The top 10 Toronto beatmakers you've never heard of
Toronto has one of the fastest growing beat music scenes in the country, with Drake and Diddy coming to blows over a Boi-1da beat and Wondagurl producing for Jay Z. But if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Out of all the beatmakers in the city, it's fair to say that many of them will never get the shine they deserve. Will they see the light at the end of the studio? Or forever be lost in the depths of the Internet? Maybe this will be their year.
Here are ten beatmakers in the GTA that you've (probably) never heard of.
If his Soundcloud was a collage, The Kount's bigger picture would be an a(bando)ned time machine stuffed with vapor-y saxophones and bouncy basslines. On a Friday, you might find him haunting the newly revamped Smiling Buddha or Little Italy hotspot Weldon Park with his signature slippery funk mixes. Boasting multiple collaborations with Toronto's Harrison and close to 400,000 plays on his edit of ScHoolboy Q and BJ the Chicago Kid's "Studio", The Kount has a bright future ahead of him.
Cutting his teeth as a drummer in the heart of the city, now Ajax-based producer McCallaman was the man behind GoldLink's breakout, Noisey-premiered single "When I Die". His main purpose as an artist is to "build something from the ground up and have [his] own means of representation" within the white-dominated music industry. When he's not busy composing his brand of self-described "black pop" for artists like Toronto R&B duo BizZarh or New York's Mariami, McCallaman can be found DJing on sold-out bills at The Rivoli.
Hailing from Toronto's west end, aptly-named TALLBOY must have hit his head on every doorway from Kipling to Keele. Though his venture in music began by dabbling with crackly boom-bap beats, he started making a name for himself with his signature iced-out trap beats, producing records for year-end listed Toronto rappers like DillanPonders and Flex the Antihero. Currently residing in MontrĂŠal, you can find this 18-year-old powerhouse DJing at buzzy Korova Bar or skate-friendly (literally equipped with a half-pipe) TRH-Bar.
Part musician, part graphic designer Paul Chin's relocation from the Cayman Islands to Toronto's downtown core started with the desire to attend OCAD, but made a segue into the booming electronic music scene. His THUMP-approved single "Triumph Howl" from The Forest (released last year via Cosmonostro) succeeds at being just as hard-hitting as it is atmospheric, making it suitable for a few slow drinks with your yuppie friends as well as your next kegger back in the 905.
Hut wears a lot of hats over in Hamilton. Drummer in jazz-hop fusion band Haolin Monk. Head honcho of record label Hamilton Audio Visual Node. Concert promoter at the HAVN performance space on Barton Street. When he finds time to make beats, his cuts come from a very different cloth. His sound blends bendy vocal samples, trickling percussion and other-worldly ambiance, giving the listener the impression that his habitat is Mars rather than of a short drive due west on the 403. Check out his production on Emay's new Sinner, Song-Writer EP.
Toronto's Memorecks has a style as diverse as the city itself. He might flip an Armenian vocal sample into a dusty hip-hop beat, then lay down a gut-rattling dubstep bassline over a trapped-out drum pattern, or release an ambient album. After two collaborative efforts with longtime friends Zed's Dead ("Collapse" and "Love Me") garnered a combined 2.5 million plays and boasting (?) an on-stage "collaboration" with former mayor Rob Ford, Memorecks is well on his way.
What would a list of Toronto beatmakers be without a Drake connection? Burlington producer Chef Byer is highly regarded amongst his peers but keeps a low profile despite receiving over 1.5 million plays for the production of OVO member OB OBrien's breakout single "Steve Nash." You know it's real when The Boy himself blesses your beat with a cameo. On top of landing placements with rapper SonReal and Toronto's Luu Breeze, Chef Byer's brand of wavy hip-hop beat tape, entitled Weekend at Cheffie's, was premiered by Complex.
DJ SMOKEY 666
Being relatively unknown anywhere but the Internet is a tune all too familiar in 2015, but that doesn't hold back DJ SMOKEY's brand of purpled-out trap bangers in the slightest. His Soundcloud page features international collaborations, including Stockholm-raised Sad Boys' collective members Yung Lean and Yung Gud and Austin-based OVO affiliate Eric Dingus. After his official performance debut at Hamilton's Club Absinthe with SpaceGhostPurrp, DJ SMOKEY 666 set the bar high right off the bat.
With a grand total of 28 followers on Soundcloud, Dumsaint could very well be Toronto's next best tastemaker in due time. After spending most of his formative years in Bolton, Ontario, a sleepy bedroom community north of Toronto, Dumsaint relocated to South Etobicoke to attend Humber College's vocal jazz program, demonstrating his ability to be so much more than just a beatmaker. Call him a singer, rapper, songwriter, poet, video editor, but over anything else, Dumsaint is a product of the Internet. I think this kid could be the next Kanye.
Harrison has lived in the Beaches, Harrison has lived in the Beach. He's seen them put it together, he's watched them take it apart. But all is well in the east end of Toronto, where Harrison crafts his nostalgic brand of cute, video game-tinged electronic music. Just in the past year alone, he's shared the stage with the likes of Ryan Hemsworth, Com Truise and Purity Ring. The icing on the cake that was Harrison's 2014 is a record deal with Toronto powerhouse label Last Gang Records. Keep your eyes well peeled for this guy in 2015.
Writing by L-SPEX
Photo of Harrison by The Bass Collective & Brent Michael Azeri via Facebook
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