TATE McRAE
Teen dance star. Future pop idol. First song, “One Day,” blew up immediately on YouTube. With her single, “tear myself apart,” signed to RCA Records.

Watch the video for “tear myself apart.

 

 

 

STEPHANIE KOWAL
Emerging, L.A.-based composer. Won SOCAN Foundation Award for Best Original Theme in 2018. One of eight winning composers in the Los Angeles Live Score Film Festival in 2018. Assistant to Emmy-nominated composer Tony Morales. Worked on NBC’s Scorpion and Disney’s Elena of Avalor.

Watch the trailer for “Sir John A and the Anti Quenched.”

 

 

Nk.F
A.K.A. Nikola Feve. Renowned electro producer, mixer, masterer, and sound engineer. Part of TrackBastardz collective with Joa. Has co-created hugely successful music by Booba, Damso, Orelsan, Kobo, Niska and PNL. Regularly tops the charts. Brings weight, evolution to Francophone hip-hop.

Watch the video for PNL’s “Au DD.”

 

 

 

MANILA GREY
Filipino-Canadian singer-rapper duo of childhood friends Soliven and Neeko. Active together since 2016. Make “West Coast wave” music influenced by their Southeast Asian heritage. Every song produced by azel north. More than 26 million cumulative streams.

Watch the video for “Silver Skies”.

 

 

 

 

LOU-ADRIANE CASSIDY
For her debut album of 2019, C’est la fin du monde à tous les jours, Cassidy wrote daringly truthful songs about the daily nature of death, the small things that slip through our fingers, memories that never fade, and what’s left when our heart’s been emptied. Having sung backup for Hubert Lenoir, she now turns heads in Europe as well as Québec, moving from ’70s pop to languid French chanson.

Watch the video for “La pluie ne tombe jamais sur toi.”

 

 

 

 

 

SHAY LIA
First grabbed attention by singing on Kaytranada’s 2016 Polaris Prize-winning album 99.9%. Now a long-listed Polaris nominee herself, the French-Djboutian vocalist’s Dangerous EP is a stunning piece of contemporary R&B. It features Buddy, BadBadNotGood, and yes, Kaytranada. She’s poised to conquer.

Watch the video for “Good Together.”



Neil Peart, the iconic, influential drummer of the enduring progressive-rock trio Rush, has died at age 67, on Jan. 7, 2020, in Santa Monica, California, after having been diagnosed with brain cancer.

The drummer and primary lyricist of Rush, his band with bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson, Peart received numerous awards for his musical performances, including an induction into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1983, making him the youngest ever to receive that honour.

Along with his bandmates, Peart was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1996 – the first rock band to be so honoured, as a group. Peart was also co-inducted into the Canadian Songwriter Hall of Fame along with Lifeson and Lee. And in 2013, after 40 years together, Rush was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

As a drummer who inspired everyone from The Rheostatics’ Dave Clark to Nirvana’s Dave Grohl, Peart was widely celebrated among the worldwide drumming community for his exacting technical proficiency, and the overwhelming power and stamina of his incendiary live performances. Moving from his initial hard-rock style in the spirit of The Who’s Keith Moon and Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham, to incorporate more swinging jazz elements, reminiscent of Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich, Peart developed a well-earned reputation as one of the greatest drummers of the classic-rock era, and well beyond. Modern Drummer voted him the Best Rock Drummer of the Year no less than nine times – the last two in 2006 and 2008.

As a lyricist, Peart spent his early days with Rush focused on realms of fantasy, science fiction, mythology, and philosophy. Moving forward, in songs like “2112,” Peart concentrated on the struggle of an individual against the collectivist forces of a totalitarian state. From the mid-‘80s onward, he objectively addressed more social, emotional, and humanitarian issues, using symbols and metaphors. Rush fans worldwide have always considered his words thoughtful and intelligent.

