The year was 2010. Jay Electronica had just signed to Roc Nation, there were promises of a debut studio album on the way, and the hip-hop world was at a fever pitch. It was the most highly anticipated album of its time, but nearly a decade has passed with no release.
Under the same circumstances, a lesser artist would have faded into obscurity by now. But Jay Electronica's magnetic energy and raw talent were enough to pack Danforth Music Hall with an enthusiastic crowd.
Unafraid to speak the truth, Reyez is fighting her way to the top (and winning).
With global successes like Drake and The Weeknd, and newer favourites like Jazz Cartier and Daniel Caesar on a white-hot trajectory, it’s true that our feet are planted more firmly in the international urban music landscape than ever before. Still, we can never have too many hometown heroes. And Jessie Reyez surely is one — but that’s not why we need her. Reyez is necessary because her honesty is a respite in a musical climate that thrives on insincerity.
Clairmont The Second Produces, Records and Releases 'Lil Mont From the Ave' to Promote West End Toronto
Toronto showman Clairmont The Second is, by definition, a control freak. But although that term isn't exactly friendly, the artist's latest release, 'Lil Mont From the Ave', proves that there's something to be said for taking matters into your own hands. He talked to Exclaim! about embracing his independence on The Ave after working with Black Box Music to release his previous project, 'Quest for Milk and Honey'.
Like a rich, hearty bowl of authentic gumbo, watching Tank and the Bangas perform live will fill you up and warm your soul. Along with openers Sweet Crude, the New Orleans-based band served all the sounds and flavours of Louisiana to an enthusiastic Toronto crowd, and all who came left more than satisfied.
If her single "G.O.A.T." is any indication, Princess Nokia's upcoming album 1992 Deluxe promises to be assertive, bold and braggadocious. Due in September, this revamp of her previous effort will feature eight new tracks and more swagger than before. "Everybody wants to act like I ain't a big deal, when I am," says the New York native. "I'm one of the most relevant and influential rappers of my generation."
Growing up in London, Ontario in the early 1990s, I was accustomed to not seeing myself. In life and in pop culture, the role models I had to choose from often only held fragments of my identity: they were Canadian, they were women, or they were black, but rarely were they all three. Very early on, I learned that in order to fit in, I would have to tuck parts of myself away.
In the six years since he first caught the ear of Pharrell Williams, Compton rapper Buddy has been a consistent but rather elusive figure in hip-hop. Despite Pharrell's cosign, a star-studded list of collaborators from Kendrick Lamar to Miley Cyrus, and even a few acting credits under his belt, he has yet to attain the same white-hot notoriety as some of his peers.
Buddy insists his slow climb is intentional. "I took a lot of time off to really get my life together," he tells Exclaim! "I was ...
At some point, every great artist hits a turbulent patch in their career. Call it the Kingdom Come moment, dubbed after Jay-Z's flaccid 2006 comeback album. While DAMN. isn't nearly as gross an error as that, it is nonetheless a weak moment for Kendrick Lamar.
It's by no means a bad effort: standouts like "ELEMENT."; the raw and introspective "FEEL."; and the album's vulnerable centrepiece "FEAR." keep it from being that. These songs, along with "DUCKWORTH.," the crown jewel of the project, portray a sharp, clear-eyed Lamar.
"Avenge the City": DC Rapper GoldLink Fights Gentrification With Chocolate City Stories on 'At What Cost'
Washington, D.C., as native GoldLink knows it, is disappearing —on his studio debut, 'At What Cost' (out now on RCA) the MC's mission is to preserve the remnants of his hometown's culture. "My goal is to avenge the city," he tells Exclaim! "I feel like the city needs a hero it can see. If I'm everybody's hero from Canada all the way down to Australia, but I'm not able to come home? Then I failed. It was for nothing."
The villain in GoldLink's hero story is gentrification. Rapid "revitalization" of DC's neighbourhoods and the demographic changes that come with it are threatening the...
Even after four studio albums, Big Sean has the tenacity of a rookie with a point to prove. "I'm hungrier than ever," the Detroit native says of his decade-long career. "I'm at a spot that I've been waiting to get to my whole life, and I want to keep letting them know I deserve to be here."
On his most recent effort, I Decided. (out now on G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam), the 28-year-old raps from the perspective of his reincarnated self — an old man who died full of regrets and has been given a rare chance at a do-over.
Chance the Rapper doesn't care for rules. In fact, defiance has been a recurring theme in his short but burgeoning career. His first mixtape, 10 Day, was the product of a ten-day suspension for marijuana possession during his senior year in high school, and between downloads and streams, earned him nearly 700,000 fans. From then onward, Chance continued to break the rules. This year, the Chicago MC embraced defiance to blaze a new trail in music and subsequently own 2016.
The year was suppose...
Authenticity is a pillar in hip-hop, and A$AP Ferg is as real as they come. In all the endeavours he's pursued this year, from his April release Always Strive and Prosper, to the A$AP Mob compilation, Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends, Ferg has remained fervently true to himself.
"There are a lot of on-the-surface artists out here that don't want to share the real," the 28-year-old Harlemite tells Exclaim! "But I feel like my real stories could help people. I feel like I'm put on this earth to help ...
"If you were a fan of my music before, you're in for a treat," says hip-hop wild child Danny Brown. "Like the title says, it's an atrocity exhibition. That's one thing people are fascinated with. They like watching car crashes, you know? You know it's not right for you to be entertained by this — but you still are."
Brown punctuates this thought with a mischievous laugh. Following his 2013 album, Old, the Detroit rapper has returned poised to cause a commotion.
Inspired by a Joy Division song...
Three years ago, emerging producer Harrison was walking with a friend when the pair discovered an abandoned backpack near an underpass. Inside was a pair of Sennheiser 280 Pro headphones. The lightly scuffed cans, which Harrison affectionately calls his "old reliables" are what the Toronto beatsmith used to master his new album, Checkpoint Titanium.
"I don't really like having a lot of music gear. There are people with the racks and the… stuff. That stuff just gives me anxiety," explains Harr...
"I think most rappers hit their prime in their 30s," Top Dawg Entertainment heavyweight ScHoolboy Q tells Exclaim! "You done seen so much at that age. You done dropped so many projects. It's just full circle for you, like you've seen this before. You know what to do and what not to do."
An older, wiser, more seasoned Q is what we get from his fourth studio album, Blank Face, out now on Top Dawg Entertainment/Interscope. But despite all the excitement around his new LP, the 29-year-old wordsmi...