BY ANGIE VALENTE
IT was 2006 at a rap battle when Vancouver hip-hop artist Snak discovered his weapon of choice — his voice.
“I didn’t really know what I was doing at all,” he explains. “No one knew who I was. Throughout my whole life everything I ever tried I wasn’t very good at it. I tried rapping, and I had people who didn’t know me showed interest and that gave me a boost of confidence when I needed it.”
But who the hell is Snak the Ripper you ask? He is many things to many people, but to me, he’s one of the most pleasantly surprising, interesting, multi-faceted interviews I’ve experienced.
Not to crush his hard hitting rap style, but Snak is polite; he informs me that his phone only has three per cent left but to call back in 10 minutes if the call is cut off so we can finish the job. He is courteous; he excuses himself from the phone to hush his rowdy crew in the background. After all, this is an interview. And he’s considerate; no this is not an audio interview and yes you can swear.
All these things you’d stereotypically assume an aggressive rapper like Snak wouldn’t be. He openly labels this, as the best interview ever. I concur. Snak the Ripper is “not playing.” He promises to bring the craziest, wildest, most insane live rap show in the country to Crocks tonight. His From the Dirt Tour features Golden, Junk, Fallen Ones, Capitole D and DJ D-Rec. From the road, an appreciative Snak says, “This has easily been our most successful Canadian tour,” and thanks all the fans for attending.
Like many of the artists in the hip hop and R’n’B genre, he’s on his own time. I call his cell phone twice only to be greeted by his voice mail. We’re eventually connected, and the interview was well worth the wait.
The hour-long conversation feels more like a chat with a friend over a few beers than anything work related. I too am even asked questions, a refreshing switch. Light is shed into the life and times of artist, Snak the Ripper.
William Fyvie, a.k.a. Snak the Ripper, could easily be public speaking/life coaching in high schools, sharing his infectious stories with a younger audience than who might come to his shows. He may have to leave out the high school drop-out part, but his experiences with bullying and advice on discovering your personal talent, are inspiring.
“I feel like everyone has talent and is good at something. It takes time to be aware of that. I realized I’m good at entertaining people and making words rhyme,” he said.
That’s my calling. It took me a little while to realize. If there’s any youth listening, if you do what you love and are good at it, it can change your life. You have to believe in yourself.”
Ten years of actively rapping has brought Snak to where he is now, a far cry from his homeless days. A former graffiti artist, he is an underground cult phenomenon, Stealth Bomb Records owner and entrepreneur equipped with a massive online following. His style is raw and gritty yet keeps your head bopping to the beat, composing rhymes you wish you had thought of. His last album White Dynamite spent almost 3 weeks at #2 on iTunes Hip-hop/Rap Charts, selling nearly 10,000 digital albums and over 22,000 singles.
Having many crazy stories not suitable for newspaper or commercial press, Snak has decided to write a book.
“I have a lot of crazy experiences with classic hip hop artists,” he said. “I’ve played big festivals and have toured with legendary artists, which has been very humbling. It’s the last of the real hip hop generation. I’m the white kid from the suburbs who got a free pass into the '90s rap scene.”
Vancouver has played an important role of self-discovery in the story of Snak the Ripper. Both lyrically and stylistically. Explains Snak, “I realized that my style was very different than what’s been done in Vancouver. I took a risk. I realized that I was a black sheep style wise and it worked for me. I felt like I was the medium between hip hop styles. Vancouver helped me realize who I was and accept my own style. You just have to be yourself and do what you do. As long as you’re genuine, people will notice.”
Snak’s latest album From the Dirt shows growth and evolution. While similar to the last, the biggest difference is that, “I’ve had a few years to develop my flow (lyrical content.) I like to try to do something better than the last time.”
Snak’s approach to hip hop is what separates himself from his peers.
“I just made fun of myself. As for my sound, my voice is definitely an acquired taste, I’m not radio material. That’s just because the general public are a little weary of accepting things that they’re unsure of.”
What started with a cocky tweet on Twitter posted by rapper Madchild of Swollen Members, calling Snak out, has resulted in three public disses (and videos) where Snak the Ripper takes Madchild to the cleaners in what can only be called a verbal pulverization (putting it lightly.)
The first of three raps dedicated to Madchild is entitled Assisted Suicide, followed by Child Abuse then Triple Homicide. These powerful rhymes need to be heard to be believed, and tore the internet up into a frenzy, with lightning speed. If you were ever in doubt about Snak’s skills, one listen will make you a believer.
Snak assures me, this is the real deal and not a stunt for publicity in the slightest. “This is as real as a magic show. There is nothing fake about it. It’s like high school. He’s a bully. I didn’t feed into him, instead I just wrote down what I didn’t like about him. I know him personally. He bullied me and I’m a pissed off dude. I got bullied too much in my life.”
I wonder if things can get patched up in the future for long enough to record a collaboration? “It definitely won’t work. I’ve worked on songs with him before. I have no plans of making more music with him. I like making music with good people. I’m very passionate about my craft. I had to stand up for myself.”
Snak describes the future of Canadian hip hop as cyclical. While he states his own ideas as outlandish, causing people to disagree, he sees style and pop culture flowing in waves. “I knew that the '90s would come back, with tight-ripped jeans and love for Tupac and Wu-tang Clan.”
While this may be newer school, one element remains the same. It’s all about the music. And the fans.
“I love touring and connecting with the fans, it’s rewarding for me and it goes beyond social media numbers. We meet every single fan and take pictures with them. We’re the first ones into the venue and the last ones out.”
Snak the Ripper brings From the Dirt Tour to Crocks tonight, featuring Golden, Junk, Fallen Ones, Capitole D and DJ D-Rec.
Angie Valente is a freelance journalist based in Thunder Bay.