What's New In Rap Queb: Planet Giza Drop Album 'Ready When You Are'

For this month's What's New in Rap Queb column, Complex Canada sat down with Tony Stone and Rami.B to talk about Planet Giza’s new album 'Ready When You Are.'

Planet Giza Montreal photo

Planet Giza Montreal photo

Planet Giza Montreal photo

Planet Giza has been a staple in Montreal’s hip-hop and R&B scene for almost 10 years now. From the trio’s respective beginnings as members of ALAIZ collective (Rami.B) and duo The North Virus (Tony Stone and DoomX), up until the release of their new album Ready When You Are, they’ve always been regarded as among the greatest beatmakers in Quebec.

But like other forward thinking artists, they’ve remained underground, even as the cosigns (starting with longtime collaborator Kaytranada) and accolades come in. Their latest is a testament to a new approach in sound, artistry, and even self-promotion.

Complex Canada sat down with vocalist Tony Stone and producer Rami.B to talk about Planet Giza’s new album Ready When You Are.

I feel like this album is a little different from the others. There was way more work on the sequencing, on the overall coherence of it. There are a lot of tracks that blend-in together. Plus, there is a little storyline that makes it fit all together, with a clear intro and outro. What was the goal with this album, was there anything you thought out more compared to the previous projects?
Tony Stone: Definitely to take it to another level. There was already sequencing and skits on the first album, Added Sugar. But for this last one, we wanted to take those same elements and bring them to another level, so all of that was very intentional.

What was the storyline inspired by?
Rami.B: Tony’s real life experiences [laughs].

TS: You know what I’m sayin’?! Me and my love stories, that’s what I was inspired by for the skits. But Ready When You Are also represents the relationship we have to our career: the idea that we’re ready to take the next step. It’s a double entendre.

In the introduction, you ask the girl: “Are you implying that I’m a whore”? Do you want people to pay attention to you.
TS: It goes even further, it’s a parallel with the first album where a girl asks me “what took you so long?” in the first skit. And in this album, it’s me asking the same question.

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I remember interviewing you in the past and at that time, you were quite patient about the eventual take-off of your career. Now, I feel like there was a shift in your approach. You seem much more proactive in achieving your career goals. Was there a particular event that changed things for you?
RB: I think it’s, first of all, because we grew up. But mostly, we understood with time that in the Montreal music landscape where we are in, we don’t have any other choice than to go get our respect over certain things. We don’t mean to diss others by saying that it’s the best music we’ve ever made, but we’re not the first first to say it, no one will say it for us. We also wanted to change the narrative over Planet Giza and say that at the end of the day, we do this with our lives, for real. In 2021, we did Don’t Throw Rocks at the Moon, which did well. The pandemic was over and during the pandemic, many artists had panicked over their future in the music business, which we almost kind of did. But at the end, we really didn’t fall into that and at some point, we said fuck that, we’re gonna do a full EP. And that’s when we started talking our shit.

Since the beginning of your career, you’ve always had big co-signs and collaborations, but for this particular album, you’ve put some emphasis on collaborating with heavyweight vocalists, especially with Kojey Radical. What was the process behind “Elevator”?
RB: This is the first one we did for the project, the oldest one. Kojey first discovered our music by himself. He was speaking to Tony by DM at some point. Meanwhile, DoomX had made a beat in the same vibe and he told us that it would be hard to put him on it. So we went to the studio, we recreated the whole beat because there was originally a sample on it, and we sent it to Kojey. By the way, you have to know that Kojey sends his stuff really fast! So he sent us his verse and others that he had made on several other beats. We actually had the idea, for a while, to do a whole project with him. We wanted to call it Planet Radical, since we had several tracks together. I don’t even think we talked to him about it.

TS: Funny anecdote [about the recording of the song]: it was during the pandemic, still in the studio, during the summer. Venna was in contact with Doom and Tony and at the same time, Kojey had his studio. It was funny because we were talking to Venna separately! So they ended up working on the song together.

