(Toronto, On) The Toronto music scene has been filled with tons of raw, homegrown talent that have been navigating their way in the game and making a name for themselves. That’s no different when it comes to BEALS. His talent, unique style and consistency has ranked him as one of Toronto’s best hip-hop artists. When it comes to basketball, there are so many aspects of the culture that tie into the game on and off the court such as clothes, sneakers, and hip-hop. BEALS was able to discuss his music as well as how it intertwines with basketball.

Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a local artist from Toronto, I go by the name of BEALS. I’ve been rhyming for a very long time, over the past 10 years and I’m finally finding my footing and making my way within the Toronto music scene right now. I’m crafting a new album called TRUDOE. I grew up in Scarborough but I move around the city. I’m a kid from the city like everyone else and just trying to do my thing and leave my own imprint on the Toronto music scene. 

When did your love for music start?

It’s always been there for me, so I can’t really pinpoint when it started. I could just tell you about early memories of listening to Nas’ It Was Written. That was probably the first CD I heard in terms of Hip Hop. That was around 1994-95 and I was a kid back then and I still remember that. My mom just having records and our family, having that soulful 70’s and 80’s vibe. That was my parent’s vibe, that was their thing. That black love, that soul. Growing up listening to those records, my mom always having records, and my brothers introducing me to Wu-Tang (Clan), early West Coast stuff, early East Coast stuff, early Toronto stuff with Maestro (Fresh Wes) and Kardinal (Offishall), a lot of influences and a lot of early memories. It’s tough to pinpoint a specific one.

Tell us about your newest single?

It’s called Euro Beals that’s produced by my long-time collaborator William Satire. We’ve been working on new projects together so he’s definitely going to be on this album. Euro Beals is inspired by my trip to Europe a few years back, just seeing different cultures and it was my first time being in Greece, Paris, and London.

Just seeing how we as black people treat each other and treat people of other races. It was very interesting and then I mixed in my nitty gritty street stuff. There’s always a deep message with my lyrics so I hope people can find that. It’s up to the listeners to find that. Euro Beals is definitely my own style, just putting that inspiration, my own style and flavour to it. There’s no hook to it, so it’s not a regular song format, it’s just bars throughout the whole song and that’s another creative idea that I thought was dope and something that’s not being done right now. 

How would you describe the Toronto music scene? 

I think we got a pot full of everything, a mixed gumbo. You got the street stuff with me and a couple other dope artists coming from the city. Jon Kabongo, I like him, he’s dope. I like his flow and his lyrics. Methodist from the east side, I grew up with him, he’s another dope artist. William Satire – production-wise. I’m pretty sure I’m missing a bunch of names right now just going off the top, but as I said we got a pot of dope artists from street stuff, to trap and R&B.

We have a bunch going on, I think we just have to find a nice balance to where everything makes sense as everything is all over the place right now. If we could just find a nice collective balance, we’ll be alright, but so far, so good. There’s a lot of dope talent from the young boys doing drill, even the females coming up – I think we need a lot more female artists, that would be super dope just to bring more balance. We got many young guys, a lot of guys in between, guys like myself and we’re just trying to find the balance. For what we’re doing the street stuff, I’m just trying to do my part and hopefully help lead the pack to get that genre more global to a bigger fan base. 

We’re already in good hands. We got Drake, Tory Lanez, The Weeknd, and a lot of dope up-and-coming artists making their way. We’re on our way, matter of fact, we’re already there. 

Who would you say are your top five rappers?

Ah man, I don’t think I can give a top five, but I can give you five that I like. This is not in no particular order but Wu-Tang (Clan) is always going to be number one for me, of course Jay-Z is always going to be up there, Scarface, I’m heavily based off Scarface, that’s always been one of my favourite MC’s, AZ he was on Nas’ first album Illmatic, and had an illustrious career himself. I’m always going to show love to Kanye because back in those College Dropout days, he was putting those albums out – Graduation, those albums were big albums for me. 

Beanie Sigel of course, I love Slum Village as well, Joe Budden in the mood music mixtape days. Of course Dipset, early Cam’ron, Jim Jones, I still listen to Jim now. I listen to a lot of different stuff in terms of music. I don’t have a top five anymore, I realize when you give yourself a top five you are putting yourself in a box [laughs] I just listen to a lot of dope artists, all genres of music, especially when it comes to Hip Hop, I listen to stuff that goes back to the 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s to now. I try to keep that pallet open.

How does your music intertwine with basketball?

