Published Sep 13, 2018If there's a ray of sunshine peeking through the cloud of violence that has recently struck Toronto's hip-hop community, it's the rise of promising Regent Park local Lil Berete.
The 17-year-old is garnering attention for a strong set of singles — "Northside," "Southside" and "Real" — that started to pick up serious steam in the early months of 2018, leading to a deal with UK label XL Recordings. His melding of melodies with jaw-dropping real life lines concocted anthems for those in the city dealing with a summer filled with laurels and losses.
To usher in the city's colder months, Berete dropped his highly anticipated mixtape Icebreaker, which picks up right where his coveted loosies left off, with slick bars and even silkier delivery.
The project is short (eight songs running just over 25 minutes) but gets to the point with lightning quick speed. "Live" sets off the tape's haunting realness with ice cold lines like "I can't trust a soul" and "Baby I can't I fall in love 'cause I came from the hood" that are delivered with a convincing vulnerability — one that quickly puts listeners into the psyche of a teenager coming from one of Toronto's most troubled neighbourhoods.
"Time Flies" and "No Make Up" are the two previously released singles that anchor the project and tactfully turn inner city woes into formidable bops. His hit-making ability is loud, and on not only these two tracks but also on "Migraines." His Auto-Tune croons slap so incredibly hard, largely due to the high octane production from Kenny Beats and Patrick Carmelo. Berete is able to catch a perfect pocket and weave his vocals through the intricate beats almost effortlessly. Even on harder rap cuts like "Dreams," he can't help but deliver menacing lyrics with an audible smoothness.
Sure, there are a few moments where Berete opts for filler lyrics, but they are few and far between. Ultimately, Icebreaker proves that Toronto tragedy can indeed be turned into tangible triumph — or at least into a very re-listenable mixtape that should and will reach ears outside the confines of Parliament and Gerrard. (New Gen/XL)