RVLR Magz Talks Hip-Hop History
In celebration of 2023 Bowman Draft Baseball and the fun and excitement surrounding the release of Tom Brady’s Expos 1st Bowman card, we thought it would be cool to examine other instances of sports and culture colliding in Montreal. So, we decided to explore the relationship between the Expos, Montreal, and hip-hop. Enjoy!
After talking with Rico and Holden without a lot of heavy digging, I found the anthem, “Expos Fitted,” which is the connection between the Montreal Expos and hip-hop. A rapper who was going by the name of MAGNUM (an acronym for Made To Achieve Greatness, Never Underestimate) at the time – and now RVLR Magz – decided to put on for his city by making a song that would be an anthem for whoever wanted to represent Montreal.
Coming into the scene in 2007, by 2010, Mags would unite the Montreal Hip Hop scene with his song, “Expos Fitted,” which was produced by the well-known and respected producer Dirtwork. The song’s motif is very much in line with mid-aughts club bangers and features Magz flexing his skills as a lyricist and his flow as he talks about the style that everyone rocked at the time in Montreal, street or not. Throughout the video, various people and dancers rock their own Montreal Expos fitted, and the song culminates with a call and response, calling out everyone to rock their fitted a particular way in front of the camera. The song is high-energy, and Magz’s flow and swag demonstrate why it is Montreal’s anthem. When I sat down to talk to him, he was honest about “not being a sports guy,” but he knew some of the history. He broke down the truth about what connection hip-hop had with the team.
All things considered, because they were the first (baseball) team outside of the US. That’s important. We [the hood] didn’t really watch too many sports. We had like the Habs [Montreal Canadiens]. You know what I’m saying? We had the Montreal Canadiens, and they were winning like Stanley Cup after Stanley Cup, and then they fizzled out kind of. The Expos still meant something to the city, but not for us.
What Magz clearly knew, though, was that for others in the city and around the world, the Expos logo, brand, and history had an iconic status, and attaching to it could be powerful.
And I’m talking about the come up. But you know, later in the years, the fitted [Expos baseball caps] still remained. So, there were remnants of what was, and it is, something that we still represent today. You’ve seen everybody rocking the Expos. I rocked with it myself. I had like over 50 joints. It was something for us to kinda of cling to as our identity. When I first dropped my album in 2007, it was more grimy, pretty street. So now it comes to “Expos Fitted.” Me and my producer, Dirtwork, we ended up trying to figure out how we could cross over commercially. This is what we were trying to do because back then, a lot of the music was like bubble gum.
How do we get eyes on us? Because, you know, street-level shit, people are gonna overlook us. You know what I mean? So it’s like, all right, cool, let me try to figure something out. So Dirt gave me this beat; the beat was slapping. I was like, all right, how do I tie everybody in plus give the city an anthem at the same time? That was my thought process, So I was like, all right, cool. So how about I use the fitted because everybody rocks it? It’s like our identity, and this is how we do. So let me come up with a hook and a vibe for it, and that’s where you have Expos fitted.
It was so powerful it spawned a posse cut remix – Rico Blox featured on it, as well – that further entrenched the song as the scene’s anthem. There is, in fact, a legendary live recording of the song at a performance that allegedly featured 100 emcees from the Montreal Community. Magz tells the story of that and also the video shoot for the remix.
What happened was like “Expos Fitted” was a big tune out here. Enough people are rating it; I’m performing it everywhere; it was making noise and doing its thing. So now we were just like, yo, you know what? Let’s let everybody in on this shit. Let’s not gatekeep. Let’s just let everybody have at it, and a lot of artists gravitated towards it. I was surprised at how many people actually were down to commit to this idea.
And I thought it was super dope. That’s how it came about, and we were just like, let it rock, let it do what it does, and the posse cut grew legs, and the song had another run. It was amazing.