April 11, 2013

Slava P is the Wale fanclub founding member/victim.

Believe it or not, Toronto is currently one of the most hip-hop locations in North America. A number of things play into this claim. There’s local incubators like The Remix Project (which helped Drake’s wingman 40 hone his skills) to our controversial battle-rap landscape which hosts competitions like the King Of The Dot multiple times a year — where the hometown hero is often given the benefit of the doubt over his international rival. Toronto is also increasingly car friendly, meaning that you’re likely to hear your neighbor’s favorite musical act blaring through their speakers on the few sunny months in which you’re able to unroll your window.

The areas of the city are diverse, with often just a few kilometers separating the affluent areas where you were likely to find Drake’s family and the roughneck projects that rappers like Roney call home. There’s also an entire chronicle of facts regarding tax breaks for music labels that roost in Canada, but since I chose to disappoint my mother and not become a lawyer, we’ll have to skirt over the legalese. After it took Drake a southern co-sign in order to spring-board into any semblance of success, Toronto has become inspired to breed diverse new artists. However, most of the time the population hands out the screwface to anybody who has yet to receive accreditation from anywhere other than the greater Toronto area, creating a contradictory environment where the talent isn’t heard on a large scale until it has already been accepted by another region.

Toronto’s golden boy Redway looks to solve this issue by separating his time between his hometown of Toronto and the ever-accepting streets of New York. Since coming out with his aptly named, Border Living mixtape in 2010, Redway has jetted around the East Coast working on his craft in the hopes of getting noticed for his slick rhyme schemes and poignant delivery. Born to Caribbean parents, Redway maintains a hint of the island twang that connects most Toronto entertainers like Rich Kidd and Roney, but his sharp and enunciated flow drives home his lyrics in a way more commonly seen with rappers from Queens. His tales revolve around growing up in less than ideal circumstances and the grind that causes him to work towards upward mobility, detailing, in short, how hard it was to live with no money for Jordans and how badly he wants to suckle the sweet teat of fame in order to never feel that struggle again.

Redway’s new album “Live Free” is due out on April 11th and from the YouTube videos that have surfaced, it seems to continue this narrative while demonstrating growth at the same damn time. Although there’s a good chance that his local audience won’t support it, that doesn’t mean that the project will go unrecognized by his fan base on the other side of the border. Which, ironically, might perk up the ears of those Torontonians.

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