2008 Western Canadian Music Award Nominees Touch & Nato are presently gearing up for the release of their sophomore album. An album that follows their highly successful collective debut entitled Intelligent Design.
Although a virtually unknown Albertan hip-hop group they managed to reach number one on college charts all over North America. In summer of 2007, Intelligent Design snuck into Canada’…s number one spot for Campus Radio Weekly Top10 Hip-Hop Charts. Touch & Nato later followed that up with a number one single on esteemed US based “Rap Attack” college radio chart, topping efforts by well-known artists like Lupe Fiasco, Rakim, Dizzee Rascal, Moka Only and Madlib.
Their hilarious video for “Adult’s Story”, a Slick Rick-meets-Maury Povich riot has already received thousands of plays on popular sites like YouTube and has been noted as “possibly the cleverest remake of the year” by Toronto’s Now Magazine. A growing list of positive album reviews include respected websites such as HipHopCanada, Urbnet and CDBaby. They’ve even been played on CBC Radio 3’s popular podcast, with good friend Cadence Weapon singing their praises.
So, just who are these guys?
“From the land of the pickup truck and black rubber puck” (also known as Edmonton, Alberta) comes Touch, an aggressive, passionate emcee with swagger to spare, and Nato, one of the nation’s best kept secrets at making beats and manning the turntables. These two don’t care about anything except making booming, raw hip hop music- pop considerations are left at the door.
Touch is a pioneer in the Edmonton scene, performing with his crew Dangerous Goods Collective since the early ‘90s. His reputation as an incredibly detailed and intelligent lyricist has spread across the country through multiple tours. With grit comparable to Ras Kass or Saukrates and emotion similar to Ghostface Killah, he successfully pulls off a street-style that radiates heart and struggle. Any Edmonton emcee is bound to mention Touch as an icon in the scene, and his West End roots have been developed for years, even rhyming in a group with E-Dot, now a star rapper in New York City with Uncle Howie Records.
Touch’s rhymes are perfectly matched on “Intelligent Design” with beats and cuts by Nato, who is quickly becoming known as one of the country’s premier producers. His studio has been used by almost everybody in his city’s hip hop scene and beyond, including Wordsworth (Brooklyn, NY) and rising star Cadence Weapon, both of whom make guest appearances on “Intelligent Design”; in fact, Nato lends his production on Cadence Weapon’s sophomore album “Afterparty Babies” (Epitaph/Upper Class/Big Dada). Nato uses a variety of samplers, keyboards and live players to create his hard-hitting bangers. He has also worked with Epic (college radio cult-favourite) and Dragon Fli Empire (CBC and campus radio favourites, he produced their track “Invasion” featuring Touch, which was featured on the prestigious “Up North Trip” compilation).
“Intelligent Design” is 18 tracks of amazing concepts, from the poignant and reflective “Somethin’ Real” which focuses on the senselessness of murder, to the previously-mentioned hilarious remake “Adult’s Story”, picking up where Slick Rick left off with Touch claiming he is “not the father” on a Maury Povich-like talk show. There’s also the catchy “Can’t Hold Me Back”, an anthem to staying determined with Belgian singer Nomad and “What I Really Wanna Say”, a defiant defense of freedom of speech featuring Cadence Weapon. Touch and Nato are ready to unleash their explosive sound, get ready to be blown away by these mad scientists.