Lil Debbie brings her no nonsense flow to the stage

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“I’m nice but not that nice” is what Lil Debbie told the crowd in a packed club, after a man attempted to hurl a drink at her onstage. It was disappointing to witness, especially since nothing of the sort had happened at any of the other shows we’ve been to. For Debbie though, it seemed to be just another day in the life as she moved back into the music quickly, after reprimanding the offender.

A rap show is a testosterone filled environment. The whole setup, from the expletive laced performances by artists and hype-men, to the girls they bring up on stage to dance – it’s catered for a male experience. It’s been the nature of rap, one of the most male dominated genres from its inception, with women only participating on a bigger platform in recent years.

Lil Debbie’s fought to turn the tides of this seminal boys club since she first picked up a mic. Her career has seen her persevere despite routine backlash which first started when she left the White Girl Mob and continues today with online torment just because she’s a female with bars. The constant barrage of negativity she’s waded through in the last few years seems to have amplified her stamina.

Debbie is strong; her presence is felt even before she speaks a word on stage. She commands attention, demands that you listen to her and engage with her. She speaks often, going on a trail of F-bombs capped off with a sweet smile.

She yells, she smokes, she stops songs to encourage you to follow your dreams.

“Nice, but not that nice” needs to be the maxim of every woman in the music industry, and every woman period. Knowing yourself and your boundaries may not make you easily marketable to record labels, but it adds years of longevity to your career, because adhering to your persona and refusing to be pushed around is authentic. That authenticity is craved by music audiences, who can see far past the manufactured bullshit, which is why Lil Debbie is in high demand by her audience even though ratchet/hyphy music has simmered recently.

We sat down with Lil Debbie before this show and spoke with her about competition and camaraderie.

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Tory Lanez turns the stage Swavey

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Swavey: to have an impressive swagger, a sort of “joie de vivre” for the streetwear set. The term was coined by rapper Tory Lanez as an improvement on the nearly dated term “swag”. His fan base has adopted the word in allegiance to their Swavey leader. As Tory’s created his artistic persona, he’s given himself a couple different monikers. Born Daystar Peterson, in Toronto, he christened himself Tory taken from Notorious BIG, someone Tory had idolized as a youth. He’s also given himself the name Argentina Fargo, who he channels as his Tony Montana alter-ego in songs with hard bass like Diego.

He’s created a world unto himself; his rhymes reflect the several phases of migrancy he’s been through. His shuffling through different provinces in Canada and moving state to state in America, with a brief bout of homelessness as a teenager, has given his music a worldly sort of ambiguity. When initially hearing his harder stuff, you would be excused for finding it a touch hilarious to hear the paradigm of him as Argentina Fargo, the new Tony Montana, running  the international drug trade and being monitored by the feds. Yes, it’s ridiculous but it’s so much fun.

Tory’s music is catchy – it’s the type of music you want to listen to at full volume and try to out-sing the speakers to. It’s the type of music that can release some of the stresses of a day without needing too much from you, he’s perfected a mix of club banger and bedroom bangers with the release of Lost Cause his latest mixtape. He’s certainly established himself as a rapper this year, but when watching him perform live and unaided by studio sorcery, his wide vocal range was surprising and impressive. His singing capabilities are of that of an early Usher quality, not that there is a need for comparisons.

Toronto has become a foreground for the sound of this era, with the sing/rap style seeming like the City’s signature, championed by Drake and flourished by the Weeknd and Partynextdoor. Tory Lanez adds to that sound, his style a subtle nod to it, but not barricaded in by having a Toronto specific sound. His music is truly an amalgamation of the places he’s lived, there’s some Houston influence and Swavey could be a synonym for the sex appeal of Miami. After years of migrancy, it seems Tory has found his roots, in his music.

Tory Lanez puts on a show at The Alexander in Vancouver
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The crowd embraces Tory Lanez while he performs at The Alexander in Vancouver

 

Nacho Picasso

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Nacho Picasso is one of the most uncompromising artists that we’ve ever come across. He’s built a career on saying what others are too afraid to say. His sharp tongue is matched by a sharp wit that somehow makes it all okay. Nacho pokes fun at himself as much as others. He mocks society in a sense, our adoration with shiny things, our pacifism in our daily lives – it’s all fair game for Nacho.

His latest project Stoned and Dethroned is an homage to the things which have been plaguing his mind for the last two years. It’s an joint effort with frequent collaborators Blue Sky Black Death and the project is rife with ingenious samples (Deep Forest) laced with his dark rhymes. We caught his performance in Vancouver and his stage show is just as frenetic as he is.

Jumping from side to side of the stage, he was enthused about being able to perform in the country (after a run in with the border guards) and spent very little time on stage talking, preferring to launch right into his set. Perhaps the most ironic thing about Nacho Picasso is the fact that people love him despite that not being the reaction he’s going for. It was evident as the crowd chanted along to song after song, that Nacho is probably the best bad boy around.

Check out our video interview with Nacho here

Nacho Picasso on Stoned and Dethroned

Independent music has always been a grey area in music. A kind of limbo, where artists hope to not have to dwell for long before being snatched up by one of the big five record labels. There are many hardships for an independent artist; there’s no big promotion budget or built in studio producers, to ensure hit records. But, the independent artist has the most crucial element for reaching the ultimate creative nirvana: freedom.

Nacho Picasso is one of the most uninhibited artists we’ve met. He’s been shaking shit up since his debut album, Blunt Raps. His music is a reflection of his turbulent lifestyle, rapped with a sense of humility instead of grandeur. He came into the game with the intention to piss people off and hilariously has attracted so many people to him. His blend of realness is intoxicating. He’s self deprecating with a dry sense of humour, a personality that comes across as soon as you hear the first few bars.

Not having any of the inhibitors that can plague the creativity of an artist removes most of the compromises that have to be made to please a team of executives. There are so many artists releasing music through their own channels and the internet makes it possible for independent artists to be massively successful.

This is the case with Nacho, who shot straight to number one on bandcamp the day that Stoned and Dethroned, his fourth collaboration with producers Black Sky Blue Death was released. His fans are constantly in an uproar about including him on “best of” rap lists and on the map in terms of leaders of the new school. But, Nacho stands seemingly unbothered about all of it.

Perhaps it’s the Seattle in him, the inherently, not too bothered, stance that many people in the Pacific Northwest display. Or it’s the fact that at such a young age, Nacho has already achieved what some spend their entire lives wishing for. He’s turned his stormy youth around completely and is now an inspiration to many. Nacho’s only intent in rapping was to make music that he and his friends could relate to, the rest of the world is just a bonus.

We spoke with Nacho the day Stoned and Dethroned dropped, and asked him about his process, and working with producers Blue Sky Black Death and Harry Fraud.