In the realm of Canadian hip-hop, the word “legend” is seldom used, but in Choclair’s case it’s certainly warranted. He took the Canadian hip-hop industry by storm when he signed with Virgin/Priority Records and released his debut album, Ice Cold, in 1999. The response from fans was overwhelming, as the album reached gold status in Canada in 35 days, which was phenomenal for a Canadian rap recording in the late ‘90s. The momentum continued; as Ice Cold went on to win the award for Best Rap Recording at the 2000 Juno Awards.
One song that is indelibly etched in my memory is “Let’s Ride,” with its catchy piano hook. It features ad-libs by legendary artist Saukrates and production from Kardinal Offishall. Back in the day, I remember watching the music video for “Let’s Ride,” as I slowly immersed myself in hip-hop culture. The single reached #37 on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles and #38 on the Canadian RPM Singles Chart. The popularity of the track was crucial in helping the album achieve early success. Choclair stays true to his Toronto roots as he makes reference to the Blue Jays’ glory days in one of his verses, “Well it’s the ninth inning / With two outs I hit a home run to left field like Carter did to Philly.”
Another hard-hitting track is “Rubbin’,” with Saukrates on the chorus and production. It was the second single off Ice Cold, and Choclair openly professes his love for women. “Rubbin’” has always been a perfect club track when there’s lots of ladies on the premises.
Some other notable tracks include “Flagrant” and “Situation 9.” On “Flagrant” Choclair talks about rappers who lack talent and puts them in their place. “Situation 9” tells a story about people who get involved in bad situations when they are unaware of their surroundings.
There are numerous features on the album, including a legend and an up-and-comer from south of the border. The late Guru (of Gang Starr) spits a verse on “Bare Witness” and Memphis Bleek adds a little New York flavour on “Young Gunz.” Some of the other Canadians who contributed include: Jully Black, the Rascalz and Solitair.
Ice Cold firmly planted Choclair in the foundation of Canada’s hip-hop landscape. He paved the way for other Canadian hip-hop artists, as he was the first to sign with a major label (Virgin) in ’99. Choclair has always made high quality music and is a well-respected member of the community going on to release four full-length albums since the release of his debut LP. We’ll see what Choclair has in store for his fans in the future. Hopefully the best is yet to come.