If you believe everything you read on a t-shirt (which I obviously do), “Hip-Hop Ain’t Dead, It Lives In The North”. In recent years, Toronto has seen a sort of “hip-hop renaissance” with both the post-Drake rapper wave and the boom in DJs, B-Boys and street-artists (to the dismay of our Mayor). Annual events like the Stylus Awards and the King Of The Dot rap battles, in addition to mentorship programs such as The Remix Project, help Toronto act as the perfect incubator for aspiring talent. However, the problem comes from translating that local stardom into global recognition. With so much inspiration to draw from, Toronto hip-hop is missing the distinct sonic fingerprint that’s present in hotspots like New York, LA and Atlanta. Face it, it’s hard to find a common thread between current ambassadors Shad, Drake, and Kardinal Offishall.
Fortunatley, the strength of these seven acts lies in their ability to create their own unique sound while still representing the city. Here are 7 Toronto acts you should get familar with:
The Airplane Boys
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably already heard of The Airplane Boys. The duo’s creative videos and distinct style has brought them from Toronto to London to Coachella; and their rapid-fire delivery mixed with sing-song melodies has earned them praise from high-profile publications like Complex Magazine. On the heels of their latest mixtape, The Alignment, Beck Motley and Bon Voyage look to go on tour again while filming more videos and releasing collaborations with ecclectic producers like Diplo.
The 6th Letter
The 18 year old 6th Letter has been making a name for himself by opening at almost every concert to come to town since 2011. A member of ‘The Bakers Club’, 6th has dropped numerous mixtapes as part of the Go Green movement, which is aimed at solving the epidemic of people not smoking enough weed. His silky flow is a throwback to the 90′s era, while his content is similar to something you might hear from Wiz Khalifa. Look for more mixtapes from The 6th Letter, as well as a national tour and more collaborations with members of The Bakers Club.
After releasing a few summer-jams in 2009, Redway took some time off from the city to live in New York. While in the big apple, Redway honed his skills at weekly freestyle competitions and developed a more polished and mature flow. Now, back in the city, Redway is working on an EP to be distributed by Universal.
Another member of The Bakers Club, Raz Fresco is a rapper/producer who also preformed at near-every concert in 2011/2012, alongside The 6th Letter. In addition to being a slick wordsmith, Raz has produced for the likes of Mac Miller, French Montana and Big Sean. His new mixtape, Cakey Pockets, features original production and showcases Fresco’s crisp and witty delivery. Look for Raz to go on a national tour and release more collaborative projects with members of The Bakers Club.
A 17 year old Asian sensation, D-Pryde’s quirky and playful wordplay has earned him fans from all over the world. His mixtape, Mars, has gone ‘Gold’ on Datpiff (over 100k downloaded) and he’s been featured in XXL magazine. With his solid fan-base, determined work-ethic, and marketable style, D-Pryde is only a few years away from becoming an international star. Plus, he has Fat Joe in his corner. That’s always good, right?
Teddy Fantu, better known as TFHOUSE, is a 23 year old rapper/producer whose trippy sound has earned him opening slots at shows for Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller and The Weeknd. His sophmore project, Superior Taste, came out in April of 2010 and TFHOUSE has been grinding the local circuit since. He is currently working on his third mixtape, which is set to drop later this year.
A self described mad-genius, Rich Kidd is a rapper/producer who has previously produced for Busta Rhymes and Drake, and is rumored to have worked on Jay Electronica’s “Act II: Patents Of Nobility”. Named by the Toronto Star as one of the city’s Top 5 Independant MCs, Rich Kidd established a local following with his 5-part mixtape series, “We On Some Rich Kidd Shit” and his production on the feel-good k-os song, “I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman”. After recently releasing a collaboration with dj NaNa, Rich Kidd looks to continue to grind and put out music in 2012.