Montreality’s YouTube channel has become a go-to spot for intimate and earnest interviews with some of today’s biggest rap stars, but starting this month, it’ll play host a new cypher series starring the best up-and-coming talent from the city that gave the channel its name.
There’s two already that just dropped: one in English with Nate Husser, Zach Zoya, Kid Riz, SLM and Kay Bandz, and another repping the French side with White-B, Lost, Connaisseur Ticaso, Shreez, and Izzy-S. They were shot earlier this year at Le Livart in the Plateau neighbourhood.
“Usually our approach is to talk to artists to get to know them better, so this is a totally different way people are going to connect with us,” said Montreality co-founder Sina Ghiassi.
A cypher series existed as an idea in Ghiassi’s journal for years, but the timing was right with his typically hectic touring schedule largely grounded, and a recent influx of talented voices coming out of the city. The hope with the new series is to introduce long-time Montreality followers with the best the 514 has to offer at this critical juncture in the city’s music history, but also inspire more aspiring young emcees to pick up a mic and follow their dreams.
“I thought it might be complicated at first because there’s so many different artists and they’re not necessarily all friends,” Ghiassi said. “But everyone really came together and united around the vision.”
For those who know Montreality primarily for their heartfelt and humanizing Q&As with big names from the United States like Trippie Redd, YNW Melly, Fivio Foreign and the late Juice WRLD and Lil Peep, the all-Montreal cypher series might catch them by surprise. But Ghiassi feels Montreal has a unique sound that rap fans the world over can latch on to.
“I think the versatility is unique here, starting with there being a French side and English side,” he said. “That’s something you can’t really find anywhere else. On the French side, I think they can go bar for bar with just about anybody. On the English side, everyone has their own distinct style, they all have their own pocket. I’m hoping people take the time to discover these artists, because the future is promising.”
Two of the French rappers, White-B and Lost, are part of the city’s 5sang14 crew. They’re dropping a new album, SNAKEYEZ, on December 12.
“The cypher was a good idea, there’s not a lot of opportunities for rappers in the city to work together,” said White-B. “When Montreality asked me, I was down.”
In Ghiassi’s estimation, the rappers came through with quality verses. The big challenge from the Montreality team’s perspective was to capture the cypher in a visual way that respects the brand they’ve worked hard to build.
Ghiassi credits the video and audio team for making it look and sound clean.
With the new series incoming and touring back on the horizon, Montreality’s schedule for 2022 is filling up fast. They’ve also got a Montreal Gems Spotify playlist going, which constantly updates with the hottest rap songs, big or small, to reach the team’s desk. They’re bullish on the playlist and looking to hit more ears next year. They’ve got a lot going on, but that isn’t stopping Montreality from thinking big about the future.
“We have some ideas. We want to maybe turn this into a series, so in the same way we have the interviews, maybe have Montreality cyphers being a regular occurrence,” said Ghiassi. “Maybe then we could go on tour in different cities. That’s something that could be on the horizon. That would be dope.”