Canada is rich with Hip Hop culture being close to New York and Toronto-area with just really Lake Ontario separating them (and roughly an 8-hour drive as well), is no different. The release of "Northern Touch" in 1998 by the Rascalz really started to wake up Canada to the ways of Hip Hop music (especially commercially). It also featured other Vancouver and Toronto-area heavy weights Kardinal Offishall, Checkmate, Thrust and Choclair. Who all became the collective, Northern Touch All Stars.
Since then, Drake has made Canada into an international Hip Hop sensation who has opened the doors up for artists like PartyNextDoor and The Weeknd. Then there is individuals like Nardwuar (who is a vocalist/ musician for The Evaporators as well as a well known journalist) from Vancouver who has had his own radio show on CITR 101.9 FM since 1987 on every friday afternoon. There isn't many artists since then to even today that haven't interviewed with him.
Where does Ginsing fit in, a Punjabi kat from Brampton (Greater Toronto area)? Well, that is for you to decide as we explore the individual; his perspective, his observations, his experiences, and his brand of Hip Hop music (as both a producer and rapper). Check it out!
Appreciate you taking the time out of your day to be the newest interview for The People's Theorem. We'll start off with the beginning, "the cradle". Where were you born and how was it like growing up there? How did all your early life experiences bring you to Hip Hop? When did you start listening to Hip Hop?
Thank you for choosing to interview me. It's an honor. If we're starting with the beginning then I'll be as exact as possible haha. To be precise I was born in a hospital in North York, Ontario. I was raised in the city of Brampton, which is part of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). Growing up here was interesting. We have a lot of different people from various backgrounds and cultures which makes it a beautiful place. Me and my family are Punjabi so as a kid I was learning English and Punjabi at the same time. When you're around such diversity it's very easy to soak in all the culture. On the other hand, you also realize no matter how different we may seem, we're all just human beings doing our best to get through life. Surprisingly, hip hop found its way to my Canadian suburb. Most of the music I heard when I was younger was west coast rap. People around here absolutely loved Pac, Snoop, Dre, etc. I can vividly remember cars driving around bumping tracks from Chronic 2001. I didn't know what hip hop was at the time. I just knew I liked what I heard. My older brother is 8 years older than me and he would often pick me up from school and drop me off. He was a rap fan at the time and would play songs while driving by KRS One, Rakim, Will Smith, EPMD, Wu Tang, and so on. He's not really big into rap anymore but he definitely sparked the flame within me. The first song I really loved that I heard was Mo Money Mo Problems. I was probably 8 or 9 years old at the time. Something about the beats and the flows just spoke to me. I still didn't know I was a rap fan but I would always gravitate towards that true hip hop sound.
What are some of the artists that you admired and listened to and what about them spoke to you? How did it influence the formulation of your own brands of Hip Hop? Was there any similarities with these artists to yourself? What do you think makes you a strong lyricist in the world of Hip Hop and what did you have to do to reach the level of your craft that you currently reside in?
