Pimpton at CMW: The business, the lingo, and all that wet love [Interview]
Toronto, ON -I have this bad habit of forgetting. I mostly forget that Canada’s music scene extends much farther than my comfortable hip-hop-hub in Toronto. Then, I was reminded by the liveliness in the hotel lobby of the Toronto Marriott where hundreds of people – mostly industry professionals – hustled through to sit in on panels hosted by other industry professionals, chat with their industry professional friends, and somehow find themselves in impromptu interviews with industry hopefuls who obviously have plans to come for their industry professional spots.
It was Canadian Music Week, and I was able to observe all of this while waiting for Pimpton, a 23-year-old rapper (based out of Regina, Saskatchewan), whose work has been showcased here on HipHopCanada many times before. This time around, he was here in Toronto, preparing for a showcase later that evening. Linking up just before he took off to shoot a music video, we discussed CMW, the business and politics of the music industry, his upcoming releases, Toronto slang, and how he’s essentially the Gretchen Weiners of hip-hop (except the word he uses actually has potential to catch-on). Here’s to hoping you all got that reference. Conversations like these are my favourite because not everyone is aware of all the hard work that goes into maintaing a spot in this industry. And for the artists that do, it makes it so much easier to support their grind. Peep the interview with Pimpton after the jump.
“People want so much for free that it’s like, you have to be around business oriented people to actually consider this a… a career.” – Pimpton
Written by Tia Gordon for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: So, welcome back to Toronto. It’s not your first time here. Being here for Canadian Music Week, you’re going to be performing on Saturday- what goes through your head before you start a performance?
Pimpton: Uh, [laughs] probably to make sure to remember all of my lyrics. That’d be one of them. I just try to go over little points that I wanted to touch on as far as engaging the crowd or extra little things that my DJ and I may have had worked out prior- just make sure that I have everything that was rehearsed in my head down pat. Other than that, I just try to tell myself to have a good time, relax, [and] enjoy.
HipHopCanada: You’re going to be performing with a bunch of artists from across Canada at this point. What do you find is different between every single province with hip-hop?
Pimpton: I mean, going from West to East, I’d definitely say a lot of outside influences are probably what would differ among them. Say, when you’re far out west, maybe like… Vancouver Coast, BC on in, there’s a big EDM scene [in Vancouver]. So, a lot of the hip-hop seems a lot more influenced by that kind of stuff and other than that, West Coast California’s right under there, so all of the other hip-hop scene is kind of West Coast-influenced or, you know, marijuana influenced or something along these lines, you know?
The further in you go towards the Prairies, you kind of start getting into that folky-hip-hop, or maybe even sometimes a lack thereof, period. Like, in Saskatchewan, there aren’t that many hip-hop groups. I mean, there are probably that many, but not many that have had any kind of “spotlight” or any limelight put on them, so they’re kind of still really, really underground. Beyond that, the mainstream hip-hop that you will find is stuff that can appeal to the rest of The Prairies, which will generally be folk. As you go deeper East, you’ll slowly kind of come into what I would call the “New York type” hip-hop scene because Toronto seems very much so influenced by New York’s scene. That’d be how I’d diagram it, I guess.
HipHopCanada: So what are you most influenced by right now?
Pimpton: Uhm, personally, I listen to a lot of Kanye [West], a lot of Outkast, a lot of Andre Nickatina- probably just the same people I was always influenced by because my playlist doesn’t really vary that much, you know? Certain new songs come and maybe I might add them, but really, if it’s a radio hit, there’s not that great of a chance that I took the time to burn it or put it in my car or whatever. But other than that, yeah, I’d probably say my influences are still, you know, The Fugees, Outkast, Andre Nickatina, of course. Probably Jay-Z, of course, his success level, you know? Kind of Weezy [Lil Wayne], but he kind…talks about some stuff that I don’t really like to talk about that much anymore- so much I hear all of the time. Those would probably be my main influences for sure.
HipHopCanada: Are you a fan of any Toronto artists, or are there any Toronto artists that you’d want to link up with?
Pimpton: Oh, absolutely. Obviously on the top of my list is Rich Kidd, as far as Toronto artists. I’ve been f*cking with him, or hearing about him since I came to Toronto on the music scene for the first time back in 2011…or wait, probably back in 2010. Beyond that, I just heard of Tasha The Amazon, I went and checked out her show last night- she killed it. So, I’m f*cking with her. Raz Fresco, that whole crew- those guys are pretty damn solid. Blake Carrington.
HipHopCanada: Yeah, you’re going to be performing with Blake Carrington too. He puts on a crazy set.
Pimpton: Yeah, I know! I saw him once! That’s one of the other notes I’ve got to go over in my mind before my set.
HipHopCanada: Awesome! What’s your favourite part about being involved in something like Canadian Music Week?
