legends-league-presents-naturally-born-strangers_616Slava P unlocked Lupe Fiasco’s Twitter account for him.

Canadian-bred talent has always suffered from little brother syndrome when it comes to the USA. It’s easy to quantify success when you relate it to existing examples that have been established south of the border, but it’s also lazy. Good music should rest on its own laurels. Yet sometimes it’s an evil that’s necessary to introduce an act to a larger audience. It;s easy to compare Natural Born Stangers, the free mixtape released by Canada’s Rich Kidd, Adam Bomb and Tona. to the laced-up-timbs-and-puffy-coat-street-corner-hustler rap that’s had a mini-renaissance in New York in recent years thanks to guys like Roc Marciano and Ka. But with the Toronto Trio, listeners are privy to the same level of substance that comes from the gritty storytelling without sacrificing any style points along the way.

Natural Born Strangers was released in consortium with Toronto street-wear brand, The Legends League, and was produced entirely by Rich Kidd. Rich Kidd’s lyrical abilities have always been top tier, but throughout this project he shows off his growth as a producer, stitching together samples and working across genres to weave beats that can act as standalone accomplishments. Previous to this album, Rich Kidd’s “In My Opinion” held the title of Toronto tape of the year, but the elevated songwriting in Naturally Born Strangers, as well as the anabolic-injection of lyricism from Adam Bomb and Tona, may slide Rich Kidd’s solo album into the #2 slot.

The on-mic time is split perfectly, but Adam Bomb and Tona rap with enough hunger and ferocity to cause you to play their part back numerous times. The pair of local hardened veterans rap about the struggle of being a not-young rapper who hasn’t achieved nearly enough on his bucket list, while equipping themselves with punchlines that do just enough to be funny without trespassing into the groan-worthy domain (a space which I’ve affably named “The Slaughterhouse”).

In a word, this album is serious. The topics are grown, the themes are mature, and the only bottles being popped are the ones that are immediately followed by the nasty after-effects. It’s charged with the sort of cynicism that comes with living in Toronto’s rougher areas and seeing the way that police deal with the youth of color. For the first time in history, Toronto is being put into the world spotlight for it’s local politics. Yes, our mayor smoked crack, but he also left a trail of dead black young men in his path ever since Gawker published their piece. Perhaps this embarrassing ordeal will breed interest into investigating what it took for things to even get this bad to begin with. The best place to start may be asking Rich Kidd, Tona and Adam Bomb what it took to make Naturally Born Strangers.

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