Junia-T’s “Eye See You” — Saving Toronto’s Hip-Hop Scene from ITSELF.

“A brova too smoove
Old soul living in this new school…”
— Junia-T, “Too Smoove”, Eye See You (2014)

Except for a notable few like Kardinal Offishal, Maestro Fresh Wes, and of course, Drake, Toronto’s hip-hop scene has been trouble for a while. Despite its share of local hits getting heavy club rotation in the 90s and early-naughts (who can forget how deep we lived the riddim culture for a while?), it’s been steady underground for all these years.

You can tell a Toronto beat from a mile away — slightly unpolished, simple, sound like it’s a throwback from decades ago… we’re unable to keep up with the times, breeding a crop of rappers who just can’t make the grade.

Fortunately, that’s not true for everyone.

COMIN’ RIGHT UP: The We & We Free featuring Junia-T!

In a time before blogging was my extracurricular activity of choice, I used to draw like a fiend. On break at work. Zipping around on buses between home, school and work. I’d fall asleep with pens and markers in hand as I tried to draw just a little more (my Mom has the ink-stained sheets to prove it!)

It was in one of these scribbling sessions where I first crossed paths with Junia-T.

The We & We Free — Junia-T — Street Shot

Hailing from Sauga’s southwest, Junia’s been in the rap game since before most people knew what Internet radio was. Back in 2003, after we met and exchanged info while riding the city’s notoriously unreliable Mississauga Transit #26, you’d find me with Junia and his 3-5 Playa crew in their basement sessions while sketching out the cover work for Up to Par… Da Mixtape.

Over a decade later, and the Sauga City cat’s still at it, as one of the artists performing at the free upcoming The We & We Free concert on Friday, May 9th at the Izakaya Sushi House!