Published Jan 25, 2019To create Spadina, his tribute to Toronto, 28-year-old rapper Patrik packed his bags and moved to Montreal. "The best way to have perspective sometimes is to take yourself out of a situation," says Patrik in an Exclaim! interview. "I had no Toronto distractions. It was just me in a new city, uncomfortable, meeting new engineers, new producers, and finding studio space. And it worked out really well."
Spadina chronicles Patrik's experiences growing up in Canada's Screwface Capital and pays homage to the sounds, places and people that shaped his artistry. Born in Montreal but raised in the Queen and Spadina area of Toronto, Patrik calls creating the EP a "draining and exhilarating" enterprise.
"This EP is very personal in the sense that I had to go back and experience all these occurrences in my life. It's the first time that I've ever put out anything that's this personal," says Patrik. "All the songs sound different because [I'm] imagining me at different stages of my life. Telling different stories, experiencing different feelings. Every song holds weight in terms of a memory, feeling or a thought."
Although rooted in his personal experience, Spadina is laced with regional references familiar to most homegrown Torontonians. The beat on "Bay St." captures the bustling, wealthy gloss of Toronto's Financial District. Speaker's Corner, the city's pioneering precursor to reality TV and Twitter, gets its own namesake song and there's a nod to k-os, whom Patrik cites as an inspiration, tucked into the hook. By injecting familiarity, Patrik coaxes nostalgia out of his audience, turning them from voyeurs to friends united by shared experience.
"I wanted to be able to paint a picture of downtown Toronto that people can identify with. So there are a lot of references to specific landmarks like Queen Street or Speaker's Corner, all these little things that Torontonians are accustomed to. I think everybody can relate to that."
Patrick insists that leaving Toronto helped bolster his connection with the city. Recording the EP in Montreal allowed him to infuse the music with a kind of love that only homesickness seems to conjure.
"If I would have stayed in Toronto, I don't know if the EP would have come out the way that it came out," he says. "Taking myself out of the city really inspired me to write about my experiences with Toronto, as [if it were] a person. Like 'in case I don't come back again, this is how I feel about you.'"
Patrik will play Toronto's Lee's Palace on January 26. Spadina is out now.