The only reason someone can really write off Calgary’s rap scene in 2015 is on account of laziness. Sure, the most populous city of the Prairies hasn’t produced any Drakes, Shads or Rich Kidds, and there’s indeed been a lot of bullshit over the years. But there’s also some serious talent coming up. Here’s a list of some of the excellent, under-recognized Calgary rappers who have dropped recent material that deserves your attention.
Mr. Blake of the Evrlove crew’s back up in Edmonton for a bit, but he spent a few years in Calgary for university, so we’ll count him as a hometown rep. Blake channels Young Thug’s frantic flow in many moments to plow through 808-laden bars with ease, but also features a solid voice for ATL-style hooks. At this point, he could be the most critical voice in the growing scene.
Seems only right to continue this rollcall with Halfcut – as one of the city’s hip-hop vets, he’s helped professionalize the scene and inject it with some much-needed consistency. From Dungeons to Rooftops, his latest mixtape, showcases Halfcut’s refined delivery and ear for quality boom-bap beats. He’s a chill emcee but don’t mistake it for caution: he knows his lane and excels in it.
Only Ayoo Angie could make strolling through the corridors of Calgary’s Mount Royal University so cool. Angie meanders between subgenres from track to track, asserting her cool dominance over the scene with every turn. It’s as if Rah Digga restarted her career in Calgary. Angie’s the real deal.
B.o.B. was once a Subway sandwich artist, Jonwayne a Gamespot manager and Rick Ross a correctional officer. Here’s hoping Jam – a youngin working at Petcetera – gets the same break. His most recent track, “Wrong Side of the Bed” exhibits a unexpectedly confident flow overtop of a woozy, ‘Ye-sampling beat. Definitely keep an eye on this kid.
The son of a local reggae legend, A.Y.E. – also known as A Young Extraordinaire – serves as the most prominent Calgarian successfully juggling both producing and rapping. His latest tape, 90 NOW, hops on the Golden Age renaissance kicked off my NYC’s Pro Era crew, proving that he can make beats as polished as his rhymes.
As the prime beneficiary of stellar beatmaking from the aforementioned A.Y.E., MAXJULLIAN offers up an incredibly refined sound – the prime example of this being on his recent mixtape Eye & Eye. It’ll be some prime music for the coming summer months. Like Halfcut, MAXJULLIAN knows his speciality and nails it.
While it might seem a little weird that one of two YouTube videos of Nina Blanc features her covering Chet Faker’s reinterpretation of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” – making it a cover of a cover – she fakes out Chet himself by delivering a blistering freestyle at the end. She can croon, she can spit: Calgary’s own Lauryn Hill’s on the rise.
Da Kid T
The local king of the party banger. Da Kid’s obviously well schooled in the tradition, knowing full well when to hang back and let the beat ride out. But that sure doesn’t mean he can’t spit – his delivery’s one of the more precise found in the city. He’s passionate, refined and on the verge of blowing up.
It’s about time that this guy reappeared on the scene. Back in 2012, Mac dropped the bewildering video GIB6ERISH, proving that he possessed one of the more dextrous flows in the Canadian scene. He sure hasn’t lost it. Mac recently hopped on an excellent Dan Major track to unleash his skills once again. Watch for way more of him.
While the dollar sign might suggest a A$AP Rocky or Curren$y style of rap, $horts tends more towards a whimsical Chicago vibe – think Chance the Rapper or Vic Mensa. Sure, he doesn’t have the vocal finesse as those particular examples, but his nimble delivery makes up for the absence.
If you’re looking for some drill from the 403, Selloo’s your man. Or was – two members of his crew were recently charged with drug charges based on a music video of his, so it’s likely that he’ll be laying low for some time. The track’s comparable to the finest work of drill legend Chief Keef, which only adds further proof to the legitimacy of Calgary’s deep and diverse scene.