Goliath PAW talks “The Pawk,” his EP, giving back to West Africa & more
Our Song of the Day is the latest visual offering from Toronto-based Ottawa recording artist, Goliath PAW.
The CJ Shoots-directed video for “The Pawk” was released towards the end of July in support of PAW’s 5-track KING PAW EP which hit digital outlets back in May.
“I wanted the video to reflect me reminiscing about my childhood and then show me as a teenager and the various antics we would get into.”
The alt hip-hop artist – who moved to Canada from The Gambia in West Africa when he was 3 – is a familiar face in both the Toronto and Ottawa scenes, but fans are just starting to get a real taste for what Goliath PAW is all about.
What makes him tick, what inspires him to do what he does.
It’s more than just music.
For the latest EP, PAW wanted to get personal and really give his listeners an introspective take on his come up, his growth as an artist and an individual, and the experiences that have shaped him into who he is today.
“When we sat down to plan this EP we decided it was time to give it a try and see how fans would react to it. To talk about my childhood and my family issues; the things I always kept to myself.”
It’s a constant theme across the EP, which was powered entirely by Toronto-based producer, Alter Ego, “whose production style differs from the sounds that Drake and The Weeknd have carved out for the city.”
The new video follows suit by bringing you to Alexandra Park in Ottawa; a spot that played a crucial role in paving the path that PAW walks today. Relationships formed in that park helped lead PAW to pursue a career in music, and ultimately help him find his calling.
It’s a place where he reminisces about seeing the world from different perspectives; maturing from a boy to a man.
That’s largely what “The Pawk” is all about.
“The song is about the different perspectives I had of the neighborhood park while growing up. As a kid, the park was where we would meet up and play or decide what to do that day, be it Nicky Nicky Nine Doors, chase, or hang out by the jungle gym. As we grew into teenagers, the park stood for something else.”
We recently connected with Goliath PAW to discuss “The Pawk,” the EP, his next projects, his plans to open businesses in West Africa, his growth as an artist and more.
Check out the Q&A below along with “The Pawk” video.
Q&A: Goliath PAW
HipHopCanada: Congrats on the release of “The Pawk.” What was the inspiration behind the visual concept?
Goliath PAW: Thank You! We had a fun day shooting it. The song is about the different perspectives I had of the neighborhood park while growing up. As a kid, the park was where we would meet up and play or decide what to do that day, be it Nicky Nicky Nine Doors, chase, or hang out by the jungle gym.
As we grew into teenagers, the park stood for something else. All of a sudden it became something to be proud of. To defend. It was all about where you came from and how tough your hood was. We would meet at the park to smoke, drink, and clown each other. Share stories and brag like every young adolescent male does. I wanted the video to reflect me reminiscing about my childhood and then show me as a teenager and the various antics we would get into.
HipHopCanada: So “The Pawk” is about growing up in your neighbourhood, from being a kid to becoming a teen and then growing into a man. Can you touch on how your perspective on life has changed – in relation to what’s depicted in the song?
Goliath PAW: As I get older and understand the world a little better with every passing day, I realize you have to first give to get what you want and what goes around always comes around. As kids, I had no responsibility so I did what I wanted to.
As a teen, I was trapped in my own world dictated by the older kids I wanted to impress. Now, as a man, I realize that all of that never mattered because there’s so much more to life than what people think of you. Now it’s about how can I make my life and those around mine better. How can I pass the knowledge and experiences I learned to the younger generation so that they don’t make the same mistakes as I did which could end up holding them back in life.
HipHopCanada: Let’s talk a bit more about your come up. How did you initially get into making music? Was there a defining moment that set you off?
Goliath PAW: When I was in Grade 5, my parents divorced. That summer, my mom took myself and my two brothers and we moved into low income housing. It was a huge shock and adjustment for me because at that time I only knew of the suburbs and my parents did a great job of shielding me from reality.
I met my first best friend in the very park the song is about and he put me onto rap music, specifically Will Smith who was a huge movie star and rapper at the time. He let me borrow his Big Willie Style CD and I memorized the entire album that night. The next day, I went to the mall and bought all of Will Smiths CDs and memorized them too (Laughs). I haven’t looked back since!
HipHopCanada: No doubt! So I might already have the answer to the question, ‘who was your biggest musical inspirations growing up?’
Goliath PAW: That’s easy. Will Smith, the first rapper I listened to. He was clean in terms of subject matter and was a great actor and role model to follow.
Second is DMX. He was one of the first gangsta rappers I ever heard. His hardcore lyrics, the barking in his songs, the emotion in his voice, it was an extreme contrast to what my idea of rap was at the time.
My third inspiration would be Eminem. While all the other mainstream rappers were talking about the lifestyle or gang life, Em talked about his childhood, his family, his addictions, he exposed himself and people really connected with that. His ability to tell a story using multiple rhyme schemes always blew me away.
HipHopCanada: How did you get the name Goliath PAW? What does it represent to you?
