It’s been 25 years since Choclair told us he likes “chillin’, ‘Monday Night Raw’ watching” on Rascalz’ legendary hit “Northern Touch”. And while a lot’s changed since then — smartphones, global warming, an impending AI apocalypse — some things remain exactly the same.
For one, the Toronto rapper is still a devout wrestling fan. We spend the first 10 minutes of our interview talking shop about the latest WWE storylines. “I don’t want them to break up the Usos,” he insists. “Don’t break up that Bloodline movement!”
What’s more, Choclair is still a fan of chilling. You can hear it all over “Bon Voyage”, his latest single in collaboration with DJ Alonso Mendez and Teria Morada. On the sun-soaked, Latin-flavoured track, the “Let’s Ride” rapper stirs up a lyrical mojito, spitting about kicking back anywhere from Whistler to Cancun. It’s the first of several collaborations between the three, and a sign of the 48-year-old MC’s willingness to stretch his musical wingspan at this stage in his career.
Ahead of his performance at the second annual Black Culture Celebration in Vancouver on June 17, we caught up with Choclair to chat about his new music, wrestling, the invaluable advice Dr. Dre once gave him and a perplexing encounter with Ice-T.
So Choclair, I want to begin with the hard-hitting questions: Do you still like chilling and “Monday Night Raw” watching?
I do! But the funny thing is that I don’t get a chance to watch it every Monday night. So what I’ll do is I’ll watch the top 10 highlights the next day on YouTube for “Smackdown” and “Raw”. I sit there with a big bowl of popcorn and watch the recap for the whole week. But I’m still “Monday Night Raw” watching. That’s for sure.
Back when “Northern Touch” dropped in ’98, that was the Attitude Era.
Yeah, The Rock and Stone Cold, all those guys and that, that was a hardcore era. I was fully into it at that point, for sure.
That was the best era, man. I was really into it back then and then grew out of it. But very recently I got sucked back into it for some strange reason.
They changed it, because Triple H really took it over. So I guess he’s trying to modernize it. Vince McMahon is Vince McMahon, he’s been around since the ’70s so maybe he just kind of outgrew his clock, and Triple H is bringing all the guys from NXT back up. He’s actually using some of the guys that have been around but always were the jobbers. And Roman Reigns is now sort of beefing with The Usos. I kinda don’t want them to break them up though, because that’s a cool package. When they broke up The Shield I was like, oh my gosh, like, why? I don’t want them to break up The Usos. They can have family beef and everything, but they should be a core. Don’t break up that Bloodline movement! I would keep them together, but who am I?
Yeah. [Laughs.] I saw that wrestling was coming to Toronto in August, and I was like, I wonder if they’d get me in the ring. Imagine that, huh? I could give somebody the Stone Cold stunner, and I walk out to the ring and they’re playing “Let’s Ride”. Oh my God. Would Toronto be happy? I guess so.
That would be one of the loudest pops you’d ever hear at Scotiabank Arena.
I believe so too. Imagine, like everybody’s getting beat up in the ring and all of a sudden you hear [Beatboxes the beat for “Let’s Ride”] and then I start running out to the ring. Oh man, people are gonna be like, what the hell’s going on right now?
That would be so dope! [Laughs.] I’d go crazy. So, by the way, I’m loving the new track. It’s a different vibe for you! How’d it come together?
DJ Alonzo and Teria came to me through an engineer that we both work with, and we just kind of came together through him. Apparently, they were working on this track for about a year. And I heard it and I’ve been really trying to expand my role, as far as making music. I remember CeeLo Green, when he became Gnarls Barkley, he said, “I just don’t want to be locked in a box. Like, I’m just Goodie Mob and that’s all that I’m going to be.” And then he started doing all those other things. Even like Andre 3000 with Outkast, they didn’t want to just be locked in a box.
I’ve started working more on just expanding the way that I’m heard. Because one of the best things is that it’s not just hip-hop people that enjoy my music. There’s people that’ll be like, “Hey, I’m not really into rap, but I like you.” When I went out to Junos and I bumped into Nickelback, they were like, “Hey, I know you! And I was like, “Okay, well, I know you, I didn’t know you knew me.”
So for your next cross-genre collab, would you link up with Nickelback? Do a track with them maybe?
