In a world where Drake reigns supreme as the King of Hip-hop, it is safe to say that the self proclaimed ‘6ix God’ has put Toronto on the map. Like the East and West Coast, Toronto has its own distinct flavour that you cannot miss. Its sound is a lot more progressive than the Trap inspired Hip-Hop that has taken over the beloved genre of hip-hop. Here is a carefully curated selection of our top ten Toronto Rappers and R&B Acts.
Unlike Trap, the Toronto sound is a fusion of multiple genres – perhaps reflecting on the vast cultural diversity found in the 6ix. Hazy electronic beats fused with moody R&B is the undertone for a lot of our music. The artists below exemplify Toronto’s growing sound. Each artist was selected because of their personalities, originality and lyrical abilities.
Honourable mentions: Safe, J-Soul, Clairmont the Second, Big Lean, Rob GF, RamRiddlz, and Dillan Ponders. Special shoutout to: Drake, The Weeknd and Toronto OG’s Kardinal Offishall and K-OS for helping put Toronto on the map.
10. Jimmy Johnson
Jimmy Johnson makes breezy melodic rap. Johnson utilizes autotune to deliver well crafted audible verses (think Kanye’s 808 & Heartbreaks). Jimmy Johnson is also credited for inventing Toronto’s nickname “The 6ix.”
9. Drew Howard
Drew Howard is a member of Get Home Safe – the Toronto hip-hop collective featuring Derek Wise and Jazz Cartier. Howard is the final piece to the collectives puzzle. His music is more experimental, and trippy in nature which helps in actuating his eccentric personality.
8. Sean Leon
Sean Leon transports listeners to a hypnotic world filled with smooth rap verses over downtempo synth-driven instrumentals. His music is cinematic and moody and has hints of 90’s Houston rap mixed in with elements taken from chopped and screwed music.
7. Derek Wise
Derek Wise might seem like a polarizing figure; from his alleged legal trouble with his pulsing dark, intimidating sound that might not be for everyone. However, one cannot deny his talent in serving up some cold music. Wise is an affiliate to The Weeknd’s XO imprint.
Jahkoy makes mesmerizing music. He himself describes his sound as bipolar due to its inability to fall into a specific genre. It’s a mix of electronic, R&B, house and hip-hop – every song is entirely different and at just 20 years old it shows off his creativity when crafting lush addictive music.
5. Roy Woods
Fresh off of the release of his debut EP Exis, via OVO, rapper and singer Roy Woods has caught the attention of not just Toronto but the entire music world with his unique raspy vocals. Picture – a turned up version of Micheal Jackson singing over moody pulsing beats.
Tory Lanez makes a blend of melodic Hip-hop and R&B. Think of him as a tougher Partnextdoor. With Lanez adding a more hard-hitting rap persona to his usual R&B crooning (see below) the sky’s the limit from here on out. Tory Lanez is on the verge of being one of the next big rappers from Toronto – mark my words.
Update: Tory Lanez long-awaited debut I Told You is out now.
3. Majid Jordan
Signing to Drake’s OVO is a recipe for success for any new artist and Majid Jordan is destined to be huge. Unlike everyone on this list they have huge crossover appeal – the hip-hop crowd rocks with them; the electronic and female audience love them; essentially providing them with a huge advantage over everyone else. Hopefully the duo continues with this momentum by releasing an album before the end of the year.
Jazz Cartier is the sound of Toronto’s downtown, unlike Drake’s uptown flair. His debut album Marauding in Paradise, is pure genius – it’s confident and puts him in a lane on his own in an already crowded landscape.
1. Daniel Caesar
Daniel Caesar sings like an angel and makes deeply personal music that instantly resonates with his listeners. His debut album Praise Break was one of the best releases of last year – it features thought provoking lyrics and a timeless production courtesy of Jordan Evans and Matthew Burnett. Caesar has all the markings of a future superstar and is definitely a Toronto musician that you should get to know.