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HollywoodSOS (Photo: Instagram)

Interview: Q&A

HollywoodSOS talks upcoming EP, “Wrist Wear” video, industry politics & more

HollywoodSOS has been buzzing in the streets as of late.

The Montréal-native who now resides in Toronto dropped an arsenal of music in 2019, instantly putting the newcomer on the map. This past March, SOS gained serious traction from his 8-track project Union Station, spurred by the fan favourites “Go Time” and “Danny Tanner.” It also produced some great visual releases including “Mill In The Mail” and “Lady.”

“Toronto gonna make me but Montréal raised me.” – HollywoodSOS

Kicking off his 2020 campaign in full force, SOS continues to promote his new KRZE-produced single, “Wrist Wear,” while gearing up for the release of his new EP, Don’t Worry, which will also feature production from Daniel Worthy and several other dope producers.  

HollywoodSOS and King Cut

HollywoodSOS & King Cut (Photo: Kurt Israel/Supplied)

The project will also feature an onslaught of notable guest appearances including budding Toronto star Pressa, and Toronto hitmaker Kardinal Offishall. The video for “Wrist Wear” has racked up over 35K views since its release back in October.

While we wait for the release of Don’t Worry, I connected with HollywoodSOS at Grinds Studio and discussed the forthcoming project from front to back. You can check out our interview below.

“Wrist Wear” and the Union Station project can be found on various digital streaming platforms including Spotify.

Q&A: HollywoodSOS

HipHopCanada: With Maestro Fresh Wes being featured on your project, I wanted to ask, are there any other Canadians you were influenced by during your come up? I always had a few artist from the city that inspired me.

HollywoodSOS: Nah, not really, me before everything I’m hip-hop… like HIP-HOP. See, the history of the situation also matters to me. If you look at it from the standpoint of the US where it all started from in the Bronx. Respectfully, it started out there and it did it’s thing but if you look at the geology you have to start from the beginning. Who is the first person who did it out here? Maestro Fresh Wes’ “Let Your Backbone Slide,” and it put us in a place where music that will be played and danced to around the world came from here.

That’s the starting point, then fast forward. You gotta give to the guy who held it down and that’s Kardinal Offishall. You had your Choclair’s, you had your Solitair’s, From the West Coast you had The Rascalz. You had different people doing it at that time but the top dog was Kardinal Offishall. I remember he told me an interesting story. “Man when I was out there doing my thing it was just me,” cause everyone else was under him–let’s be real. Now you got the Drake’s, the Tory’s, The Weeknd’s and NAV’s. And we’ve got other guys coming up your like your Pressa’s and 3MFrench, and all these guys. Kardi was like, “When I was coming up there was no sharing of girls, just me.” (Laughs)

He said it jokingly, he didn’t say it proudly. But what I took from it was there will never be a time like that. There will never be someone come along saying it was just me. Just because of the structure being built the way it is. That’s why you gotta give a huge amount of respect because these guys were getting in a van driving eight hours to New York to drop off a CD.

HipHopCanada: So do you feel it is easier for artists to make it in the digital streaming era?

SOS: You want the real or fake answer?

HipHopCanada: I want the real.

SOS: Marketing dollars play a huge part in streaming services. Spotify, Apple… these are owned by labels. If I put in place a conduit for my artists to come through and be heard by everyone, and your coming and your not apart of what I have going on, Imma stop you every time. I feel I gotta stop you. When I’m coming out ain’t nobody coming out. Why do you think it is that you hear nothing but Jay and Beyoncé when they come out? They on top of the food chain. You think it’s because it’s just good music? It’s great music, don’t get me wrong, but they stop you from hearing everything else.

But how do you beat this? You don’t play into this whole have your streaming service. Have your thing set up but build a core fan base from the ground up. People that will stick with you no matter what, ride or die, they don’t care. You see how hard the Beehive (Nicki Minaj) fans go for her. These are fans that have grown with her cause some of the stuff she says is crazy. If you really look at it but you got the pack of people that are like, “Nah, this music has got me through my hardest times, you can’t tell me nothing about it.”


HollywoodSOS (Photo: Kurt Israel/Supplied)

HipHopCanada: That’s facts.

SOS: When you get to the label and get to the machine—and it’s a real machine that has been around for 50+ years—you gotta know what you plugging in to when you plug into it. You gotta know what you want out of it. A lot of people like, “what are they gonna give me?”

HipHopCanada: People always want favours. They don’t wanna do the work but want to see the big results. I feel that’s what sets a lot of artists back. Some don’t seem to grasp the business side of things.

SOS: I’m still an artist at the root of everything. I was talking with my manager Kurt and he just stopped me and said, “Okok you’re talking like an artist now, I just hope you can go from artist to businessman.” At the end of the day, the business has to override the artistry. It sucks to say and a part of me even aches when I say it. This brand, at the end of the day, is a business. And I have people that invest time energy and money into the decisions that I make. So I can’t let my artistry, my free spirit, get in the way of the people around me.

HipHopCanada: Well, speaking about brands… how did you get the name HollywoodSOS?

SOS: I use to be called SOSCouture?

HipHopCanada: SOSCouture?

SOS: You see how your face went? (Laughs) SOS comes from being a knucklehead coming up. Everybody in Montréal, where I’m from… well I was born here but Montré raised me. Toronto gon make me but Montré raised me. You ever see Scarface?

HipHopCanada: Yeah.

