Premiere: Len Bowen takes a trip down memory lane in his video for “Memoirs / The Journey”

This is the immortalization of Winnipeg rap

Photo by Dylan Boychuk

Len Bowen knows that life is all about the journey and less about the destination. Today Len teamed up with Andrew O. (from The Lytics), Grand Analog and Seun Olagunju to premiere his double video for “Memoirs” and “The Journey” off the Going Away Party EP.

Produced by Alex Sannie (from The Lytics) and directed by Visual Theory Films, “Memoirs / The Journey” is a trip down memory lane that shows landmarks from Len’s past and celebrates the most important woman in his life – his mom.

The track also marks a milestone for Winnipeg rap as the first time Len Bowen, The Lytics, Grand Analog and Seun Olagunju have all come together. It was long overdue but Len finally facilitated it. The collaboration celebrates the older and younger generations in the city’s rap community while showcasing its rapping, singing and producing talents.

Watch the video premiere for “Memoirs / The Journey” below and check out our in-depth interview with Len, Andrew O., Odario Williams (the Grand Analog frontman) and vocalist Seun Olagunju to find out more about their own journeys and memoirs.

3 things you didn’t know about “Memoirs / The Journey”

The video is a celebration of Len’s mother

“Watching everything she went through and to be where she is today let me know God is real. She was a single mother raising a kid in a very rough area with not a lot of resources. But she did it. My life is good. I own property and my bills are paid. But money can’t buy the morals and values that she instilled in me.”

The landmarks in the video are all significant

“The video takes place on a block in the west end of the city where I grew up and lived for 16 years of my life. It shows the building I was raised in on Kennedy Street and the local corner store where I used to frequent. The video also has footage of Central Park and the church where I used to just chill on the steps with friends. Kids would be out all hours of the night just hanging out. The area was a huge melting pot for new immigrants to Canada just starting out, but also to single young mothers.”

Len sat on the beat for a while

“I had the beat for a while but wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it. I actually wrote my verse for another song and ended up rewriting it and then came up with the hook. I shared the idea with the fellas and they eventually layed down their verses. I was looking for someone to sing the hook I wrote but wasn’t having much luck finding anyone who could pull it off. Then I gave Seun a call. He came down to the studio and we got it done. Things happen for a reason. I feel like he was meant to be on the hook it was like know one else wanted to touch it when they heard how I wanted it sung.”

Premiere: “Memoirs / The Journey”

Q&A: Len Bowen, Andrew O. (The Lytics), Odario Williams (Grand Analog) & Seun Olagunju

Start off by telling me what this track means to each of you on a personal level.

Len: It’s a victory celebration just showing appreciation for a great woman who’s been through so much.

Andrew O.: This is a track about reflection to me. I wrote my personal verse from the perspective of a growing man and recognizing the building blocks that brought me to this unique place in my life.

Odario: I feel this song immortalizes our local hip-hop community the same way a yearbook does… or a keepsake.

Seun: For me it’s about staying true to your roots and remembering your personal history. No one can take that away from you. It’s the journey that you’ve been on to become the person that you are today.

Tell me the story behind how you all wound up collaborating on this.

Odario: Len Bowen was the brainchild behind this idea. He’s quite a visionary. Len is very good at bringing people together and making all the pieces fit. The one thing artists tend to overlook is that strength are always in numbers.

Andrew O.: Len has been a close friend to my group The Lytics for a long time. One of my group members Alex “B-Flat” made the beat for this. So I was around from the naissance of the beat and had the feel of it already. It was a natural fit when Leonard asked me to hop on.

Seun: Len had a vision for the song and he wanted to bring someone in who could capture the soulful melody that was bouncing around in his head. So it was as simple as him bringing me down to the studio, letting me hear the beat and communicating how he wanted the hook to sound. Alex “B-Flat” helped coach me through its vocalization and we ended up with what we ended up with.

Len: We’ve all know each for years and everyone on the track is like family to me – we’re all from Winnipeg. I just reached out to everybody and we made it happen. I think it was overdue for this to happen. Someone just had to bring us all together and that person just so happened to be myself.

What have been some of the most significant memoirs for each of you?

Odario: My personal memoir would be the very first song I ever recorded. It was on my friend’s old karaoke machine which was found in his family basement. I used random hip-hop instrumentals and wrote my own lyrics to them. It was the first time I got an idea of what being a recording artist entails. I still have that scratched up CD-R somewhere.

Seun: Some of my best memories came from carrying crates and breakdancing alongside Mood Ruff. It was cool to see the musical grind from that perspective. I was always eager to throw down whenever they were performing or spinning at clubs. Also getting pulled on stage on my birthday by Ghostface Killah and having him pass me the mic to drop an ODB verse with Killah Priest and Trife Da God. That’ll always be surreal to me. I still can’t believe that happened.

Andrew O.: The day I heard “Cabfare” by Souls of Mischief, which contains a sample from the theme song of the television show Taxi. I think that song instantly connected for me because of the sample. It was a show my dad loved, but it was just catchy and I knew I wanted to make music like that. Souls of Mischief were a huge influence on The Lytics, and that song in particular played a key role.

Len: I got friends who went crazy and family who lost their lives way too young. At this point more than ever it’s made me appreciate the good things and people around me.