My favorite rapper of all time is Sean Price (RiP!). I felt like his verses would always stand out on Boot Camp Clik albums and once I started listening to his other work, I went down a rabbit hole of discovering everything he's ever done. To me he personified duality. He said a lot of ignorant shit but he did it in a very eloquent way haha. He rapped about being a family man even though he came across as a tough street dude. He mentioned his family in verses but at the same time he'd let you know that he'll shoot or punch you lol! He also stressed the importance of reading. He said it wasn't cool to be dumb and I completely agree. We took a huge loss when we lost Sean Price. My younger brother once mentioned that I don't seem like I'm into rap as much since Sean Price died. He might be right (haha). There are a lot of other dudes I listen to regularly like Roc Marciano, Ka, Evidence, Willie The Kid, Guru, Nas, Cormega, Jay-Z, Freddie Foxxx, OC, A.G., Action Bronson, all of Wu Tang, and the list goes on. In terms of influence, pretty much any artist that I listen to showed me to just be yourself. We all play somewhat of a role as rappers on the mic. We all stretch the truth a little and at times (or often) say things that are completely fictional. I think you just have to be true to yourself but be creative at the same time. In terms of similarities, dudes like Cormega, Guru, and Ka rapped about their pain and struggles. I've always been open to rapping about my troubles and expressing myself. I find it therapeutic but also, maybe someone out there will hear it and not feel so alone in their own struggle. Rappers like Roc Marciano and Action Bronson just seem like such cultured dudes. I'm a huge foodie so when I hear guys like that talk about food and dishes that I enjoy, I feel like we're on the same wavelength haha. I remember Action Bronson once said in a song "eating chili chicken Hakka style" and I was like hell yeah, he knows what's up. I consider myself a lyricist but I wouldn't consider myself a strong lyricist, but it's definitely what I strive to be. I always feel like there's room for improvement. All the artists that I mentioned and many more influence my pen and motivate me to step it up. To reach this level I think I just had to keep writing and doing everything possible to improve. I definitely feel like you have to stay mentally sharp in order to be a good writer. You have to do whatever you can to keep your cognitive function on point. I definitely don't read as much as I could but I've been spending a lot of time doing crosswords and other word puzzles. I think it's imperative to do these things whether or not you're a writer. It's good to stay sharp especially as you're getting older. Overall, I definitely attribute my skill level to all the MCs I've listened to over the years. They helped create the artist that I am. I can't narrow it down to just one or a few artists. I took something from all of them.
As you grew up, you struggled with drugs, what was the key factor of your involvement? What drugs did you get into? How did it change you and what did you learn about this period? How did these self-realizations influence your music? What made you move off of them?
I was just a regular teen who smoked weed and drank. All my friends did it and the ones who didn't also started eventually haha. It was all fun and games until I started to self-medicate. I didn't have any actual diagnosis but I'm pretty sure I dealt with some depression at the time. I wasn't sure what it was exactly and I knew people around me wouldn't understand. I started losing interest in school despite getting pretty good grades. I focused more on getting drunk and high plus making money to support my habits. After realizing I was headed down the wrong path and completely messing up my last year of high school, I decided to take another stab at Grade 12 so I can do well this time around and go to university. I had an uncle from my mom's side who lived with us in our basement back then. I was pretty close with him. He died from a drug-related incident not too long before I was supposed to return to high school for my 2nd try at Grade 12. Once that happened, I feel like I just lost my mind. It was the first time I had seen a dead body and went through a traumatic experience. I saw my mom cry every single day for weeks on end. It was one of those moments where I felt mad at God for putting my family through this. I did end up going back to high school but I wouldn't study or go to class. I smoked more, drank more, and started using more drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, benzos, painkillers, and even abusing over-the-counter drugs at times. I was an absolute wreck and I'm thankful I'm alive and healthy today. It took a long time to get sober and finally turn my life around. I ended up in hospitals, went to 12 step meetings, saw therapists, but nothing got me sober like hitting rock bottom and never wanting to feel that way again. Enough was enough. I stopped alcohol and hard drugs in 2012, weed in 2015, and prescription benzos (Klonopin and Valium) in 2020. I went through a lot of dark periods in my life but they made me who I am. I'm happy with who I've become. I still struggle at times but I'm finally the person that I've always wanted to be and it's an incredible feeling. Being comfortable in your own skin and loving the person you are is so underrated. I learned that everyone is going through something. No one is perfect and we all need to be kinder and more empathetic towards one another. Life can be tough but the right support makes a world of difference. Getting sober definitely influenced my music. It made it better. I became way more focused when I got sober and able to make more quality music. I'm not one of those cases where drugs enhanced my creativity haha. They did make me FEEL more creative but that doesn't necessarily translate to better music. I feel like my flow and bars improved a lot once I got sober and got more focused.
What do you do currently in your life as far as your profession and how does it help you with your Hip Hop interests and goals? What is the outcome you try to bring by releasing Hip Hop music? Who are your main audiences and why do you feel you latch onto that audience more than any other region or regions? Where else would you like to reach?
