Artist Spotlight: Tamera Russell

Tamera Russell aka TRuss embraces Dijah Payne in a moment of pride.

 Photo Credit: Brian Capitao

It was a diverse crowd as many ladies (and men) of color came through to celebrate the triumphant release of Root Canal.

A lot has been said about ladies tearing down one another, so it’s beautiful to see when ladies can come together to support each other. And that was the scene at the Root Canal listening party located in the SideStreet Bar on Dundas St W.  It seemed to highlight the burgeoning and untapped talent currently going on in the city; as a diverse group of people came out to show their love to Tamera Russell, also known as TRuss, who just put out her Root Canal  project as part of a recent trilogy of albums.

The night began with reunions as Dijah Payne came out and showed her support and rocked the stage; after delivering a heartfelt speech on what TRuss means to the local scene. Payne, who graduated that same day,  explained that she felt TRuss was partially responsible for the current Toronto sound. Perhaps, more interestingly, was not what was said but implied; in that her music seemed to help heal the wounds felt by people of color in the city, as of late.

Surrounded by music and close friends, TRuss, introduced each track. She wrote and produced all the songs herself, she tells a captive audience.

As the music played; people bobbed their heads to the beat and danced as they took in the music.

“It’s all family!” screamed the DJ as he urged people to come closer.

The bar quickly filled up. People not only came from all over the city but even as far and unsuspecting as Winnipeg as told by an audience member.

The place packed with love and support shows a promising future for female emcees. Toronto’s moment in the sun has largely been male-dominated with the likes of Tory Lanez, Jazz Cartier, and Drake. However, the Ladies of Toronto are proving that they have what it takes and it is only a matter of time before one of them graces the international stage.

TRuss’ Root Canal is available for listening on SoundCloud.

UPDATE: Video Footage from the party

Root Canal Listening Party from Brian Capitao on Vimeo.


Episode 52: Nazis Are NOT GOOD

Disclaimer: This episode features us working through our thoughts. These are not long held beliefs but us processing the violence that occurred during the rally at Charlottesville that claimed the life of Heather Heyer.

For this reason I have uploaded it ahead of Episode 51 and does not feature any sponsors.

The track featured in this episode is Anti Fa by Unknown Mizery off of Sacred Soils 2 (ANT MONOLOGUES).

Rich Chigga – Successful International Star?

Rich Chigga Article

Source: Google Images

By Tyler McLaurin

With the internet widening the focus of our media, we’re beginning to see artists from all over the world blow up. We live in a world of physical proximity but also mental proximity or proximity based on interest. No one embodies the potential for this success better than Brian Imanuel, also known as rapper Rich Chigga.

Rich Chigga created a lot of buzz in the past year with his viral single “Dat $tick”. The formula for success in the viral market is apparent. Take a verse typical of the many trap artists seen in the mainstream, and put it in the mouth of a fanny pack wearing, deep voiced, Asian kid. The result is equal parts hilarious and dope. The secret being Rich Chigga’s surprisingly competent flow and delivery. The lyrics are vicious, the beat rattles – the song is an outright banger.

Dat $tick propelled Rich Chigga into a new level of success, one that is only possible with the internet age. Within a few months of the song dropping, 88rising (more of them later) released a video titled “Rappers React to Rich Chigga ft. Ghostface Killah, Desiigner, Tory Lanez & More”. This video contributed to the narrative that Rich Chigga is an up and coming talent, and lent credibility to Dat Stick. In the video, Ghostface Killah said he’d be down to get on the remix, and lo and behold, a few months later he did! Within a year, Brian Imanuel went from a comedian with a satirical trap song to a legitimate rapper featuring alongside some of the most successful and respected artists in the game.

Despite his appearance and proficient English, Brian is actually from Jakarta, the capital and economic center of Indonesia. Learning English through the internet, Brian started his online career as a comedian; however, he received little exposure outside of Indonesia. In an interview with Genius, Brian explains that Dat $tick was planned to be part of his comedy, however, he decided to test his skills and see what he could do if he tried to rap as proficiently as possible.

The results were apparent, as now Rich Chigga has transcended his living meme status and has begun to mature into a legitimate artist. At only 17 years old, Brian has achieved an astronomical level of success without most of the infrastructure once necessary for such a rise. The only thing propelling Brian was his own initiative and the help of the previously mentioned 88rising.

But what is 88rising? It turns out 88rising is a promotional company who work specifically to promote Asian artists. Korean rapper Keith Ape also works with 88rising. In fact, he has featured alongside Rich Chigga and XXXTentacion on a track about a month ago. This gives us a peek into how Rich Chigga received his initial spur of success. We know the song and video were likely produced by Brian and his friends in Jakarta, however, the surrounding narrative and his massive exposure made possible by 88rising.

While the United States still seems to be the hub for popular music, we are beginning to see people from other cultures throw their hats into the ring too. 88rising pushing progressive music by Asian creators is a noble venture into decentralizing popular music and music culture. Rich Chigga represents a new kind of up and coming talent, one that blowing up on an international scale. While the model hasn’t completely changed, the internet has enabled artists to skip a few rungs on the ladder. Initial local success is critical; Brian would have been unable to take that first leap without support from people in Jakarta. That being said, once that success has been realized, it’s now easier than ever to spring oneself onto the international stage.


