I recently caught up with Toronto rapper Aspektz andd you can check out what he had to say below.
Q: Who were your early inspirations and how did you get started in music?
A: I’ve been writing since I was young and went from freestyling and battle rap to recording records pretty quickly. I got a grant from the Canadian government to shoot a music video for my first single about Toronto, ”In the TDot,” and once that aired on TV, the movement kept rolling. It got placed in a bunch of TV shows and video games and all of a sudden, we had kids in Korea making remix videos for a love-song about my city and it changed the way we looked at making music. We stopped trying to make the hottest record in the city and started thinking globally. With my team, True Thorobredz, we put out four projects in the Academic Probation series and followed up with an album and never looked back.
Q: How difficult was it as an artist coming up in rap and being from Toronto?
A: As recently as a few years ago, artists in Toronto didn’t have any shining examples of “making it” in music. The forefathers in the music scene had a little buzz but the concept of making a career from it was unheard of. Now, the world watches closely and is actively trying to discover new artists, sounds and movements coming out of the city. Alot of my friends have been working hard, every single day, for the last decade or longer and are starting to pop up on the global radar so we think it’s hilarious that people think Toronto is blowing up overnight.
Q: At the moment, Toronto seems to have the big buzz in music at the moment, with artists like Drake, Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes all doing well, why do you think now there is these artists coming from the city excelling?
A: Hard work pays dividends, just not when and where you want it to. The unexpected nature of it means that you just need to keep your head down and keep grinding, following your own journey and making music that is true to you. All of the artists mentioned put in work and I have no doubt they would be making the same records whether or not they blew up because we all started off as underdogs. That mentality is baked into us from a young age and it motivates us to work smarter, work harder and work together to dreamchase.
Q: What was the process behind creating the next level project?
A: Next Level started off as a new approach to making a music experience that would work like a time capsule for the fans. Instead of spreading out the production and sound, I worked with Pops to make a cohesive sound for the whole project so that it could become the soundtrack for pushing yourself to the next level. He first visited London in November 2015 to connect with Bonkaz, Tinie & Disturbing London and the New Age Muzik crew and we cut the first record on that trip. London as a city provided so much inspiration energy, from the people and nightlife to the fashion and sounds, so the rest of the project was formed on the back of that. It also led to a documentary called THE LDN 6IX that we shot to compare the scene in London and Toronto because both have the attention of the whole world right now.
Q: How would you describe your sound as an artist
A: I make motivation music. Whether you’re getting amped up for the club, the gym or to get money, these records are the soundtrack to success. The idea is to push yourself everyday to new heights and music is the best way to inspire that.
Q: It’s said that the London scene is something that you’ve drawn your inspiration from, how do you compare the two cultures?
A: They’re similar but very different. The music scene in London right now has an energy that I’ve never felt before. I wasn’t alive at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in 1973 but I can only imagine this is the kind of buzz that they felt back then. Artists are hungry, infinitely talented and tearing up the playbook to build their own rules and sounds. I’m blessed to have drawn inspiration from the city and people for this project.
Q: The documentary you plan on doing sounds exciting, what can we expect from it?
A: Toronto and London have so much attention focused on them right now and with good reason, there are some amazing talents coming out of both cities. About 95% of the culture is the same (language, fashion, influences) but the 5% that is different has created two distinct scenes. I wanted to explore that through music, art, fashion and nightlife to get into the heads of some of the emerging talents in those scenes and show people who might not have ever been to the cities what inspired me. The first half was shot in London and the second part shows the Toronto side of it and after that, we are going to start plugging in the talent from both cities to bring a live experience together.
Q: What can your fans expect from you in 2018?
A: We’ve got so much more coming – music, documentaries, videos, experiences. The last record on the project, “See Me” is the first single from the next project in the series, produced entirely by Young Wolf Hatchlings and the last record on that project will introduce the follow-up from that. Each project features one producer and a teaser of the project that follows it. My goal is to connect London and Toronto as sister-cities so that we can start introducing all of the amazing talent nurtured in each of them. If you’re into the concept and movement, find me on the socials and get down.
Make sure you check out music from Aspektz from the links below;