Transit [Prolific Profile]
Calgary, AB – Transit, the Calgary-based, Victoria-born MC came into hip-hop and started freestyling at the age of 12. That early appetite for rhyming led to his first release in 2006, and the next five years took him on a ride that included turning down Gene Simmons in order to protect his artistic views. Now he is beginning to experience success on his own terms, starting with two opening dates on the upcoming Shad tour. Not one for too much self promotion, he speaks of life in the industry, his work in the community, and his own definition of success.
HipHopCanada: How do you define hip-hop, and where do you feel you fit into that definition?
Transit: Hip-hop is a lifestyle. It’s a chance for the often ostracized members of society to have a voice and showcase their artistic side. It’s very difficult to explain because hip-hop means something different to everyone, but for me it is my chance to convey emotions and thoughts in hopes that some kid will bob his head to it.
HipHopCanada: What drives you to stay in a business that is rarely profitable and highly competitive?
Transit: Whenever I get intimidated with the business I try to remember how excited I would have been 5 years ago to be even playing shows. I caught myself complaining about how often I get recognized by random people on the street, and I had to step back and smack myself and remember how hard I worked to get where I’m at and how grateful I should be for every fan and every opportunity. No matter how much labels and agents try and suck the life out of you, they can never take away that feeling you get when you throw on one of your favourite records and feel that rush. It’s just continually forcing yourself to recapture that feeling daily.
HipHopCanada: Where are you based specifically?
Transit: I’m from Victoria but I live in Calgary now.
HipHopCanada: How has living there influenced your sound?
Transit: Calgary is a country town. That’s our claim to fame. That pushes me so much harder to make records that destroy that label.
HipHopCanada: Who is your primary fan base?
Transit: My primary fan base is mostly people who aren’t traditional hip-hop fans. I play a lot of indie shows, metal shows etc. because I am looking to spread my music to people who are hungry for real music, for real lyrics, not just beats and auto-tune.
HipHopCanada: What tips would you give young artists coming up, or what do you wish someone would have told you when you first started out in the hip-hop industry?
Transit: Be straight with everyone. Never take “favours.” It’s going to end up costing you more in the end.
HipHopCanada: In which ways do you interact with your community?
Transit: I run a hip-hop program with the Boys and Girls Club of Calgary. We have cypher sessions, free recording sessions and I help them get started with booking their own shows.
HipHopCanada: Which artists have you worked with that left an impression on you, and why?
Transit: I just made a record with 20 time Juno Nominee Jann Arden. That was dope just because she was such a professional about it, she went in the booth and was done in 10 minutes.
HipHopCanada: Which Canadian artist would you most like to collaborate with?
HipHopCanada: Tell us about past and present successes, as well as future projects?
Transit: My latest album sold 900 copies locally first week, that was encouraging. Me and a friend made a video showing how easy it is to make pop music called the 8 hour challenge that went viral (500,000 hits) and Gene Simmons tried to get us to make pop rap and sign to his label. We turned him down in order to keep making underground hip-hop, which felt like a major success. For the future we’re just working super hard to put Calgary on the map for hip-hop, that’s my main priority right now.
HipHopCanada: Any last words for the HipHopCanada online community?
Transit: This right here ain’t for clubs.
Interview conducted by Saorsh Rizvi for HipHopCanada
Don’t forget to check out http://www.transithiphop.com