Origins is Torontoist’s new video feature, which aims to tell the stories of Torontonians with roots both here and elsewhere.
Benjamin Nii Kpani Addy is the first of his family to have been born in Canada after his father immigrated to Toronto from Ghana in the 1970s. He grew up in the Ghanaian neighbourhood near Martin Grove Road and Eglinton Avenue, where he was surrounded by a supportive, tight-knit community and instilled with the morals and language of his family’s culture. But Benjamin rebelled against these traditional values as he entered his teens, like many who feel their parents cannot understand the challenges they face, having come from a different country and grown up in a different time. He says he absorbed gang mentality deeply, that he “went from a kid who was afraid of his own shadow to being used to extreme violence.” Benjamin moved away from this as he got older, realizing it wasn’t going to lead anywhere worth going, and instead focused on his musical ambitions. Under the moniker “Spek Won,” Benjamin has used hip hop to find a middle ground between his Ghanaian roots and his Toronto upbringing.
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