Could Alberta be the home of Canada’s next music superstar? It may have once sounded unlikely, but after listening to the sounds of Mouraine, 80purppp, EB3N, and Avenoir, that may be the case. Each is behind a growing body of R&B and hip-hop reaching beyond the West.

This new wave of music may never have developed, were it not for 2020. Across the board, each of these SOCAN members cites the COVID-19 pandemic as a shifting point, where isolation, and space to creatively experiment, made music the path that they needed to pursue. Today, each shares the goal of putting Alberta on the R&B/hip-hop map, both in Canada and abroad.



Mouraine, Sick of Your Love, video

Select the image to play the YouTube video of the Mouraine song “Sick of Your Love”

Sudanese-born artist Mouraine moved to Alberta as a child, after a brief stay in Egypt. In a new country, with a new language, hip-hop was a bridge between himself, his peers, and the community. “I started writing [lyrics] once my language skills were better,” he says. “I was, like, ‘Oh, I like this. I like how this music makes me feel. Let me see if I can make something similar. How can I express myself by doing this?’”

After writing and performing for a decade, it was during the pandemic that he found his focus.  “Before, I was busy trying to do shows and build things, but I didn’t have a sense of direction, musically, or with my life,” says Mouraine. “During the pandemic, as bad as it was, I had a break from the world. I wasn’t under pressure to be at another show, be at another gig.”

Much-needed reflection led Mouraine to realize that he’d been chasing the wrong goals. “I was in a rush to find gold, materialistic things, fame, money, cars,” he admits. “I wanted the rewards and the success. But once I was able to have that break, I looked around and was like, ‘Oh, wait a minute. I’m in a very fortunate position in life. What am I tripping out about? I’m here. I’m alive. I’m breathing. I have a family. I have loved ones around me. I can provide for myself. And I can pursue my dreams.’ That was the true gold I was searching for.”

He’s since released an EP, Bigger Dreams [2021], and the raw, honest full-length, In Search of Gold [2023]. Now working on new music, due at the end of 2024, Mouraine cites the growing diversity of Edmonton, its inclusive hip-hop community, and a desire to help build its music infrastructure as reasons that he wants to stay in the city. “This is home for me, and I love where I’m from,” he says. “To have support from places like SOCAN helps us raise awareness, and lets people know that there are great artists out here. It goes a long way to introduce Alberta hip-hop to the world.”



80purppp, release THE KRAKEN, video

Select the image to play the YouTube video of the 80purpp song “release! (THE KRAKEN)”

For Nathan Oddoye, aka 80purppp (an anagram for A Dark Purple Peter Pan), the current goal is creating music that pushes his sound forward. The self-described college dropout boasts millions of Spotify streams, and a certified gold track (with 35 million YouTube views), “Hex.” He’s just debuted “release! (The KRAKEN)”, and says his idea of himself as a musician has dramatically changed since he first began releasing music.

“I’m very inspired by instrumentation and classical music,” says 80purppp, who began playing piano shortly after his family moved to Canada from the U.K. “I use my voice as an instrument, and that’s going to be very apparent in what I do moving forward. I’m not holding back as much as I have. In the past, I considered myself more of a rapper, and sometimes I’d sing. But now I see my voice as just an instrument. I’m experimenting.”

The animé aficionado is also extending his creativity beyond music. “I’m writing a screenplay,” he says. “It’s loosely connected to my album, but it’s not a one-to-one copy. They’re connected in the same world – it’s kind of a spin-off.”

As he prepares to release more singles in the Spring of 2024, 80purppp says listeners may be surprised at what they hear. “There are notes of hip-hop, but there are times when I go very alternative R&B, alternative sounds, indie and guitar sounds,” he says. “I’ve started to incorporate sounds I love from Japanese music, history, and culture. Sonically, it’s leaning into things that I think people are going to be surprised I’m pulling from. And that’s exactly what we want. I want to take people there.”



