- Mathew Silver
Johnny Active is a Toronto-based rapper cutting his teeth in the burgeoning mecca of Canadian hip-hop. Johnny moved out east five years ago with the dream of a music career, and since then the Calgary AB, native has gradually built up his reputation in the City of Toronto. Most recently, Johnny was nominated for Rap Single of the Year at the upcoming CUT Awards, one of Canada’s premier celebrations of emerging talent. His style is dynamic, as he can craft tightly-knit bars on top of established favourites, like in his remixes of Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off,” or Hozier’s “Take Me To Church.” On his latest single “Trust Me,” he channels his inner Kendrick Lamar, with uptempo wordplay and melodic hooks. Either way the future is bright for Johnny, and we got to talk to him about his upcoming work, Drake’s new album, and his philosophies on making it in the big city.
Dash: Johnny Active, how are you? Thanks for taking the interview.
Johnny: I am excellent. The sun is shining bright in Toronto today, so heading to a rooftop to enjoy the weather.
Awesome. So let’s get right into it. What have you been working on these days?
Mostly getting my life together to be honest. I took a bit of a hiatus from music and now I’m back at it.
So are you working on a new album?
Yeah. It’s either going to be an album or an EP, but it’s for sure something. It’s difficult deciding between the two. An album is a statement, but it’s arguably not worth it these days as our attention spans are so low. Yet, an EP might not be enough music. Either way, I’m working on a “project.”
What did you make of Drake’s last project?
Views is a really good album. We’re talking about Drake. He’s a phenomenal artist. The album as a whole is great. But for me, it didn’t live up to the two year hype that was created around it. I really like when Drake just goes in and spits bars and he kept that to a minimum on this overall. I also think he had a huge chance to shift the genre, as he’s done several times before, and I didn’t feel there was anything that would do that on Views. Only time will tell though. “Still Here” and “U With Me” are my favourite songs.
Other than Drake, who are you listening to these days?
Skepta. Kaytranada. Future. Post Malone. Young Thug.
Who is the best out there right now in your opinion?
Despite what I said about Views, Drake still remains the best out there. He’s incredibly well-rounded as an artist. He can rap and sing. He’s a rap artist who has dominated pop music. Something we rarely see. The last would have been Eminem and Jay Z. His brand and image is also incredibly solid. The whole OVO movement and what he’s done for Toronto’s image is undeniable.
Alright, you’ve got a two minute meeting with Drake and OVO. How do you sell yourself? Which of your songs would you play?
Wow. That’s tough. I think I would play some new, unreleased music. I would tell him that I can help fill some holes in the market, and that I would be able to bring OVO an even wider audience. That being said I’m not out here looking for that. In Toronto it can often feel like that’s the only way to make it is to get the Golden Owl co-sign.
So what are your philosophies on finding success in the big city?
I think it comes down to making good music and knowing as many people as possible. If people don’t vibe with you as a human, they’re not going to care about your music. Toronto is big and there’s so many important scenes and pockets and I think it’s important to be involved in all of them, which is tough. And of course, make great music and be consistent. I haven’t been consistent as of late due to my hiatus, but I’m hoping to come back stronger than ever.
Johnny we’re almost done here. If you were an NBA team who would you be?
I think the Toronto Raptors. People doubt me. But I got this.
I guess time will tell Johnny. Time will tell.
You can see more of Johnny on Instagram