The Rona has got your favourite rappers and singers all cooped up, completely stir crazy with well-washed hands and ears sensitive to anyone daring to clear their throat. But just like the rest of us, they're turning to social media to fill the social distance. In fact, in just barely a month, Canada's biggest and best artists have managed to creatively adapt to this new (ab)normal, whether by engaging in Instagram Live battles or filming isolation-themed music videos or becoming full-on talk show hosts. And amid the anxiety-provoking news cycle, crumbling economies, and dystopian lockdowns, their online hyjinks have provided a soothing balm. Here's our list of Canuck artists worth following as the world shuts down.
Canada’s hip-hop king certainly hasn't been slacking during quarantine. He's already found the time to shoot a social distancing-friendly music video in his Toronto mansion and orchestrate a TikTok dance craze. Earlier this week, he appeared on OVO Mark's Instagram Live DJ session to preview some new songs, as well as some collabs with Playboi Carti and Sosa Geek and Fivio Foreign.
The Boy took to the gram last week show off his boy, Adonis, for the first time. The tyke can be seen stunting with a big blond fro in what appears to be a toddler-sized Range Rover with a massive teddy bear in tow. Drake gave his followers an emotional message: “Remember you are never alone, and if you need to be reminded of that ask for support and it will show up... I love and miss my beautiful family and friends and can’t wait for the joyful day when we are able to reunite.” Same, Drake. Same.
Tory Lanez has certainly found a way to generate buzz ahead of his The New Toronto 3 mixtape—the rapper has been very active on Instagram Live, running a raunchy, wildly popular pirate radio show, Quarantine Radio, that has featured twerk contests, butt plug enthusiasts, and some very famous guests, from Justin Bieber to DMX. He also had Drake on the show last week, and while at it, smashed the record for most Instagram Live viewers ever with over 310,000.
Earlier this week, Lanez's live streaming privileges were temporarily revoked for "nudity," according to Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri. (We're guessing it had something to do with a guest skilled in throat gymnastics.) However, on Thursday, Lanez announced that Instagram had officially lifted his ban after he sent them an advance copy of The New Toronto 3. (Of course, can't verify how accurate that is, as it's according to Tory.)
"TURN NOTIFICATIONS ON !!!" he wrote in a post. "THIS IS HISTORY IN THE MAKING !!!!S/O ADAM AND FADIA @ Instagram !!!! ITS LIT !!!!!! WE BACKKKK BABYYYYYYYYYYY QUARANTINE RADIO IN 20 MINUTES 🔥🔥😈🔥😈🔥😈😈🔥👏🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑 DEAD ASS SENT THEM #TheNewToronto3 !!!!!!! AND IT WORKED"
The Biebs has been on Instagram chopping it up with other Canadian icons to keep us entertained. Earlier this week, he gifted the worlds of hockey and music with some feel-good content by inviting his good buddy Auston Matthews, of the Toronto Maple Leafs, on his IG Live for a chill chat about Netflix's Tiger King, his favourite hockey players of all time, and of course, Papi's 'stache.
He and wife Hailey have been making the most out of self-isolation, with Hailey even saying she's "been happier" than she's felt "in months" while quarantining with her hubby in Waterloo, Ontario. The 23-year-old model revealed that she’s “been happier” than she’s felt “in months” while self-isolating with her husband in Waterloo, Ont. “I thought I was going to have a lot of anxiety through this process and there has been some. But it’s also really shown me that the simplicity in life and kind of dialling everything back has made me so happy,” she said in Justin's recent IG Live video.
Hey, the family that quarantines together, uh, dance-routines together?
Toronto producer and frequent Drake collaborator Boi-1da has been no slouch in the Instagram Live Battle phenomenon, having participated in what's already being considered one of the classics of the nascent, quarantine-inspired genre. A couple weeks ago, he squared off against Hit-Boy for "The Beat Battle You Don't Want To Miss." Hit-Boy came correct with some unreleased Big Sean and Nipsey Hussle tracks from his forthcoming 'Detroit 2' project, but Boi-1da took the W with a couple of never-heard Drake snippets, one of which featured Roddy Rich. Needless to say, the latter track set the internet on fire.
"I'm not playing with you, bro," Boi-1da said while playing the track. That he wasn't.
The new Animal Crossing is all the rage, and we are turning up with some vacation juice. At least that’s the case for Soliven, half of Vancouver’s R&B duo Manila Grey, who jumped on the new Nintendo release to make himself an avatar with an all-white Nike drip to stay virtually fresh in the time of COVID.
Meanwhile, Neeko, the other half of the duo, has made his fans an ambitious pledge: to rock a different pair of Jordans every single day once self-isolation is over.
When he hasn't been working on his fire new collab with Houdini, KILLY's been dabbling in the worlds of gaming and bling. The Toronto rapper took to Twitter to show off some sick new custom jewelry inspired by Death Note and Pokémon—diamond-studded pendants of both Ryuuk the Shinigami and Gengar, an iconic first-generation ghost Pokémon. He's been crowdsourcing requests for a third necklace, saying, “You guys can choose the third one... give me ideas and I’ll make it!”
Earlier this week, the rapper battled Y2K and KBeaZy in Call of Duty: Warzone as part of #FIGHT2FUND, a weekly online pro-am tournament raising funds for those affected by COVID-19.
Even the ever-elusive Abel Tesfaye has been flexing more on his phone, most recently showing up on IG Live to play snippets of unreleased music for his 21.9 million followers.
Between new jams and promoting his latest record After Hours, you can also find him appreciating memes—and his apparent stardom in the latest season of Pokémon.
Vancouver rapper Vials may well be Canada's queen of Instagram, and is probably the only girl out here whose nails are still on fleek in the middle of a pandemic. Vials has been using her amazing writing skills and authority on all things beauty to dish out hilarious content, with one such video describing what your nails say about you. She had a few truth bombs, including a nice burn for a gnarly set of nails belonging to your neighbourhood unkempt fuckboy: “You use 35-1 body wash and recently admitted to Twitter that you don’t wash your legs! You won’t call a girl back unless it’s after 3 a.m. on the weekend. Potentially a Josh.”
Dax is still hype on his latest single “I Can’t Breathe,” which is, unfortunately, a morbidly appropriate title for the times, to say the least. The Ottawa rapper has been doing it all on IG, from penning country-friend TikTok anthems to making a strong case for indoor fitness. “Just because you’re in quarantine is no reason to get out of shape,” he tells the camera, dousing his floor in dish detergent and water before holding on to his countertop and vaulting into a breakneck run, using the spill as an ad-hoc treadmill. We gotta give the man points for creativity.
We’re excited to see Toronto DJ darling Bambii back on the turntables, spinning wicked sets at Club Quarantine, a virtual after-hours club described as an “online queer party,” open on Zoom every night of our mandatory shut-in. Earlier this week, she played an epic, eclectic "Streaming From Isolation" set on Boiler Room, presented by Montreal arts collective Moonshine. It's the closest thing to a good nightlife that we've got at the moment.