Slava P is Toronto’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

I present to you Roney, Toronto’s Chief Keef. Before we get into the music, let’s just clear up any misconceptions whether or not Toronto even has any rough areas. Public housing is scattered throughout the Greater Toronto Area and it contains a majority of the bad apples in the city, bad apples who are cunning enough to not only turn a replica firearm into a fully-functioning one, but to also avoid jail-time by hiding these weapons, along with drugs and real guns, in the common areas of the community housing and thus avoiding direct blame and jail time

So while it’s true that we lack the widespread violence of a place like Chicago, when you take into consideration the fact that Canada has outlawed gun possession outright, there are still quite a few shootings that take place every year, and that number is steadily rising (we’re already at 9). And as with any area that deals with drugs, guns and violence, there’s bound to be a bit of music to accompany that.

Back to the topic at hand. Roney (rhymes with stoney) is a 17 year old rapper best described as raw. Hailing from Parma Court, one of the most dangerous regions of Toronto and the same hood that birthed many of Drake’s goons, it’s as close as you can come to “The Bottom” in a nation that invented poutine and provides free healthcare to those that eat too much of it.

Although there are a few handfuls of rappers emerging from seedy parts of the city, Roney has managed to set himself apart due to his age; his ad-libs; and his ability to stay out of jail. Rapping with a distinct Toronto-hood accent, which is a mix between the West Indian and Jamaican dialects, Roney spits menacingly and with flashes of brilliance about what he knows best: gun violence and the streets it’s found on.

The similarities between Roney and Chief Keef are striking: both are a product of their tough environment, both have exploded into success thanks to local high-schools all over the district and both are surrounded by crew members that often need to be “freed”. Even Roney’s signature ad-lib of “Baom Baom” mirrors Keef’s “Bang Bang” so closely that it feels like a Xerox. In spite of Roney’s rising star, part of his appeal hides in the possibility that he doesn’t really care about music. His inaugural mixtape doesn’t even have proper names for each song and it can be difficult to play through it all at once due to the fact that the tape relies heavily on a lot of stale “bring that back” type tricks that I was hoping we left with DJ Whoo Kid in a gutter somewhere.

Regardless, watching Roney’s videos or listening to some of his songs does inspire admiration for him as both an artist and a young kid trying to make a better life for himself. Time will tell whether his rising star will burn out quickly or fade away, but in the mean time it’s nice to be a cultural tourist and visit some of the more treacherous parts of Toronto as seen through the eyes of someone who has lived his life there.


ZIP: Roney – Don’t Sleep Vol. 1 (Left-Click)

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