When the Toronto Raptors played the Golden State Warriors at home in Game One of the National Basketball Association 2019 championship finals on May 30, a famous local rapper did a hype-building mini-concert performance for the 5,000-plus fans gathered in “Jurassic Park” just outside the Scotiabank Arena. The song the rapper played was a love letter to the 6ix. (No, it wasn’t Drake.) Its familiar line, “I’m from the T dot, Oh / Rep it everywhere I go,” may be the definitive pro-Toronto rally cry.

The song, of course, was Kardinal Offishall’s “The Anthem.”

Originally released in 2010, Kardi’s Toronto-loving song was remixed and re-imagined for the Raptors playoff run at the behest of giant American sports broadcaster ESPN, who used the new version of “The Anthem” to anchor their video tribute to the eventual world championship-winning team.

Kardinal Offishall, Kardi, Raptors

Click on the photo to see the ESPN video

“That whole re-vamping of ‘The Anthem’ was something very, very special,” says Kardinal Offishall, whose updated version of the song features mentions of key Raptors players Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard, Pascual “Spicy P” Siakam, Danny Green, and Marc Gasol.

Kardinal, whose career in the Can-rap spotlight stretches all the way back to the breakthrough Rascalz posse track “Northern Touch” in 1998, says the new lyrics for “The Anthem” came to him in a burst.

“I think, literally, at 5:00 in the morning, it was just, ‘Oh, there it is’ and I banged it out one-time, and it was done within 15 minutes,” says Kardinal. “But that’s kind of my method, that’s how I write. I’m one of those people, when I’m in that good zone and that good vibe, it doesn’t take long for me most of the time.”

That Kardi got to soundtrack the Raptors’ run — and get paid by ESPN for doing so — isn’t lost on him. “Would I have done it for free? Probably. Is it nice that I got a cheque and got to represent?” asks Kardinal, rhetorically. “Absolutely amazing.”

The Raptors’ playoff run has coincided with a period of renewal for the rapper / producer / actor/ Universal Music Canada Creative Executive Director of A&R. He released the potent new single “Run” on June 12 — the day before the Raptors’ championship-clinching Game Six — and is planning to release Pick Your Poison in the fall, his first album in four years. Though “Run” wasn’t released specifically to coincide with the Raptors’ run, the song’s stand-tall themes and high spirit matched the feeling of the city during the sports team’s march to victory.

“I don’t like to just do random stuff. I try to attach songs to moments.”

“I don’t like to just do random stuff,” says Kardi. “I try to attach songs to moments – and rather than it have anything to do with the Raptors per se, it was just the energy and the vibe of it. We were maybe going to release it Canada Day, but there was just such an indescribable energy and magic that was in the city at the time.”

There’s an unlikely source behind the newly jump-started Kardinal: veteran American comedian Dave Chappelle. A pep talk with Chappelle helped Kardi put a period of feeling “uninspired” in perspective.

Rappers love Raptors: 10 jams that “big up” the team

  • “Really Doe,” by Danny Brown Featuring Kendrick Lamar,
  • Ab-Soul and Earl Sweatshirt
  • “Rapture,” by Fabolous and Jadakiss
  • “It’s Lit,” by Kyle featuring IAmSu!
  • “Something to Say,” by Nick Grant
  • “Streets at Night,” by PRhyme
  • “Throw It,” by SahBabii
  • “Daytona 500,” by The Game
  • “Makaveli,” by Tory Lanez
  • “Winter Schemes,” by Wale featuring J. Cole
  • “Love You,” by Roy Woods

“Dave said to me, ‘Man, Kardi, I’m a massive, massive fan, and I know that if I’m a massive fan, that means there are hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions of other fans across North America, and Canada, and Europe, and Asia, and everywhere in between.’ So, it was like one of these scenarios where we had a very transparent, honest, really great night over some drinks in his hometown,” says Kardinal. “Dave Chappelle needs absolutely nothing from me, so him telling me this is not because he’s trying to butter me up ’cause he needs a favour, or needs to borrow some money. It was just a very honest discussion between friends, and I’ll be forever grateful to people like him.”

