Up and Coming Hip Hop Artist from the Greater Toronto Area
Meet a student of the rap game that has been mastering his craft for the last couple years, while studying the biggest names in hip hop. Just getting his career kicked, the innovative and creative Brampton, Canadian artist displays a unique style of hip hop. Formerly a R&B artist, Christian Mariconda made the transition through inspiration of hip hop’s top rappers.
Now beginning his journey down the path of hip hop, Christian plans on showcasing that Canada is more than just Drake. Get to know an up and coming Canadian rap and hip hop artist that is just getting his foot in the door as he breaks down rap music in Canada, growing up in the diverse communities of Brampton and Toronto, and his upbringing in to music and hip hop.
Meet and Get to Know Christian Mariconda
Kulture Vulturez: Growing up in a Brampton. What was it like growing up there?
Christian Mariconda: Growing up here in Brampton, which is a city right outside of Toronto like 15 to 20 minutes [away], shaped me in everything. In terms of who I am, not only as an artist, as a musician, but also just as a human being.
With Brampton and [Toronto] it is a place where it’s very multicultural as the years have gone by. Growing up from high school to playing sports, everything was just so very diverse in terms of ethnicities, backgrounds, all walks of life. It’s been such a place of multicultural diversion.
That helped shaped me as an artist, especially growing up listening to music, starting with me listening to Michael Jackson, Usher, Ne-Yo, Chris Brown all the way to Justin Timberlake. When I was younger, I started off with R&B. My dad used to play a lot of rock and roll when I was younger as well. But, you know, being in school and stuff, you would always hear everyone’s playing the popular and mainstream music. So, I grew up with that.
Then as high school came along, I started listening to, you know, Drake. And it was more like especially with Drake, because [he is] out of the city. Drake he’s one of a kind for our city and he’s done so much and put the world on notice about Toronto in terms of a rap, in terms of artistry and music coming from the city.
I grew up [listening to] R&B and I switched to hip hop over time. So overall, growing up in Brampton was a special place because it helped shape me in so much musical influences over time. I grew up with so many different genres.
Just growing up, just being in a place of diversity, it really helped bring up a place of connections in terms of understanding all walks of life, all different types of experiences and stories. From everyone coming here from all over the world, from coming to immigrate or coming to be in a place of Toronto, the GTA and living there and starting a new life, of all different types. So, it was a special place for sure to grow up.
Kulture Vulturez: Since you could remember, what has hip hop been like in Canada?
Christian Mariconda: Hip hop here, in the last 10 years it’s really starting to take off. Before then we had like Kardinal Offishall mainly. He was like kind of on, if anyone was on a world or a grander stage it was Kardinal Offishall. Even before Drake, he came on and had a couple big hits, big records that took off in in the U.S. markets and around the world.
Me personally, I’m not a huge studier of Toronto hip hop, just hip hop in general for me. West Coast and East Coast hip hop that’s [what] I mainly studied, and obviously southern hip hop with Outkast and T.I. Those guys specifically, especially Outkast, [are] someone I studied. But in terms of Toronto, for me personally, it was mainly Drake who came up. And then over time, you would see guys like Torey Lanez coming up and now, you have artists like Killy and you have Pressa. So, [now] you have the artists that have come up in hip hop after Drake.
But to be honest with you, Toronto is more of a contemporary R&B city than a hip hop city, in my perspective. In Toronto, mainly Drake is the guy that paves the way, but there are a lot of great hip hop artists that are coming up from the underground in Toronto. Over time we hopefully we get the limelight shined on us and we’ll be ready for when the doors are open.
But hip hop in Toronto has been mainly at an infancy place, at a growing stage over time. So, we’re just slowly but surely catching up to Southern hip hop, East Coast hip hop, West Coast hip hop history over time. It’s growing over time. I’m excited to see where it goes and I’m hope I can be a part of that as a rapper and hip hopper, hip hop pioneer myself and my own sound and in my own way.
Kulture Vulturez: Is Toronto the main city in Canada for hip hop, to your knowledge?
Christian Mariconda: To my knowledge, Toronto is the hub in the [country] for a lot of artists coming out into the mainstream from this area. Now there are artists coming up from B.C. (British Columbia), from Alberta, which are like provinces around Canada. We have artists, off the top of my head, like Tate McRae. She’s a big pop artist that’s coming out of Calgary, Alberta, which is like more west out in Canada.
