It takes guts for a hip-hop duo to rest a really thoughtful album on a premise that sort of seems like a joke, and pull it off triumphantly unscathed. Established solo artists Dan-e-o and Promise have done just that in naming themselves Perfeck Strangers, an homage to the popular 1980s sitcom Perfect Strangers, which followed the slapstick exploits of odd couple Balki Bartokomous and his hapless cousin Larry Appleton. Lest anyone think it’s a coincidence, they’ve named their new debut full-length Series Premiere, and even devote the first song, “Perfeck,” to in-jokes that fans of the show will appreciate.
“Perfect Strangers just happens to be, if not the funniest, in my top three funniest sitcoms ever,” Dan-e-o gushes. “I found it hilarious and the back-and-forth between the two characters was very original. I know that when Promise and I came together, we went through several name ideas, even going halfway through making this record without having one. We settled on Perfeck Strangers because we both loved that show but also because it spoke to our differences.”
In "Perfeck," Dan-e-o plays the role of the wild, crazy outgoing Balki, while noted engineer/producer/MC Promise is the more straight-laced, organized Larry, which apparently comes pretty close to reflecting the artists’ actual personalities. “That sitcom is one of the few with a duo cast where both main characters shine equally,” Promise explains. “That kinda works well with our group because we’re both the main characters. We share everything here.”
Perfeck Strangers knew that naming themselves so would be an automatic recall of the show so, with the song “Perfeck,” they tackled the reference head on before anyone else could make Larry and Balki jokes about them. It’s a savvy move from the clever, self-aware team, who first made waves when a little-known Canadian MC named Drake spat the second verse in an early, 2010 single called “Work to Do.”
“Me and Drake became friends on the set of Degrassi,” Promise recalls. “A mutual friend introduced us because they knew that Drake loved hip-hop and was writing, and they admired what I did. So we were introduced and he asked me to rap for him and he liked it and he read some stuff that he was writing and I liked it.
“He had never recorded at the time, so I brought him to my studio and we just started working and, much like me and Dan, the chemistry was good so we just did a bunch of tracks. I engineered some of his early mixtape work before Comeback Season and Room for Improvement and all those early Drake tracks where he was more rapping than singing. And then a couple of years ago, everybody knows the story by now, he got linked up with Lil Wayne, Wayne brought him out and that was that.”
Though he hasn’t been in touch with Drake since he became one of the most celebrated rap artists of all time, Promise is happy for his old friend’s success. When asked whether or not Drizzy’s stratospheric rise has been particularly beneficial for Perfeck Strangers, he pauses.
“Maybe by raising awareness for Toronto as a whole but not any direct success,” he says finally. “When we did that Perfeck Strangers joint and it leaked on YouTube, it got an excess number of views because of Drake’s involvement. And people ask about it in interviews but we’re not getting booked because of it.”
The lack of such opportunities doesn’t seem to be phasing the level heads of Perfeck Strangers, who are doing their own thing and quickly moving on to the next one.
“We’ve already started sifting through production for our next album,” Dan-e-o says proudly. “By the very nature of the title, Series Premiere, we’re implying that it is just the beginning. That being said, we’re both very hard-working solo artists as well, and I think this is one of the things that really pushes Perfeck Strangers’ identity to the forefront, as a super duo. We both have videos and full-lengths coming out, but I can definitely say this is only the beginning for us.”
See Perfeck Strangers perform at Big Ticket (inside Velvet Underground) in Toronto on Friday, July 13.
Allow me to reintroduce myself: Dan-e-o of Perfeck Strangers
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on Jul 13, 2012