Ninja High School is a positive hardcore dance-rap band from the exploding Toronto arts scene, a collective of 5 people:
Matt Collins (lyrical geniusing, ex-Currently in These United States), Gregory Collins (production/grunge yelling), Star DT (complaints), Steven Kado (band whoring, Barcelona Pavilion mastermind/ex-Hidden Cameras), and Wolfgang Nessel (dancing/periodically quitting). They coincidentally and unintentionally have the same name as a comic book, which we're told is very nice.
Art-school dropout Matt Collins started Ninja High School as a reaction to hearing a Crazy Town song on the radio and thinking, “this sucks! I can do better than this!” Originally a one-man project, after releasing the jam-packed lo-fi EP “We Win” in 2004 on Steven Kado's Toronto-based Blocks Recording Club, Collins assembled a crew and hooked up with blood relative/audio wizard Gregory Collins and went to work on new material.
After releasing their first acclaimed single for Tomlab in spring 2005 they now return with a little more production on their first full-length album Young Adults Against Suicide. Inspired by Public Enemy, Pavement, Jamaican dancehall, and Miami bass, Ninja High School (NHS) can be described as a hardcore band trapped in the body of an indie-rock dance rap group.
As a live band Ninja High School uses the freedom from being chained to instruments and amplifiers as an opportunity to physically explore the performance space, resulting in a maximally participatory blurring of the performance/audience boundary – every show becoming an enchanting, blood-rocking disaster. You come to a Ninja High School show with the understanding that you're part of the show and on any given night you could end up being in the band.
Lyrically, NHS are pretty much the opposite of most hip-hop groups out there. They love K Records and Mantronix, Maggotron and Minor Threat.
"I go out of my way to avoid hip-hop slang," Collins says.
"A lot of it comes out of things I read. I read a lot of dense poststructuralist theory and art criticism, so there's a lot of stuff about combining ethics and aesthetics that I'm trying to not be verbose about. The idea is that the writing style in the books may be pompous, it may be daunting, but the key ideas can be broken down very easily and then turned into catchy, dancey singalong choruses.”