I work with my family in our business where we specialize in immigration. Basically, helping people come to Canada and getting them permanent residence, citizenship, work permits, stuff like that. It's a completely different world from hip hop so I can't really find any areas that overlap but I enjoy the work. Maybe one day I'll help rappers come to Canada to perform haha. When I'm releasing music, I honestly have no expectations. I don't feel like I'm owed anything. I make music and just put it out there. If you like it, that's cool. If you don't, that's cool too. I don't rely on music to eat so I don't feel like I need that type of support. I don't expect people to buy anything especially nowadays that everything is digital with streaming and whatnot. People telling me my shit is dope is good enough and it's honestly all I've ever wanted since day one. My goal has always been to make dope music. I never once considered how much money I could make from this. There are so many rappers and producers out there nowadays and tons of them who outwork me and spend way more time on marketing and promotion. I don't really do much of that so I can't expect to get the same results as them. I just like making music and hope others enjoy it or at least find some inspiration from it. I feel like my main audiences are in North America but I definitely need to change that. I'd love for my music to be heard in other places in the world. I think if people that don't even speak English can vibe to your music, you're doing something right haha. I think it would be really dope to get more love from Europe because I feel like they really appreciate that real hip hop sound over there.
You make beats and pick up a pen and write rhymes that you perform the mic, what is your favorite aspect; the rapping or making beats? Is there any other parts of the Hip Hop culture that you also enjoy? Who are some of your mentors in the Hip Hop community?
I'm 50/50 on that. I love doing both, but it just depends on the zone I'm in. Sometimes I'm so mentally exhausted from work and everything else that I just have trouble writing so I'll make beats instead. I feel like making beats is way more chill. Writing requires a lot more mental energy and focus on my opinion. When I'm making beats, I can just sit there and take my time with it. I can mess with the drums, change the pitch of the sample, and I can even go back to the beat later on to fix little things. With writing, I feel like I have to get a whole verse or song done in a single session. I don't want to come back to it and I feel like I need to be super focused when I'm writing. I definitely think writing requires a lot more focus and inspiration. Not to take anything away from beat makers/producers but this is just my personal experience. Ideally, I'd like to write way more than I do currently but if I can't, then I'll focus on beats instead. If I'm not doing either of those then I'm back into fan mode where I'm just listening to other artists. I love all aspects of hip hop culture. I really think breakdancing is an incredible talent. Shout out to all the b-boys and b-girls out there. I love seeing graffiti posted up. When I visited New York, it was really dope to see how much graffiti they had everywhere. I think DJs deserve a lot more respect and credit as well. It all started with the DJ after all!
Your last current project was "Abstract Verbalism" with Eclyse that you made all the beats for and also was the lone feature on the EP. How was that like making this EP? How long did it take for you guys to make this EP? You work with Eclyse a lot, what is it about your guy's ability to work with one another that really makes it easy to create good music? How was the approach from this project different from "Occam's Razor"?
I had a lot of fun making that EP. I've known Eclyse for a little while now and I've started to understand his rhyme style. He says really wild abstract shit with a lot of imagery. He's an extremely creative mind and it really shows in his writing. I wanted to make something really different and provide some more unorthodox beats for this project. I wanted the project to sound raw but stay true to the sound we love. Some of the beats sound more traditional and others are a bit more left-field. I'm really happy with the outcome. It gave us both a chance to experiment a little and push our boundaries. I think it took about 6 months roughly to put this project together. Eclyse works really quickly but it took a little more time on my end due to how busy life had gotten. I think it's easy to work with Eclyse because we're very similar people with similar pasts and life goals as well. We both understand each other not just as people but as artists as well. The approach was pretty much the same as when we made Occam's Razor but like I mentioned, we let loose with this one and tried to aim for a more experimental sound. Eclyse even drew the artwork on the cover and I colored it. We wanted to be hands on with everything and really let our creativity shine through. I think I was playing it a little safe when I made the beats for Occam's Razor. I still love that project to this day but Abstract Verbalism is a whole different beast. I'm happy with both EPs and how they turned out.