Goliath PAW: Goliath was my nickname in high school. It was a play on my first name, Gamaliel, which everyone has butchered my entire life. How my friends came up with Goliath is beyond me, but it stuck. I chose to use it as my moniker because the name Goliath holds a lot of power. People think big, giant, influential. I make music to inspire and uplift. I believe music has the power to change the world and I intend to use my music as a tool to do so. PAW stands for ProPAWay which was the name of the first rap group my friends and I formed as teenagers. I took on the name so that I would always be reminded of where it all began.
HipHopCanada: And what about another nickname, Mr. Rock Pop & Hip Hop? What does that represent?
Goliath PAW: That nickname came from my fans. My music has a commercial appeal because I like my hip-hop beats high energy with a rock or pop influence. When I released my debut EP, Canary In A Coal Mine, all the reviews talked about how I blended all three genres. Same with the comments under my music videos. Someone mentioned it in the comments, people ran with it and it stuck ever since.
HipHopCanada: I like to ask this question to artists the first time I interview them. If you had to pick one song from your catalogue to introduce yourself to a new listener, what would it be and why?
Goliath PAW: Oh, that’s a hard one because I rap about so many different things but I would have to choose “Greatness,” which is the first song on the KING PAW EP.
Due to various setbacks, I was feeling I wasn’t where I needed to be career wise. When I wrote the song I wanted it to be a motivational record that would remind me of who I was and how far I’ve come as a person and as an artist. I had to look within myself and draw out all the positives and breakthroughs instead of camp on the negatives. When people hear it I want them to feel inspired and uplifted and know that’s what I stand for before anything else.
HipHopCanada: Some of the online profiles and reviews I checked out categorized you as an ‘alt hip-hop’ artist. For the uninitiated, how would you describe ‘alt hip-hop,’ or more specifically, your sound?
Goliath PAW: I’d describe alt hip-hop as anything that doesn’t fit into the traditional hip-hop sound but still uses elements of hip-hop. Like I said earlier, some of my beats aren’t even hip-hop, they sound more rock. I’m a rapper who plays with a live band, drums, guitar, bass, and DJ. I’m far from the traditional hip-hop of the 80’s and 90’s. Because I can adapt to different sub-genres and incorporate them in my music, it gives me a crossover appeal which I feel is the direction hip-hop is moving towards.
HipHopCanada: You’ve been representing both Ottawa and Toronto, respectively. In your opinion, aside from overall population, what is the main thing that sets the Ottawa and Toronto hip-hop scenes apart?
Goliath PAW: I got a lot love for both cities but I represent Ottawa first and foremost. It’s the city that raised me and made me the artist I am. I came up through the Ottawa scene and was fortunate enough to give back to it as well. With Ottawa, I find it has a more laid back approach. It’s more of a community vibe, everyone knows each other and supports one another. It’s like a small family. You grew up with a lot of the artists in the scene so there’s a familiarity that’s already there.
With Toronto, I find that there’s different tiers or levels to the scene. You have to work your way up through the ranks. I think it’s because Toronto is the ‘Mecca’ of music in Canada. You have to come here if you want to ‘make it.’ There are also a lot more sub scenes. In Toronto you have the afro hip-hop, underground hip-hop, gangsta rap, R&B, minstream hip-hop, indigo teens, etc.
In Ottawa all these types artists fall into one or two different hip-hop scenes.
HipHopCanada: Let’s get back to your music. You released the KING PAW EP in July – the project that “The Pawk” is featured on alongside four other big records. You worked with Toronto producer Alter Ego to make it happen. How did that relationship come to be and what made you decide that he would be a good fit to produce the EP?
Goliath PAW: I had met Alter Ego through my manager’s friend years ago but at the time nothing came of it. Last year we ran into the same friend and we mentioned how I was starting a new project. Alter Ego’s name came up again and he brought us back to his studio where I listened to a few of Ego’s beats. I was really impressed because with my sound, it’s very hard to find a producer who can make a crossover record without sounding like he’s pandering to what’s popular today. With Alter Ego, each beat could stand on its own and they all had that live element I was looking for. He sent me his catalogue and I picked a few which we narrowed down to five and ran with it.
HipHopCanada: KING PAW really sees you touch on personal and sensitive subjects for the first time; mainly growing up in a broken home and the force music played in your life. Your website described it as leaving you “vulnerable for the first time, giving his fans an in-depth look into what makes him the artist he is today.” How hard was it to open yourself up like that and what was it that made you decide it was time to reveal more of what makes you?
Goliath PAW: It definitely was a change for me. I struggled with it. I came from the school of hard knocks where our rappers didn’t expose feelings, everyone was hardcore and it was about being flashy, not emotional. Times have definitely changed since then and being introspective allows you to be real with yourself and connect on a deeper level with your fans. My manager has been pushing me to do it for years but it was so far from what I was used to doing/thinking I always rejected the idea.
When we sat down to plan this EP we decided it was time to give it a try and see how fans would react to it. To talk about my childhood and my family issues; the things I always kept to myself. To think how my family would react after hearing my take on how things went down, how my friends would view me in a vulnerable state which they weren’t used to seeing; it was all very daunting. In the end though, the feedback was amazing from friends, family, and fans. Sharing a little piece of me helped them understand who I was and it’s allowed me to be more open with myself and my lyrics.
