If you happen to sit in Erroll Layco’s barber chair and he asks, “What it’ll be today?” just say, “I’ll have a serving of your laid-back beats that make my head nod!”

The expression on the face of the Winnipeg-born rapper, who goes by E.GG (Elevation for the Greater Good), is sure to be priceless.

The pandemic has put a pause on his barbering, but luckily for those of us who love clever, introspective poetry riding soulful, jazzy music, it hasn’t railroaded his rhyming. On “Good Fortune,” his latest single, he emphasizes the importance of loyalty and urges us to “let go, live simply” and “ease up on the gas.”

“It was written to reflect the need to slow down and take a step back to appreciate the real good fortune in our lives, whether it’s family or friends,” says E.GG, who now lives in Toronto. He says he understands that “money is a tool that we need to fund our passions, but it shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all.”

The nocturnal-sounding track, featuring Infinit0, was produced by Matt Peters and Matt Schellenberg, two members of Winnipeg indie band Royal Canoe, who formed the production team deadmen last year. E.GG calls the collaboration “an awesome experience” and is convinced that artists shouldn’t be shy to work with musicians from other genres “just to catch a vibe. That allows us to create new sounds and cultivate fresh ideas.”

He says he was inspired to work with deadmen again after they produced “I Could Spend A Lifetime,” a song he cut with pop powerhouse Begonia last year. “I wanted to create an R&B-sounding tune, with a singing-rapping element for the hook and verses, so I pitched a few ideas to them,” he says, explaining the genesis of “Good Fortune.” E.GG says the instrumental deadmen sent him “hit the notes I envisioned. It was sombre whilst still carrying a hip-hop-R&B bop.”

“We started off by playing gigs with punk and hardcore bands”

According to the singer-songwriter, this spirit of cross-cultural collaboration is in full effect in his hometown. “There’s this willingness to go beyond what we know, because those of us who were born and raised in Winnipeg understand there is only so much to explore, but that in itself allows us to create these special memories,” says E.GG. “Winnipeg never fails to remind me how much I love everything about it. It’s a small city with a huge heart. You can’t replicate that type of energy.”

E.GG says he doesn’t feel that community vibe – what he calls “an interconnection within scenes” – in Toronto. “In Winnipeg, you’ll have folk artists collaborating with hip-hop artists or, in my case, when I was doing shows with our group 3Peat, we started off by playing gigs with punk and hardcore bands. It was refreshing being in environments that had nothing but love for any type of genre of music in that particular venue. The sense of community is strong.”

E.GG., who was born and raised in Winnipeg’s West end, says the first record he heard “that meant everything and still does” was Tupac’s “Dear Mama.” As a Filipino artist operating in a Black genre, E.GG has never felt excluded or been made to feel like a guest. “As someone growing up in the B-boy and the rap scenes, I saw hip-hop as something that promoted unity,” he tells us. “I felt, and still feel, a lot of love within this culture. In Winnipeg, it created a strong community and it’s forever growing.

“I’m still researching hip-hop’s history,” says EG.G excitedly. “I’m a student in this life. I want to understand more of the culture I fell in love with as a kid, so I can better represent it.”