Your last full solo project with you on the mic was "Abstract Chemistry". With ten songs, it's an album...what made you make this album? What was the main influence behind it and it's ideas for the songs? When can we expect you to grace the mic and will it be a solo or a Voodoo Docterz project?
I felt really inspired at the time. I made some solo projects in the past but I scrapped them all and made sure to delete them from everywhere online. I feel like I rushed them and they weren't representing my true skill level or potential. This time around I felt like I wanted to put my current skills on display as a rapper and beat maker. I also wanted to display my song-making ability in terms of making a cohesive track with verses and hooks that make sense together. I was in college for a chemical lab technician program back in 2012 and I wasn't able to graduate due to some of the drug and mental health issues I was dealing with. I enjoyed the program a lot and worked in labs where I actually wore a lab coat, goggles, and worked with different chemicals and different procedures, etc. That was the main inspiration for the artwork and the overall theme of the album. On the track 'Revolve Around Science' I said "this aint rap music, this is organic chemistry." I really feel like rap music can be super advanced and broken down and studied like a science. I'm currently back in writing and rapping mode. I'm working on a full LP this time with Skinny Bonez Tha Godfatha. We've worked together quite a bit and this will be the first time we do a full length album together.
What is your ideal studio setup? How do you like to record, home or in a more professional studio? What are some of the hardware pieces you use to create your beats and what makes you keep going to them time and time again? What are some of the other pieces of equipment you are have an eye for to maybe buy next and why?
I'm a minimalist when it comes to studio setup. I like to keep things really simple but effective. I have a mic, audio interface, studio monitors, and an Akai MPD32. That's it. Sometimes I make beats without the MIDI controller and just click around in FL Studio. I think it's less about what you have and more about how you use it. I've always had a home studio so I've just become accustomed to recording at home. I think I'm in a "if its not broke dont fix it" mindset right now. I have nothing on my mind right now for equipment that I'd like to buy. I would like to buy some more plugins and software though. I think it would help bring my beats to a next level. I'm always trying to learn new mixing tips and tricks as well to help get my beats sounding better. I might upgrade my mic down the road and possibly even get some new speakers but for now I think I'm happy with my setup.
Speaking of Voodoo Docterz (AIM too), many crews and groups struggle to stay together. How do you guys stay together? What do you credit to your guy's longevity, especially since you guys are all over the map? What do you think you do right that others do not? How do you guys get past the challenges of not being in the same area but many different international locations?
I'm actually not a member of Voodoo Docterz. I am a member of AIM though. I was invited to join Voodoo Docterz but I declined only because I wasn't sure I could contribute much to the group at the time. I was also back making music after a long hiatus and just wanted to work on myself as a solo artist again first. Hopefully down the line they'll accept me again when I'm ready to join. AIM was a very simple process. Eclyse, Skinny Bonez, and myself talk literally everyday on WhatsApp. One day we just decided to work together and make a group and drop an EP. They're both really creative and down-to-Earth dudes. The project came out really well. I would definitely give Eclyse and Skinny Bonez the credit in terms of getting the AIM name out there. They're well established and have been very active. It was an honor to work with them and even more to develop a personal relationship with them both. I think the main thing we did right is deciding to make music without forcing it. If we had very different styles then it wouldn't have made sense to drop a project together. We realized that our styles would mesh well so we took it upon ourselves to see what we could come up with. Even though we're all living in different places of the world, we take into consideration that we all have our own lives and schedules but we do our best to get things done. We haven't had any issues so far. I think we all understand that the music-making process is to be enjoyed and it shouldn't be a stressful one.
What do you feel that you bring to the culture of Hip Hop? Do you ever perform, or do you just stick to making songs? Do you often go and watch other live shows?
