the fall semester.
“What this pandemic taught me was to be grateful for what I’ve already achieved so far and to put it in perspective,” he said.
With no gigs or Dubai trips lined up, Narcy got to work at home with collaborators Sandhill and Thanks Joey an email away. Some of the songs were half-finished during the SpaceTime sessions and finally found their conclusion here. Amazingly, he also completed the project while homeschooling his two kids, who guest on Love & Chaos.
“I would write during the day and record at night when they were sleeping,” Narcy said. “Or sometimes I would set up recording sessions while they were awake and they would be quiet and doing creative activities. But they’re all over the record, so at times I would record them and involve them in the process so they could learn more about what I do.”
"Part of the downer of all this is I don’t know how to slow down. This is teaching me to be in the moment and not stress."
Narcy didn’t have too much time to overthink the process, so he approached it like a mixtape, concentrating on raw production and quick-draw lyrics where he would come up with two bars, step away and come back until the puzzle pieces came together.
Love & Chaos is also the first taste of an upcoming collaborative project with Thanks Joey called The Internet is Deep Fake. The online world has changed the way we consume culture and information, and the pandemic has only put things in overdrive.
“Every day on Twitter you get introduced to these things about the virus, and a day later they’re debunked,” he said. “That disinformation campaign, combined with the love I’m feeling at home with my wife and kids, and the chaos of being in a small place, is what the record is about.”
Narcy touched upon this already on the 2019 video for "Thoughts & Prayers," which superimposed his face on some of the world’s most infamous celebrities. It’s a weirdly prescient video because not only are bored celebrities getting in our faces more than ever, but it was also a creative visual that didn’t require leaving home. The song lives on as a bonus track here.
With any luck, the unexpected joy of being in the moment while making this isolation album—specifically letting things like Oddisee’s verse or Junia-T’s collab come to him instead of overplanning—is continue to be felt across future projects.
“Part of the downer of all this is I don’t know how to slow down,” he said. “This is teaching me to be in the moment and not stress.”
If anything, he’s looking to forward to the artistic innovations that could come about with so many idle hands.
“When Kendrick drops his album for sure he’s going to do a live performance in a space with visuals that you have to pay to watch,” he said. “That’s going to be happening because there won’t even be festivals next summer, realistically. I think people are going to find new ways to interact with fans and not be so contrived and controlled. Zoom is going to get played out. This is going to be the intro of VR and augmented reality. It’s going to be an opportunity for media to be more immersive, which is a blessing and a curse.”