Golden era hip-hop with a modern day twist, all stemming from a genuine adoration for the art form.
That is the type of music Mississauga, Ont. artist Es makes. He puts on for those who do music for the love of it, without a hidden agenda of any kind. He aims to uplift, while simultaneously paying homage to the greats that came before him.
“It’s really important to bring that reality back, get people thinking in terms of what hip-hop stood for [and] what its foundation is based on … It’s more than just the partying, the drinking, and the drugs – the stuff that’s easy to digest,” he states.
Es makes a distinct effort to get this message across in a variety of ways. His verses allude to current issues within his community, his sound is reminiscent of hip-hop’s earlier days and his visuals reflect his conscious topics.
“It’s important to deliver truth to the people – especially the young people who may not know better.”
While he hadn’t expected his approach to be recognized when he first picked up the pen back in the 1990s, his recent Toronto Independent Music Award win in the ‘best urban’ category proves that he is deserving of acclaim from the industry and music fans alike.
“I take pride in making the people around me better. As I inspire myself, I push myself to be the best that I can be.”
Long-time music collaborator Elaquent – who happens to be Es’ younger brother – has seen the progression first-hand. He says that what started as a hobby has developed into a habit, and Es has stayed sincere throughout.
“He’s really stayed true to himself,” Elaquent explains. “That might be kinda a cliché thing to say, but in hip-hop in 2015 and 2016, you see everybody rapping the same … he’s always been content with making music for him[self] first and foremost. After all these years of rapping, he’s never really changed that mindset. He’s about making thoughtful music that gets people to think. He’s never been interested in dumbing down his style or sound.”
Despite the fact that his craft has now earned him a significant accolade in Toronto’s independent music scene, this humble boom-bap enthusiast, who is still in love with the genre he fell for in his adolescence, will continue making his contribution to the art form.
“[The award] gives me extra incentive to just keep going. It’s what I love to do anyway. It’s extra validation. I’m touching people in a certain way – people actually respect and appreciate what I do and how I do it. The feedback that I’ve gotten online and in person at shows kind of solidified that. I’m doing something right, and there’s no reason for me to stop right now – there are still people who want to hear what I have to say.”
Es’ personal mantra of “aspire to inspire” is more than just a nifty rhyming phrase – it’s a staple that provides an underlying blueprint to his music, as well his lifestyle. In fact, he’s even used the motto as the title to one of his projects.
“I take pride in making the people around me better. As I inspire myself, I push myself to be the best that I can be. I try to instill the same kind of vibe in people around me. The moves that I make lead by example.”
Simply put, Es is undoubtedly fuelled by his drive to bring a positive energy to the microphone when he spits his thought-provoking lyrics in a manner that intends to bring hip-hop’s roots back in the forefront. It appears his persistence is paying off.
Photos by: Chantal ‘Rose’ Gregory © Urbanology Magazine