Pimpton: Definitely the opportunity to be apart of such a big conference. Definitely the opportunity I have to network and make new friends, really. It kind of puts you in an environment where it’s not so much of about competition among artists, so we can kind of relax and have a drink together and kind of build a relationship that can lead to further business rather than just a relationship based on “I opened for you. I did this with you.” It puts you in a relaxed climate where relationships can grow and be strengthened.
HipHopCanada: Being that you’ve gone to the States to do some work, do you think that American artists have any misconceptions about Canadian hip-hop?
Pimpton: In a sense, absolutely, because, I mean, not many Canadian hip-hop artists can make it out to America. As far as the biggest name, when we travel, Drake is definitely the biggest name that will ever come up and it’s like, if you’re not from Toronto, in America they don’t even understand that there is a hip-hop scene other than that because Drake is the only name they’ve really heard of- as far as my experiences go. So, I guess when you say you’re a hip-hop artist from Saskatchewan, which is where we’re from, you get a lot of heads turning, you get a lot of attention put on you because one, they don’t even know how to pronounce the word. Two, they have no idea that black people even live there for there to be a hip-hop culture.
HipHopCanada: Yeah, I didn’t have any idea either…
Pimpton: And you’re in Canada! So there you go!
HipHopCanada: Do you think that you have to be extremely business-oriented to come out of a different province?
Pimpton: Absolutely. I don’t know, when they say working out is 80 per cent nutrition, 20 per cent fitness, it’s pretty much the same thing. The music business – as far as I’ve experienced coming from Saskatchewan – is pretty much 80 per cent business, 20 per cent having the product, or the talent, or the skill that you can push. But it’s all about how it’s marketed, branded and, I guess, presented to the audience. So definitely, business is probably one of the hugest parts. And being at things like this [CMW] where you can interact with business minded people because other than that, yeah, you get fans, but fans want a lot of things for free- especially in Canada. People want so much for free that it’s like, you have to be around business oriented people to actually consider this a… a career.
HipHopCanada: Fair enough. You’re very well spoken.
HipHopCanada: How do you flip from doing an interview-kind-of-thing to going out on stage and being completely crazy or crazy in your lyrics?
Pimpton: Really, the music is what does that for me. Once I hear a beat that I’ve written to- the only reason that I would write to it is because it moved me in some way. Once that happens, I just remember that feeling that I first felt when I heard that beat and I’ll fall into that zone, you know? So, literally it’s like [snaps] an on-off switch. You would see me sitting here all calm with you and if my song came on and they told me to perform right now, you’d see a totally different person within a matter of blinks. It’s really nothing. It kind of happens like that.
HipHopCanada: I want to talk to you about the television exposure you’re getting. You were just on Global, you’ve got videos on MUCH- they’re still on MUCH. A lot of Canadian hip-hop artists don’t get that exposure on television, so how has that helped you with your career? Are you able to propel forward, are things a little bit easier now?
Pimpton: Things are easier in a sense that now… it’s like, at first, the province- I’m saying that the province I’m from, it’s mostly folk oriented, or rock-n-roll-country kind of stuff. So as soon as the kids start talking like “Oh, I saw you on TV doing this hip-hop thing,” then all of the sudden some of the adults start catching air. Then all of the sudden, the name starts catching fire and people start wanting to back you up, you know? It’s not necessarily like they want to act like they were there the whole time or something, but you know what I mean. We know what’s up. You kind of catch feels and you understand what’s going on when all of the sudden everyone starts paying attention when it’s like you were knocking on these doors before. It’s like, you get a salutation, but it’s kind of like a push-you-away kind of thing. They just want to say whatever’s necessary to go on with their day.
SaskMusic has been nothing but helpful to us- and SaskMusic is the main music-oriented organization in Saskatchewan. In this past little bit, they’ve definitely been 100 per cent willing to help fund us, [and] willing to give us that right information. Back in 2012 somebody sent me a record deal that had stamps saying “Universal Records” and all of this jazz, but they wanted 90 per cent of my royalties and 90 per cent of my rights to my name and all this crazy shit. Luckily, I was smart enough to take it to the SaskMusic lawyer, who, at the time was J.P Ellson – he helped me out. He just laid it flat- he was like “I would not sign this for the life of me.” It was the best decision I’ve made up to date.
HipHopCanada: You’d be making pennies!
Pimpton: Yeah, exactly. In that respect, they’ve definitely helped us progress and growing from that, they saw that [I] was willing to seek out counseling and from that extent, now, they understand that we’re business minded. We went to SXSW- no funding – just drove there, my manager and I. We went to A3C – no funding – just flew there, [and] ran into the HipHopCanada crew because they had a showcase there. All of these people are like “What are you guys doing here?” [Laughs] I mean, really, really they’re like “What are you doing here?” Not like “good for you” they’re like “What are you doing here?” We’re walking around looking like delegates, just living that life and everyone is just shocked, but because of that, they realize that we’re gonna do it regardless. Regardless of who wants to help us, we will find the means to achieve these goals. When people see that, I think they’re a lot more willing to start putting their money behind you because it seems like a safe investment. That’s really where we’re at right now.