HipHopCanada: What’s your favourite track on KING PAW?
Goliath PAW: My favourite track on KING PAW would be “We Are Kings.” This song is a dedication to my mother who never stopped believing in me. When my parents split she had no education, no money, and nowhere to go. We moved into a shelter before they found us a house and from then I watched her work three jobs, get her diploma, put food on the table every night, save up and buy a car, then eventually buy a house. I don’t know how she did it, we were three young boys and we demanded so much from her. My mom is my hero and any time I need that motivation to keep pushing through in life I just think of what she was able to accomplish coming from nothing.
HipHopCanada: Will the project receive any other visual support?
Goliath PAW: Yes, we plan to shoot another two videos off the project. I would like to shoot a video for “Greatness” next. Currently working on a video treatment for it.
HipHopCanada: Can you touch on the other two EPs you’re releasing this year? Any word on who will be producing?
Goliath PAW: I don’t want to jump the gun but I’ve been in talks with JUNO-nominated produce, Triple A. I’ve always wanted to work with him and have respected his hustle and drive from the first day we met. The second producer I want to work with is T Major. He’s another accomplished producer in the Toronto scene and his beats are right up my alley.
HipHopCanada: You said something before the interview that really stuck with me and I wanted to ask about it. You mentioned that you were looking to leverage any clout you acquire from your music career to “reach, teach and inspire others to be their best selves” and to get some new businesses off the ground in West Africa. Can you touch on that a bit more and have you started hashing out the specific details on your ideas?
Goliath PAW: I believe that we are born into this world to first realize our potential and then use that potential to help others. Im was lucky enough to discover my passion at an early age and slowly perfect it as the years went on. The fame and money that comes with being in the music industry can allow you to do so much good in this world. One song can inspire someone to be great, spark a revolution, change the world. I was born in The Gambia, West Africa.
Our family moved to Canada when I was three so I had no memory of my homeland. I visited my country when I was 22 and it really opened my eyes. We have so much here that we take for granted. My mom told me that there was a guy from the UK who moved back to the Gambia and started his own garbage disposal company. Homeowners signed up and he would provide a weekly garbage pick up and disposal. Such an essential business which we expect here in Canada but around the world that doesn’t exist. I was really impressed by this and when I heard what Akon did with solar panels, giving millions electricity for the first time in their lives, I was sold. We all deserve basic necessities in life and I want to help build that back home. I haven’t put anything concrete down but I want to start with the basics; water, electricity, shelter and food.
HipHopCanada: Thanks for taking the time to chat. Now that the new video has been released, what’s the next move for Goliath PAW?
Goliath PAW: Keeping the momentum going! Got the next two projects in the works. More music videos. Connecting with my fans via social media. Networking within the scene and building power relationships. Uplifting and motivating those around me. Making it more about inclusion than just music. Thank you for the interview. It was great to connect with HipHopCanada again and I look forward to growing with you guys as y’all always supported me from day one!
Written by Jesse Plunkett for HipHopCanada
About Goliath PAW
Goliath PAW delivers an edgy and cool appeal that’s missing from many recording artists today. Goliath has used his large and growing social media following to build up a cult following in his hometown of Ottawa, ON Canada and in 2015 after moving to Canada’s largest city known today as the “6ix” thanks to “6ix God” Drake and other Toronto artists and personalities, he has successfully done it again. Nicknamed by fans “Mr. Rock Pop & Hip Hop” Goliath PAW combines his love of rock and genre bending pop while adding his own style to create the unique sound that he has developed an ever growing reputation for. To further set himself apart from his contemporaries Goliath PAW fuses new age Hip-Hop fashion with a Punk/Rock star look to create visual imagery that is truly his own. Extremely confident and energetic on stage Goliath PAW channels 70’s rock icons Axl Rose and David Lee Roth to put on a show that is guaranteed to be unforgettable while still relevant to an urban crowd. Fans have been known to drive hours to attend his shows and events, his drummer, guitarist, bassist, and DJ bring a 360 degree experience missing from many urban shows.
Already establishing a large and responsive online presence, Goliath PAW has been featured on over 100 music blogs across Canada, United States & Europe. With his social media presence growing rapidly (over 40k Instagram followers), Goliath PAW has a loyal following of fans he calls his “Pawtnas.” Already in his short time as a professional artist, Goliath PAW has played in a number of festivals including NXNE as a featured performer. He has headlined for college campus frosh weeks and performed alongside artists such as Ghostface Killah, Fito Blanko, Karl Wolf, Action Bronson, Swollen Members, Saukrates and many more.
Having passed on previous recording contracts he did not feel gave him the freedom to make the type of music his fans have grown to love him for, Goliath PAW is looking at 2018 to be his breakout year with an entire underground in Toronto & Ottawa rooting for him. YouKnoWhoa!
Check out the official site GoliathPAW.com.