Big Page Reveals How It All Happened: Travelling, Smoke & Mirrors, Drake [Interview]
Toronto, ON – Big Page reveals how it all happened – his childhood, travelling, Smoke & Mirrors and Drake – in this one-on-one interview with HipHopCanada’s Atkilt Geleta.
The muffled bass is thumping through the glass window inches from my face. I’ve been waiting hours now to speak with Jay Electronica with patience running thin. When he finally struts in with his small entourage, I’m less relieved than I am surprised that he’s walking and talking with Big Page, who I learn later is his friend. Electronica is quickly whisked away to the back to begin press. While still waiting my turn by the window, Page saunters next to me to also see who’s on the Manifesto stage. At about my height, 6’2″, but twice my width with hulking shoulders, he’s an imposing presence. I introduce myself and we chop it up for a quick minute. He’s polite and easy going, a far cry from the persona that’s been widely attacked in the past months. We agree to an interview, dap and keep it moving.
Same square, three years prior. I’m leaning against the wind in a February blizzard on my way to Future Shop. Shrouded in a hoodie and scarf, I peer through the ninja-like slit to see a huge billboard of Page peering back at me. That’s an expensive place to advertise, I imagine, who is this guy?
Page is known for two big moments in Toronto, namely his singles “Ballin’ is my Hobby” and “Still Fly”. He’s made himself and his team, Smoke & Mirrors, widely known names in the city, and cultivated a certain aura of mystique. He’s been the center of controversy, at least locally, with a highly publicized ‘beef’.
As a result, he’s been forced into an underdog position, and underdogs always make the best stories.
HipHopCanada: When I met you, you were chillin’ with Jay Electronica at Manifesto. How did you two connect in the first place?
Page: Well a good friend of mine actually brought Jay Electronica out here for Manifesto. So we were just kickin’ it. I kind of knew him previously, and he’s good friends with my team.
HipHopCanada: So let’s get on to you. Tell me a little bit about your background, where in Toronto you grew up and what it was like.
Page: Well I grew up in the West end of Toronto, Jane and CHALKFARM. I had a pretty interesting childhood…My childhood was um – you know it was a lot. It was a lot, [and] that shows in my music. The reflection’s in my music. I went through a lot of problems with the legal system. I was in correctional facilities for like two and a half years from when I was maybe 13 to 16. I was in an out of jail, juvenile corrections; I was getting into a lot of trouble on the streets. I actually got sent to live in Ghana, my parents sent me to live in Ghana and I managed to come back. I managed to tell the Canadian embassy that I lost my passport and my parents are not here so I managed to get back to Toronto by myself.
HipHopCanada: And then at some point along the line you founded [your record company] Smoke & Mirrors. Who’s a part of it and how did that get started?
Page: I was actually part of another group and I noticed that that group wasn’t really doing anything so I kind of wanted to start my own identity. Me, my partner Sean Getti and my partner Darrin Pereira. Actually Sean introduced me to Darrin. We sat down and we basically said we want to start a company. We sort of had an idea of what the music industry was about. We knew that it was all about a lot of façade, and a lot of glitz and glamour. But what you see on TV is really not what it is. Our mindset was that it was like a fake industry, it’s an industry of smoke and mirrors. So that was why we thought we’d name our company Smoke & Mirrors. We understand the industry to a deeper level.
HipHopCanada: Ok. And then you dropped “Ballin’ is My Hobby” which was your first big single. So talk about that period and what that was like, and the response you got from it.
Page: As a matter of fact when I first wrote “Ballin’ is My Hobby” I was actually working construction with my brother. I was making like $200 a week. I was living on my own at that time with my girlfriend, and I was actually very broke. And I was coming back from work and I got stiffed on my paycheck. I was driving back on Huronontario, and I was just sitting in traffic and I was just daydreaming about having money. So I came up with this concept, ballin’ is my hobby. You know one day I’m going to be ballin’ and it’s going to be my hobby (laughs).
HipHopCanada: So you sort of actualized what you were talking about, you spoke it into existence.
Page: Yeah at that time I didn’t have none of those things but people actually thought that we did.
HipHopCanada: The next big single was “Still fly”, talk about how that came about.
Page: “Still fly” actually happened because me, Drake and Boi 1Da wanted to work together. Drake reached out to me saying he wants to do a song. So we were just going through different songs. “Forever” was a song that I actually passed on, “Ransom” was a song I passed on. “Still fly” was a beat that Boi 1Da made that it wasn’t even an option. I told Boi 1Da I like the beat, Drake did the hook. Drake sent me the hook and it sounded dope. I was like yeah this is the one. I just put my vocals on it and I got it mixed and put it out there. We leaked it first, people were loving it then we put it out.
