Ebro Darden has a more unique perspective on the current music landscape than most. Not only is the 45-year-old one of the most trusted voices in hip-hop, he’s the host of both Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning with Laura Stylez & Rosenberg and The Ebro Show on Apple Music, straddling the line between terrestrial radio and streaming. And in his new gig as global editorial head of hip-hop and R&B for Apple Music, he’s one of the people most responsible for finding authentic ways of connecting the world’s artists with listeners.
So if anyone’s opinion on the Canadian hip-hop scene is worth hearing, it’s this guy’s. In Complex Canada’s convo with Ebro, the radio icon tells us which rappers from the North are currently on his radar, and reflects on CanCon legends K-Os and Maestro Fresh Wes. He also discusses the radio DJ’s role in the next wave of algorithm-free radio, and why Kanye West is a troll. Watch the interview above.
“Toronto’s so close to New York. So, I always looked at Toronto as like another Caribbean, Black, you know, New York. It’s right there! So I never really looked at it as Canada; I looked at it as Toronto.”
On artists breaking out of Toronto:
“You can attribute Lil Wayne for helping people break out of their regional things….. What [Drake] did really well was go and be a part of other communities. I think artists forget that it’s a part of the game: you gotta go see people so they know what time it is.”
On emerging Canadian talent:
“I didn’t know [Shaqisdope] was from up there. I forget a lot of shit, theres so much music.”
On the Canadian sound:
“I don’t think theres a sound. There’s definitely more moods, melodies. The music doesn’t seem to be… its either party stuff or vibey shit. There’s some aggressive street shit… I wouldn’t say there’s a sound. There’s definitely young artists not doing the OVO or the Weeknd.”
“Jessie Reyez is so musical, she doesn’t even have a sound. She’s so dynamic as an artist.”