Picture of Butter Brew Vaping E-Liquid


As a trend that rappers have embraced, vaping has lasted for some time now. And we know rappers can be fickle with the fashion. Amongst the ranks of hiphop heads who indulged in vaping are Ghostface Killah and not surprisingly, Snoop Dogg. Even your boy Drizzy Drake has joined the wave. By now, you probably know someone who vapes.

Vaporizers are a cleaner alternative to smoking herb, wax, and oil by heating these materials into vapor.  They come in a variety of sizes and flavors.

Vaping has become a cultural phenomenon. Ghostface Killah has even referenced vaping in his lyrics:

 “The THC like it’s purple, I’m thankful/
passed around in circles, handed back to you by Erkel/
like how the fuck did Erkel get here?
Pineapple, coconut, sample the golden puff
USB charger, attach the battery, load the cartridge/
smoke five on a partridge/
the weed ayahuasca/
Dynamite Stix hit like a rasta/” – Ghostface Killah on Starry Winters source:

Vaping is a discreet way to smoke as there is no odor. And many people have found that vaping can help assist them in quitting smoking.

Vaping in The Culture

Vaping has even changed the modern vocabulary. Those who do treat vaping seriously and do cool trick are nicknamed “cloud chasers”.

Perfect Devices for Beginners

When thinking of the stereotypical image of a bro who vapes, one often imagines that of a beanie-wearing bro sporting supreme gear. But the culture is growing and is friendly for those who would like to give it a try.

Vaping can be as personalized as custom clothing. You can grab a bottle of butter beer e-liquid from the folks at VaporDNA, the only butter beer e-liquid in the market. A unique blend of e-juice for someone as unique as you.

Try ButterBrew Now.

Episode 50: Special Guest Chev Dot

This week we interview Chev Dot, a former dance choreographer and creative director now taking on hiphop producing.

Chev Dot details how he went from a kid with a passion for dance to making it to the big time. His involvement with the Ottawa dance scene and being a part of Culture Shock and his take on legendary dance crew the Jabbawockeez. Now, that he’s mastered dancing, he’s looking to branch out as a producer and we discuss his production influences and what kind of marketing they’re teaching in school for independent artists.

This week’s episode is sponsored by:

Vinyl Me, Please

Vinyl Me, please offers exclusive pressings of records right to your doorsteps. They’ll even throw in a 12×12 album inspired art print for you to throw on your wall. To get vinyl, custom lyric books, and exclusive artwork, personal notes from the artist, and much much more.

Visit for some exclusive swag!


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Key! and Upto₩n Boy Band


Photo Credit: Sarah Llewelyn

Atlanta rapper Key! hit up StudioBar on June 16. You’ve probably heard Key! on OG Maco’s banger ‘U Guessed It’. Self-styled as ‘Fatman Key’, the 26-year-old has a gravitas and self-awareness that belies his age. He comes on the cusp of a new generation of rappers. Broaching subjects like mental illness and difficult pasts; he has no problems standing apart in the crowd.

What the Future Holds for Key!

As Key! gains popularity among the new guard of hiphop, he has refused to curry favor with the mainstream industry. It’s gained him admirers, and it’s clear he doesn’t take himself too seriously. By his second song he shared the stage with a crush of opening acts, which included ACV, Upto₩n Boyband, Deadboyye Dre and Johnny Darko.


Photo Credit: Sarah Llewelyn

Among the opening acts was Upto₩n Boy Band. There’s three boys in this band, but just don’t call them N’Sync wannabes. Justin Trash, Joe Rascal, and Roclee are a cohort of rappers whose style runs the gamut. They’re out of hand onstage, spitting lines in English and Korean.

“Sammy (Roclee) and I met in high school. He went to Korea and learned production from G2’s people. When he came back to Toronto we recorded ‘Summer Man’ together. These days Kpop is huge, and they’re all boy bands. We’re the opposite of that. The name is satire,” says Joe.

Justin rounds out the trio.  He circled back to Toronto after living in the US for a spell. “I met (Roc and Joe) through a mutual friend. We clicked and wanted to do Uptown together. We’re not trying to be Kpop level, but we’ll get that Kpop money though,” he adds.


0V4A2658Photo Credit: Sarah Llewelyn


Photo Credit: Sarah Llewelyn


Photo Credit: Sarah Llewelyn

Episode 49: The Role of the Elder Statesmen

This week we discuss Jay-z’s 4:44 album and the role of the elder statesmen in hiphop. It’s been said many times before that hiphop is a young man’s game. But with Jay-z dropping one of the best albums of the year and (possibly of his career), he demonstrates that older hiphop acts can, in fact, age gracefully. So tune in and hear our thoughts on the role of the next generation of hiphop acts and legends in the making.

This week’s episode is sponsored by: –

Vinyl Me, Please

Vinyl Me, please offers exclusive pressings of records right to your doorsteps. They’ll even throw in a 12×12 album inspired art print for you to throw on your wall. To get vinyl, custom lyric books, and exclusive artwork, personal notes from the artist, and much much more – visit for some exclusive swag!


Find it hard to run your business day to day with all the finance stuff eating up your time? Well,  getting started on FreshBooks is extremely simple, even if you’re not a numbers person,actually especially if you’re not a numbers person. Try FreshBooks free for 30 days. Just go to


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