Being strange. Being a stranger. Not a regular member of society. Bryan Espiritu, owner and creative director of clothing brand TheLegendsLeague, says that is what the new Naturally Born Strangers initiative – a partnership between LegendsLeague and emcees Rich Kidd, Tona and Adam Bomb – is all about.
“Naturally Born Strangers started particularly with myself,” explains Espiritu, sitting inside Toronto’s Remix Project, as he and the rest of NBS participate in an invite-only session of F-You: The Forgiveness Project, having an intimate conversation about forgiveness, compassion and life’s most important lessons. “When it came to this we were just like, let’s make an album that we would want, in terms of what represents our line or the perspective we have,” he says, admitting he had no real goals putting this project together aside from creating something everyone could be proud of.
Although the night got serious for brief moments when talking about forgiveness, it was a laid back mood with laughter and in celebration of the release of the mixtape.
During the three-hour discussion, each stranger shared personal details about their back-story. Both Tona and Rich Kidd outlined the troubling relationships that they have with their fathers, Adam Bomb talked about his struggle to find balance in his life and Bryan Espiritu detailed his struggle with mental health and running a clothing line. The small, but intimate, crowd was able to really understand NBS beyond just being a clothing line teaming up with a group of emcees to release a project. The vulnerability in each group member as he openly shared scenarios that happened in life was refreshing to see, especially in the sometimes ego-driven world of hip-hop.
Each member of the group had nothing but positive things to say about each other and the experience of recording this album, with Rich Kidd and Tona even claiming that Adam Bomb is the best emcee in Canada and expressing wonder as to how he stays so grounded.
“The collaboration made sense because Adam Bomb and Tona are my two favourite rappers,” said Rich Kidd, who produced every track on the Naturally Born Strangers mixtape. The 13-track release deals with the topics of loss, pain, growth, division and more with three distinct voices all adding something different to every verse. Rich Kidd shared that though the project did complement each member’s current growing buzz and showed unity, it was really TheLegendsLeague message that got him on board the most.
“It’s about being different, being you, standing out from the rest, just being naturally bred to do that. From a certain age there is those kids that are just going to be different, as a kid I just knew I was supposed to be different and I was different than other people. That’s why this project speaks volumes to me.”
Words By. Cameron Da Silva + Photos By. Candace Nyaomi