After a few fruitless years pursuing music in England, Peart returned home and joined the then-local band Rush in the summer of 1974. He replaced original drummer John Rutsey just two weeks before the group’s first tour of the U.S., where he played his first gig in front of more than 11,000 people.

In  1997, Peart faced great tragedy as his first daughter and then-only child, 19-year-old Selena Taylor, was killed in a single-car accident on Highway 401 near Brighton, Ontario. His common-law wife of 23 years, Jacqueline Taylor, succumbed to cancer only 10 months later, in 1998.

Devastated, Peart took a long sabbatical to mourn and reflect, and travelled extensively throughout North America on his motorcycle, covering a total 88,000 km. After his trip, Peart returned to the band, and wrote a book, Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, documenting both his physical and emotional journeys. Peart ended up writing and publishing six more non-fiction books focused on his travels and personal stories.

Peart is survived by his current wife, photographer Carrie Nuttall, and daughter Olivia, both of whom he lived with in Santa Monica, California, in his later years, and by his bandmates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson. SOCAN extends our deepest condolences to them all. We mourn the loss of this legendary musician and songwriter – as do his extended family, friends, Rush fans, music lovers, and no doubt the thousands of drummers worldwide who were inspired by his work.



This is the third annual instalment of our series on Québec’s rap artists who will surely reach a greater audience this year.

Shreez

Born in Laval, Shreez started rapping at the age of 16 in his friend Young Mic’s studio. At the time, rap was a hobby like any other, and the teen had no clear ambition in the field. “It really was just for fun,” he says. “We only shared our songs with our friends, we didn’t share them on the internet. But the more I made them, the more I could sense an interest from the people around me. Then, one day, there was a leak. Some of my songs ended up playing in parties and clubs. I was really surprised.”

With the support of his good friend Tizzo, who he met in 2014, the young rapper started taking his hobby more seriously in 2018 – after the success of his colleague’s mixtape, Tu sais vol. 1. Since then, he’s dropped four mixtapes with the help of Tizzo, including the future classic 51tr4p Fr4p50 where his SOCAN Songwriting Prize-winning song On fouette can be heard. “Tizzo is my mentor,” says Shreez. “If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know if I’d still be rapping. He literally came to my house to pick me up at a moment where I’d almost given everything up!”

Released a year ago, his first solo project, La vie gratuite (The Free Life) is aptly titled, since it touches on topics such as illicit commerce and shady transactions. The now 25-year-old rapper still stands by those topics, but they’re further and further away from his actual agenda, and that explains why he’ll explore other lyrical avenues on his next mixtape, slated to drop in March or April of 2020. “My songs talk about that transition, how my life is changing and music is now part of my plans,” he says. “I try to filter what I say more, while retaining my style.”

Franky Fade

Born in Gaspésie, Franky Fade moved to Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville (a suburb on the South Shore of Montréal) when he was two, and he worked his way into the metropolis at the tail end of his teens, in 2014. At the time, the young pianist was studying jazz interpretation at cégep Saint-Laurent.

That’s where he met six of his closest friends, with whom he would start the jazzy rap combo O.G.B shortly afterward. “It started as an instrumental project,” he says. “We were actively looking for a rapper, but we didn’t know any. Let’s just say they weren’t exactly a dime a dozen in our suburban and rural environments. So I decided to write something, just for fun, and the guys really liked it. That’s when I realized that I’d always had the ambition of being a frontman.”

Now with three projects under their belts (including the excellent Volume Un), the septet managed to win the final of the most recent edition of Francouvertes. Since then, they’ve been actively working on their first official album, to be released in the first half of 2020. “We compose everything together, all seven heads,” says Fade. “The result is quite special, halfway between acoustic and synthetic.”

But as far as lyrics go, he’s the man in charge. Using his relentless {“Frenglish” panache, he touches on topics that matter to all the band members, like their desire to remain independent in the music business, and their appetite for success. “They’re reflections on success,” he says. “You know, like, is the goal to reach a certain status, or is it to take the right road to achieve success?” says the rapper, who’ll also release a second solo project this year.

