When I talked to Future, one thing he was stressing was that before Drake, Toronto didn’t have a sound. Atlanta has a sound, Texas has a sound, New York has a sound—but there was no sound for Toronto.
I would strongly disagree with that. You’d be crucified for saying that shit. I strongly disagree with that.
He was saying there wasn’t a sound and there is a sound now. And you’re saying you disagree with that?
Oh yeah, strongly. I understand why he was making that statement, but I think the way it’s being worded isn’t correct. I think this is the first time the world’s heard Toronto’s sound. This is a new sound for Toronto, but there is another sound that came out of this city. And it was very significant, in terms of hip-hop and music, and what it was, and what it meant to Toronto over the last 10 to 15 years—that sound is from Saukrates, Kardi, and Choclair.
Those guys are all products of Gadget. Gadget is like the godfather of all hip-hop that’s ever come out of Toronto. He’s a mix engineer, and he’s the best in this country. He’s a Jamaican guy with big dreads, who just hides in his studio and is like a mythical figure, who owns more gear than you could even imagine and has the nickname Gadget.
He has more studio equipment and rack-mounted gear and flight cases than you could line a fucking mansion wall-to-wall. It’s insane. He has like three or four storage units around the city full of equipment.
This is a new sound for Toronto, but there is another sound that came out of this city. That sound is from Saukrates, and Kardinal Offishall, and Choclair. Those guys are all products of Gadget. Gadget is like the godfather of all hip-hop that’s ever come out of Toronto.
Gadget is my mentor. He taught me everything I know, hence why I had a very strong working relationship with Saukrates and K-Os. I sort of came through. He would literally drop off MPCs and ASR-10s in the hood to all the legendary Toronto hood crews.
Those dudes all learned how to make beats from Gadget. Saukrates is a mini Gadg, Kardi went through Gadg, Jully Black, every Canadian artist that has had any level of success in this country or abroad has come through Gadget.
To this day and over the last few years he’s worked with Chris Smith Management, and he’s had a part in Nelly Furtado’s career. That’s the company that represents Nelly Furtado. So Gadget’s taught me and is still involved in Drake’s music today. He mixed most of the songs on Take Care, and he mixed four songs on Thank Me Later, including “Miss Me” and “Light Up” with Jay and a couple others.
I always keep him involved, so on and so forth. But the sound that came with Saukrates and Jully Black and those legendary Toronto hip-hop records, that to me was Toronto’s sound. It was sound that I grew up with and that we all grew up with, and Drake won’t argue that. He’ll agree with me on that comment right away. What he’s saying is that this is the first time the rest of the world has heard the sound of Toronto.
This is the first time the rest of the world has been exposed to it, and we created the new sound of Toronto in two ways. One was with Boi-1da, and I think one was with myself and Drake. Me and Drake have sort of created a niche that we make music together in a certain way, and people can recognize it pretty quickly.
Boi-1da has a pretty specific sound to his beats, which T-Minus also borrows from and is a part of. I mean, T-Minus came from learning from Boi-1da. Back in the day they were tight friends. They made “Replacement Girl” together. It’s all very closely connected, and they’ve all been together for a long time.
T-Minus did a lot of stuff on Take Care, and Boi-1da did as well, and on Thank Me Later. So I think that sound for Toronto is attributed to me, Boi-1da, and T-Minus, and me and Drake and this R&B somber sound that we’ve committed to.
But to say that that’s the first time Toronto’s ever had a sound in hip-hop? That’s incorrect. We grew up with a very significant sound. It’s influenced by the West Coast, but still very New York—a sloppy, almost silly, sound that comes out of this city.
I really look to Saukrates as the father of it. When you ask someone about legendary Toronto hip-hop songs, if you ask a really young kid, you’re going to get the Drake records, but if you ask a lot of people, you’re going to get a record out of that sound that I’m talking about.
I can’t sit here and say that this is the first time we’ve ever has a sound. This is the first time anyone’s ever blown up.
If you were in the Toronto hip-hop scene or urban or black music in this city period, you’d have this conversation on a regular basis, and that conversation was, “Who do you think is going to do it? Who’s going to do it? Do you think it’s even possible? Do you think that a Canadian rapper could ever blow up in America? Is Sauks going to do it? Is Kardi going to do it? Is K-Os going to do it? Who’s going to do it?”
That conversation is not even had anymore. Nobody questions that anymore. No.
We grow up now seeing a kid from Toronto on the cover of The Source magazine or the cover of XXL. We did not see that when we were kids. I was excited to see somebody in the weekly newspaper, or maybe on the front of the local Canadian rap things you’d hear about. We weren’t getting anything. Maybe the inside of a Vibe, but you weren’t catching us anywhere else. That’s changed.
Drake himself is the first one to obviously change that. That’s not a secret, and the sound is obviously from myself and Drake, and now from Boi-1da and T-Minus, and now on a North American platform it’s the sound from Toronto.
But man, I can’t turn my back on the people who created a sound from the city before, and the people who taught me how to use an MPC and still mix Drake’s music.
What is the sentiment in the Toronto hip-hop community when it comes to Drake? How does everyone feel now that Drake is the one?
In the Toronto hip-hop scene, you’d have this conversation on a regular basis, and that conversation was, “Who do you think is going to do it? Who’s going to do it? Do you think it’s even possible? Do you think that a Canadian rapper could ever blow up in America? Is Sauks going to do it? Is Kardi going to do it? Is K-Os going to do it? Who’s going to do it?” That conversation is not even had anymore.
Well, it’s funny. Again, there’s a few ways to look at it. For me, I came from a tough neighborhood. We used to have those conversations like, “Fuck Kardinal! Kardinal’s a bitch. Kardinal can’t come to the hood. Fuck him. Rap’s about the struggle. I don’t give a fuck about that dude.” So me being someone who had that conversation as a youth, I can only imagine what people are going to say about Drake. I’m not naive to that.
There’s going to be some sentiment like that, but the thing is that Drake makes music that’s so honest and so real, his shit gets blasted in the hood. Blasted. People still connect to him and still show that love and support. He gets a lot of love and support.
But at the same time, there was this Canadian documentary that came out the other day about the history of Toronto hip-hop, and we didn’t come up in that once. It didn’t have anything to do with us. Like, there’s a big community here. We’re nine hours away from New York City.
We had Michie Mee and people like that that were significant rappers coming out of this city back in the day. Even someone like Snow—as funny as that is. We had a connetion to Dream Warriors. We had a connection, not long before, but as significant as the South did in the early years of hip-hop, when New York ran the game and L.A. was starting to come up. Toronto had a real hip-hop community.
We have real OG graffiti writers, who have been here for 25 years. We have shit that not a lot of other cities have when it comes to that culture. So that shit has been here for a long time, hence my quickness to contest that comment about us never having a sound.
That documentary that came out was focused on the early years of Toronto hip-hop and the upbringing of it, but after I watched that, and they didn’t mention us once in there, I feel like everybody’s bitter.