Rising up the hip-hop ranks of Canada has never been easy. To breakthrough the underground to a bigger audience in our humble little market has usually meant the patronage of a more established icon to introduce you. This is not to say that the Van City emcee has relied on the likes of Shad and Rich Kidd, two of his most well known collaborators, to build his profile.
Sonreal had a slew of enjoyable mixtape drops prior to his most prominent album, 2012’s The Closers. But partnering up with Toronto production stalwart Rich Kidd for the Juno-nominated album brought national shine to an upcoming Van City emcee for the first time since the early 2000s. And it’s well deserved.
His rise has been characterized by infectious pop-oriented beats, underdog narratives, a comedic presence, love for his city, and a willingness to wear his heart on his sleeve.
His latest release, One Long Day, encapsulates everything above, which makes the emcee such an interesting candidate to help Canadian hip-hop grab a bigger piece of the Canadian media attention. Without a doubt, it’s an interesting package to put on the table.
As a rapper, he carries enough wit and attitude to drop a nice line here and there. His production is light, simple, and accessible. It’s catchy and hook-filled work with a lot of beautiful loops. And like most Canadian hip-hop artists to make an imprint in the larger Canadian hip-hop context, Sonreal has delivered an endearing persona that you can’t help but love.
Laying out his life through pen and paper has created a connection with the listener that often eludes most other hip-hop artists. His “everyday regular guy” approach to his lyricism is an essential part to his endearing personality. He balances the typical rapper boasts with questions of self-doubt and stories of how he’s used the doubt of others to push through and get to where he is today.
As the title would suggest, the majority of the album has Sonreal dealing with his inner issues, from his familial relationships to the problems created by his newfound success. Tracks like ‘Today Tomorrow’ and ‘Monday Night’ cover Sonreal’s thoughts for the listener.
This narrative archetype is one common in hip-hop. But rather than making it seem like he’s better than you because of his success, he makes you feel like you can do it, too.
For more on Sonreal, visit sonreal.ca.