Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Swollen Members is a Canadian hip-hop group hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia. The four band members have gathered a unique following in the hip-hop world - Juno Award-worthy in their native Canada, but essentially underground internationally. This delicate balance has definitely impacted their unique style, giving them enough street cred to be critically well-received and enough of a mainstream sound to boost their sales.
Swollen Members was founded in the mid-1990s by Vancouverites Mad Child , Prevail and Moka Only . Having begun a solo career while living in San Francisco, California, Mad Child returned to Vancouver for some work. There he met Prevail and Moka Only, working as partners and making a name together on Canada's West coast hip-hop community. The trio saw each other's abilities, thought they heard opportunity knocking, and joined together under the name Swollen Members. Soon after, however, Moka Only decided he wanted to pursue a solo career and left the group.
In 1996, Mad Child and Prevail went to the B-Boy Summit in San Diego, California, where Mad Child won several rap battles and was initiated into the Rock Steady Crew, legendary to the hip-hop/b-boy scene. The Crew is held in great respect as hip-hop's highest collective - to join one must win a contest of skill against one of the highest ranked members. Swollen Members is one of only three rap groups affiliated with Rock Steady.
That same year, the duo began recording their first tracks, with help from many of their friends from the scene - MCs, DJs, and producers, including Rob the Viking. Rob would continue to work with the group through the years, eventually joining them later. From the praise they were receiving, they decided it was time to release their material as a group. With the subsequent release of three 12" singles on Mad Child's record label Battleaxe Records, the group quickly established themselves in the scene and built a respectable following. The next logical step was to release an album, which was titled Balance and released in 1999.
Balance received wide critical acclaim and has been claimed by the band to have sold in excess of 50,000 copies. The album also netted Swollen Members the 2001 Juno Award for Best Rap Recording.
Following Balance, Swollen Members recorded and released Bad Dreams , which successfully dodged the so-called "sophomore curse" many artists suffer upon their second release. Bad Dreams was released on November 13, 2002, featuring guests such as Chali 2na of Jurassic 5, Son Doobie and Joey Chavez . Like their debut, Bad Dreams was surprisingly successful for an independent rap album and brought Swollen Members global acclaim. Surprisingly, it appealed to both underground and mainstream audiences, with several singles reaching platinum status in Canada.
The album also earned Swollen Members their second Juno Award, and four MuchMusic Video Awards. (MuchMusic being Canada's equivalent of MTV.) The group continues to tour constantly, visiting every major market possible and performing hundreds of shows a year; some with nearly 15,000 audience members. The media continues to give their music and live shows excellent coverage around the globe, and both new and old singles receive solid airplay on college and commercial radio. Their tracks have also been featured in a multitude of films, television programs, extreme sports videos, commercials, video games (especially games produced by Electronic Arts, which has a studio in their hometown of Vancouver), and compilation albums, the sales of which total in the millions when combined.
Swollen Members have appeared on numerous television shows, in addition to having several of their live shows televised. Like their singles, their music videos have been heavily played on both the Canadian MuchMusic and the American MTV, as well as on many independent video shows.
2002's Monsters in the Closet , their third release, brought them greater fame than ever before. Where Moka Only and Rob the Viking had only peripherally assisted the duo before, they now became official members of the group. Monsters included several unreleased tracks and remixes, as well as collaborations from fellow British Columbian Nelly Furtado and Saukrates of Def Jam. Production credits included Evidence of alt rap group Dilated Peoples.
2003 brought Heavy , released yet again to critical acclaim and powerful sales, despite dismal video play time on Much Music. The band considers it the bridge between their underground origins and their potential for fame. Unfortunately the album was controversial among Swollen Members' fanbase. Many fans claim that Swollen Members have removed many elements of their style which had awarded them in the past. The lines were drawn between fans who began to listen to Swollen Members when Monsters in the Closet came out and fans attracted by the earlier two albums (especially Balance). They continue to tour constantly, playing both local and international shows to the delight of their hometown fans.
- Balance - September 28 1999
- Defenders of the Underworld - April 17 2001. A collaboration with several Battleaxe artists
- Bad Dreams - November 13 - 2001
- Monsters in the Closet - November 12 2002
- Monsters in the Closet Instrumentals - April 29 2003
- Heavy - October 27 2003
Awards and Recognition
- 2001 - Best Rap Recording (Balance)
- 2002 - Best Rap Recording (Bad Dreams)
- 2003 - Rap Recording of the Year (Monsters in the Closet)
MuchMusic Video Awards
- 2002 - MuchVIBE Best Rap Video ("Fuel Injected" directed by Wendy Morgan)
- 2002 - Much Music Best Director ("Fuel Injected" directed by Wendy Morgan)
- 2002 - Much Music VideoFACT Award ("Fuel Injected" directed by Wendy Morgan)
- 2002 - MuchMusic Best Independent Video ("Fuel Injected" directed by Wendy Morgan)
- 2003 - MuchVIBE Best Rap Video ("Breath" featuring Nelly Furtado and directed by Todd McFarlane)
- 2002 Canadian Radio Music Awards Breakthrough Artist ("Fuel Injected" f. Moka Only)
- 2002 West Coast Music Awards Best Urban Release (Bad Dreams)
- 2002 The Georgia Straight Readers Choice Best Urban Act
- 2003 COCA Campus Entertainment Awards Entertainer of the Year
- 2003 Western Canadian Music Awards Oustanding Rap/HipHop Recording ("Monsters in the Closet")
- 2003 Western Canadian Music Awards Outstanding Video ("Breath" featuring Nelly Furtado)
- 2004 Western Canadian Music Awards Outstanding Rap / Hip Hop Recording ("Heavy")
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