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SonReal


Doubling Down with SonReal

Vancouver`s SonReal has been on a roll with a new 10-track collaborative album coming out this month

By Scott Wood

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Aaron Hoffman aka SonReal is from Vernon, a small ski resort town in the BC Interior. So far, he has released two albums and a few mixtapes. However, right now his career is like a snowball bouncing down a ski slope, steadily on its way to becoming an avalanche. This month, Hoffman is poised to release his latest effort, a 10-track collaborative album titled The Closers. Here is our chat!

Scott Wood: Where does the name SonReal come from?

SonReal: I just came up with it after I had been rapping for a couple years. It was just a name that kinda just stuck with me. I liked the sound of it and it felt right so I just rolled with it. 

Hello folks! Scott Wood here! I'm the host of the interview show, a syndicated radio program you can find on several campus community radio stations across Canada. This year, I am doing a yearlong series for !earshot online on the "hidden talents" in my local Vancouver scene. Basically, I am going to give the campus community radio readers the chance to get to know some of Vancouver's most interesting, undiscovered bands.

This month, I chat with local rapper SonReal.

Check out the Interview Show online

...a lot of the most popular rap in the industry right now wouldn't fly 10 or 15 years ago. Hip Hop has really opened up and became something different due to people like Kanye and Kid Cudi...

Scott Wood: Hip hip's roots are so connected to street life. Do you think it will ever escape those origins?

SonReal: It'll never fully escape those origins because that’s where it began. But it’s changed so much man, like... a lot of the most popular rap in the industry right now wouldn’t fly 10 or 15 years ago. Hip Hop has really opened up and became something different due to people like Kanye and Kid Cudi and other artists who broke down those doors.

Scott Wood: Sometimes there is a lot of pressure for hip hop to be a certain way. What does it take to defy those expectations?

SonReal: I don’t think there is a lot of pressure for Hip Hop to be a certain way anymore. So many people are doing so many different things and channelling so many different genres into the music. But one of the best ways I can defy those expectations is by just being myself. If I just be myself, I automatically defy those expectations. I never want to be that artist that followed what other people did just because it was cool.

Scott Wood: You have been associated with Canadian rap legend Classified. He once said that he hated his first few records. How do you feel about your progression as an artist?

SonReal: My progression has been the sole biggest thing that’s kept me going. My first few records sucked, yes, but I consistently and gradually got better and better, while also managing to find my own sound and remaining relevant. That is the biggest thing. Go listen to one of my first albums The Stroll then listen to my latest album Good News and I think you'll understand what I am saying.

My first few records sucked, yes, but I consistently and gradually got better and better, while also managing to find my own sound and remaining relevant.

Scott Wood: You went to audio engineering school. Does this give you an edge over other MCs?

SonReal: I mix all my own records usually, so it’s been a huge help. It's cut down on expenses and made it a lot easier for me in a studio environment.

Scott Wood: At the beginning of their careers, young rappers are at the mercy of beat makers. (Finding good beats to rap over if they can't make them.) Any advice?

SonReal: Man just keep grinding and if you’re getting better and you see this being something you could really do for real, go all out. I never had stacks of beats coming up, but I made due with doing dubs, and really capitalizing on the beat selection I did have. Doing dubs over famous beats can help a lot.

Scott Wood: What do you make about the success of controversial rappers Odd Future?

SonReal

SonReal: They are dope. They deserve it. They are fun to watch and it doesn’t surprise me one bit they have an insane cult following.

Scott Wood: Can you take one unexpected and somewhat slept on Canadian hip hop track and talk about what you appreciate about it?

SonReal: This is a good question. I'm going to say the K-Os featuring Drake “Faith.” That joint was so damn ill and it never really got a whole lot of play. Shoulda had a video and stuff. K-Os is one of my favourites. Shad was over at my crib yesterday and we were talking about how insane that dude is.

Scott Wood: I read an interview where you were giving respect to what Vancouver-based rappers Swollen Members did for the small Vancouver scene. Madchild has recently has his troubles. What are your thoughts on artists living their failures so publicly?

SonReal: I mean, Madchild is a celeb out here. You can’t really just hide that kind of stuff, I thought it was real of him to come out and say he had been battling with the addiction and that he had “came clean” publicly. Music has always came from struggle and I think, if anything, it made his music a lot stronger. It’s cool to see him doing so good shouts to him.

Scott Wood: You have a couple of albums under your belt. This year you are releasing a collab record titled, The Closers, with Toronto-based rapper Rich Kidd. How did this collab come about?

SonReal: I've worked with Rich for a minute now, it just seemed right. He is an amazing producer and artist and we work really well together. When we collab, it’s something fresh and new, so we thought it'd be exciting to do this project.

I don't think there is a lot of pressure for Hip Hop to be a certain way anymore. If I just be myself, I automatically defy those expectations.

Scott Wood: For those who don't know Rich Kidd, can you get them up to speed?

SonReal: He's a rapper/producers from Toronto who’s produced for all sorts of massive names (Drake, Jay Electronica, Redman, etc.) and I think he’s one of the most anticipated young emcees to come out of the country.

Scott Wood: Does working with another talented rapper make you competitive or have a team mentality? Can you talk about a track where you felt competitive and a track where you “took one for the team?”

SonReal: Both, but I mean, I'm usually quite a bit better then Rich, lollllllllllllll jk. Umm I’d say we were competing a bit on "Best Believe" and joints we came together and made a great record would be “Hometown,” and “Mind All Day.” 

Scott Wood: What has this collab taught you about your solo game?

SonReal: It's taught me that I can always be better and I can always tighten up little things in my songs. It was fun working with other people in the studio because everyone has such different ideas and opinions

Listen to upcoming episodes of the interview show for a full audio chat with SonReal!

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