For a different take on gratitude, one only needs to surf Kardinal’s Instagram account to see the rapper in the heart of Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square, surrounded by thousands of fellow revelers celebrating the Raptors’ Game Six championship win on June 13, 2019. Pop star Jessie Reyez and local super-producer Rich Kidd are seen celebrating along with Kardi in one post. Kardinal has also proposed a giant free Raptors victory party featuring himself and the likes of Drake, Tory Lanez, The Weeknd, Nav, Justin Bieber, and Daniel Caesar. That Toronto’s music community would back the Raptors in their finest moment seems entirely natural to someone who’s been doing it for the entire history of franchise.

“We’ve been supporting them the entire way,” says Kardi, “so a win for them is a win for us in a way.”

Antony CarleHis album is a moment. The moment you choose because it’s right, when you decide to go ahead with the plan. Antony Carle builds such moments, and meticulously polishes the time he’s given until all the settings are taken to their full potential. Released in May of 2019, The Moment, his first, is only a small part of what he can do.

Whereas his onstage work takes him to places where excitement is commonplace, Carle also knows how to create quiet moments when needed. Sitting on the patio of a Mile End coffee shop in Montréal, he tells us that he’s known for not speaking loudly.  “Studio work means you can fine-tune a moment,” he says. “Stage work means creating a moment. You can’t explain it. I think you lose that aspect sometimes. It’s an energy that gets created. I’ll never forget Erykah Badu looking straight at me and singing while holding my hand. I want to reproduce that.”

Embracing vulnerability isn’t simple, but that’s a process for which he advocates. “We’re afraid to fuck up, but when you’re singing, it’s like you’re painting a canvas,” says Carle. “It’s got to be ugly. People will file in front of it, and you’ll tell them it’s not finished. You can’t create if you’re afraid of everything you’re going to produce.”

The queer artist was signed by Bonsound, and has released music that taps into elecrtro codes to express something bigger. “I was well received,” Carle points out, “but I couldn’t help wondering whether that was because the media needed a queer article that week. Anyway, I was in the paper!”

More than an image. More than a style that offends the closed-minded. More than an identity badge that you stick on to a body of work out of laziness. Carle is “more.” A champion of authenticity, he’s not planning to travel alone on his ship. “Barriers had to be climbed and, yes, I often speak about identity problems in my songs, but for any artist, it’s hard to feel accomplished,” he says. “Everyone wants to exist, leave their mark, and find themselves through their projects.” Has he found himself? “Absolutely. That was the goal.”

Carle was discovered by Bonsound before he had enough serious material on hand, when he opened for Cri in 2016. The contact was easy, later on, when he called the label to say “I’m ready.”

The spring of 2019 brought him out of his wintry shell, where there’d been a whirlwind of creativity that was bursting to get out. “When winter comes, it’s like you work intensely or you die,” he says. “I was writing so I wouldn’t die. I know I have a theatrical approach to music; it comes with my perception of work. I take what I do quite seriously, and I lose interest when things are simple.”

In his view, artists create because they have to, but where the project will end up is hard to tell. According to Spotify, there’s enormous interest for what he does in Norway, but what will that bring?  “It’s a platform that provides enormous visibility, but it makes people lazy,” says Carle. “I don’t want to count too much on it. I remember spending hours in record stores, making discoveries. We weren’t born with music selections. That made us curious.”

When we start joking about the weather, Carle told us he believes in the “end of the world,” and that he hopes to survive it. “In spite of everything we think, and everything people try to do, all we want, in the end, is to be allowed to be happy and find a place,” he says. In spite of all the queer culture elements that find their way into his words and performances, Carle knows that he’s serving a broader purpose. “I’ve already written a second album, and it doesn’t talk about that. But I think it will always be implied,” he says.

