The top 10 hip hop songs about Toronto
Hip hop songs about Toronto range from the brooding to the anthemic. While cheerleading your neighbourhood can get corny or clichĂŠ, there are some genuine bangers runnin' through the 6. Yes, guy. The T-Dot-O-Dot is one of a kind.
Randal Paul and Syruslife's Weird Al Yankovic treatment of Young Jeezy's "Put On" in the form of "I Get On (The TTC)" didn't quite make the cut, but if you want a serious dose of local nostalgia, you should cue that track up.
These are the top hip hop songs about Toronto.
Tona, "This Town"
"I'm not a big fan of the anthems, man. I don't feel like they ever work," Tona told me when asked about his 2015 tune that inspired this list. "This Town" -- which begins with Kyle Lowry draining a three-pointer and nicely pulls its sample from Toronto indie rock outfit Wildlife's "Lightning Tent" -- works wonders. It's proud and uplifting, without coming off cheesy.
"Walkin' down Yonge on a Friday/ Can't follow them gotta do it my way." K-os's Juno-winning single from his most successful album, Joyful Rebellion, takes aim at the crabs-in-a-bucket culture hindering Toronto's talent pool from widespread success. True, rap is a competition sport, but does the only path to get ahead require pulling the next man down?
Kardinal Offishall, "BaKardi Slang"
Better, to these ears, than "The Anthem," Kardi's 2000 jam snatched Big L's "Ebonics" concept and gave the world a dictionary to Toronto's Islands-influenced hip-hop slang. "We don't say 'you know what I'm sayin'," we say, 'ya done know.' " Seen.
Shad, "Fam Jam (Fe Sum Immigrins)"
He was born in Kenya, grew up in London, Ont., and got schooled in Vancouver, B.C., but Shad and Toronto have welcomed each other with open arms. A more fun and more insightful look at the city's cultural mosaic there might not be. Not bad, huh, for some immigrants.
Maestro Fresh-Wes, "416/905 (T.O. Party Anthem)"
The godfather of Canadian rap and self-proclaimed "Toronto sex symbol" grabs a dancey 2 Rude instrumental and an R&B hook from Latoya & Miranda for this oft-forgotten 1998 crowd-mover, Maestro's follow-up single to his resurgent smash "Stick to Your Vision."
Abdominal ft. Notes to Self, "T-Ode"
The slick-tongued Abdominal expresses his appreciation for the Mega City's myriad neighbourhoods, chowing down on cocoa bread in Kensington, scoping graffiti on Queen West and picking up vinyl at Rotate This! Yes, even Etobicoke and The Beaches get a shoutout here.
Drake, "City Is Mine"
"5am in Toronto" is a cool name-check, but it's really just a time/place stamp on one of Drizzy's more fantastic boast raps. A better Toronto ode comes from 2007's Comeback Season mixtape. Produced by Boi-1da, "City Is Mine" proves the global superstar has been putting on for T-O-R-O-N-T-O since before the money (and the name "the 6" came around).
Theology 3, "Life in the Screwface Capital"
After it was the T-Dot-O and before it was the Six, Toronto was the Screwface Capital. Proud, smart Torontonian Theo 3 named an EP after the dubious nickname, taking the fronting and fakery to task while calling for support from within.
Rich Kidd, "The City"
Super-producer Rich Kidd professes his adoration for his home base on this cut from his solo emcee debut LP while pointing out our blemishes: Rob Ford, gun violence, too many condos and too few seasons: "winter and July."
Kardinal Offishall, "The Anthem"
Mr. International goes full Toronto for each rhyme and every shot of this 2010 single/video, which features everything from Honest Ed's to St. Lawrence Market, representing T.O. to the fullest. For two seasons the Maple Leafs have skated out to take warm-ups to "The Anthem."
What did I miss? Add your favourite Toronto hip hop jams in the comments.
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