Unpretentious, unfiltered and goofy

Punk hip-hop duo Rebel Yell want to invite you to a very special Kitchen Party

Any resemblance to Billy Idol is purely coincidental: To follow up their debut CD Greatest Hits, local hip-hop duo Rebel Yell will be releasing two videos and an EP at the Lo Pub.

When the news came that one half of the instrumental math tech-funk quartet Red Blanket had released a rap record, many fans may have been a little wary.

The duo, made up of John Vogan (a.k.a. Critical Jim) and Dustin Karsin (a.k.a. El Te Gringo), formed under the moniker Rebel Yell and released their first record Greatest Hits in 2008. The record is a blend of musical styles, mixing punk with hip hop in an infectious and often hilarious manner. Driven by their ridiculous rhymes and lo-fi beats, they deal with Winnipeg, touring, drinking, the environment, cribbage and travelling in a manner you probably haven’t heard before.

“It was just something for us to goof around with and a couple of years later here we were with 10 or 11 songs. It was either waste them and just share them with friends or craft an instrumental and compile some artwork, press it and put it out,” said Karsin.

Even though Red Blanket is primarily an instrumental band, the offshoot duo have gone from saying basically nothing onstage for years to being an almost chatterbox stream of consciousness.

“With Red Blanket I always took it so serious and I had to portray myself this certain way. With Rebel Yell I don’t really care what people think. As long as we’re not hurting other people’s feelings or being negative towards a community or group – my filter is totally off,” explained Karsin.

“It’s really unpretentious and Rebel Yell is just really goofy because we’re goofy” added Vogan.

The group is now ready to release Kitchen Party, a four-track EP that features two reworkings of older tracks and two from the upcoming full-length release.

The group blossomed into a three piece recently, taking into their fold Keli Martin (The Details) on bass. For the EP they also enlisted Paul Lindell (The Hearsemen) to fill out the bottom end on acoustic double-bass.

The whole experience is decidedly lo-fi and keeps the organic vibe created on their earlier release going.

“If I was a rapper in Winnipeg and heard our music, I would be like, ‘Fuck This!’ We had a good time recording it and put a lot of time into it, but we’re not so serious about rap that we need that acceptance into the rap scene,” Vogan said.

With economics and environment degrees behind them, the duo are not all fun and games, but also bring some pretty heavy topics to the table.

One particular track, Apa Khabar (or “How you doin’?” in Indonesian) from their first record, certainly contains an underlying message of anti-corporatism.

“Our political mindset is not really putting a message out there. We’re just saying what we think and take it as you want,” said Vogan. “Social justice [issues] are things that are important to me. When I am writing songs that just comes out. I don’t want to drive around from Wal-Mart to Tim’s to Home Depot in my truck. I wanna walk to Beaver Lumber.

“Travelling totally changes your perspective and I use those [experiences] to try to create awareness.”

Published in Volume 64, Number 21 of The Uniter (March 4, 2010)

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