Big Lean [Interview]
Toronto, ON – Parma Court’s Big Lean has quite literally gone from 0 to 60 on the road to success in the Canadian hip-hop scene. Not a word or mention of his name to suddenly finding it hard to not hear about the young talent’s prospects as a Canadian success story.
The last 6 months has borne witness to the escalation of Canada’s stock value on the international music scene to the point where it has become hard to talk about any popular musical genre these days without mentioning a Canadian, one way or another.
Not to say that new windows of opportunity will make it easier for a younger artist to breakthrough, but an artist like Big Lean is lining the ducks up just right to ensure that his product brings impact. He’s been working hard for years to master his craft and recently put out his mixtape debut I’m Here Now as a testament to his arrival on the Toronto scene.
Big Lean might be a fresh name and face for many but he’s no stranger to the music industry. After being spotted at various events with Drake and teaming up with Grammy-nominated producer Boi-1da, it’s safe to say that Lean has put himself in a great position to experience strong and steady growth as an artist.
Fellow Parma Court artist Hush Money (aka Young Tony) sent us a collaboration with Lean a couple of months back called “When It All Goes Down” and after taking in I’m Here Now from front-to-back it was clear to us that Lean was a perfect fit for HipHopCanada 2010 Launch Week. Without further ado, Big Lean from Tax Free Entertainment.
HipHopCanada: What up Big Lean, thanks for stopping by HipHopCanada. You’ve only just recently made your presence on the scene known but your upcoming mixtape release I’m Here Now already has a lot of people talking and a high level of anticipation for those that know what’s up. The first record I heard personally was a big collaboration between you and Young Tony. How did you link with Tony and what’s the Parma Court connection?
Big Lean: I have known Tony, practically all my life. We grew up together in Parma Court. I have always rated him as a rapper, but this is the first track we have done together.
HipHopCanada: What kind of influence did growing up in Parma Court have on you as a person and you as an artist?
Big Lean: Growing up in the hood definitely made me a stronger person. As an artist, music has always been a big thing within Parma Court. I would always see the older guys shoot videos, put out mixtapes, and I watched rappers like Brass Tacks, Young Tony and Blits, do their thing in Toronto.
HipHopCanada: Boi-1da is really holding you down on the production side of things. Most new artists would be lucky to even get remotely close to Grammy nominated producers at this stage of their careers. How did the relationship with 1da come to be and do you feel that this raises the level of expectations surrounding I’m Here Now and your overall development as an artist?
Big Lean: I met 1da through Tony, years ago and right off the bat I bought three beats off him, including “Everywhere I Go.” After he heard the track we continued to work together. Knowing that he is the best in the game just makes me know I have to come hard. He has faith in me, so from there I’m already off on the right track. He was the first producer I ever worked with, so there is a level of comfort working with him.
HipHopCanada: Further to that, you’ve had the opportunity to be in Drake’s circle quite a bit recently. What have these experiences shown you in terms of strategizing your own career movements? What kind of misconceptions, if any, did you have about the business side of the industry before really stepping into it?
Big Lean: I have not really been “in” Drakes circle, but we definitely associate with the same people, such as Hush (Young Tony), and Boi-1da and it’s through them that I have established a relationship of my own with him. Through working with these people, I have been shown that you can’t come half way, and must deal with all aspects of the business as professional as possible. I think that it is also equally important to have a strong team behind you, and a solid foundation.
HipHopCanada: What other producers are featured on I’m Here Now?
Big Lean: I worked with a few other producers, The Bang Society, Burnd & Keys, and Pusha Keys.
HipHopCanada: Which other artists should we expect on the collabo tip?
Big Lean: On this release, worked with artists such as Luu Breeze, Show Stephens, J.O.P and Belly, of CP Records.
HipHopCanada: For someone who isn’t already familiar with your material, what should they expect from I’m Here Now in terms of content and your overall message?
Big Lean: I’m here now, basically talks about my life. All that you hear are things that I go through, have gone through, and depicts a picture of who I am. As far as a message is concerned, I think that it acts as a statement, simply “I’m Here Now”.
HipHopCanada: If you had to pick 1 song from the mixtape to introduce yourself to a new listener, which would you recommend and why?
Big Lean: If I had to pick a track, I would choose “Still One Hundred” because the content in that track acts as introduction on its own. I think the track portrays my hunger for success, and my passion for the music.
HipHopCanada: A lot of artists start writing, recording and releasing music at a young age but it’s less common to see someone who hasn’t been swallowed up by the Internet’s ability to get material out there so quickly… I think it’s safe to say that a very large percentage of those artists end up regretting releasing the material they had done before they had truly mastered their craft. You seem to be one of the people who resisted until the time was right… What was it that let you know the time was right to bring Big Lean out?
Big Lean: I have had good people around me, with experience in the business and they have shown me “dos and don’ts” and also the value of patience and importance of timing. I have learned a lot about music over the past few years, and have worked hard on creating a quality product. I now know I have enough material to back up, or follow up my new release.
HipHopCanada: You’re currently part of Tax Free Entertainment, a business which also originates from Parma Court. Can you tell people a bit about Tax Free and how you’re connected with them?
Big Lean: A group of us, that grew up together, in Parma Court, decided to come together to do something positive creating Tax Free Entertainment, Tax Free is an overall entertainment company, that focuses on music, however also includes aspects of marketing and promotions. For more information check out… http://www.taxfree-ent.com.
HipHopCanada: Rest in Peace to Blits Tha God who passed away well before his time, almost 4 years ago. I know you and Blits were really close… how did his passing affect you and your inspiration to pursue a career in music?
Big Lean: I didn’t really want to take music seriously, until a year or two after he passed. He is a big part of the reason why I am rapping, because he always wanted to be a rapper.
HipHopCanada: Once I’m Here Now has been released and taken in? What’s next? Do you feel that having a ‘master plan’ in place is important or is testing the waters more important for a new artist such as yourself?
Big Lean: Right now, were trying to push I’m Here Now as hard as we can, and take this music thing to a higher level. Having a plan if definitely important, it is always better to go into things well prepared.
HipHopCanada: Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us, Lean. Any shout-outs or last thoughts?
Big Lean: I definitely want to shout-out Sunny Diamonds, and the Diamond Factory Studios Family. Of course Tax Free Entertainment and Boi-1da. I would also like to thank everyone that was involved with this project over the past few years, and for all the support.
For more information on Big Lean check out http://www.myspace.com/bigleanbaby or http://www.taxfree-ent.com.
Written by Jesse “Dutchy” Plunkett for HipHopCanada