Akintoye On Going From Online To IRL On 'Bombs Like Barack': "My Entire Feed Is Old School And I Love It"

Fresh from his album launch in Toronto, Akintoye is gearing up to play shows in the rest of the country with his band.

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Akintoye is one of Canada’s most followed rappers on TikTok. Now he’s looking to take his talents from your phone to your speakers and the stage with new album Bombs Like Barack and planned live shows for 2024.

He’s been spending most of 2023 in the lab with his longtime pal and collaborator Dan Vucko making the record, which is a concise seven-track ode to the old school. The rapper dug into his past for his latest, picking up a dusty MPC and going the classic 90s sound route. You’d think his very online fanbase might want something a little more modern, but the cool thing about social media communities is that people with shared interests tend to gravitate towards one another.

Complex Canada caught up with the Toronto rapper to talk about Bombs Like Barack, where his online fans are located, staying independent, and getting love from the GTA.

He also recently starred in Rockstar Energy’s Grit Behind the Glory campaign.

As someone with a big online following, where are most of your fans based?
It's kind of weird. So Spotify and streaming platform listenership is a different demographic than my Instagram. Which is also a different demographic than my TikTok. The consensus across the board is most of it is in the US. Most of my listenership is in the States. Like New York and Chicago. LA, not so much. There’s a lot on the east coast and then Toronto is up there too. But I think it's just because there are less people here. I try to make music with all my friends that I went to school with, and these are like my actual best friends, and we always talk about being from Toronto and the GTA, and how for artists that go further than the city, their fan base starts outside of the city first. People didn’t even know I was from Canada. They had no clue. I’d post videos on the TTC and people would be like, “you live here?”

So most fans are from the US, but Toronto shows love. That's one thing I will say, is that whenever it's time, like, Toronto will show up when you need them to show up.

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And you’ve got a new record?
Yeah. This year was an interesting one because I feel like all the years so far have been a different mission that reveals itself. Last year was about doing things that were very rooted in Toronto, and we built it up into the end of the year where we did the show and people came out. This year was about getting in the lab and grinding.

I feel like as a musician in this day and age it's different than it used to be back in the day. If you were an artist you just had to make music. There was nothing else you had to do: make your music and then show up when they tell you. Now, we got to do everything. So this year it was lock in, and we grind, and we put the hours in. It gets reflected when you put things out, they come back in the most literal way.

I'm not a huge universe person, but I can't deny that if you put things out, they come back. This year, we're just worried about work, work, grind, grind, grind every single day of the week. We're in there. We're working. We're cooking new stuff.

"I understand why artists sign and it makes complete sense like and I'm not against signing at all, but I'm waiting for the right situation."

We tried to do a video every single month, like a big music video every single month. Luckily we got so busy with other things that we didn't get to do it. It worked itself out and then the Rockstar campaign comes along and it's the Grit Behind The Glory campaign, and it's literally about, putting hours in and putting the work in. We've been putting out music, but we've made probably 20 times more music than we released. There's so much music that we've been making, even the tape that's dropping didn't really come into existence until June.

How would you describe 'Bombs Like Barack'?
It is very, very, very 90s. It is very 90s in several ways. This project has some choruses on some songs, but it's seven songs and it's straight to the point with rapping. There's no fluff. The production was done on an MPC from back in the 90s. Some songs are a minute and 35 seconds. It also feels very, very boom bap. It's old school, but there's new school elements to it. I love what my producer did with the samples. Very nineties inspired. It's our take on the 90s.

Where does this love for 90s hip-hop come from?
I think it's a product of when I started really falling in love with hip-hop. I was born in Nigeria, grew up in Nigeria till I was about 9 years old, and my dad was huge on West Coast rap from the 90s. He was also very, very big on some east coast artists, he was really into Biggie.

He always tells the story now because that's just what African fathers do. When things are going well they're like, ‘hey, let me tell you the story. I orchestrated this whole thing.’ He would play “One More Chance” when I was a baby to calm me down. I love all the new school stuff, but the 90s era just does something to me. If there was a time machine, I wish I could have been 24 years old during that time.

Is your online fanbase equally into 90s rap?
It's pretty interesting because I feel like followers will gravitate towards you because of what you like. There's some people that are young, that don't know about the 90s. So when they hear us having 90s elements in the music, they're like, ‘oh, this is cool.’ Then they get to go and do their research and find out about what was going on in the 90s. Even though they're young, they're learning about it through us, which feels like we're carrying the torch.

I’m from the 90s so it’s understandable, but my Instagram feed is nothing but 90s nostalgia.
If you scrolled through my social media, you would think I was 36. It literally is just all stuff from before I was born like that's my entire feed everywhere. My entire feed is old school and I love it.

Why call the new tape 'Bombs Like Barack'?
The premise was to try and capture the 90s as much as we could. That was the mood as soon as Dan bought the MPC. We were like, all right, let's just try it. Let's see what's gonna happen.

We didn't know what was gonna happen, and then we made the first song and we knew we needed to make a project. This is gonna be a tape, and we need to capture this time. It just felt so right. It felt like a return to the roots, everything about it. And everything we do is independent.

Have you gotten offers from labels? I feel like in the US, artists with big online followings get signed relatively quickly, but it hasn’t happened in Canada as much.
Yes. I can tell you about some of the things that have got on with the way that these situations play out. One thing I will say is exactly what happens in the US happens here too. Someone pops up from a regular label, well, the same thing happens in Canada too and it’s worse. It’s very predatory and that’s like a whole other thing. I understand why artists sign and it makes complete sense like and I'm not against signing at all, but I'm waiting for the right situation.

After the Toronto show, any shows planned for the rest of Canada?
We got plans. Absolutely. We're at the point in our shows where we’re becoming tight. We have our set list, we have our band members, all the moving pieces are now in place. Now, it's just a matter of where and when we try to get out and hit the road.

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