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The godfather of Canadian hip hop is as fresh as ever. Maestro Fresh Wes’ album Orchestrated Noise, which he describes as a conceptual extension of his breakout album Symphony in Effect, is an unusual achievement. The album feels at once modern and yet entirely respectful of its role as a continuation of a sound that began a quarter century ago. And, of course, it’s straight bangin’.

Orchestrated Noise is the kind of mish-mash that few besides Maestro could pull off. The album’s topics range from parenthood to fallen rappers to soap-opera adultery, and the list of guest artists is equally eclectic: Sam Roberts lends a catchy hook to the summery “History Repeated”, electronic-pop singer Lights is hypnotic on the straightforward skills track “Desire,” and the aforementioned tale of adultery is made literally operatic by opera star Measha Brueggergosman, wailing soulfully at Maestro through a story of betrayal and high emotions.

If none of this sounds much like a legit rap album, the die-hard hip hop heads needn’t be concerned. The album also features Sadat X, Chuck D., Saukrates, and Kardinal Offishall, and it has the production and the sound to fit them. Somehow, the album’s production fits everyone.

By a lesser artist, all of this would surely come off as scattershot, but Maestro is a constant anchor to the album. Somehow, through all of its varied sounds and tones, Orchestrated Noise hangs together. And most of the time, it sounds fantastic. About the worst you can say about any track on the album is that it’s solid but familiar.

At a time when many rappers rest simply on a single innovative gimmick or sound, Maestro’s old-but-new vibe is precious. There’s a deep reverence for hip hop and its history that exudes from each minute of Orchestrated Noise, even as some conventions are overturned and as Maestro explores new approaches to the genre.

“Symphonia Destino”, the Brueggergosman collab which sits in the all-important number three spot on the track listing, is a perfect example. The beat has a clean, storytelling sound, but the sudden drop of full-on operatic singing is bound to throw many listeners for a loop; and rather than relegating the opera to the status of experimental hook, Maestro goes all in with the concept, creating a story of infidelity that blends the sounds — and subject matter — of opera and hip hop. What begins with a hip hop seduction ends with a fiery burst of singing and murder, and Maestro mines every bit of melodrama out of the setup, emoting furiously through an extended death sequence delivered in rhyme. It’s this kind of full-on commitment to concept that’s characteristic of the album and largely responsible for its success.

It’s not that every track on the album is perfect. Much of it is bound to be polarizing, in fact, which is the burden of any real innovator. But with Orchestrated Noise, Maestro Fresh Wes has created a new sound that’s as instantly comforting as your favourite early-’90s hip hop track — and that’s no small feat.