By Jack Barnes
A rapper’s rapper who defies easy categorization, Wasiu is one of the most respected emcees in the underground Canadian scene. Reflecting on his mixed upbringing and his status as an English-speaker in a French-speaking city, Wasiu channels Outkast on the profound, jazz-inflected “MTLien.” Thoug
Premiered by Mass Appeal and produced by Tommy Kruise with co-production from Dear Lola, “MTLien” is a thought-provoking examination of the different flavors of alienation and its uneasy relationship with artistry.
“Tommy Kruise is one of the most familiar faces from our scene, having worked with the likes of Playboi Carti, Maxo Kream, JME, Main Attrakionz, being close friends with ASAP-Yams (R.I.P), and releasing his own critically-acclaimed projects. It was an honor that he sent me some beats.
Much like my music, Tommy’s style doesn’t fit in with the rest, he has an unique sound. We also share sentiments of being outsiders or feeling neglect from others. That thing we have in common is what I wanted to paint on the canvas that he sent me. MTLIEN is the result. I got Dear Lola to add some icy cold elements to add some setting into the picture… but basically this record is me explaining why I resonate with Outkast’s ATLiens album so much. OutKast feeling alienated by their peers and not being accepted by Hip Hop is how I’ve been feeling my whole life…
Half Nigerian, Half Haitian… Nigerians don’t accept me because I’m half, Haitians don’t accept me because I’m half. Mother’s a Christian, Father’s Muslim, both sides telling me the other side is wrong, yet I’m learning both. Either way, I’m Black, and English-speaking, in a French White city, with classmates telling me to ‘go back to my country…’ but I was born here and that makes me a Quebecois just like them. Quebec already doesn’t fit into Canada, since our laws and regulations are all in French to preserve that culture. Canada itself doesn’t fit in with the Hip Hop industry… Yeah, you have exceptions to the rule who make it… but we all know exceptions are smaller than 1%. If I’m the most outcasted figure right now, I’m sure many Montrealers, not even just in music, but in general, also feel the same way. The scene itself gets refused to be acknowledged by outsiders. Every time I put out a release, the producers rarely get credited, and they’re the reason why the scene is popping. Who’s the biggest artist you know from Montreal? A producer. 2nd, 3rd, 4th biggest artist from MTL? All producers. Now think of how many others are neglected from getting coverage, even though they’re the real stars of our scene. In some way, people of my city, the scene, my province, my country, all feel some sort of alienation. And if you’ve ever been neglected, left-out, or were alienated some way some how, and just wanted to be accepted into a circle, then you can relate to the sentiments and tone of this song.”
A deep-thinking emcee and rhyming technician with endless bars, Wasiu is perhaps known best in his homeland for his commercials for Kijiji, Canada’s answer to Craigslist. Viewed by over 4 million people, the commercials showcase Wasiu’s charisma and prodigious skills behind the mic. After a yearlong break from releasing music, Wasiu returned earlier this month with the VIBE–premiered “Snow Mexican,” a sinister track based on a fake (yet believable) Donald Trump tweet about Canada. Last week, Wasiu recounted the first time he ever went to a strip club on “ ,” which boasted some of the most politically provocative cover art you’ll see all year. In the past year, Wasiu performed at SXSW, The Montreal Jazz Fest, POP Montreal, and Canadian Music Week, and opened for Little Simz, Jazz Cartier, BadBadNotGood, Grandmaster Flash, Dead Obies, Sean Leon, and others. His single “P.K. Subban” garnered over 150k plays on Spotify, contributing to a combined 1.2 million total. Look out for MTLiens 2, hitting stores later this year.
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