Canada has always been a country that measures itself against others. Our culture has been intertwined with those of Europe and America since we became a country, and oftentimes what made up our culture was not homegrown.
But that is starting to change. Canada is beginning to get its own identity. The perfect example of this is the Canadian hip-hop scene, which for a long time was either non-existent or embarrassing. Now, we have artists like Drake, BADBADNOTGOOD, and the Weeknd, who are not just copying musicians that came before them, but are creating a new sound and music scene that is worth being proud of.
And if you ask younger artists, like Daniel Zebarth, they say this is just the beginning.
“The Canadian hip-hop scene is growing exponentially every day,” said Zebarth, a Fredericton rapper who is currently studying audio engineering in Toronto.
“The biggest artist in rap at the moment [Drake] is Canadian, so that just goes to show where we stand.”
Zebarth has been musically inclined for as long as he can remember and started rapping when he was 13. A couple of years later he began producing and in January of this year, DZ released his first album.
“The Beach was a starting point,” he explained. “I needed to complete a project to see where I stood in the industry. I learned so much during the two years crafting the album and it put me in a better position to achieve success.”
While Zebarth has spent the majority of his life on the east coast of Canada, he grew up with an outsider’s mentality, wishing that he were in Houston with his siblings or in a bigger city.
“As I got older I began to develop a soft spot for the East Coast and now I can truly call it my home,” he said.
For him, it has been the people and experiences that have had an impact on his work, though he admits he tends to get his musical influences from elsewhere.
Though Zebarth is busy with school and work, his goals are clear and everything he is doing seems to be a calculated move towards making it in the music industry.
DZ and his First Class Crew began working on a new project in the summer, and though there is no scheduled release date, he says will be a very different sound from The Beach.
The exciting thing about DZ is that he is not alone. Rappers around the country are seeing the success that some Canadian artists are having, and they are realizing that just because you’re not from New York City or Los Angeles doesn’t mean that you don’t have an interesting story to tell.
“I feel like I fit in amongst the best and it is only a matter of time until I will be working beside them,” promises Zebarth. ‘The year 2015 is looking very promising and I’m feeling very grateful to be in this position.”
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