But in terms of like in R&B and hip hop, there isn’t too many. There’s great artists all over Canada that are doing their thing creating and captivating special music for their audiences and being a voice for people. Mainly Toronto is this hub that I think that is being put on the map because we have The Weeknd, we have Drake, we have Justin Bieber, the list goes on of artists that have come from this area of Canada that we’ve put on the world stage. A lot of people are taking notice, especially in Toronto.
Over time, Canadian artists are evolving and growing with their markets, and it’s getting more popular each and every year. If I could just speak on something briefly, you know, the music industry is such an expansive and ever changing landscape now. So, it’s not even pertain to somewhere.
For example, Canada used to be like if you’re from Canada you want to go to the U.S. just to break through into the mainstream. Now, I think it’s just the whole world is caught up because of social media and the internet and those markets have all become expansive. Canadian artists now have an equal shot, this is the best time. And I think being an artist, and being myself coming up in this music industry, I think it’s the best time to be in the music industry. This time is better than ever because of social media, because of the platforms that we have.
Opportunities like that are provided for us as independent artists and upcoming artists, especially coming from Canada. I think a lot of people are paying attention more to us because of the roads that have been paved for us by Drake, by The Weeknd, by Justin Bieber. These artists have paved the way for us to be on a world stage, you know, to show our voice, show our stories and inspire the world, you know, as time goes on. So just wanted to speak on that.
Kulture Vulturez: What motivated you to start rapping professionally?
Christian Mariconda: Well, what motivated me, to be honest I grew up with R&B, I grew up with rock, I grew up with, you know, hip hop here and there. When I discovered Kendrick Lamar, that was it for me. Like 2017 was the year I actually started to switch my sound. I had originally started off like as a singer, more R&B. I didn’t really know who I was at that point as an artist and even as a human being.
So, as time went on I started to discover Kendrick more in depth in terms of what he was really expressing, what he was really revealing in his music and his craft, the way he was authentic, vulnerable and telling his story in an unapologetic way. That really captivated me at a point, and that really inspired me to shift my sound to hip hop and in to rap and to start rapping and start telling. I was so pulled in, even after Kendrick I started to listen to Outkast. I started to study guys like J. Cole. I started to discover Tupac and Biggie.
I started to understand what Eminem was doing, what these guys were doing on this grander scale of culture of society, how important their voices were and what you could do within the within the space of rapping. The way you could sound so poetic the way you can deliver your words. It was just an art form I never really understood because I wasn’t ready to understand it at that point. Then I started to discover, you know, Kendrick, and that really pulled me in to, wow, this even goes beyond music. He’s really talking about his way of life. His experiences, his environment, his self, the self, the soul he’s talking about.
That really motivated me and inspired me to start rapping and speaking from a more unapologetic and honest place. That’s what hip hop had did for me, that’s what it has, and it keeps doing for me. It’s hard to see any other genre doesn’t do that, but for me personally, it just resonates to know that understand that rap and hip hop itself is this place and in the space that you can be vulnerable, you can be authentic, you can be in a place that people can really, they may not be ready to connect with you yet, but when the time comes, they’ll start to understand what you’re speaking to them about. In terms of when I know when I record and when I make my music, when I put it out to my fans.
Ultimately, they might not be ready for what I’m talking about, but it’s always there for them to understand and know that it’s I’m sharing every single part of it. I’m revealing every part of I’m not leaving anything off the table when it comes to what I’m recording, what I’m talking about in my stories, in my music, what I’m rapping about.
That’s what hip hop has ultimately become for me. It’s become a space and a place for me to be my most unapologetic, my most authentic, because the guys that have paved the way for, you know, for someone like me to feel inspired, to feel moved and compelled to honestly develop that into my own artistry, develop that into my own rapping ability, from cadence, from flow to lyricism to bars all the way to an overall storytelling experience within my sound, so good.
Kulture Vulturez: Being an artist from Canada, what do you feel like have been your biggest obstacles?
Christian Mariconda: I think I think the biggest obstacle right now is just or in general, just from being from Canada. I think that’s a great question, because I think this pertains really to any artist coming up, but being from Canada I think it’s just our identity crisis that we have because we are artists from Canada trying to come up, trying to break through building our fan base.