HipHopCanada: Do you think that companies shy away from funding hip-hop artists because they think that some things are flakey?
Pimpton: Absolutely, especially in somewhere like Saskatchewan where the hip-hop artists have not had such an amount of time to develop themselves in the business world. It’s like a lot of them are still young and unaware of things – even things like showing up late to interviews is a setback. It’s like, if you don’t have something really going for you, things like that…it’s just like stereotypes or racism, they just consistently associate that with that genre and of course, they’d want to stay away from it. It’s when they’re working with folk artists that they’ve raised from the age of 12 and have been part of the industry now…for people like us on the “outside”, sometimes you feel like that kid in the playground with cooties or something. [Laughs] Other than that it’s like…
HipHopCanada: Push past it.
Pimpton: Yeah, exactly. Once they see you making the effort to not give a f*ck, pardon my language, once they catch that, then everyone falls on. That’s just what I’ve been experiencing.
HipHopCanada: Have you gotten to explore Toronto? Have you seen the MUCH building yet?
Pimpton: [Laughs] Yeah, we tried to barge the scene yesterday, actually, just to go get familiar with them and stuff. I actually went there a while back, I think I saw Church Chizzle do Freestyle Friday when T-Rex was still here.
HipHopCanada: My favourite question to ask is: What was your craziest fan encounter- if you have any?
Pimpton: Honestly, anytime… it’s hard to pin-point one, but anytime…. even in Toronto, I had a guy come up to me like “Oh, are you Pimpton?” and I was like “Damn!” [Laughs] That gives me that feeling. It’s hard to say the craziest one, because I haven’t had someone running around naked, professing their love for me. [Laughs]
HipHopCanada: It’ll happen!
Pimpton: We went out to a couple of little towns in Saskatchewan and the draw was there- 100, 200 people that I’ve never met in my life came out to see my show. To me, that was probably one of my craziest fan experiences, you know? When all these people know me and are talking about following my music since day one and shit, and it’s like, I’ve never even set foot in this town before. That was good.
HipHopCanada: It’s funny how music travels.
Pimpton: Yeah, exactly.
HipHopCanada: “All Men Are Mortal” – your most recent release, which bumps, it’s so sick.
Pimpton: Thank you.
HipHopCanada: Where did the concept for that song come from? Because when you hear the hook, it’s kind of heavy material, if you think about it.
Pimpton: Oh yeah. Man, [laughs] I was going to perform that on Global and then I was like “Wait a second, it’s like, 9-o-clock in the morning, I don’t know if I want to be talking about..”
HipHopCanada: Yeah, people were just eating their breakfast!
Pimpton: …and then they’re like “All men die? What!?” [Laughs] Where did I come up with it? Really, there was just something about that beat. That beat…there’s a sample in it or I don’t know what it is, but that guy singing in the background, it’s almost, I don’t know, tantric or something. It hypnotized me in a way that I just started writing and these are the things that came out, you know?
Half way through it, it’s like I’m looking at it like, man, this is more personal. It doesn’t even seem like something that other people can necessarily or fully relate to, but at the same time, it was like, I guess I’m really just expressing myself and this is what came out. So I was like “maybe this is something I should not try to edit away, and I’ll just push it.” That’s what ended up happening, and it just turned out to be a banger. The beat is a banger, the concept is kind of unique. It’s not necessarily a brand new, innovative idea, but…I’m a Philosophy major, and a lot of the stuff discussed in that is based on philosophical teachings or documents- just things I’ve learned. Logical structures and sentencing, so really, that whole song is just me expressing how I was feeling at that moment when I heard that beat and what kind of mode it put me in. It came out exactly the way I wanted it to come out.
HipHopCanada: And that song will appear on Killa Call Me Killa Vol. 2.
HipHopCanada: That’s expected to drop in the fall…
HipHopCanada: What can you spill in regards to that right now?
Pimpton: There’s definitely going to be a couple of crazy features on it! I’m gonna have my crew, CJE’s gonna be rocking on it with me. We’re in the process of filming some videos for it. “All Men Are Mortal” is going to have a crazy video single.
HipHopCanada: Is that the video you’re doing today?
Pimpton: Today we’re doing a single for “All The Sexy Girls” – this is more of a fun video we’re doing today. But for “All Men Are Mortal”, the treatment is just nuts! Just the treatment itself is like… [laughs] almost equated to the song itself. It’s heavy. If you could almost loosely interpret where those kinds of lyrics would go, the treatment is going to be crazy.
HipHopCanada: Are there any major differences between [Killa Call Me Killa] Volume 1 and Volume 2?
