Against All Odds
For years, Montreal’s underground hip-hop scene has enjoyed the reflected success of producers and beatmakers like Kaytranada, High Klassified and Shash’U, to name a few. On their heels comes independent Montreal rapper Wasiu, who first bounced onto the Canadian landscape with 2015’s MTLiens. The eight-track EP, which included a single titled “This Ain’t Toronto,” introduced Montreal’s “piu piu” style of rapping, which merged electronic with futuristic hip-hop. Wasiu has continued to challenge notions of what Canadian rap can be by forging new subgenres, resulting in his latest release, MTLiens2. In some respects, it feels like a Montreal compilation, encompassing a smorgasbord of sounds. Production from the likes of Da-P, Dead Horse Beats, Dear Lola and Tommy Kruise drive the album, but it’s Wasiu’s lyrical prowess and diversity of delivery that fuel it.
His experiences as a rapper and a black man in Montreal provide the most thought-provoking content. “Angry Black Man” and “Loi 101” confront discrimination and language laws, while “Sunday Mourning” looks deeper into Wasiu’s internal thoughts. MTLiens2 is rooted in effortless production, a testament to the quality of the Artbeat Movement that launched the scene, and the artists that continue to follow its path. With this record, Wasiu feels one step closer to proving that Montreal artists are not outcasts, but competition. (soundcloud.com/afrowasiu)
How does this differ from MTLiens?
It’s what I couldn’t do with the first one, you know? Like getting everyone that I know was poppin’ and that I really wanted to collaborate with under one roof. It was like a Montreal compilation album type a thing.
Where did you find the inspration for MTLiens2?
Montreal is a melting pot, and I like to approach that with my rapping style as well. I don’t like to be confined to one type of style, so the diversity of the beats really allows me to broaden my horizons and be better with my skills. Whether it be something like “Sunday Mourning,” where it’s like a more soulful beat from Dead Horse Beats or “Angry Black Man,” which is like a trap beat from High Klassified, I really don’t wanna limit myself to anything.
What’s the biggest struggle you face?
Trying to penetrate the American music industry as a Canadian is already a feat, and now, being in the French province, I don’t get the looks I would get if I was a French artist from here. The odds are stacked against me.