There is also Saba on the album. Did he know about your music before you collaborated with him?
RB: It was him who first hit us up to tell us that he fucked with our song, “Rocky Road.” We told him that we listened to his music for a long time now. He eventually suggested that we should link up at some point, so we told him we would be in Los Angeles during the summer. 

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Once we went there, he was quite busy so we only got to link up towards the end of our stay. He came to the studio, we played him some beats. The second one we played was “WYD.” At that point he looked at Tony and said “I want to hop on this right now.” He was very open to having Tony lead him on the interpretation of his verse. Tony and Saba wrote and recorded everything in 2-3 hours and we did the arrangements back in Montreal.

For the previous projects, Montreal producer JMF was already quite present. On this album, he’s on 5 tracks. How did you develop this working relationship with him? We can almost say that he is the fourth member of Planet Giza!
RB: Yeah, pretty much. Basically, it was Dr. MaD who introduced us back then. The first time we worked with him was when we sampled a Gil-Scott Heron thing for an Added Sugar song, so we asked him to play it again for us. When he did it, we were so excited, it was amazing! I didn’t know if his background was hip-hop or jazz, but at the end of the day, he’s a producer, he’s not just playing keys. So at some point, while working for Don’t Throw Rocks, we thought we’d ask him to collaborate with us. Honestly, lowkey, this project is entirely co-produced by JMF. To this day, bro, when we do a session, he’s invited to our sessions. Sometimes, we have some beats ready and we propose him to play something over it, sometimes he comes with ideas and we work on it.

You were talking about times when you used sample stuff and then play it over. Do you still do that?
TS: Yeah, it still happens 50% of the time. It depends on the sample. If it’s unrecognizable, we’re not necessarily going to bother replaying it.

RB: When we did our EP in October, You Don’t Understand, we used a sample of fairly recent music. We thought we would just clear it but the artists gave us such a crazy price that we dropped the idea. In the end, we played something else instead of the original sample and it doesn’t even sound the same.

By the way, I was surprised, you guys did a drumless track on this album.
Tony Stone: Yo, shout-out to Mike Shabb and Craven for what they are doing! It’s legendary. We were inspired by that. We thought if we were going to do it, we were going to do it our way. I’ve never heard vocals with harmonies on a drumless beat, so that’s what we did on “Unavailable.”

RB: And we’ve been doing this for a long time! Tony had collaborated with ST on a drumless back in 2014-2015! That wave has been around for a long time.

Was this the first time you collaborated with Monte Booker?
TS: No, but it’s the first time we’ve released something officially together. To make the track for the album, we went to his house and worked for 12 hours straight! That guy’s a genius, he got so many pockets. Da-P also was with us during this session, by the way.  

Who did the drums on “Sometimes”?
RB: Our boy Kaytranada. We also worked in person with him. Tony had already started a demo. We hit the studio with that and Kaytra added the drums, DoomX also added stuff to it. It was a whole melting pot of ideas.

By the way, Tony, the threads you did in your Instagram stories, where you school people on hyper-specific rap stuff? I think that’s my favorite thing on the internet [laughs]. Personally, I connected with your music first because you’ve always been a music lover. Is that how the collaboration happen too?
RB: At the same time, it’s organic all these collaborations. It’s not forced. If they fuck with our music and we fuck with theirs, it works. We didn’t go for big features just to take advantage of the fact that he has a fanbase. We tried to do that early on in our career but it never worked out. For this project, we just thought we’d collaborate with people we think are good. Lan’do, he’s dope. Denzel Macintosh, same shit. That’s what we had in mind.

Here’s what else is going on in Quebec’s rap scene:

The talk of the town in Montreal hip-hop scene, SeinsSucrer, collaborated with the beatmaking OG GENERICTM to deliver of the most solid albums of the year to date, Un doute raisonnable.

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Montreal’s LaF released their anticipated sophomore album Chrome, two weeks before performing their biggest show ever at the MTelus on Apr 14. 

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Rowjay is making his way across Europe. 

Pro-V’s been on fire these past weeks, releasing video after video with all-star spitters.

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