Pimpton: Absolutely. When I wrote [Killa Call Me Killa] Vol. 1, I had jus finished doing all that travelling with Mistah F.A.B. and Andre Nickatina when we had gone down to the Bay Area. That was what inspired a lot of Vol. 1. I guess it’s travelling…every time I travel I come back so goddamn inspired. Even just being in Toronto. I see the Toronto set, and I see how muhfuckas are rocking out here, you know what I mean? That’s gonna influence the way I rock.
Killa Call Me Killa Vol. 2 is pretty much the amalgamation of what I am now verses what I was last year. It’s totally different. KCMK Vol. 1 had the flow to it. This one is kind of peaking at bangers and then there’s maybe a couple of deep slow songs. They’re not necessarily going to be love songs or anything, but they’re definitely going to be intellectual or pensive. Really, really thoughtful or thought out…mind provoking, thought provoking, and then back to bangers.
HipHopCanada: Is there any song on there or any song that you’ve been working on that you’re super stoked about?
Pimpton: I’d definitely say the Future feature. That one still bangs hard as fuck to me, “Foreign”. Then “All Men Are Mortal” – I probably listen to that song 10 times a day in my car. I drive around my city just smoking by myself.
(Pimpton would also like to note that he is extremely excited to be working with Toronto’s JD Era on his upcoming project.)
HipHopCanada: You’re your biggest fan!
Pimpton: I am! It’s so funny, but I really am! And at the same time, I’m my biggest critic.
HipHopCanada: You have to be!
Pimpton: Yeah! The reason I listen to my music most of the time is not only because I say the sweetest shit that I want to hear [laughs], but it gives me a chance to listen to what I could’ve said better… in the future! Not necessarily in the next rap I write, but at some point I’m gonna bring back one of these concepts and say it in a revised fashion that will just hit you in a way that you’re like “I swear I’ve heard this before,” but you probably might not ever make that connection. That’s definitely where that’s going. [Laughs]
HipHopCanada: One of the last times you spoke to Sarah [Sussman], you talked a lot about the word “killa”.
Pimpton: Shout-out to Sarah, by the way! That’s my girl!
HipHopCanada: Is “killa” still your favourite word ever?
Pimpton: Oh, we turn up with the “killa”! “Killa” refers to anything really good, better than good. The weed we smoke is killa, my homies are my killas- we all get down like that. That’s just lingo that’s running around my end right now, so I don’t think that’s ever really going anywhere, you know? Until someone gets so offended like “Don’t say killa in front of my daughter!” or all of us are grown and have children.
HipHopCanada: Yeah, it’s gotta stop at some point! Do you guys have any crazy slang out there that you could school me on?
Pimpton: It’d be hard to just say it off of the top of the head because we just have a different way of talking. I don’t know…I say “tomo”, and that means ‘tomorrow’. And I don’t know if everybody does it, but I’ve been texting people “tomo” here and they don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Locals that I’ve met around here, I’m like “I’ll see you tomo,” and they just keep talking as if I didn’t even say shit. I’m just like “Yo, what the hell! Are we linking or not?” [Laughs] There’s obviously a bunch of little shit that we, but we wouldn’t catch it unless someone else pointed it out.
HipHopCanada: Have you heard any words here that you’re like “what the fuck?”
Pimpton: Uhm, they say “styll” a lot.
HipHopCanada: Yep, that’s a big one.
Pimpton: That’s probably the only one that really stands out to me. I have to learn the context for that, for real. [Laughs]
HipHopCanada: No. Don’t get caught up in it. Don’t do it. Don’t be like the rest of them. [Laughs] And last but not least…what are you going to give fans tomorrow? Or for someone who hasn’t seen a show, but is thinking about it, why should they come?
Pimpton: Well, for one, the energy level is going to be phenomenal. Every time I hit the stage, I’m bleeding sweat. By the end of my show, it’s like, you’re gonna wanna hug me, and I’m gonna give you that wet love, you know?
HipHopCanada: Oh okay, it’s one of those?
Pimpton: Yeah, it gets deep. And other than that, it’ll just be a great time. It’ll be, 100 per cent, probably one of the best shows I’ve ever done because I’m just gonna turn the fuck up, like, this is Toronto. This is the time to turn the f*ck up. In my city, a lot of the crowd and fans happen to be my friends, and if not, happen to be from a different ethnic background where the level of hype-ness is not transferred in the same way. It takes a lot more…give…I think, over there, than what you’ll receive.
HipHopCanada: Don’t get it twisted though, Toronto will stand there.
Pimpton: Oh, I feel it though! I see that, but not with me. I’ma turn everyone the f*ck up. I got that.
HipHopCanada: Thank you very much for sitting down with us!
Pimpton: Word up!
Interview conducted by Tia Gordon for HipHopCanada
Photography by Carley St. Onge