Having been shocked by many things he saw, Antony Carle wanted to speak out, but without necessarily making a “committed” or “serious” album. “It shouldn’t be committed, but should just help people feel well,” he says.

His belief is that things should be changed bit by bit. “There will always be violence,” he says. “You just have to know how to change one mind at a time. I do my part. I say, this way, please. I’m the stewardess, pointing out the exit,” he jokes.

This article is the first in a series we’ll be bringing you, called “Interfacing,” about the innovative companies we’re working with here at SOCAN.  The author, Ryan Maule, oversees this work, focused on finding those companies and integrating them with our services, ensuring that SOCAN members can access the best tools the music tech industry has to offer.

About $2 billion. According to industry trade magazine Variety, that’s how much in unpaid royalties that creatives are missing out on. Do you ever wonder why so many royalties are going unpaid? The answer is as obvious as it is complex — payers don’t know who deserves to be paid. That’s right, sometimes royalties sit in a holding pattern, because contributors aren’t accurately notated within the song. SOCAN understands the pain that this causes, and we’re always trying to find ways to make submitting this information easier. That’s why we want to introduce you to a new partner of ours, Jammber.

Based out of Nashville and Chicago, Jammber is an innovative music tech company that has developed a suite of tools for every step of the songwriting process. Each tool is designed to collect all of the required data that you, and SOCAN, need in order to collect your royalties.

“Creatives care a lot about their credits and their pay, they just need better tools to manage their career. At Jammber, our mission is to ‘make way for music.’ This means working to clear the many obstacles creatives face in the music industry and empowering them to maximize their success,” says Marcus Cobb, CEO and Co-Founder of Jammber. “We spent years researching and learning about each step of the creative process, to understand how to ease pain-points for artists, songwriters and the industry, as a whole.”

The most common challenge that artists and songwriters shared with the company was that they weren’t getting credit, or timely payment for their work. Jammber tackled this problem head-on. Jammber Splits revolutionizes how you manage co-writes. Songwriters can now say goodbye to the hassle of paper songwriting split sheets, and the uncertainty of handshake deals.

Splits captures songwriting share splits in real time. You’re able to plan and add co-write sessions with just a couple clicks of a button. During your co-write, the app collects all the vital information from your co-writer(s), such as the date of the song creation, info about the publisher, and affiliation with any performing rights organization. Once all writers agree to their ownership percentages, you’ll be able to register your new song with SOCAN.

“Throughout the process of building Splits, we worked closely with songwriters around the world, investing millions, and making hundreds of iterations until they gave us their stamp of approval. Establishing ownership of a song at the point of creation is crucial,” says Cobb. We agree!

Having the power to capture your percentage of ownership in a song at the point of creation, and simplifying the collection of metadata — which is essential to earning royalties — is a game-changer for songwriters. The ability to have all the necessary metadata for a song means you’ll get faster and more accurate royalty payments. This means never missing out on a royalty check again!

Jammber has invited SOCAN writers to be a part of their BETA testing group. As a member of the BETA team, you’ll have full access to Splits before it’s released to the general public. To join the beta, visit http://splitsbeta.jammber.com.

“Being able to share the Splits app with SOCAN clients is an important moment for Jammber. We believe in your art, and want you to have tools to help grow your business,” says Cobb.

The ultimate mission for Jammber is to eliminate the obstacles creators face within the music industry. Splits is just the tip of the iceberg. Jammber has developed multiple other tools for creators that streamline the creative and administrative processes, from the conception of a song, to recording it, to overall project management.

Our goal at SOCAN is to make it easier for you, the creator, to bring your ideas into reality, and to ensure that you get paid for your work.  By working with companies like Jammber, we’re working to enable you to do more, and do it more quickly and easily. Stay tuned for even more down the road.

For more information about Jammber, visit www.Jammber.com, and visit the SOCAN Partner page in the secure portal to find out more about the other opportunities we have cooking.  If you have any other questions, feel free to contact me, Ryan Maule, at ryan.maule@socan.com.