Arlo Maverick's latest celebrates blue-collar Edmonton

· The Pulse

A longtime Edmonton rapper is dedicating his forthcoming sophomore album to the working class.

"I've always had jobs that I've looked at as being private investors that don't realize they're investing into my dreams," 43-year-old Arlo Maverick told Taproot. "I would take on jobs that would provide me with the flexibility to be able to reinvest in the music, and also provide me with enough money to reinvest in music."

Blue Collar, which comes out on Oct. 20, is his second full-length release as a solo artist. Prior to performing on his own, he was best known as a member of the hip-hop crew Politic Live.

"I've always been based out of Edmonton. I think that it's probably my biggest source of inspiration," said Maverick, who has been rapping since high school. "As much as people wonder why I love Edmonton so much, I don't think I would create what I create had it not been for Edmonton and the community that surrounds me."

Blue Collar features fellow Edmontonians KazMega, Just Moe, Selassie Drah, and Dirt Gritie (also of Politic Live), among others. KazMega and Just Moe appear on lead single Night Shift. The video depicts the experience of working overnight to get by, though Maverick says his album is for workers of all stripes.

"I work in the oil industry, but the album isn't just for people who work in the oil industry or people who work in factories," he said. "It's something that I think a lot of people who work at desk jobs can understand or can relate to, but I just framed it from a blue-collar perspective."

Maverick works for National Oilwell Varco, whose initialism "NOV" is emblazoned on his work uniform. A new colleague once glibly joked that it stands for "Nothing Of Value," he said.

"It just seemed like a real odd comment to make to someone who's just starting. There was a point in time of me working here where the management was extremely toxic and created a really negative environment," Maverick said. "That was essentially the birth of the whole idea of writing Blue Collar, because I needed something to express, and Nothing Of Value became the first song that planted the seeds for what eventually became Blue Collar."

Maverick's next single and video is for the track Day Ones, a celebration of the local hip-hop community that artistically raised him. It comes out on Oct. 4, and features community members old and young, including those from his former record label Music for Mavericks.

Rapper Arlo Maverick splays across a stoop, lit in blue under the cover of dark.

Rapper Arlo Maverick's album Blue Collar tackles working-class themes. The lead single is Night Shift. (Samjay)

"'Day ones' is a term that within hip-hop refers to people who were there from the jump," he said. "I wanted the video to be a snapshot of that time period in my life where the artists from this label we were running became a family. A lot of cool people we were able to interact with, and also mentor and also manage and help promote, and even just people who came in to help in any way they could."

Maverick's love for Edmonton and its hip-hop scene extends to the new generation of artists. He is an active mentor, sharing his industry knowledge on YouTube and working with young artists directly. Mouraine, whose album In Search of Gold came out this spring, earned a shout-out, as did K-Riz, who recently relocated to Calgary before releasing the album One Way Ticket on Sept. 15.

Maverick also celebrates the world of Edmonton hip-hop through filmmaking. His latest work is a documentary called Untouchable Crew, supported by TELUS Storyhive. It celebrates Edmonton's breakdancing scene in the 1980s with a focus on the eponymous b-boy crew.

Blue Collar will be available on all major streamers starting Oct. 20, and Maverick will celebrate its release with a live performance at the Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre on Oct. 21. In the meantime, you can also stream his Quintessential Arlo playlist on Spotify.