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Nate Husser's Geto Rock For The Youth crackles to life on its lead single "Catherine," a raspy introduction to the unpredictable world that awaits: "I was raised in a hood downtown, but that shit was covered by a cloud," Husser murmurs over sparse acoustic guitar. Guns and guts on the ground soon follow, but this is hardly glorification. The Montreal that Husser describes is a stark, violent reality split between haves and have nots. "There's some real hard shit coming out of Montreal," Husser tells us. "Musically and life-wise. Everyone thinks it's peace and love and igloos out here, but there's some real shit that's going down."
The dam bursts on the third track, "KillaKop." Husser abandons the hushed whispers and guitars for huge samples and braggadacio on album standout "Paid to Party," leaves us in reggae-trap haze in "Hollyhood," and finally returns gently to earth with "Marshall Mathers Type Beat."
It makes for a rollicking, stunning seven tracks that pair Husser's uniquely insightful raps with druggy, surreal psych-rock. Montreal has its fair share of notable creatives—we see you, Kaytranada—but Husser is in a different musical world, creating hip-hop that's musically in rooted '90s grunge rock.
This is Husser's solo work. He's released music as part of the Montreal trio The Posterz, but made the shift to solo music after a couple of critically acclaimed EPs with the group. saying "I had to pick up my own pace," he says, "put my skills to use. I had this idea that I wanted to combine my favorite elements of '90s alternative grunge, feel good music with my favorite elements of hip-hop... and not make it sound corny."
Husser's production stands out as much as his lyrics. He made Geto Rock alongside producers Jason Brando, Joey Sherrett, Mike Shabb, Maky Lavender, and other local talent. The result is something new, a release that proves there's far more to Canadian hip-hop than Toronto. "I was filling a void," Husser says, "Not only for what my city lacks, but for what I feel people might need to hear. The fact that the hip-hop scene here is not bumping like it is anywhere else... we don't have a name or a face yet, and I'm trying to be that."
It goes past the music. Husser is part of Thug Mansion Family, a Montreal-based community organization that orchestrates coat drives, charity fundraisers, parties, and basketball tournaments. It's all part of the larger plan, a movement where music is part of a larger message.
"I don't like people trying to box me in, I don't like corny shit, I don't do pop shit," Husser says. "I'm mad that I don't have a hip-hop radio station in my city, because there are big corporations that want to handle what everyone listens to and pump Justin Bieber all day." Geto Rock might not stop Justin Bieber, but it has our attention: Nate Husser and Montreal have something to say.