Avenoir, LINK UP, video

Select the image to play the YouTube video of the Avenoir song “LINK UP”

Avenoir (aka Caleb Odidi), the artist behind 2023’s NOIRE EP, and sultry tracks like“TMW” and “TRACK 02 (Dangerous Lover),” is a hard man to catch up to. During a break, he spoke from Toronto, where he’s drafting new music for an upcoming release. During his stay, he’s found inspiration in the city’s infrastructure and collaborative nature, and hopes to create the same in Alberta.

“Alberta has a lot of new sounds coming out, but Toronto has infrastructure. and there’s a lot of history behind the music and the culture here,” he says. “Everything’s pretty much deep-cut. I’d like to bring Alberta up, and make it so that Alberta has its own infrastructure. I’d like my music to be one of the things that helps to build that. [And] more people collaborating. I wish people wouldn’t be afraid to work with each other.”

The South-African-born, Alberta-raised artist names Sadé and Frank Ocean as songwriting influences, and counts the piano as a necessary tool when it comes to crafting music. “I was a pianist first,” he explains. “Ninety percent of my ideas come from the piano. I’ll have an idea about a song I want to make, and I’ll jot down ideas and figurative language examples that I believe will help me convey that message – so that when I sit down and start writing, I pull from each one of them. ‘After Hours’ and my very first song ‘TMW’ were the easiest songs for me to write. For every other song, I’ve had to take little breaks and come back to them but those two songs just flowed naturally.”

Avenoir says his new music is also morphing naturally. “My EP was based around dark R&B, mysterious, stripped-back vocals,” he says. “Acoustic kind of vibes. For the [new] album, I’m going for more upbeat. An upbeat, classic R&B vibe. It’ll still take influences from the darker side of R&B, but not as mellow as before.”



EB3N, Uninvited, video

Select the image to play the YouTube video of the EB3N song “Uninvited”

“Being from Alberta, we have a unique palette of artists: myself, Avenoir, Ardn, Frvrfriday, Tdott, Tona Glover, Kavi, Yetsho, and many more. Having quality like that around creates friendly competition, pushing each other to be the best we can be,” says EB3N. “The drastic weather in the winter also shapes our unique sound and identity. As well as the growing Black community here. Alberta is slowly becoming a melting pot of culture that’s influencing its music.”

Born in Antigua, to Ghanaian parents, and raised in Alberta, EB3N (aka Eben Kweku Parry), was raised on the sounds of African Worship music, greatly influencing the flow, rhythm, and expression of his work. “I also grew up with two older sisters, who listened to Chris Brown, Omarion, Usher, Tyler the Creator, Frank Ocean, Kanye, The Weeknd, and Drake,” he says. “As I got older, I transitioned into listening to the likes of Bryson Tiller, Brent Faiyaz, Daniel Caesar, PARTYNEXTDOOR, and Tory Lanez. I used to sit in front of BET when I was a kid, and wanted to dance like Chris, so he was always a huge inspiration.”

As with his peers, COVID-19 provided a turning point for the former soccer player. “I always had a knack for rhythm, and creating flows, and feeling the music on a different level,” says EB3N. “But I never took it seriously until COVID shut the world down. I began to teach myself piano, and how to control my voice. I decided to book a studio session and make my first song ever. People in my city really liked it. My friends and family were shocked that it was me. That’s when I knew I wanted to do music forever. That feeling was like no other. I want to chase that feeling for the rest of my life.”

EB3N released “Sing Something” in January of 2024, is working on new music due in the Spring, and hopes to go on tour. Currently an independent artist, he’s taking challenges and sacrifices in stride. “I don’t always have the luxury to do everything I want to do,” he says. “Sometimes I have to make sacrifices – staying in a city I don’t know because I feel like I have to be there to grow. But at the end of the day, it’s all about trusting your gut feeling. If you believe you need to do something because it’ll benefit you, you have to trust your craft and your purpose. Things aren’t always gonna go your way, and people are not always going to receive your music the way you envisioned it, but I will never let that discourage me from creating.”