Backxwash

Backxwash discovered hip-hop in her native land of Zambia, where she spent the first 17 years of her life. “My first contact with this music was the video ‘Mo Money, Mo Problems,’ by Notorious B.I.G. featuring Puff Daddy and Mase,” she says. “I immediately fell in love with everything about that culture.”

Not having the financial resources to buy beats, the young artist took things into her own hands and taught herself the ropes of FL Studio 3 software. Once settled in Montréal, the trans rapper and producer developed her unique artistic universe, which is to say an abrasive brand of hip-hop with industrial-rock and nu-metal influences. On Deviancy, her second project, released last summer, this rather virulent alloy is masterfully combined with a scathing flow that touches on original social comment about witchcraft, gender identity, and the abuses of patriarchy and religion.

Brimming with inspiration, Backxwash is currently working on two very different projects: a dungeon synth opus (a musical style that combines black metal and RPG videogame soundtracks) and another one where she’ll provide a detailed account of her experiences with religious institutions. “There will likely be more songs about gender identity, because I believe it’s essential to maintain the intersectionality of my artistic practice,” she says.

Composed using old choir recordings, this hip-hop-noise album will be released next summer.

DawaMafia

DawaMafia is a pair of Morrocan-born, Brossard-based brothers whose reputation was known well before they started a rap career. “In our culture, ‘dawa’ means mayhem. People called us the Dawani brothers because we were disruptive, and we loved fucking things up,” says Tali B, 24, the youngest of the two.

He started rapping alongside Zacka, six years his elder, and DawaMafia took off in 2016. Signed with Disques RER, the label of Québec City promoter Rico Rich, the duo has since dropped three mixtapes: D’où je viens, MDV and Mafia. In the purest gangsta canon, the brothers rap unabashedly about some of the more violent episodes in their lives. “We live for the truth,” they say. “We rap about stuff that people don’t dare to talk about. What we experience in the streets, people think that shit only happens in the movies. That’s what I thought too, in the beginning… But it’s very real,” says Zacka, before mentioning that he wrote the song “Fugueuse” after being hit by a stray bullet from a gunfight near his mom’s house.

Slated for release this winter, the duo’s first official album – with production by E-Beats and Farfadet – will dig deeper along the convoluted path of the creative duo. “We emphasize everything we’ve lived through,” they say. “We dig deeper. We struggled financially in the beginning, but nowadays we’re doing rather well. We’re not where we’d like to be yet, but even a small step is a good step.”

David Campana

Revealed as one half of HDC X LTK in 2015, David Campana has evolved tremendously ever since. After assuming his real identity on the double-mixtape MYNB, the Montréal singer and rapper joined his longtime friend Shotto Guapo for the CE7TE LIFE project, a conceptual EP that they championed onstage during the latest edition of Francouvertes alongside producer Major.

During that competition, the 29-year-old artist was tapped by Hydrophonik Records, the new urban music subsidiary of the Montréal-based rock label Indica. “I hadn’t planned on signing with a label, because I’ve always wanted to remain free and independent, but Indica’s off-the-beaten-path mentality was in synch with my own,” says Campana.

While revisiting the trap soul recipe that was the key to the success of CE7TE LIFE, Campana will soon release his second solo project: Bonjour, Hi. Produced by Novengitum – a trio of talented producers that made a name for itself with dope.gng – this new solo mixtape will be a portrait of the artist’s musical and personal evolution.

“I used to talk a lot about the reality of the ‘hood, but I want to reach a wider audience now,” he says. “I think it’s directly influenced by Novengitum’s productions, which tend to be on a more pop tip. I want to come across as I really am, in a very simple way, with my ‘Frenglish’ style… Hence the title.”

Other “Queb” rap breakthrough artists to watch closely this year: LK Tha Goon, dope.gng, MikeZup, Malkay Lacrymogene, Kay Bandz, Raccoon, Tyleen, Miles Barnes, Shotto Guapo, Soubillz