From Toronto comes the next R&B and Hip-Hop star who will mesmerize you with his classic sound and contemporary swag. The artist who goes by the name of 96 is a singer/songwriter whos family immigrated to Canada from Ethiopia in 1993. Although he grew up in a welcoming community, it was known to be poverty filled with a high-crime rate. Given the circumstances of growing up in an inner city, his family decided to move from the diverse community of Regent Park located in downtown Toronto to Calgary during his adolescent years. Here is where he found his niche for music, starting with audio engineering his own mixes on Pro Tools, which carried into songwriting/producing.
It’s obviously evident that his music has significant 90s R&B influence, in which he credits to his older siblings for always playing records from the nostalgic era during his early childhood years. With this he could develop an ear for artists including Ginuwine, Usher, Dru Hill, Brandy, SWV, Aaliyah and many more! 96 first stepped on to the scene in 2017 with multiple Soundcloud releases including the two singles “LNIT (Lonely Nights In Toronto)” as well as “8701”. After a positive acclaim from the success of both releases, he then released his debut EP “GOIN96HOST” in April 2018. The 7 track EP succeeded with his debut music video for “LNIT” in September 2018. With each song he takes his listeners through a sombre journey of introspection, growth, personal relationships as well as his trials and tribulations to get where he is today.
We listened to 96’s most recent release titled “HBK” and we became infatuated with his vocals being rich in complexity and poised with tranquility. A compelling sound that will transport you through the eras of RnB from vintage to current, “HBK” proves to be a rousing showcase of the artist’s intricate style. The song is richly textured with an amusing vibe that’s both comforting and sensual. We loved how 96 did emphasize the true meaning behind RNB with a soulful burst of lush harmonies and catchy lyrics. The lyricism behind HBK is appropriately digestible for the current generation love for relatable love phrases.
The entire aura of “HBK” is satisfying as it is witty, and we’re almost positive it will translate well across the ears of many listeners! 96 is an artist like no other. As conflicting and vulnerable his music may be, he prefers to remain elusive to the public and let the sound speak for itself. His distinctive voice coupled with a rhythmic cadence and clever wordplay are what gives this up-and-coming artist the edge in becoming an influential mainstay of R&B’s next generation.
Listen to "HBK" here and catch up with 96 in our exclusive interview below!
How has your environment impacted your music style?
From a creative standpoint I feel like its been positive for the most part you know, growing up in a place where urban culture was and still is the most influential. Having older siblings who would always play a mix of 90s/00s hip-hop and R&B, it gave me an ear for that music from a young age. Toronto’s turned into a music hub over the years and while we’ve got our own sound and plenty of dope artists coming out the city, we’ve been lacking the infrastructure to really break through and be heard on an international level. It definitely has its pros and cons.
Tell us about your single “HBK” and what inspired you to write this ?
The inspiration came from the beat itself which was produced by Platzus. I remember first playing it at my homies crib where I was recording at the time and just instantly being gravitated to it. It had a certain part that was reminiscent of Ashanti “Happy” so I just kinda ran with that. I could tell it was going to be a hit off that part alone. We first collaborated on “4:15” which was on my first EP “GOIN96HOST”. And if you haven’t taken that project in yet then y’all sleeping!
Whats your favourite line from “HBK” ? Why?
“If you ain’t with me you in my way” - BIG MOOD
Just because that’s really been my mindset during my come up. If you f**k with me for real then let's get to this money, otherwise you’re just a distraction. Back then they weren’t taking me serious and now that I’m out here making moves they wanna start checking for me and all that other shit. The way I look at it — shoulda stayed down back then. It goes both ways so for the women who know their worth & feel like they been slept on, this ones for you too.
How does HBK differentiate from your previous releases?
You could say of some of my past work is more on the sombre/downtempo side. It was reflective of where I was in my life at that particular time. HBK has more of a bounce to it, one of those summer time tunes. I wanted to showcase my diversity. Some songs might have you in your feelings while others will have you feeling like you back on your BS. I just try to create real moments that resonate with people on a different level. Relatable shit you know.
What’s next for you through 2019?
GOIN96HOST 2 is in the works but no timetable on when that’s dropping yet. I want to make sure my fans are getting quality content from me so I plan on taking my time with that one. Either way definitely expect some new content over the next couple of months. I’ve also recently started getting into producing with my guy 19 and we’ve just been locking in trying to push boundaries and take our sound to new heights. We got some crazy records in the archive as well so stay tuned for those
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