Drake And Other Artist Are Bringing Light To Toronto Music World(Read The Full History Of Toronto Music)

Arists like Drake, The Weeknd, Boi-1da, Dvsn, and Daniel Caesar seeing global success, Toronto has turned into a commercial powerhouse in recent years

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Arists like Drake, The Weeknd, Boi-1da, Dvsn, and Daniel Caesar seeing global success, Toronto has turned into a commercial powerhouse in recent years. But the city’s rise to prominence didn’t happen overnight. Toronto’s urban music scene has been developing for decades.
50 years ago, Rick James set up shop in the city, forming The Mynah Birdsin the ‘60s, and Jackie Washington turned heads with his unique bluesy style when he dropped Blues & Sentimental in ’76. On the industry side of things, the Canadian Reggae Music Awards have called Toronto home since the mid-80s and city’s go-to TV station Much Music housed shows like Rap City and Xtendamix,where viewers were given a weekly low-down on everything from the UK’s emerging grime scene to what was picking up steam in Belgium.
Toronto birthed a few chart-topping artists as well. Snow infused patois into his “Informer” cadence and Michie Mee made waves for her 1991 hit, “Jamaican Funk Canadian Style.” Let’s be honest, though—when it came to local artists, few were able to get much traction outside of Canada.
Things began to change sometime in 2004, when glossy American names like Peter Thomas and Daymond Johnheld expensive summits for rappers, singers, and producers eager to stick gold pins on the global map. The timing was perfect, as locals were becoming more vocal in their frustration with Toronto’s rigid “urban” industry circles. And for a long time, the protocol for getting clout south of the border was by emulating an American artist—think Toronto-bred streetwear line Too Black Guys, championed by Mary J Blige earlier in her career. As producer Jordon Manswell points out, “[Toronto hip-hop] was very east coast. It resembled New York hip-hop. It had a very raw, grungy sound.”
The city’s current influx sees Toronto’s aesthetic from a different, more authentic lens. Take Boi-1da and 40. Both hit-makers are known for producing icy, ominous sounds reflective of the city’s climate. “Our winters are just so brutal; people create isolation and hibernate into their spaces,” explains Gavin Sheppard, a founding member of Toronto’s The Remix Project. “Everything’s moody, and there are these layers to it. But we also have these epic summers. The winters make our summers pop. They’re vibrant and alive.”

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