There are plenty of rappers claiming to be the most crafty, skilled or original. But Chilly Gonzales may be the only one who isn’t full of it.
And just to be clear, rapper is an understatement. Gonzales is a pianist, producer, composer of classical music and a self-described musical genius. After seeing his show at the Hotel Utah on Friday it’s hard to argue with him.
Over the course of a couple hours, Gonzales twisted jaw-dropping piano riffs, snide rhymes, and stories from his career as a self-recognized under-dog. And he still had time to make fun of the crowd full of aging hipsters (his exact demographic, he says).
There were only a couple dozen people at the Utah, and the shouts drifting from the bar in the room over were often obnoxious, but the Paris-resident was torturing himself on purpose.
His goal was to play skeezy little bars in order to boost his “grudge-factor,” he said. It’s self-starving motivation, and while Gonzales “discovered Feist,” could play bigger shows in Europe and has worked with fellow-Canadian Drake, he’s not satisfied yet.
The music flying from his piano was often complex both rhythmically and melodically, but the show was as simple as possible. No fancy lights, no band; just a man with a party in his mind, a piano, a robe and a pair of slippers. Here are a few of the things he said that night:
-In music, major chords are used to enforce the status quo because they are nice and cheery, according to Gonzales. Take any song in major, say “Happy Birthday,” then convert it to minor and it sounds way more badass.
-If the piano is played fast enough, fingers will actually blur into oblivion. That’s not just in the cartoons.
-Radio-rappers are the most honest musicians. They’re completely upfront about why they’re making music, and “if you don’t like rap, you probably don’t like today.”
-That three-chord jingle that Apple uses in their promotions? Chilly wrote it. Nobody knows, and he’s pissed. He also wrote that simple riff while simultaneously realizing people are stupid and will like the simplicity, he said.
-Drake lives in the same Toronto high-rise as Gonzales’s father.
Conclusion: You’re not likely to find a guy this funny, that can play piano this well, with this much attitude. Not your average show, not your average musical genius.
Random artist fact: Chilly Gonzales, real name Jason Beck, holds the Guinness World Record for “Longest Concert Performed By A Solo Artist: 27 hours, 3 minutes and 44 seconds.