There’s something about hip hop that really moves me. It’s not just about the manipulation of the beat – overlaid and sometimes reversed – but its conversation with poetry and rhyme that allows us to collectively sway and empathize with the sound of a modern generation. I’m constantly in awe of the musicians that work in this genre. So, you can only imagine my excitement upon interviewing Toronto-based hip hop artist, MC, and producer: Muneshine. As I sifted through his Bandcamp to get a feel for his artistry, I couldn’t wait to converse with the person behind the music. Robert Nicolaas Bakker has been in the international hip hop scene for a number of years and has affiliations with Twin Peaks, The Birthday Boys, and Wolves. His energy is colourful and the love for his product shines brighter than the moon. Even better, he’s reppin’ for Canada.
Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Robert was always surrounded by music and had a knack for music-making at a young age. Most of his family played instruments and he was often serenaded by an eclectic collection of records. It wasn’t until he was about seven or eight that he was introduced to hip hop, a genre he would later craft into a career. “…An older kid named Tarsh Bakos was shooting hoops with some friends, and they were listening to Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation of Millions through the tape deck in his car…they were the coolest fucking kids I had ever seen,” Robert explains, “From that moment, I was hooked, trying to learn everything I could about the music.”
After featuring some of his work online through a few “underground” hip hop message boards, Robert had his first big break when he recorded his first studio album Pure Thoughts, with a group called Lighthead from Portland, Oregon back in 2001. After recording the album, it was then licensed to a small label in the US called Day by Day Entertainment that had “modest success” in their niche market. “[They] released the album in Japan which led to my solo success out there,” Robert relayed. From there, Robert went on to complete a degree in Audio Engineering before moving to Toronto in 2004. Since then, Robert’s work has garnered multiple awards, including Juno nominations and a SOCAN Echo Songwriting Award in 2009. “I’ve always been thankful as I’ve always been able to find people somewhere who want to hear at least some part of what I create.”
Today, Robert is working on new album titled In transit (an album literally written in transit). As a concept, it truly speaks to Robert’s constant evolution as he changes hats – taking on jobs as a producer, artist, and a true inspiration for emerging artists trying to make their mark in the music industry. “I’m trying to do things I’ve always wanted to, but haven’t done. There will be a lot of new music, among other things. I also want to buy a car next year and get a dog to keep my cat, Cat Stevens, company.”
WORDS: JONATHAN BRODERICK
PHOTOS: KATE KOLER