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The Shuffle: Canadian Hip-Hop

DJ plays music on turntable

By Jonah Peterson

“Livin’ Right” – Ntwali, Vintage Simba, 2019
Listining to Ntwali’s mixtape, Vintage Simba, you might feel like you have been transported back into the golden era of Hip-hop. The Edmonton rapper is a must listen for anyone trying to find new artists keeping the old school alive. The song “Livin’ Right” gives a classic boom-bap vibe that will have you grooving to a melody and flow that’s impossible not to sing along to. A song about living your life to the fullest, this one is certain to enter your playlist. Life: you only get one. Hope you’re livin’ it right.

“Auntie” – WHY-G & Houdini, Single, 2019
Moving to the east side of Canada, we find two rappers who are making big moves in the Toronto rap scene. This track is sure to get the party going, with a catchy hook and a trap beat that flows effortlessly. The two showcase their bars and classic Toronto accent in this club hit. WHY-G is back in the booth after his arrest in early 2018 and is coming into 2020 with a vengeance. As for Houdini, he has only been active for a few years but already has several songs that have resonated across the city. Hopefully these two have more collaborations planned for the future.

“Canada Goose” – Pressa & Tory Lanez, Press a Brick, 2017
Pressa is quickly becoming a big name in Canadian Hip-hop. Teaming up with an already solidified talent in Tory Lanez, the Blue Feather Records artist brags about his riches and expensive lifestyle, while also warning his enemies to keep their distance. Pressa has been a little quiet the past few years, while Tory Lanez has been on a huge run, becoming one of the premier Canadian artists out today with his blend of hip-hop and R&B.

“Last Laugh (feat. Supawassi)” – Burna Bandz, North Boy, 2019
A lot of the songs selected for this article feature artists from the underground rap scene in Toronto. That’s because there is so many amazing artists coming from that city right now, especially in Hip-Hop. With all that talent, it’s no surprise that Burna Bandz has remained one of Toronto’s most underrated rappers. His 2019 mixtape, North Boy, is filled with trap bangers featuring plenty of local artists, including up and comer Supawassi, who comes through on the song Last Laugh with possibly the best guest verse on the whole album. If you’re sleeping on Burna Bandz, it’s time to wake up.

“Griselda Blanco (feat. TwoTwo)” – Pengz, Single, 2017
His biggest hit to date, Toronto emcee Pengz comes together with TwoTwo for this underground classic. The track features a simple trap beat, produced by another Canadian, Brampton, Ontario’s own JP Soundz. The song is filled with aggressive bars detailing their lifestyle of selling and producing their own narcotics. One of the hottest tracks in the Toronto underground scene in 2017, the song’s music video alone currently has 7.1 million views.

“Heard Things” – Derin Falana, Don’t Save Me, 2019
Derin Falana has been making noise for a while, and his debut album, Don’t Save Me, proves that the Toronto native is ready to make a big jump with his music. The album is filled with relaxing, yet unpolished production, giving it a more old school feel mixed with hints of modern day R&B. In the song Heard Things, Falana lets the critics and doubters know that he hears what they’re saying, he just doesn’t care. One line that stands out in the chorus is “People hate the truth but I’m living mine.” People will hate when you be yourself, because that’s not what they want you to be.

“TBA (feat. Smiley 61st)” – MksoLive, Single, 2018
MksoLive gets together with Toronto legend Smiley for another underground classic. The song talks about the grimey upbringing the two experienced growing up in affordable housing projects, and the methods they used to make it through and secure a paycheque. Both artists are part of the rap crew OLN, which also includes fellow Toronto artists Ryda and Homie

“Le but” – Loco Locass, Le but – EP, 2014
For many rap purists, hip-hop music will always be about the power of words, and this Québec trio puts that emphasis front and centre. Many of their lyrics are devoted to the preservation of the French language, as well as the political independence of Québec. It doesn’t get more Canadian than an ode to the most famous hockey team in the country, the Montreal Canadiens, and that’s exactly what their 2014 track “Le but” is. The song name drops hockey legends like Jean Beliveau, Jacques Plante and Guy Lafleur, as well as takes some shots at their rivals, Boston, Philadelphia and of course, the Toronto Maple Leafs. No song on this list screams “Canada” more than this French-Canadian classic.

“Cheesed” – Phone-EG, The G Is Silent, 2014
It’s 2020 and people still seem to believe that Phone-EG does not have any burners. This is in fact not the case, and Phone-EG has been making this clear long before his 2014 mixtape, The G Is Silent. The comedian/artist had been making moves on YouTube, doing skits with his friends on their channel, 4YE Comedy, before dropping this classic tape. On the song Cheesed, Phone-EG talks about the people that doubted him, and the ones that have tried to take way from his success. He then says how he is going to respond, and it does not include anything friendly.

“Set Trippin’ [Remix]” – Bizz Loc, Single, 2018
Drill rap has made its way to Canada and Bizz Loc won’t let you forget anytime soon. The self-proclaimed “Err God” has grown a cult-like following due to his aggressive style and shocking lyrics. His 2018 remix of the Casanova hit “Set Trippin’” only made his name more known in the underground rap scene. He recently earned a spot on the collaborative mixtape NorthernSound, that features a lot of Toronto talent, including other names mentioned on this list.

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