Man, I would love to go and do something with them. I would love to do something with Biff Naked. I just saw that Aerosmith is doing their last run. I’d love to revamp “Walk This Way” or something. I pretty much like to work with everybody, anything, because I grew up just enjoying music in general, like every single genre. My older brother got me into hip-hop because he would be pumping 88.1 from 1 to 4 pm on Saturday, blaring down my mom’s speaker. I’m listening to Phil Collins, Quiet Riot, Bon Jovi, Guns N Roses, but also LL Cool J, Lil Uzi Vert, Rakim, EPMD. I’m pretty much open to working with anyone because music’s just in my soul and I really enjoy doing it.
I was talking to Kardi a while back and he said that Dr. Dre really loved “Let’s Ride”. Is it true that he even approached you about it?
Yeah. So when the “Up in Smoke” tour came to the Molson Amphitheater — I guess now it’s called the Budweiser Stage — Eminem, Dre, Cube and everybody came up there, and we went to the show. The afterparty was at the BamBoo at Queen and John. Xzibit and these other West Coast guys were up on the balcony. So I go up there and then Dre comes walking out. And he comes up to me and goes, “Hey, what would it take for me to go and work with you?”
I look at him and I’m like, “What? Not much.” [Laughs]. He told me he saw the video because he’s Dr. Dre, so he has a satellite dish and he’s watching MuchMusic. And I was coming out through Priority Records at the time, so he was seeing the videos on B.E.T. He was like, “Yeah man, this is a really great song.” So then he gave me his number and asked me if I wanted to go to the Buffalo show.
So me, Kardi and a bunch of us got front row seats. Dre gave us tickets. We went down to Buffalo, and watched the “Up in Smoke” show. All the people that couldn’t cross the border to get into Canada, they’re all there in Buffalo. And then I had the one pass to go backstage. So I go backstage and then go into Dr. Dre’s room. And I was like, ‘Man, this guy’s got a way better rider than I do.’ He got this big-ass TV, the Xbox 360 at the time. He got food with the silver thing and the fire at the bottom, and he’s got all this stuff.
And then he came in and we had one of the best discussions I’ve ever had about music. He told me there’s three rules to making music. “Number one is the hook.” So whatever’s catchy is to catch you, right? Everybody knows the hook. He goes, “Number two is the music.” This was when “Still D.R.E” was just coming out, so he’s like, “What song do you think of when the pianos hit?” I’m like, “Still D.R.E.” That’s the second hook. Because you got the hook that’s the chorus, and you got the hook that’s in the music. He goes, “Then you have the hook where everybody is mumbling along with the verse and then goes ‘And yes, we do it and we do it, do it well!’ That’s the third hook.”
So have a hook in your verse, have a hook in the music, and have a hook of the hooks. And that’s one of the greatest music lessons I’ve been taught. And it was because of Dr Dre. And then I lost his number! Aw jeez Louise.
Oh no! Seriously?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I remember a friend of mine, Mr. Morgan, I actually gave him the number and I was surprised that he didn’t have it either when I asked. But yeah I lost his number.
What a story, though! Hey, at least you got that great advice from a legend.
Even Ice-T! Oh my gosh. I went to Ice-T’s house. This is going back a little bit, but every guy’s crush, the girl on the front of the Power album, she answered the door! I went to his house up in the hills of wherever in California, it was for some type of project. She answered the door and I was like, “You’re the cover of the Power album!” She’s like, “Hi, would you like some iced tea?” I was like, “Ironic.” [Laughs.]
And I walked in and met him, and he gave me some very sound advice as well. He was just like, “You know, the hardest thing for anybody to do is to give a compliment.” And it was weird the way he brought it up, but he’s like, “You can tape somebody’s arms together, legs together, put tape on their mouth.” I’m like, ‘Where are we going with this?’
He’s like, “You could do that, you could do that and that. And they can still criticize you with their eyes.” So, sometimes the hardest thing for somebody to do is give you a compliment because it makes them feel smaller because they’re boosting somebody else up. You could always criticize no matter what. But I didn’t understand at first, with the bound arms and legs thing. I was like, ‘Did I do something wrong? I only said hi to her at the door. Where is this going?’ [Laughs.]