I grew up in the city, I went to one of the most prominent basketball high schools – Eastern Commerce. I got a couple championships myself. Basketball and my brand BEALS is culture all intertwined. I’m heavily into fashion of course, and fashion and basketball go hand in hand. With my music specifically, I’m always dropping basketball names. 

BEALS is culture and basketball are family, they’re next door neighbours [laughs] I’m one of the guys who never made it to the NBA, but I always told myself to keep myself attached to basketball, whether it’s doing interviews like this, or speaking to young kids about how basketball in general can keep your mind occupied. A lot of guys my age who I grew up with, basketball kept us out of trouble and provided us with something to do. I’m one of the guys fortunately who did not fall victim and get caught up in trouble, basketball kept me out of a lot of situations.

Making it as an athlete or artist can be hard in Canada, what advice would you give to anyone trying to make it in the city?

Be consistent. Have a plan. Keep yourself around people who are going to tell you what it is. A lot of artists and athletes are putting themselves in the position or surrounding themselves with people who are afraid to tell them no. You need to have the right group of people around you. Of course, you should be good, but just make sure you’re consistent as well. A lot of people are talented, but sometimes talent can outbeat the work, and sometimes the work can outbeat the talent, it all depends on the person. 

For me, just be consistent, believe and always remember that it’s your dream. It’s your goal and nobody else’s goal. It’s nobody else’s job to take control of your goals and dreams, it’s always going to be yours. You can put people in positions to do the right thing, but at the end of the day, it’s your job, your goal and your dream. Believe in yourself, stay focused, consistent and work hard. Also, don’t be scared to connect. Some people look at it as a bad thing, but don’t be scared to go to events and connect, you don’t have to go to everything or where you’re not comfortable, but network, put yourself out there and stay visible. 

Who do you think will win the NBA championship this year?

This year? Man, I was thinking about this the other day and it’s tough this year. The East is strong and very competitive. Boston (Celtics) looks unstoppable. In the west, the Denver Nuggets looked ok the other night, the LA Clippers look strong. It’s tough [laughs] I think I got Boston in the eastern conference finals, against who, I don’t know. 

I got the LA Clippers and maybe Denver Nuggets in the conference finals for the West. I don’t know who’s going to win it though. I’m a LeBron (James) fan, so of course I would love to see LeBron win another chip before he bows out, but the competition is just too hard and I just don’t think he has enough left in the tank to do it all by himself. I think everybody wants LeBron to get that one chip, but I just don’t think he has enough left in the tank. If this was Lebron five or ten years ago, I would be going with the Los Angeles Lakers. 

Who is your GOAT when it comes to basketball?

Michael Jordan. It’s always going to be Michael. LeBron is right there for me, but Michael will always be the GOAT to me. I think we don’t appreciate LeBron yet, I think we’ll appreciate him more when he retires and what he’s done for basketball, and for young black men, women, and kids across the globe when it comes to basketball. 

I think Michael Jordan was not a global icon because of who he was as a person, he was a global icon because of his brand. I think LeBron James is a global icon because of who he is as a person. He’s taken his star status and he has done the right things with it. I don’t think Michael Jordan has done what LeBron James the person does. I could be wrong, but I think LeBron as a cultural influence will go down as the man at the end of the day. For me, it’s Michael Jordan, but I think at the end of the day when I’m gone, it’ll be LeBron James.

What’s next for you?

We’re just getting ready to finish off TRUDOE, which is scheduled for a May 17th release, which is on a Friday. It’s a wordplay off of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It means just being true to yourself and “doe” is just street slang for money, so making sure that the money that you’re getting is true to you. The album has production from of course William Satire, Drew League, KS music, D’Sinatra, DJ Las Vegas. There are 13 tracks, I’m excited about that. The Euro Beals single is out, and next week we’ll be getting ready to put out the short film, which is also the intro for the album, and we’re just going to keep hitting you with more visuals and more content. We’re going to put out the Cocaine Noir album part 2, and I got a few side projects I’m working on so it’ll be a busy summer for BEALS is culture. 

BEALS is culture is a man who walks his talk. He works hard, stays consistent, and keeps the music scene fresh and exciting with his creativity and innovation. From hints of the greats like Wu-Tang and Scarface inspiring his music to embracing the new wave of music, he always stays true to himself, and his sound. Whether it’s music, basketball, artists or designers, we all appreciate talent from the city and those who help make the culture what it is. His craft will only continue to get better, and the city will be here to support him. 

Show him some love and go steam Euro Beals and his new album TRUDOE when it drops on Friday, May 17. 

Beals: Releasing album TRUDOE mid May (Photos courtesy BEALS)

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