Budding Toronto producer & artist Kofi talks new EP & “Babygirl” single
Praised by The New York Times for his vision, talent and original sound, Scarborough rapper, singer and producer Kofi has established himself as a major player in the Toronto hip-hop scene.
Fresh off a deal with Red Bull Records, the 22-year-old Toronto-native has already garnered attention from several notable figures including Drake and OVO Sound, Major Lazer’s Walshy Fire as well as Toronto’s own Kardinal Offishall and Preme.
“Starting off using a laptop with GarageBand, Kofi soon turned his setup into a basement studio that he’d use to produce, mix and master for artists such as Booggz, Pressa, Natra, Jimmy Prime and Jayy Brown.”
Raised by his Ghanaian father, Kofi was encouraged early on to follow his passion for music. He was quickly introduced to playing instruments such as the piano, trombone and saxophone, while also composing classical music for his school band. Eventually, as his skill set continued to develop, Kofi began to focus his knowledge into making hip-hop beats which he’d sell at school in order to help his parents pay the bills. Starting off using a laptop with GarageBand, Kofi soon turned his setup into a basement studio that he’d use to produce, mix and master for artists such as Booggz, Pressa, Natra, Jimmy Prime and Jayy Brown.
Soon, Kofi began releasing music independently via his own Jvngle Music Group, and released several songs that developed his online buzz including “Came Up” and “Wake Up.” In 2018, he released two projects including his debut, Hold Me Down, and the four track EP under Red Bull Records titled Tripolar, which was recorded in just three days. Since then, Kofi has continued to expand his catalogue, dropping 12 singles including Pressa-assisted “Snow,” and the standout “Hold Me Down,” which appeared on the NBA 2K20 soundtrack.
On July 17, Kofi pulled the trigger on his latest single, and a track he describes as his personal favourite, “Babygirl.” The song will appear on his next EP, Story of My Life, which is scheduled to drop on Aug. 14, 2020. You can pre-order it now on iTunes.
I recently had a chance to connect with Kofi to discuss his come up in the music game, Red Bull Record, his new EP, the “Babygirl” single, and more.
HipHopCanada: How did you get into music and when did you realize you had a love for it?
Kofi: I’ve always been doing music my whole life. I started young playing piano and that was my introduction to music and musical theory.
HipHopCanada: I read that you started by making beats, as well as mixing in your basement. Who helped influence your sound, technique and your approach to beat making?
K: I have a ton of influences, one of them being Akon. I also have a lot of classical influences because I’m classically trained in piano.
HipHopCanada: You’ve mixed and mastered for artists like Booggz, Pressa, Jimmy Prime. How did those opportunities come about and what did you take away from those experiences?
K: Well, that was more on the production side, most the time I just hit them up. I remember I had this song called “Out The Way” and Pressa randomly posted it in his story, showing mad love. I hit him up and we built a relationship from there. Booggz being another Scarborough guy, I DM’d him, he gave me his email and he went off on a couple of beats.
HipHopCanada: How has getting the co-signs from heavy hitters such as Drake, OVO and Kardinal affected your career?
K: Ummm, I try to approach everything with the mindset that I don’t want to ask anybody for handouts and I don’t want to think that one thing will make my career. Like, if Drake called me tomorrow and said he had a record for me that would change my life, I’d still like to base my career off of worse case scenarios. Because realistically, I don’t want to be banking on a false hope but it’s really nice that they show love. It just lets me know that I’m on the right path.
HipHopCanada: Let’s talk about your catalogue, what would you say is your favourite song that you have written to date?
K: Out of my songs released currently, my favourite song is called “Trust.” The reason I love it so much is because of the way it’s written and the way the flow is structured. It’s a cohesive story, that involves a conversation with myself, I don’t know what was going through my head when I recorded it but I think it might be my best recorded verse ever.
HipHopCanada: How has being raised by an African family impacted your work ethic and the way that you approach your music?
K: My dad, being who he is, has the craziest work ethic that I’ve ever seen. He’s a truck driver, literally right now he’s working on his truck. He’s always working, as a kid I’d always be with him in the freezing cold and be like, “can we go home?” But, then I realized that if I go home he’s going to have to come back and do it himself. He showed me that from a young age. I feel like that drive manifested itself into my music.
HipHopCanada: How did it feel to get “Hold Me Down” on an NB2K Soundtrack?
K: It was super cool. A bunch of my friends play 2K, just being able to be a part of it was amazing, Thank you to Red Bull for that.
HipHopCanada: Let’s talk about your upcoming projects. Talk to me about “Babygirl,” what can fans expect from that single?
K: To be honest, that will be my favourite song when it drops. It’s such an intimate song that people can relate to. I like that the beat is so upbeat but what I’m talking about isn’t upbeat at all.
HipHopCanada: How was your upcoming EP, the Story of My Life put together and what was the process behind that?
K: During the time Red Bull and myself were negotiating the terms and conditions of our deal, I was creating and ended up making half an album. So by then we decided to release it. The project is called the Story of My Life because it has all the different aspects of me.
HipHopCanada: Is there any other favourite records on the project or is “Babygirl” your all time favourite?
K: “Babygirl” is definitely my all time favourite. I love all the songs on the project, don’t get me wrong, it’s just with “Babygirl” I think there’s a different level. it holds a close place in my heart.
HipHopCanada: Being a Scarborough native, how has that impacted the way you approach your music?
K: It’s opened my eyes to so many different perspectives on life. Growing up with all different types of people, experiencing every different type of culture, I think has given me a good perspective.
HipHopCanada: What can your fans here in Canada expect from you in the near future?
K: I have a lot of music that will be coming out as well as music videos, I will be dropping a lot more content and I’m going to be staying in Toronto so I’m going to be around and try to show favour.
You can follow @jmgkofi on Instagram.
Written by Remi Louis Harris for HipHopCanada
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