Drake is from Canada. So is The Weeknd. You may have heard of Tory Lanez, who grew up northwards of the United States. But one MC and DJ from Toronto was already tinkering with beats when the three of them were still sniffing glue in Kindergarden. The man’s name is Lyndon Dash and, if you ask around in the right scene circles in Canada, he’s considered one of the few OGs. Since the end of the nineties, he has been spitting under the name Mathematik to Boom Bap, standing behind the decks, doing some cuts, and laying some raps over scratches in between a jazz breakfast and a Kraftwerk concert. Before that, Dash was part of the hip-hop combo Down To Erf and laid lines over piano samples that still make your baggies totter around your legs in awe. And yet: If you search his name on YouTube, you first come across Arte documentaries or the Haftbefehl gaffe with Till Lindemann. It’s time to change that.
The Language of Mathematics is Universal
If you’re into head-nodding beats with deep lyrics, you need to know Mathematik. In 1999, Dash released »Ecology« – an album that still passes for many as one of the best hip-hop albums of all time. »This was around the time I went solo and wanted to reinvent my approach. I always dreamed of having my music played and enjoyed around the world regardless of language«, Dash says. To embody that universality, Lyndon became a mathematician, directing his style »to the world«, as he says.
The fact that he deliberately kept the name in the German spelling goes back to a trend in the nineties. At that time, Canadian crews and artists were playing around with names and song titles in hip-hop. There was a mood of optimism. »I remember writing songs every morning before I went into the studio. No matter who I was working with, there was so much hope. We really wanted to take the whole thing — at least that was the mood every day.«
»It would never have appealed to me to allow compromise in my art. I want to leave a solid musical legacy. That’s everything to me«
Dash laughs. »There you go, I am that old!« More than 23 years later, he says that without malice, even if the commercial breakthrough never happened. Mathematik wouldn’t have been for that anyway. »It would never have appealed to me to allow compromise in my art. I want to leave a solid musical legacy. That’s everything to me«, he says. That’s why Dash doesn’t measure his music by streaming numbers or album sales.
»Ecology« has just around 85,000 views on YouTube. »No Division«, his 2005 follow-up, is only spinning on turntables with high heads. »ReAL/iS-HiM«, which Mathematik put out in 2019 after some year in hiatus, wasn’t a seller either. All the same, the people who know him celebrate him unconditionally. And priorities have shifted while getting older anyway. »Success to me is being able to do what you love every day — surrounded by people who really love you,« Dash says. One nods as if to his Boom Bap from the Bluetooth box.
The Serenity of Age
Meanwhile, the rapper is married and the father of two children. The notebooks overflow nevertheless. On May 20, therefore, the successor to »No Division« will be released. »It’s a chance to combine different production styles without following a single theme. It’s about finding free expression within a wide range of vibes«, says Dash.
Hence, he collaborates with local producers such as Reazhun and Wizdome Bunitall. »It’s a highly creative experience for me, and I always learn more from the iLL individuals I’ve been blessed to work with,« Dash says, adding, »I feel it’s somethin I will revisit this series from time to time now.« Still, Mathematik doesn’t stress about it anymore. Even though music hasn’t been the most important thing in his life for a while, he says, access to it remains alive, nonetheless. »Hip-hop culture is bigger than ever, and I love it. I get to feel blessed to still be a part of it!«