We can’t help but naturally think we’ve got to go to the U.S. to break through to the mainstream. We’ve got to go and develop our fan base down there. And once we have that fan base we’re set, we’re taking off. And I don’t think that’s necessarily the case to have a solidified career in music really at this point. I’ve started to personally discover I think wherever someone discovers my music right across the world, quite frankly, that’s a fan to me, whether when they follow me on my social media, follow me on Spotify when they go and research more about when they read, the artist spotlight this article with you, they start to understand more of who I am and my back story.
They start to understand more of the person and the human being I am. If a fan decides to do that from anywhere in the world, that’s a fan to me. If they buy my merch, if they come to my show, they’re ready to connect with me full on within my world, within my experience.
I think we just struggle with naturally thinking that we have to go to the U.S. and that’s where we’ll make it in music now. But you know, if that time comes, that time comes. I know me personally, I’ll be ready for when that time comes to continue to build the resources and the connections with the gatekeepers and the tastemakers within the industry. And it’s about relationships in business, right? So at the end of the day, you know, like being in this industry, you understand it’s all about relationships, it’s all about partnerships.
If you have more people in your corner, the better it is to expand and get my music in front of the right audience because I know not everyone is going to like my music and connect with it. And I’m not looking for those people either. I’m looking for the right people, not necessarily everyone. I know, not everyone’s going to vibe with me and connect with me. So, I think just coming from Canada, we just think that that’s a stigma that we sometimes are caught in.
But ultimately, I think it’s just about understanding that we can build our audience through social media, through the internet, through the presence of being grateful for where you’re from starting off there.
Go back to a guy like Kendrick, he’s from he’s from Compton, right? But he started off with TDE and Top Dawg, they started off [doing] shows in their in their city and their town, in front of their homies, in front of their people, they started off there. He started off and owned his craft there. And when the time provided he started to elevate, he started to level up in terms of shows, in terms of traveling, in terms of touring, things just provided as time goes on, things will provide and unfold naturally to expand for the music for my brand.
Kulture Vulturez: What have been your biggest inspirations, things that have inspired you the most to keep pushing as an artist?
Christian Mariconda: I think my biggest inspiration to work, to be in a place of being an artist, being a musician is not only telling my story, but it’s also my therapy, quite honestly. It brings me to a place of healing for myself as I write, as I go in the booth, as I tell my story, sharing and giving to the world. Give to my fans, you know, these experiences.
So, you know, people inspired me. I’m driven to not only be the greatest, I’m driven on the level of the confident level, I want to claim the throne myself. I want to be the greatest rapper alive, of course. You know, who wouldn’t?
I know I’m not the only one saying that, there’s guys, there’s people out there, there’s artists that want to be the greatest at what they do. And by all means, that’s that’s empowering, right? But for me, I want to be the greatest artists. What inspires me is to be the greatest version of me, greatest artist myself, what I can unravel in my music. What I can. How uncomfortable can I take you with my music. Where can I step into. What boundaries can I break in my music.
I don’t want to just keep making the same song, the same sound, the same albums every time. For me personally, I’m an album artist, I thrive in that place of telling a conceptual, cohesive story and giving that experience as an album artist.
Over time, I don’t want my music to always sound the same. I want to switch up my sound. I want to switch up my flow with my voice. I want to bend my voice, bend everything within my artistry and take it to a place that is beyond even my own imagination. There’s nowhere. There’s no limit to what I can do with my music. That’s what drives me, ultimately, is the challenge in understanding and knowing that I’m just going to be the greatest artist and greatest rapper I can be, you know, to confirm that to myself.
Whether other people confirm it on the outside is a bonus. But as long as I confirm that to me, that’s my inspiration right there. And it’s, you know, that inspiration also merges with just being in a place of self therapy like, you know, self-healing, you know, bringing writing down these stories, writing down these experiences, writing down my thoughts, you know, things I store within me and to let it out is therapeutic and and liberating for me. So I find that very, you know, a very powerful place and space to be.
That’s what inspires me is not only the people inspire me, but I’m inspired just in the sense of this is my therapy. I’m driven to understand more of who Christian is, who Christian Mariconda is, what I represent, like who I really am as a human being. That’s what inspires me most of all. And on an external level, inspirations, you know, they go from Kendrick to Outkast to Frank Ocean to Little Simz. I recently discovered she’s just absolutely incredible and brilliant.
Kulture Vulturez: How can you explain your style of music?
