The Scene: Discovering the Source of Toronto’s New Wave of R&B and Hip-Hop
Canada is the second largest country in the world, and the birthplace of famous artists like Justin Bieber, Drake, The Weeknd, Shania Twain, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Alessia Cara, Grimes and Carly Rae Jepsen. So, in the second part of Rolling Stone’s video series, “The Scene,” our correspondent Afika Nxumalo visits the hub of activity, Toronto, one of the most culturally diverse cities on the planet. With a population of over 5.5 million people, Toronto has become a celebrated “cultural mosaic” of musical influences.
In his adventures with music locals, Afika stops in at the Trinity-Bellwoods and Little Portugal neighborhoods. These distinctive areas are a growing hotspot for a new wave of musicians, songwriters and other creatives. So what makes this place so attractive to young creative talent?
“You have to understand the concept of a cultural mosaic versus a melting pot,” explains rapper Kardinal Offishall, executive creative director of A&R for Universal Music Canada. “When you come to America, you are American, and you are almost encouraged to shed whatever cultural baggage that you came with. Whereas here, the cultural mosaic, is one where you’re taught to embrace who you are culturally, so the whole Canadian identity is one that includes several different cultures.”
We also check in with rapper Jimmy Prime, who is credited with giving the city its nickname “The 6,” because the city’s two area codes, 416 and 647, both include the number six. “We are all just so proud of what we’re doing and how we live,” he says of the local scene. As we make our way through the city, we’ll stop by major landmarks such as the legendary Macombo music venue (which is being renovated for a new generation) and the CN Tower – prominently featured on the cover of Drake’s album Views – as well as the Kensington and St. Lawrence markets.
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Later, we head over to Toronto’s west side, otherwise known as the “New Toronto,” and home of the new wave R&B and hip-hop that’s taken over the radio. We’ll also get a chance to talk to aspiring musicians as they branch out and make it their own.
To explore big city vibes in Toronto, click here.
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