Mississauga is having a moment right now. Right now, a song written by a ‘Sauga native sits on top of the Billboard Hot 100. Homegrown artists like John River, Wondagurl, and Keita Juma are making waves that are reaching far beyond Lake Ontario. Rapper Kaydee is well aware of the movement in his hometown, and his latest project has him poised to join the wave of talent putting the 905 on the map.
It’s been almost two years since Kaydee dropped The Transition, a collection of boom-bap influenced project, featuring production by Rich Kidd and Sammir Beats. On his new EP, The Prelude, it’s clear that the Mississauga emcee has pivoted slightly, opting for darker, more contemporary electronic instrumentals. His lyrics, however, remain as tough as ever, tackling subjects such as suicide and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Listen to The Prelude below, premiering exclusively on Complex. We caught up with Kaydee and asked him about Mississauga, Best Kept Secret, and the state of Canadian music.
So, judging from the title, this EP is an appetizer for something bigger. Why should people care about The Prelude, and not just hold tight and wait for the main event, your forthcoming full length?
I think people will care about The Prelude because it’s the first project I’ve dropped in almost 2 years. People will want to see if I have progressed as an artist and writer since then. I think people will be interested in this project, because if you've ever seen me perform live, you’ve already seen me perform a couple of these joints, and you see the crazy reception some of these records get. It’s amazing this project is even being released. It was originally supposed to be a full length project that dropped last year, but we had to deal with a lot of bullshit regarding who we were working with at the time that pushed it all the way back. We weren’t even going to drop any of the music from those sessions but my manager was like, “We can’t let some of these songs go to waste.” So we picked the five we loved the most, and it became The Prelude. I hope it will intrigue people, because they’ll ask themselves, “If this is a warm up, what will the real thing sound like?”
A couple days ago, you tweeted “I’m not even excited for my new shit.” What makes you say that?
First off, I am really excited for my new shit to drop. But the reason why I tweeted that is because I’m really excited for the world to hear this song called “Broke” by JAI.R, an artist in BKS. I feel guilty listening to it sometimes because I know I’m probably 1 of like 5 people who have heard it yet. When JAI.R is ready to release it, people will know why I was so excited about it.
Which producers did you work with on the EP?
My in-house producer, LAWN$, produced four of the five records. “War On Us” was produced by VickTheEngineer. I came across his production and was interested in what I heard. The end result ended up being something magical.
You’ve got a joint on the EP called “Finding Balance.” How do you do it?
Finding balance for me is still hard. I don’t think I can ever strike a perfect balance...there aren’t enough hours in a day for everything I want to do. I do make sure that no matter what, I always have time for the main factors in my life: God, family, music. Everything after that isn’t life or death, so I get to it when I can. But those three are what fuel me, and a lack in any of those categories will most likely throw me off until the balance is restored again.
"You look at the Billboard Hot 100 chart right now and you see the #1 song. It’s fucking written by a guy from Mississauga. Do you know how amazing that sounds?" – kaydee
You rap about suicide and depression on “LALALA.” Heavy shit. Is it based on a true story?
A lot of people think that record is based on a true story. It was just one of those days where I was listening to music and nothing was exciting me, everything felt so generic and played out. My favourite rappers are Notorious B.I.G. and Andre 3000 and they both tell very vivid stories through their music. I wanted people to feel like I felt the first time I heard “Warning” or “A Day in the Life of Benjamin Andre.” As I started writing the song, the concept sort of shaped itself, I didn’t think it would turn out to be what it is. I’m really proud of that song, some of my best work to this point. Anyone who listens to this song, please do it in the dark with your eyes closed. You’ll experience it so much better.
What’s happening in Mississauga right now, musically and culturally?
For the most part, Mississauga is really thriving right now. There are so many dope artists and collectives in the city right now, it is great to see. You look at the Billboard Hot 100 chart right now and you see the #1 song. It’s fucking written by a guy from Mississauga. Do you know how amazing that sounds? You listen to a song like “Antidote” and don’t even take in that a teenage girl from Mississauga produced it. The city has come such a long way, it’s quite scary. The music industry used to feel so far away, a hopeless dream, and now if you stretch your arms, you can almost touch it. We have local artists from Mississauga doing tours around the province and selling out shows. 5 years ago, that could never have happened. We’re just the beginning of the wave, the next generation of Mississauga kids are the ones who are going to take the flag and really run away with it. I must say the city did take an enormous loss when Redway died in the summer, but there are lots of people around keeping his memory alive and well.
What is BKS?
BKS stands for Best Kept Secret and we are a collective of kids from the city. We have some of the dopest artists, producers, graphic designers, videographers and just about everything else under our umbrella. The beautiful thing about BKS is that if there is someone out there in the world who feels they are one of the best at what they do but they’re not getting the proper recognition they feel they deserve, they’re already in BKS and they don’t even know it. So shout out to everyone in the world who feels unappreciated. That’s the feeling that motivates someone from wanting to be the best kept secret to wanting to become the best, period.
For me, “War On Us/King” is the best song on the EP. Can you talk a little bit about your message there, and what the Black Lives Matter movement means to you?
I was at home and I had just watched Kendrick perform ‘Untitled’ on Stephen Colbert. I remember being so inspired by the performance that I needed to write right away. The message on that record is just being a black man, doesn’t matter what country you’re from, and feeling like there is a war against your people. You see so much injustice in the world and ask yourself, “How is this really happening?” You see a cop kill a black kid and get away but then you see a black kid sell drugs to support his family and he gets life. On the flipside of “War On Us” is “King.” We’re all kings in our own right, I don’t want anyone to forget that. The Black Lives Matter movement is very important to me. It is amazing to see people of all races come together and rally around one message. I lived in the US for a couple years, so the connection is a little bit stronger ‘cause I still have close friends out there, and I know what they’re going through, and it breaks my heart.
How do you feel about the state of Canada’s rap scene?
Forget rap, the Canadian music scene is BOOMIN’. There was a time when the top four or five songs on the Billboard Hot 100 were all Canadian artists. I remember as a kid thinking the biggest thing was Kardinal Offishall signing to Akon. Now the biggest artist in the world is from Toronto. The Toronto music scene has always been dope, it just took a guy like Drake to kick the door down to open the rest of the world to us. Tory Lanez has been amazing to me since 2008; it’s 2016 and people are just now getting hip to him. We have cats like Jazz Cartier, Raz Fresco, and Devontée gaining an American audience and staying at home. Everyone thought you had to go to the US to chase a deal, but now you can stay in Toronto and make everyone come to you. I love seeing the city flourish, and I’m happy my crew and I get to be apart of this Northern renaissance.