SOS: So there is a bunch of guys running around… Rappers, people in the hood, “Scarface this, Tony Montana that.” But he dies at the end of the movie and the nigga that kills him is Sosa.

So, I’m like fuck that’s who I’m gonna be. The people who love you always gonna shorten your name… SOS. It really just started with my brothers and shit, and just close people. After sometime I was like I’m not a knucklehead anymore… Imma just roll with SOS.

HipHopCanada: Then you just added the Hollywood?

SOS: Yeah, because my life is lights, camera, action. My life is a movie I believe everybody’s life is a movie and I believe everybody’s movie is personal to them. But my life… the up’s and down’s, and the things I’ve been through… I’d sell it to the box office 100%.

HipHopCanada: So you’re working on a new EP?

SOS: Yessir, Don’t Worry.


HollywoodSOS (Photo: Instagram)

HipHopCanada: Is there a set date for release?

SOS: We going early 2020. We’ve got a date that me and the team are working towards. With the music that we got dropping and the plan that we have on executing, it is gonna touch times when we want it to be touched.

We’re gonna build energy in certain places when we want it to be built like that. It’s really like a strategic plan. Yes, it’s an EP and I know the connotation that comes with EP is like SoundCloud. Like throw it out and see what happens, but from what you heard you don’t wanna just throw out music like that and hope it sticks. You wanna have a plan and execution, and then execute that plan.

HipHopCanada: So tell me about some of the producers that worked on this EP.

SOS: First at the top of producers on it, my friend first and engineer, Grinds. He co-Executive Produced the records with me. Masterful performance. What we’re able to do, we also judge ourselves to industry standards and always aim for a cut above that. Like when we mastering a record we will go for a car test and listen to what’s banging on the radio, and if it’s not meeting that and going better than that, then we gotta fix something. Then I got my young bull KRZE from outta London, England. He did the lead of record which is “Wrist Wear,” and the other record you liked.

HipHopCanada: He produced that one too?

SOS: Yeah, he did that… I told you that kid is a beast.

HipHopCanada: He’s special like you said. (Laughs)

SOS: Yeah, he’s on there and then Daniel Worthy is on there. Worthy is… I think like beatmakers are their own type of people. For the records that he put in and he just gave ’em to me? This is a guy getting Gold and Platinum plaques right now but if we call him right now we can get a pack. He just has that love and he knows the beast that we giving him.

HipHopCanada: Let’s talk about the video you shot for “Wrist Wear.”

SOS: Let’s talk about it. I look great in it, pause. Charlton Visuals, he’s the one who shot that. He asked me what I wanted from the video I just told him I wanna catch the feel of the song. We shot that corner shot at Ossignton & DuPont, actually. I was living mid-town for a good three to four years. I’d always past that intersection randomly and I was like, “Wow, why hasn’t anyone ever used this location?” All respect to him, he’s a dope director.


HollywoodSOS (Photo: Instagram)

HipHopCanada: Will you be dropping anymore videos?

SOS: We’ve got some lifestyle coming out, and what I mean by lifestyle… just things to keep the movement going. Really working hard on pushing “Wrist Wear” out there. Just getting as many people to see it and hear it as possible.

HipHopCanada: So 2020, Don’t Worry, set to be released. I’m excited because I’ve heard nothing but slappers.

SOS: I give us three years and y’all can have it after that.

HipHopCanada: I believe you. Where do you see the Toronto music scene in 5 years?

SOS: Are we talking if I was here or if I wasn’t? Laughs) What we talking about?

HipHopCanada: (Laughs) Obviously if you were here.

SOS: Then we gonna be good. I’ll throw it on my back.

HipHopCanada: We could be the next Atlanta…

SOS: The problem with us is genealogy again. (Laughs) Hip-hop is a reflection of the streets in its purest and rawest form. In our effort to forward hip-hop the way that we did it, we had to look at our form of the streets which is Caribbean gangsters. Worst thing about Caribbean gangsters is they only fuck with them and everything else is screw. Because we come from a culture of enslavement.

If we stop screwing our faces up we can be the greatest thing to ever touch the planet earth because we have everything here… cause it comes from everywhere. We’ve built a nation of being a melting pot on having the best of everything. So we have the best of everywhere, let’s just put it together.

HipHopCanada: We need more unity.

SOS: I didn’t mean to get into my philosophical bag, I’ve been doing that as of late but I just want people to feel me. The question was where the biggest problems are. I speak lightly on this being a street oriented person and not being a Toronto street oriented person. I speak lightly on this cause I’m not in the streets like that and it’s very important to say. You got a lot of niggas that say they in the streets and talking like they in the streets… and then these kids following behind them and they getting fucked up and killed out here.

I make music, I book artists, I broker deals. I don’t have to do certain things and it’s important I say that. From what I see, you got pods and sections throughout the city that have problems with other pods and sections, which happens. And because of that, and the glorification of the problem, people are cool with being separate and looking out for themselves. Honestly, if you’ve been hurt enough times you learn to protect yourself which is how human beings are. How do we win? We go back to what makes this country great by being people that stick together. NAV is a great example of that… an Indian guy from Rexdale. Nuff said.

HipHopCanada: I really appreciate you letting me into the studio to take in your project.

SOS: I appreciate you. Thank me? No, thank you.

HipHopCanada: This was dope.

Artwork for Union Station project by HollywoodSOS

You can follow @ItsHollywoodSOS on Instagram.

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King Cut is a member of HipHopCanada's Toronto team and a member of the Studi6 collective.

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