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As 2012 winds down, it’s time to guess which artists are set to breakthrough and define 2013. 22-year-old producerLunice F. Pierre II is emerging as a shoe-in. Calling his sound “blockbuster instrumental rap,” the Montreal-basedLunice is steadily securing connections and weaving his own web of artistic foils: He rolls with the Mad Decent and LuckyMe label camps, forms half of TNGHT with Hudson Mohawke, and is closing out the year by signing off on collaborations with a new generation rappers: Angel Haze, Deniro Farrar, and M.M.G.’s latest signing, Rockie Fresh. Lunice’s sound is also starting to solidify into something of a signature blend, with his fusion of perky synth riffs and electronic beats proving a choice bed for rap vocals from all regions.


As befits a producer whose stock is on the rise, Lunice was in jovial spirits when Hive called him up. He’d just returned from a spree of shows overseas and shared tips on snagging a free flight upgrade. (In short: Suck up to whoever’s holding court at the check-in desk and pre-select your seat in a row of the plane likely to be occupied by a family, thereby increasing your chances of being bumped up a class should the economy section fill-up.) Lunice’s stint relaxing at home won’t last long though, as he’ll be hitting New York City on Friday for a TNGHT show. Ahead of his latest accumulation of frequent flier miles, we spoke to him about his adoration of Memphis hip-hop, the ethics of emulating other producers, and the secret brew that inspires TNGHT studio sessions.

While you were traveling recently you tweeted about how Memphis rap was big in Helsinki.

Hell yeah! This dude who comes from Helsinki was telling me how they’d been about it since the early ’90s, like when the whole Memphis hip-hop movement started. People in Helsinki were about it! He was happy I played out some old joints that way. I never knew there was a whole scene happening there — and it’s still there to this day, with these old Three 6 Mafia tapes circulating.

Why do you think the Memphis sound works overseas like that?

I think, to me, what I like about it personally is knowing that it’s from way back, like in the early-’90s, and that was when the east coast New York style of rapping — like the Big L flow — was dominant. Southern rap was doing its own thing but it wasn’t huge like it is today. Memphis, to me, was ahead of their time without even knowing it: They were trying different ways of rapping while tapping into that paranoia vibe — that was just the subject matter — but in terms of composition the music was very forward-thinking. If you listen to the stuff today, like A$AP Rocky and those dudes who are my age, they’re dudes who love that stuff and they’re modernizing it and interpreting it in their own way. The early Memphis flows sound like modern flows today, but back then nobody would hear about it other than the ‘hood. It got me thinking about how they came to come up with these flows and rhymes and beats and it seems there were people around the world with similar taste. READ MORE

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