There is a beat reverberating through Kelowna’s underground rap scene that is now rising to the forefront.
Perfecting their beats, either creating them or finding them, the internet has become a catalyst for Kelowna rappers to achieve their dreams of making it. Growing up in Kelowna, they have a west coast vibe that trickles into their vibrato and laid-back fashion sense.
Baritone rapper, Ejiro ‘Edge’ Ovie finds inspiration from around the globe, from his hometown in Nigeria, to the U.K., East Coast and now the West Coast. Driven to become one of the best, he finds himself cycling through different beats minute by minute to find somewhere to put stanzas where he shares himself onto the tracks.
“I tell my story in my music, I have an outlet to grind out and just create and put that energy in something. I don’t know what it does for people yet, some people tell me they can relate, but it all comes to me putting it out there, creating in its most honest form,” Ovie said.
Using his words as a sense of therapy, he spits verses about what he is feeling moment to moment, and how he interacts with the world. How humans now interact with each other through screens has given him a tumultuous love-hate relationship with the internet.
“I go through what I feel in my songs, watching things on the internet and how it is low-key poison but also not really. When I am creating it’s done on a computer, I have multiple tabs open and it sometimes does get extremely confusing but at the same time interesting because there are a lot of different songs and concepts that I would never think of putting together and just work out of the blue, it’s a process and a half.”
Instead of rapping about violence, guns and drugs, these musicians find themselves gravitating toward songs about love, personal hardships, and their daily lives.
Nate “Nate Le’ Leibel uses his music as a portal to talk about his former life, that was shrouded by drug and alcohol dependency. Now sober, Leibel doesn’t find himself pulled back to those temptations instead, he hopes to help people that deal with the same demons he overcame with his easy to follow beats.
“My life has been a lot crazier than the average person’s, I went through a long period of depression and mental illness along with addiction, I lost a lot of friends at that time. But I am sober now. It’s not hard (to stay sober) because I am already around it so much, as soon as I stopped I knew I had to stay there,” Leibel said.
The comments Leibel receives from fans drive him to push himself further and keep creating and sharing his story. Kelowna, the city he grew up in, continually inspires him. He finds himself and new beats in nature and walks along Okanagan Lake. Leibel mashes his raw words with airy notes, slick bass drops that lifts the spirits of his fans.
Travelling regularly to Dallas, Texas the international performer and skateboarder aspires to spread his story to the world full time. The young musician is still in awe of the affect his music has on his fans, and the comments they leave him thanking him for helping them.
“It’s amazing, it’s the most rewarding thing for an artist or musician period,” Leibel said.
Not just creating a beat that sounds good, but something where he can preach in a deep monotone, Kevin ‘Kenneboi’ Markewich finds himself constantly turning to his muse; love.
“I am trying to do it (rapping) in my own way, not so aggressive, more laid back, I approach it from the lyric side— what I have to say,” Markewich said.
Constructing his urban love ballads himself Markewich prefers to write about a subject that unites all people.
“I like the way music makes me feel. It all comes together at the shows, I am able to see how people feel and what’s going on around me,” Markewich said. “Everyone feels love and heartbreak, my music helps them get through all of it.”
Self-taught producer, songwriter and rapper Sean ‘Shon Slo’ Carpenter lays down tracks and weaves lyrics through them to create hooks that induce glorifying reviews from his peers.
“I create stories. There is always a fictional love story, whether or not my songs are dark and upsetting or just light,” Carpenter said. “I have found my own sound through producing my own music, I don’t look toward anyone. I like the simplicity within music and doing my own thing, that is why I have my own sound, I have never tried to be anyone else.”
Every multi-layered mix Carpenter drops on his fans is a milestone for him, releasing songs he writes from a dark place. This, he says, is because he makes his best music at the expense of his own mental health, digging into raw emotions to extract the lyrics that he feels his fan base will relate to and provide him a sense of reprieve.
Carpenter is looking to create a space where he and his friends can offer music lovers an opportunity to experience the new wave of rap.
“Kelowna has a gravitational pull on me, I keep trying to leave and there is something about it. It has a lot of potential and it has been growing in the past couple of years but for the music scene; I am still waiting for it to embellish more. I want to create something that is not just your typical rap show where people come and get drunk and can’t remember who preformed. I want to create something where I can get closer to the people.”
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