Christian Mariconda: Oh man, how do I explain my style of music a lot? It’s a great question. I think I think my style of music is just if I if I could speak on a deeper level, it’s just really a place of authentic, honest, unapologetic, vulnerable and in a place of unpredictability. I like to go into space, you know, when I work with and I sit down with my producer and we work on beats and production.
When I hit the studio, hit the booth, I think I’m in a place of generalist, to be honest. I think it’s a blend of rap, jazz, alternative hip hop. I have a bit of trap in me at times, you know, so I think it’s a blend of multitude of genres. I have like a rap soul, you know, those are the genres, ultimately. But I think I’m in a place where it’s just music. You know, for me, it’s just vibrations and rhythms. I think that’s where I can describe my music.
Kulture Vulturez: What are some of your top songs that people should check out, or some of your favorite songs?
Christian Mariconda: And some of my favorite songs from my catalog? I’d say if anyone’s, you know, first coming across my music, coming across my catalog, I would say, listen to my newest release, “Never Fold.” And it’s not because it’s my newest release, because first of all, even, for example, never fold all the way to a song. I have called “Distorted Tales” all the way to a song I have called “Run Inside.” There is even a song that’s titled “Nowadayze.”
I bring up the first song “Never Fold” to like songs like “Distorted Tales,” songs like “Nowadayze,” songs like “Run Inside” is that’s essentially, it goes back to the last question ‘What describes my music?’ It’s just energy. It’s rhythms and it’s stories, and it’s authentic.
“Never Fold,” you could play that in the whip. You can play that in the club. You can play that at a party. But it also has the element of a message in it. There’s a place of affirmations in there for a song like “Never Fold” about betting always on yourself, never folding your cards. “Run Inside” talks about social media can show some social media consumption all the way to TV consumption. How that’s chaotic in our life, how that can be an issue, and how that affects me.
Those are like four songs off the top of my head. I think if everyone would check out, you would get the foundation of my sound, the foundation of my music within those songs. You know, I never want to just give for me. I never just wanted to just go off one hundred bars and just rap crazy. I want to make sure and be aware and understand I’m giving the listener a vibe. I’m giving the listener a place to move to still vibe out to it, not just based off spitting bars and becoming predictable.
I’m giving you a place to dance, to jam out to. So within the bars, within the message, within the story, you’re getting that vibe, you’re getting that place to turn up with your homies, with your girls, with your girlfriend, with your boyfriend, with everyone, with anyone around you. You can still jam out to it, vibe or dance to it and move to it. Turn up to it, whatever you want to do, while at the same time you’re getting a message, you’re getting a story, you’re getting those bars, those lyrics.
So those four songs “Nowadayze,” “Never Fold,” “Distorted Tales,” and “Run Inside”. Those are the songs I think everyone should check out for sure.
Kulture Vulturez: So what’s next for you? Like up and coming? People should be on the lookout for?
Christian Mariconda: Yeah. So what’s up next is, you know, I just released my newest record, “Never Fold” and it’s going crazy right now. The amount of people, the amount of the reception and everything for it has been has been crazy. So I’m just trying to say I’m grateful for that.
For “Never Fold,” a music video coming out in a month that I’ve been working on for four or five months. It’s basically like this short film, dynamic short film element to it. I’ve had to been working with my director on that for four months now, trying to have the the best composing the best, best video or best music video, best short film possible for my fans.
I have a music video coming out in a month. And then from there I have a remix to the song coming out. And then from there, right now I’m just working, working on more songs coming out throughout the year. More singles coming through for the top, the first half of the year.
From there, I’ll be working on a small micro mini album, essentially an album upcoming. I’m planning to release at the end of 2022. Shows right now is what I want to talk about, you know, live performance in shows. But you know, with the COVID situation, is this a little hard down here? We’ve been in the lockdown and stuff.
Kulture Vulturez: Are you able to do shows in Canada, because of the lockdown?
Christian Mariconda: No, no. Because they are locked down, they are locked down entirely. So it’s hard to get people in the same room. So, like you can’t have venues, they don’t even open up, right? Because it’s locked down here. No artists are really doing shows right now, until they open up from the lockdown. So, I want to talk about shows, but that’s something that me and my team have planned out for later. And we’re trying to have that timing set up for when the lockdown opens up in Toronto and in this in this area.
So mainly just “Never Fold” the music video and then singles coming out throughout the year. Then later in the year I have an album coming out with some special features, special people on those records. I’m just excited to develop and evolve as an artist and keep going.