One of the biggest complaints that Toronto hip hop artists have is that they are ignored by local media, and, for the most part, they’re right. Drop the Needle hopes to help remedy this by checking in with some of the city’s finest artists each month to see what’s up.
Toronto hasn’t seen a rapper quite like Luu Breeze before. The Scarborough-raised MC is unabashedly influenced by American hip hop stars and isn’t particularly concerned with adding a crazy Canadian twist to it. While he may not be quite as original as Kardinal or k-os, Luu makes up for it in hunger, a fine attention to the details, and a certain star quality. Given the moniker Prince of the Dot early in his career, Luu has been a street favourite for some time. Shedding that regal label and dedicated to growing as an artist, he is making moves to take his success to another level. His latest single, “Break ’em Off,” has become a staple on Flow. With a growing buzz in America and plans to drop his debut album in the near future, we sat down with the pride of Orton Park at Jack Astor’s near Scarborough Town Center.
Torontoist: What do you love about hip hop?
Luu Breeze: Basically what I love about hip hop is that it just moves people and it can fully touch on a lot of aspects of people’s lives. Not to say that other genres of music don’t do that either, but hip hop brings it in a nice feel where you can either just relax and bop your head to it or you can wild out and let all your stress out and just vibe to the music. I just love the fact that hip hop can really move people and bring people together at the same time.
What’s your favourite hip hop album and song?
My favourite hip hop album would probably be 2Pac’s All Eyez on Me. I’m also a fan of Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt and Nas’s Illmatic. I’ve got a lot of them, but 2Pac still stands out. “Picture Me Rolling” by 2Pac is probably one of my favourite songs. It’s that nice, laid-back, cruising, feel-good summertime music. I like music that makes me feel good inside, and that’s what 2Pac does for me.
The first time I heard about you was on the All Hip Hop Rumours section where they were talking about you signing with Disturbing Tha Peace. What was it like hearing about that?
It was good. It was actually surprising because I didn’t know anything about it and I didn’t sign any papers. I didn’t sign anything. But I was introduced to the head A&R there from my cousin who lives in Atlanta, and from there he showed some interest into my music. Right now, I’m just preparing a lot of stuff to go at a lot of labels. I have a lot of offers right now and I’m getting good feedback from across the border. Just know that it’s looking real good and a lot of changes are going to be made in the months to come.
I heard your songs on your MySpace and I checked out one of your older tracks back from your Prince of the Dot days, and it seems like you’ve really tightened up your songwriting.
Oh yeah, definitely. I had to. I felt like I had to step it up as far as what I’m rapping about, as far as things that can just relate to other people. Lyric wise, I just feel like everytime I like to come a little bit harder and expand. Especially with the simple fact that I was hearing a lot of things, like “oh, he’s not lyrical.” Have you listened to the mix tape? Have you listened to these songs? I want people to really start listening and not just skim through it. It’s good music I’m putting out, and I’m going to prove it. I’m going to keep coming with bangers. I like to earn the respect. I don’t like to go across the border to beg dude’s artists for features. I like to make everything come to me, and I’ve been blessed that a lot of things have come my way. I’ve been blessed, that’s all I can I say.
Where do you get your swag?
Swag? Born with it. It’s what it is; I was born with it. I love music and I’m just me. A lot of dudes feel like they have to come out gangsta or with a thug image, and I just tell you how it is. I’m not saying I’m a gangsta but I’m definitely not a punk. I like to say that I’m a real person. You don’t have to be a gangsta to be real. You can be a doctor and be a real dude. It’s a matter of how you live and certain things you live by. Certain codes and certain things you just know that you do and you don’t do. That’s how I come out on my music. It’s just me. I don’t care what people think. I just do me. I thank my mom for it. Shout out to Iris Williams.
Can you talk a bit about Champagne Gang?
Oh of course, I love my team. Champagne Gang basically started off as a street movement, and I brought it to the music field and we’re going to end it with the music field. Champagne Gang is what I’m trying to bring into the music because my cousins have already repped it in the streets. It’s not a gang as far as we have a colour or bandanas, it’s about being fresh. It’s about handling yourself with a lot of class. Nobody else in my family as of right now is really out there pushing for the music, and I’m doing it for all my peoples, cousins and friends. I’m just the forefront as far as the music.
Who are some of your producers, because that Mega Man beat is great.
Me and Mega Man is like Swizz Beatz and Cassidy. That’s my dude. I’ll be working with Soundsmith, Boi-1da, Kool Aid, and everybody in terms of who I feel is the top dudes. Mega Man is the one that stands out right now because he’s doing a lot. I’m proud of him to see where him and me both came from to be doing something with the music thing. I’m just happy that he’s on a good road; I’m on a good road, and we’re doing it together.
How did you come up? How do you even develop a rep around Toronto?
Oh man, it started out with the RapSheet DVD, which was the Toronto urban DVD. I had a video on there called “Story Goes On,” and I was the good-looking dude that had a swagger. And the song was different than just a hood song. It was talking about some real shit, but it wasn’t on that gangsta gangsta vibe. And I feel like the Rap Sheet really put me out there in the streets. As far as getting out there mainstream was when I dropped my first single on Flow, which was “Million Dolla Dream,” produced by Mac from Soundsmith and that basically opened it up too. Just being on a bunch of mixtapes—Richie Sosa’s and Mista Bourne—just being out there and going to shows wherever it was.
Yeah, where do you play shows around here as a local rapper?
You know what, I feel like there could be a lot more showcases of the Toronto family. Before a lot of dudes were coming out with release parties for the mixtapes. Now they aren’t really doing that so much. So around those times, I was getting a lot of opportunities to perform at other artist’s mixtape releases. Right now, I couldn’t tell you, to be totally honest. Now you’re opening up for an artist that’s coming from the States, but as far as us having our own showcases, it’s not really much.
You can tell that you listen to a lot of American hip hop and you don’t try to hide that, but it doesn’t matter. It’s the execution.
The way I put it is like this: when I make any song, and especially something that’s going on the radio, I think in a bigger scale. I think a lot of dudes out here really think in a Toronto scale. “This is going to be better than this dude’s,” but we’re all in the same boat. There’s no big dudes right now. When I make music, I’m competing with the 50’s and the Kanye’s. That’s how I look at it. I might still be coming up, but I’m still trying to be a better artist than them. I’m still trying to be the best artist I can be and I’m competing with those guys. That’s how I look at it and that’s why I feel that anything I put out, I have to make sure that it’s top for the top. I just like to stay on top of things, so that’s why I listen to everything.
It seems like the last couple of years has been all about evolution.
Oh, yeah. It’s really been a blessing once again. I thank God everyday that I’ve been at least able to be talked about and to have people around me that I know love me. As far as it comes to music, I feel like I’m doing this for my family. I’m doing this for my Scotia heritage because my mom’s from Nova Scotia and for Jamaicans, blacks, whites, Asians, everybody. I really love my family, and I feel like I’m doing this for them. We don’t have that one person who’s that lawyer or who’s that one famous person, and I think that my family deserves that. We have a story to tell and I just want to be the one to be able to tell it.
Photos by David Wilder.