A moment with Macy Gray

Macy Gray and I “keep it under five” ahead of a show that was supposed to happen in Montreal this weekend.

So I did this kinda super-random five-minute interview with Macy Gray a couple of weeks ago in anticipation of a show she was to perform here this weekend, which was called off due to something-or-other this week.

Thing was, my phone rang two hours earlier than I expected as I was chilling after work at the St. Ambroise terrasse, and within 10 seconds, this PR person says, “You’re on with Macy.”

Let’s rewind: before winning a Grammy in her own right, Gray was briefly identifiable as the pre-Fergie female voice of the pre-fame Black Eyed Peas, which for about two minutes in early 2000 mighta meant something to rap music. At the time I only realized that because of a jawn she did with Mos and Guru on the still-misunderstood third and final act in the Soundbombing series.

On the spot, I led with a question about whether or not she had ever thought of going the route of being a “female hook singer” at the outset of her career and how that decision may have affected its path.

Without pause, Macy describes a vault of unreleased rap songs she sang on for a ton of male hip hop artists at the era that got shelved when she signed a major label deal. We concur it would be dope if that ever saw the light of day.

Now, Macy Gray in everyday conversation sounds exactly like Macy Gray on the radio: serious to whimsical in a single throaty, soul-filled breath. It’s kinda trippy.

So I ask her about a covers album she put out last year featuring a re-work of Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” and this way-too-literate take on Sublime’s “Smoke 2 Joints.”

Our shared affinity for Bradley Nowell takes us to the finish line. I ask Macy if she sifted through hundreds of songs in search of the right ones to cover or used a sampling mentality along the way.

“I just wanted to find the right words to sing what I felt right singing,” she drawls.

Instructed to “keep it under five,” I sign off with a courteous “thank you and can’t wait for the show.”

“Great talking to you Macy! Peace, girl!”

Peace, girl? Did I just fucking say “peace, girl” to Macy Gray?

I totally blush to her raspy reply.

“Aiite, baby!”


Okay, let’s face it — Osheaga (Aug. 2–4 at Parc Jean Drapeau) is sold out, and we all know who the headliners are, but be it known that Kendrick Lamar, Yelawolf, Big Boi, Death Grips, A Tribe Called Red, K-OS, Tricky, Loud Lary Ajust, C2C, our latest print issue cover-girl Angel Haze, Beck, two super-fucking-geeky rap dudes I don’t want to name and an entire brigade of bands are gonna stick an annual drapeau up your park, Johnny. ■

NEXT WEEK: Under Pressure



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