Raised in Etobicoke, Julian Thomas, 27, has been penning rhymes and honing his craft for nearly two decades. As he navigated through life in the streets of Toronto’s west side, Julian took to his music as an outlet to cope with his rough surroundings.
The young MC created his unique sound by absorbing diverse styles from everything from Michael Jackson to Led Zeppelin, 2Pac to Incubus, Talib Kweli to Pink Floyd. While achieving commercial success is part of the game, Julian strives for the “highest connectivity” with everyone who listens to his music.
On the heels of his recently released single, “Too Perceptive,” we caught up with Julian while he was enjoying some time off in Montréal. Signed with Sony Music Entertainment Canada, Julian has a steady stream of new material to watch for. His latest single “Doors” dropped on June 29th and is now available on all streaming platforms.
Check out our interview and watch the music video for “Too Perceptive” below.
Q&A: Julian Thomas
HipHopCanada: Congrats on the release of the new video! What was the concept behind “Too Perceptive?”
Julian Thomas: Essentially, it was a song where I didn’t want to feel bad about flexing my muscle. I’ve been through a lot of stuff and I’ve never put it into a song and felt charged up about it. That was the first song where I could say “This is what I’ve been through” and not feel bad about it. I wanted to let the world know, I’m not going to apologize for anything from here on out.
HipHopCanada: In your bio, you said you had a “rollercoaster of a life.” I don’t want to delve too deep in your personal life, but with the experiences that you’ve had [in your upbringing] how has it shaped you to where you are right now as an artist?
Julian: There’s experiences that have happened within the home and well outside of my home that have shaped me. There’s also a lot of people who looked over me and made sure they guided me in the right direction. They pointed me in a direction where I knew that I could sustain myself and not be a detriment to the people around me.
HipHopCanada: It takes a village to raise a child.
HipHopCanada: When did you know that being an MC was something you could really take off with?
Julian: I knew music was going to happen when I was 18 or 19. I did a show at the venue that was in my old ends and it actually sold out, the whole neighborhood came out to see me perform. From there I started to take it serious but I’ve always liked writing music before that, that was a turning point for me.
HipHopCanada: Being from Toronto, the industry is so saturated, what are some of the challenges you face [as an artist] trying to stand out from the rest?
Julian: It’s definitely an oversaturated market. I think it’s not even about standing out, for me it’s about connecting and that connectivity [to some people] is something that stands out. It’s never in my core beliefs to “stand out.” I flow upstream if everyone else is flowing downstream just to see what’s going on. I’ve always kind of meshed in with everyone and I’ve always been someone that people can connect with and come to on many different levels. I always strive for connectivity.
HipHopCanada: That connectivity is so important. Today everything is so quick and surface level, so if you can really connect with your core fan base, that says a lot.
Julian: Hopefully (laughs).
HipHopCanada: When you’re writing/creating music, what are your “go to’s” for inspiration?
Julian: This is a question I probably wouldn’t have been able to answer a year ago, but I think I write when I’m in a bad position. There’s so much music that I’ve written my entire life – there’s so much that I haven’t recorded or put into song form. For me – it’s my about what I’m triggered by. As an artist, my art is triggered more so that I’m inspired. I’ve always used [my writing] as a way of venting, writing things down that naturally ended up rhyming.
HipHopCanada: A lot of the greats’ best music came from a place of anger or pain. It makes music relatable.
HipHopCanada: What other projects should we be looking out for from Julian?
Julian: I think I can throw a little precursor into the environment – I’m working on a lot of music but I’ve got one more song to drop to get some more stuff off of my chest, that’s where I’ve been at the last few singles. Then I’m going to drop a project – I’ll leave you with two letters – “C/U.”
HipHopCanada: That’s all you’re giving us?
Julian: “C/U.” That’s it (laughs). I already know, as I’ve said before, if I put this out and I see someone else [with the same type of project] I know I’m going to kick myself later. And this has happened before.
HipHopCanada: We’ll put this in our back pocket. When it comes out we can say HipHopCanada knew it first (laughs).
Julian: You have the jump on it, Rosa.
HipHopCanada: To wrap this up – if I wasn’t an MC I would be…
Julian: A fighter. Ain’t no tellin.
Written and interviewed by Rosa Jason for HipHopCanada
Photography provided by Sony Music Entertainment
Follow @youlnevermakeit on Instagram.
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