I feel like I bring a sense of authenticity. I'm very comfortable being myself. I don't ever feel the need to fit in and I'm completely happy and cool with doing me. I think that shows in my music as well. I don't want to sound like anyone else or ride the current waves. At the moment I just stick to making songs. Back in the day I inquired about performing and opening up for a big name. I was told I have to sell X amount of tickets to get on the line up. I'm not into all that. I plan to just hit up some local open mics soon. I'm not into the whole pay-to-play thing. I go to live shows all the time. I recently went to a Group Home show where unfortunately, Malachi The Nutcracker didn't show up. It was just Lil Dap performing so it was pretty disappointing. I also went to see Lord Finesse DJ one night which was pretty dope. I plan to hit up a lot more.
You are involved in social media, what does it do for your brand? What is it's most useful aspect to you?
I post a lot of dumb shit on social media. Any time I have a random dumb thought I feel compelled to share it with the world lmao. I could definitely be using it more to share my music and promote more often. I think it's tough though because most of the people I interact with are also artists. It doesn't make sense to promote my music to other artists. I need a better way to find average listeners and fans. Overall, it's a great way to network. I have met tons of people through social media. I have even met some of them in real life. I'm talking about rappers, producers, and even just hip hop heads who love the culture. Sometimes you meet people in real life that you've been talking to on social media and you just click. Hip hop really brings people together and social media is definitely a tool for that.
Is there anything you want the world to know about you? What messages are most important to you? What problems that the world faces are on your radar and are needed to be expanded on, in your honest opinion? Why are these so important? Why aren't they as important to as many people as you feel they should be? How does this modern over saturation of information affect the world today?
I'm a very family-oriented person. No matter what I went through my family stayed by my side and never gave up on me. I spend a lot of time with family. That includes my brothers, cousins, and nephews and nieces. I also think I'm very down to Earth and non-judgmental. I've been through a lot and seen a lot. I've realized that everyone is going through something. A lot of people think I'm a tough guy but I have a super sensitive side. It goes back to what I mentioned about Sean Price and duality. A lot of my family members are the same way. We're tough people with big hearts at the same time.
In terms of messages I think we should all just try to be better to one another. Life is already tough so why make it tougher for others? It's not hard to be kind to your fellow man. People spend so much time and energy into hating that they forget to show any love and respect. I've lived through a lot of negativity man, it's draining. It doesn't take much to just be a good person and be kind to others. I think this ties into a huge problem the world still deals with which is racism. Its hard to believe that even in 2023 you still got people who are hating others simply because the color of their skin. Especially with social media you see these cowards with burner accounts saying racist shit online. It's pathetic. I do believe a lot of racism is taught though and ignorance is passed down in families. I think it's not important to most people because most people are just drifting through life mindlessly. A lot of people are living but not really alive. I don't think much bothers the average person. On the other hand you have people who are way too bothered by small things that aren't even important in the bigger picture.
As for the effect of modern over saturation of information in the world today, it definitely has its positives and negatives. We have access to so much information at our finger tips at any time of the day. I think the problem lies in how to process this information and what to do with it. You can't believe everything you read but unfortunately, some people do. You're bound to find ideas on the same topic that are conflicting or contradicting. I recently got into fitness and there's a plethora of information out there. A lot of these fitness influencers spread different information or disagree with one another. How do you know which one to believe? I feel like with so much information, we've become so sure and unsure at the same time. We know everything but know nothing. People who never studied science a day in their life somehow became virologists during the pandemic because they did a little reading and watched some YouTube videos. I try my best to remain humble and practice humility. It's like they say, the more you know, the more you know that you don't know shit!
How do you hope your legacy looks with you are six feet under ground? What do you wish people got from all that you try to do? What makes this so important to you?
In terms of music, I hope people just find some sort of inspiration from it. Whether they find creative inspiration or some sort of message that helps them get through life. It's funny because I'm not even a conscious rapper or anything but I try to sprinkle some messages throughout my music. I hope it resonates with the right people. As a person, I hope people just remember me to be a genuine dude who tried his best. Someone who did his best to show love to everyone around him. I hope that's how they remember me. I try to lighten up everyone's day. I'm always cracking stupid jokes especially around family but they know that I'm also the one they can turn to when things get serious. This is important to me because my dad is the pillar in our family. He's the one that everyone turns to for help. I hope one day that people view me the same way that they view him.