Up and coming rapper Element has been generating serious buzz in Toronto. In 1993, the 23 year old Sarejevo native fled Yugoslavia, a country on the brink of what would become a punishing civil war, and landed in Toronto. Now, just off the release of his first mixtape, If I Were A Woman, I’d **** Me Too, we caught up with Element so he could shed some light on Toronto’s famed College Street, the old, and the new.
Can you describe how you became interested in hip hop?
The first moment I got hooked on hip hop was somewhere around 1993. I remember watching a movie called Judgment Night (Cuba Gooding Jr., Stephen Dorff), I can’t even remember what the movie was about anymore, but I begged my mother to give me 10 dollars so I could go cop the soundtrack.
The album was pretty much a mash up of hip hop and rock, like Cypress Hill & Pearl Jam, Onyx & Biohazzard, De La Soul & Teenage Fanclub, and listening back to it nowadays, it’s kind of cheesy, but when I was eight years old it sounded cool as shit.
What’s GOOD in hip hop right now?
Hip hop has always been good, and always will be. I’m not very objective when it comes down to saying what’s hip hop, what’s not, what’s preservation of culture, and vice versa.
Somebody might find inspiration through Lil Wayne’s presence on a track, or Elzhi’s multi pattern syllable verses, or Jeezy’s adlibs, or Yung Berg getting slapped in the face. You never know what is the source of inspiration for the next artist, so I’m going to say hip hop is good, always will be. It never died; the only thing that withered away was your own passion for music.
If you could work with one hip hop vet, who would it be? One up and coming artist?
I would definitely have to say Pete Rock, for obvious reasons. I remember bumping The Main Ingredient in my walkman until it physically couldn’t read the cd because of wear and tear.
Two up and comers I would love to work with are Asher and J Cole. Between the two, it’s a toss up. Phenomenal artists, I can’t wait to watch them progress.
Tell us a little bit about both your mixtape and the upcoming EP.
I dropped a mixtape this past June called If I Was A Woman, I’d **** Me Too. The background to this tape is pretty much a collective of music I wanted to dedicate to the different angles of romance, the of course music and the uphill struggles of daily life as an emcee.
The EP I am currently working on is a collaborative project with the producer extraordinaire, Lord Quest. If you have not heard this guys production, wake the fffffffuuuckkkk up, he’s nuts. But yeah, NOW Magazine approached us and asked us if we were interested in making an EP, free to download, in conjunction with their magazine. The album is going to be much more of a boom bap, taking hip hop back to when it had balls, feel?
What is the best spot to hit up on a Friday night in Toronto? What’s a typical Friday night like for Element?
It depends man. I’m usually DJing on Fridays so I don’t get too much of an opportunity to go out. But when I do, I go up to College Street. I’m a simple guy, if you offer okay priced drinks, easy women, and live music, I’ll be there.
Has the life of a hip hop head in Toronto changed since Drake blew up?
Not really. Artists have been doing their thing here for a long time. It’s great that people are finally becoming more aware of how much talent Toronto, & Canada, actually have to offer.
Thank you to Benz and a Backpack, you guys are beyond dope. Shout outs to Rez Raida, Mike Dara, J Com, Jaff, DJ Bounce, ATB Family, Valid Point, Toronto, my peoples in the States, current fans, future fans, ex girlfriends, future muses.
Follow Element on Twitter: http://twitter.com/talktoelement
For Element’s mixtape, If I Were A Woman, I’d **** Me Too, visit his blog: http://talktoelement.blogspot.com
Here are two of Element’s joints, one of which, Throwback Love, has been getting spins on Toronto’s Flow 93.5 FM.
Element – Throwback Love ft. Promise (Prod. by The ARE)
Element – Trendsetter ft. Mike Dara