SonReal has held Vancouver, BC down for several winters, but still hasn't received the props he deserves. New mixtape Where's Waldo? should correct this oversight. Bangers from Rich Kidd and Classified and borrowed beats from the likes of J Dilla complement the Vancouverite's nasal cadence nicely. And Son is the rare rapper who flows deftly without compromising melody, effortlessly jumping from double-time raps to sung hooks. He balances unadulterated flow showcases and more radio-ready efforts with ease. "As I Recall" presents both these sides nicely, with Son's energetic verses bouncing off the twisty guitar before leading into a Drake-worthy hook. Salty break-up ballad "She Gone" will resonate with anyone in the Lonely Hearts Club, while the hypnotic synths of "Dr. Dumb It Down" set the stage for entertaining chest thumping from Son and T-Dot luminary Tona. "Blast Off" serves as an MCing practicum, as the SonReal runs through nearly 100 bars of syllable flipping backed by bongos. There are a few rough patches. "Out There" discusses teen pregnancy and street life with the subtlety of a Concerned Parents seminar and "#1Fan" is similarly well intentioned yet treacly. When Son sticks to punch lines and more playful topics, it's easy to see why he's leading Vancity's burgeoning rap scene.
Why did you start rapping?
I think the first time I got introduced to hip-hop was in grade seven. I was in my friend's older brother's whip and he was playing NWA; it was so raw, so grimy. As a kid coming from somewhere completely different, that's why it excited me. I started listening to Redman, Method Man, Wu-Tang; I became a fan of [hip-hop] from grimier stuff like that to people like Common and J Dilla, even Canadian stuff like Classified.
When was the first time you laid a verse to tape?
I started messing around with [rap] when I was about 16. I've always been fascinated with recording my own stuff, even when I just started rapping I recorded all my own stuff. I always tried to mix my records. As I went on, I kept gaining equipment and experience. I ended up going to audio engineering school and to this day I mix my records and produce my stuff.
How has the West Coast influenced your music?
It's been positive. Here in Vancouver, we have a lot of talented artists coming out, but they aren't breaking anything [commercially]. We're the only ones making consistent trips to Toronto and other places to do shows. It's good because when we go to Toronto, we get a lot of love. It's good to have a city behind us that doesn't have a frontman. (GoodLife Music & Culture)