On Our Radar: The Blue [Interview]
Calgary, AB - He may only 16-years old, but Hemen Tor-Agbidye, more commonly known by his stage name The Blue, is already paving his way to hip-hop stardom. His star-studded rap sheet includes a recent collaboration with Calgary’s Transit for his single “Loose Laces,” as well as opening for Swollen Members—an amazing feat for a suburban Calgary kid who started off on Fresh Prince rhymes and Wyclef Jean jams. Despite the fact that The Blue is still unable to perform at the 18-plus venues around town, he continues to study hard for his high school courses and is working on his upcoming full-length album which will drop in spring 2013.
HipHopCanada: What sparked a love of hip-hop in you, and what steps have you taken to be part of the scene?
The Blue: When I was seven years old, I was hanging out with my uncle and he turned on some music. It was hip-hop—which I had never really heard before—so I made sure to listen closely. The song was by Wyclef Jean and I was amazed at what he was doing lyrically. I had never heard anyone express themselves in such a unique way and it really made me wonder if I could do it too. I asked my uncle if he could teach me. He would have me recite the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song and have me learn how to flow. Being seven, I didn’t have enough real life experiences to actually write my own music. I started writing my own songs around 13 or 14.
HipHopCanada: What elements of hip-hop culture appeal to you most?
The Blue: The elements of hip-hop culture that appeal to me the most would be how artists find their own unique way of expressing themselves. Also the word play used in a lot of songs. Other elements would be the passion and drive that artists like Macklemore, Transit, and SonReal put into their music.
HipHopCanada: Specify your craft – what part of it you are the most talented at, and what do you work the hardest on?
The Blue: I’m most talented with my word play and creativity when it comes to concepts of songs.I work hardest [at] trying to write songs that people could listen to and be like, “Oh wow, he took what I was feeling and put it into words,” and listen to it when they need to relate with someone.
HipHopCanada: Who do you feel you represent?
The Blue: I represent the musical youth of Calgary. I see a lot of the youth who have so much talent but no one ever takes the time to help, or give them that little nudge or support that they need to grow with what they have. Hip hop doesn’t get the respect or attention that it deserves. People have such a negative look upon it that whenever you speak about it, people just don’t really care or want to pay attention to what you can do.
HipHopCanada: What are some signs of success in your musical career?
The Blue: Some signs of success in my career would be things like the honor to open for legendary group Swollen Members and get a feature from Calgary’s very own MC, Transit on the single ‘Loose Laces’.
A huge moment [was] when I got to perform ‘Loose Laces’ alongside Transit at his album release concert at MacEwan Ballroom at the beginning of this year. Following the performance, I released the music video on Jan. 18.
HipHopCanada: What have been some of the biggest roadblocks and how have you surpassed them?
The Blue: The biggest roadblock for me would be finding places to perform, seeing as I’m 16 and the majority of the shows in Calgary are 18-plus and I can’t get in.
HipHopCanada: What is your overall goal for your career in hip-hop?
The Blue: My goal is to make a living out of what I love to do and have people not only enjoy, but also value my sound.
I want to change people’s opinion on hip hop and change how they look at it.
HipHopCanada: What people or groups do you see as being instrumental in helping you to achieve that goal?
The Blue: The people who are key to helping me achieve this goal would be my parents and family for being supportive and pushing me to actually pursue what I want to do. Next would be Transit for helping me push myself lyrically. The last would be my friends or anyone who listens to or shares my music.
HipHopCanada: Where can fans find you? Both in person and online?
The Blue: They can definitely always find me chilling around in Calgary. Usually Westhills, downtown, or even just shooting some hoops at Westside with some of my buds.
HipHopCanada: Any last words for the HipHopCanada community?
The Blue: All I can say is thanks to Canadian hip hop and anyone who supports it.
Interview and Photography by Sarah Sussman for HipHopCanada