Where are you based?
I’m based in Ontario. I’m born and raised in Toronto, Canada and spend my time going back and forth between Toronto and Ottawa.
Where do you work? What do you do?
I’m the founder and editor-in-chief of the online Black/urban culture magazine SHIFTER. Aside from my editor duties, I also write about music, film/TV and fashion. I do double duty as the CEO of SHIFTER Agency Inc, a PR, personal branding, and content marketing agency that works with artists/talent and brands.
I’m also a career/business coach for people in media and entertainment. I help people get noticed and make consistent income through their craft. Lastly, I’m a freelance journalist. I’ve done some local and national radio hosting, and TV journalism and have appeared on Fox Soul in the US. But my bread and butter is reporting on music.
What are you listening to?
I’ve been getting into UK Grime music and a little Reggaeton lately. I’ve also been listening to a lot of music from the artist MadeInTYO, but I mostly listen to a lot of Canadian hip-hop. Drake is #1 for me.
My pallet is wide, though. My family is from Barbados, so I listen to a lot of soca, both the classics and whatever is hot right now in the Caribbean. I have days when I listen to classical music, and other days it’s 90s grunge music or 90s pop. Sometimes it’s 80’s music or 60’s Motown. Depends on my mood. But it’s mostly hip-hop and soca.
How do you discover new music?
Lately, it’s been TV. I Shazam like crazy while watching TV; especially since they just dropped a new season of Top Boy. Spotify playlists like Northern Bars help me to stay on top of Canadian hip-hop. YouTube is great as well. They make good suggestions. Sometimes it’s scrolling through Instagram or a submission we received at SHIFTER. I was actually late in getting into SoundCloud, but some of my favourite sounds right now were suggested on SoundCloud.
“Spotify playlists like Northern Bars help me to stay on top of Canadian hip-hop. YouTube is great as well. They make good suggestions.”
What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services? Why?
I grew up on vinyl, cassettes and CDs, but now it’s strictly streaming services. It’s too convenient.
Where do you do most of your music listening?
Mostly while I’m working or driving, whether it’s to the grocery store or between cities. Those drives between Ottawa and Toronto are long. My wife doesn’t like loud music, so those times in the car by myself are amazing. I put my music on blast. I also listen to music at random times, like cleaning or doing anything around the house. At home, I usually listen to music on my phone with my earbuds, but we have a Google Nest in the kitchen that does the trick when I wanna play music out loud.
“I grew up on vinyl, cassettes and CDs, but now it’s strictly streaming services. It’s too convenient.”
How do you find and listen to pre-release music?
Mostly through the submissions from artists, PR companies and record labels at SHIFTER. I also do a lot of studio visits while people are recording. I really enjoy those. There are also listening parties. Sometimes I’ll get an artist asking me if they can jump on a Zoom call to preview some upcoming music for me. Studio visits, listening parties, and Zoom calls help me to become a fan.
What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?
Well, the main benefit is convenience, but I hate receiving links in my DMs on social media. It’s a lot. I also miss having a physical product in my hands. I loved going through the cover/insert of a cassette. It was a visual experience and not just an audio experience. I miss the excitement of going to the record store on the day of an album release and rushing back home to listen to it. It was a communal experience. All the die-hard fans of an artist go to the record store on the release date and bond over their excitement. Either sitting down with your friends and listening to the album together or hitting up your friends to share your thoughts and excitement on the album. That communal experience is gone from music.
How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?
The main way is by creating my own personal playlists. I have a workout playlist which is mostly hip-hop, a Caribbean music playlist, a Motown playlist, a classical music playlist, and an 80’s music playlist. I have a playlist for almost every genre except for country.
Do you tip other people off to new music? How?
Yes, I do. Mostly through either writing an article about it or getting one of my writers to write about it. I also share people I really like on my Instagram Stories.
Anything you want to “promote”?
Lindsson, TkMN, NLN and City Fidelia are dope artists from Ottawa everyone should know about. Mindflip is an artist from Gatineau, Quebec who is blowing up and making amazing music. In Toronto, Young Smoke, Charmaine and EverythingOShauN are fire. There’s Ty’Dre in Brampton. Will Ryte out of Mississauga is one of the most talented artists I’ve ever seen. He sings, raps, produces and plays the guitar. He makes amazing music. Boslen out of Vancouver is dope as well. Last but not least, Nate Husser out of Montreal. He’s as good as any hip-hop artist in the United States. Amazing flows and concepts. I could go on. There are a lot of amazing artists in Canada!