HipHopCanada: Then sometime after that was when the whole situation with Drake popped off. People have different interpretations of that. I don’t think people have heard [about] it from your voice though, where you clearly explained it. Did you want to touch on that at all?
Page: I’ll be vague about it ‘cause this is kind of a subject that I don’t care to really mention. I feel like its old news and things in the past I kind of want to forget ‘cause it was a negative experience. The bottom line situation was we put the song out, I shot the video that Little X shot for $80,000. We paid $20,000 to push the song on radio. In total we spent $100,000 on putting the record out there.
What happened was while the record was about to go out, Drake was signing his deal. His label didn’t want that song to be pushed out ‘cause they said it was a conflict of interest. They had their own agenda with Drake so they didn’t want to make that a priority. They tried to do a cease and desist but we had an agreement prior to Drake signing the contract. So what happened was I’m trying to push the record, and then Drake puts out a remix on the record, a freestyle, before I actually post the record. [So it] seems like Drake put the song out first and I’m pushing it after. So the record couldn’t get pushed the right way, and these people basically blackballed the record after we spent all the money.
HipHopCanada: There are rumors saying that he reached out to you to squash it or whatever. Is there any truth to that?
Page: I saw Drake, he reached out to me and he apologized four different times during the conversation. We spoke for about an hour and some and he apologized maybe about four times. Because [of that] I basically forgave him and let the situation go. I mean no matter what happens or what the situation was I forgive people. You know people may not understand what exactly it was, who started it or where it started from – but the situation started with me and Drake. And if he called me and apologized for things that happened in the past, then I’m going to forgive him and move on.
Anything that I did, any so called beef that I had with Drake, was because of the money that we spent and that wasn’t put to good use. I’m not from a rich family, I don’t have the investment backing like him, this was all money that we put together independently. So it was a big loss on our part. That was pretty much what my problem was stemming from.
HipHopCanada: Moving on from that, around the time “Ballin'” or “Still Fly” dropped I saw a huge billboard of you near Yonge and Dundas, you remember that?
Page: Yeah, definitely.
HipHopCanada: So you definitely did give people the impression that you were ballin’ at that time.
Page: At that time [that] we had the billboard actually, that was when I actually started receiving money you know. Different checks and different investments. By that time when I had the billboard I was getting money. I was doing shows and I was making money.
HipHopCanada: How did you break through to radio?
Page: Just by keeping good relationships with program directors and radio personalities at the stations. You know just keeping a good rapport and staying relevant and current.
HipHopCanada: Talk about the importance of traveling. I interviewed Nyce as you know and he was telling me you’re sort of always on the move, Miami and wherever else.
Page: I feel like it’s important to travel, because you want your music to travel. You want people in different cities and states and different countries to hear your music. I know the internet is a good way reaching everybody but sometimes people like to see, feel, touch [and] talk to the actual product as a person or artist. So when you’re going out and traveling and meeting different people and doing all networking and building relationships from the ground up, those relationships will be a lot stronger when you’re finally an established artist. You’re not just going to be a person who’s a one hit, have a song and everybody kind of goes with it ‘cause that’s what’s happening now. When you travel and you meet different people you have relationships, you have favors you could call, it’s just more of an organic build up.
HipHopCanada: So Things Young People Do, is that a mixtape or an album?
Page: It’s bigger than that. It’s a mixtape, it’s an album, it’s a campaign, and it’s a movie. Things Young People Do is actually a time capsule. It’s Page right now. It’s a movement.
HipHopCanada: That’s a cool concept, it’s a dope name. What is it that you’re trying to project with it?
Page: I looked at it like from my teenage years to now and the future, I’m a young a person. I am an adult but I’m still a younger person. So I look at it like when I’m 40 years old and I look back to 2010 or 2008, or this time on my life – and things that I did, whether it was things that I did good or bad, decisions I made in life – I know I’m going to look back at it like things I did when I was young. That’s the whole concept, it’s just things that I’m doing being a young person right now. It’s things that I’m learning and just going through life as a young person. I just had to give it a simple name – Things Young People Do.
HipHopCanada: Any final words?
Page: Shout out to Toronto. Shout out to the go getters, people that are chasing dreams. Shout out to my family, Smoke & Mirrors. Shout out to all the up and comers, the new blood. The pulse.
Tags: Big Page