Little Burgundy's Husser poised to take up mantle of Canada's rap royalty

Montreal rapper Husser is about to put English Montreal's rap and hip-hop scene on the map. Nantali Indongo tells you why.

Nantali Indongo sits down with the talented Montreal rapper being heralded as 'The Next'

Montreal rapper Nate Huskinson, better known as Husser, shot his still-to-be-released latest video in his family's home country of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. (submitted by Nate Huskinson)

Rapper Husser is about to put English Montreal's rap and hip-hop scene on the map.

I'd say take my word for it, but the Maclean's of the world's hip-hop community beat me to it Monday morning: The Source magazine tweeted an almost identical sentence, minus the reference to Nathan Huskinson's linguistic background.

This kind of attention is exciting for Huskinson, better known as Husser, the 25-year-old Montreal native of Little Burgundy.  

It's monumental for Montreal's (read Quebec's, read Canada's) rap and hip-hop credibility.

I first noticed Huss, as he's lovingly called in the city, as a member of The Posterz back in 2015. The crew of friends, who grew up together, were releasing original music. 

Although I wasn't always into some of the lyrical content, which lent itself to some stereotypes, I had to recognize the skill.  And the videos were eye-catching and creative.

The trio has since disbanded but not before being hailed for their talents and potential greatness in Canadian and American music mags.  

Growing buzz

The buzz around Husser and his solo project has been growing ever since.

He patiently released singles and videos, including Can't Blame 'Em and Catherine, after signing with a local label, CultNation, in 2015.

After this summer's video release of Like It Doesn't Hurt with Charlotte Cardin, it was no surprise to see Husser's name in Quebec lineups for festivals such as Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu's international balloon festival, the International de montgolfières.

To date, that video for Cardin's original song has raked in more than four million views.

Husser's verse and acting are pretty outstanding components — stereotypes about violent black men in interracial relationships with white girls aside.

The Next you-know-who?

International and local music magazines and blogs have been underlining Husser's talent as a fresh new voice, with some of those articles referring to him as "The Next" — after that guy from Toronto who's six years older than Husser and has been holding the throne as Canada's Rapper for at least that long.

When I sat down with Huss in the cafeteria here at Maison Radio-Canada, he spoke softly and paused a lot, reflecting carefully before he answered each of my questions.

I asked him what he thinks about critics and fans alike preparing his coronation, even before the release of a full-length album.

The pause was worth the wait.

"If I'm doing something that sounds like anything that somebody else kind of already did or someone can put it in a box, then I won't do it," Husser said.

"You could either just kind of be lazy and just do something that's expected. It's not bad necessarily, you know,  it's just expected, and it's what everybody else is already doing — which is what I think used to be the norm."

It's his main, understated criticism of his predecessors in Montreal.

"Nobody was really being unique, everybody just doing whatever was, like, trending."

Talent is key

I agree with Husser.

In my era, being authentic and original was the code.

With rap these days, it's easy to copy.

It's easy to dress up like the artist who's getting attention right now, especially in Montreal and in Canada, where hip hop's critical mass is still growing. 

I think Husser's choice words "used to be the norm" are key to letting us know that he is fully aware of what has been changing in recent years in hip-hop artistry coming out of Montreal.

In the last three years, artists like Kaytranada and High Klassified have blown open the gates: international eyes now turn towards Montreal for fresh sounds in the hip hop/urban/black music — whatever you want to call it  — category.  

Kaytranada won the coveted Polaris Prize for his debut album 99.9% in 2016, an album which featured hot artists like Andersen .Paak.

Since High Klassified started making music with top-charting American rappers like Future, when others like them use Montreal's name to push their projects, it can actually get a reviewer, fan or future big-name collaborator to stop and take notice.

Of course, it's not just about "good by association." 

Talent is key.

Husser gets that.

It's obvious on his debut seven-song EP Geto Rock for the Youth.

The album is a mix of solid rap bars revealing a patient and passionate storyteller with rock-infused hip-hop beats that instantly channel the essential indication of a hot song: the hip-hop headnod.

Each track gives the listener a close-up look at the complexity of Husser's life as a man — and a man living in a sometimes violent urban setting.

We hear about Husser as a lover, as a son (he references love for his family a lot — points!!!) and simply as an artist trying to create and present his best.

To present his best, Husser has relied on constructive, and sometimes harsh, criticism.

"You've got to be around honest people who can tell you if it's hot or if it's wack, whatever," he says.

"I feel like a lot of people got people around them that are not telling them the truth."

He's ready to hear the truth.

The truth about Husser is that he's definitely going down in the rap books, in Canada and the world over.

About the Author

Nantali Indongo

Nantali Indongo is CBC's Arts & Culture contributor and host of The Bridge. Follow her on Twitter @taliindongo.