Toronto Rapper B1G Juice has just released his second EP 10K, fresh off the tails of his 2019 debut SEARCHING.zip. He keeps the theme of storytelling in 10K, but while his last body of music read like a book, this one is watched like a film; from the Danny Elfman like production through to his deep baritone narrative.
The EP plays out like a movie, starting strong with Tim Burton like intrigue in the first few notes, his meaty voice enticing the viewer to go deeper into the music at their own risk. It continues on like that from track to track, flowing together similar soundscapes to keep a consistent narrative. He lightens or deepens the tempo to develop the story arch that peaks at “Dogma”, slowly finding peace through “Stranger Things”, and then reaching the soft denouement “Change” leaving you with the airy feeling of credits rolling as the last note fades out. The whole piece works with his M.O. of wanting the viewer to see the music, not just hear it.
“I wanted it be like a rollercoaster. That’s just who I am naturally as a person. I’m very up and I’m very down. I’m very two-sided. There is a dichotomy to everything. There’s definitely an up and a down to everybody so going into this album I didn’t want it to be something that all the beats sounded the same, all the same tempo, because that’s not how a story goes - at least not a good one. It’s got to have its peaks and it’s got to have its valleys. Whenever I am writing music, I look at it like a rollercoaster. I want to take my listeners through an emotional rollercoaster.” He says of the work, “If I make something and all my songs are up here and you’re feeling down there, you’re not going to listen to my project, you’re not going to be able to relate to that shit.”
While most of the artistic community struggled in 2020 to find inspiration and create new work, B1G Juice took the time to move away from looking outside of himself and turned inward. Without the usual distractions of everyday life, he had the time to become more introspective and really take a look at his life thus far.
“If you listen to the EP, you’ll get a sense of not where I’m going, but where I’m coming from.” He says simply. “Instead of me searching for a new experiences, I am forced now to really think about my old experiences. Like what was it about that night in the club that it’s still on my mind? I’ve been to the club a hundred times, but why is it that night? Why is that night still on my mind? Or, I’ve been in multiple relationships, so why is it that this situation in this relationship is still on my mind? And… I’ll write about it.”
It was easy to develop a narrative when looking back at his life and the rollercoaster that he had to take to bring him to the moment of creating 10K. It was an early life that could have led him to a handful of different fates but ended up placing him in the arms of music. He grew up in difficult neighbourhoods, spared by his athleticism that led hime to a D1 football scholarship in the States, until it was all taken away by a diagnosis of an enlarged heart. Shipped back to Toronto, he had to decide from ground zero who he was going to be. He had to learn how to embrace the uncertainty of life and work on the thing he could control: his music.
“As humans we grow. People like to say, ‘yo, I’ll never change’ and that’s a god damn lie. You’re going to change regardless. We learn new things everyday – you know what I mean? To say you don’t learn new things or you’re not going to change is ignorant. That’s just nature, literally the law of nature, things will change, right? So I don’t want to try and fight that as an artist. I welcome the change. I just hope the audience embraces the change too. Like I said, every single time it’s going to be quality product but you never know what you’re getting.”
With production that sounds like the intro to your favourite Marvel villain, it may surprise some that, hands down, the man would play the loveable hero.
“This is a team sport. A lot of people look at Toronto like crabs in the bucket mentality and you can look at it like that. So, you can be the fucken crab that keeps pulling others down or you can be the crab pushing motherfuckers out. You know what I mean? I would rather be the one pushing people the fuck out the bucket. Eventually, one of those crabs might see me and say, ‘come on, come out, let’s go’, you know what I mean? If I get all the crabs out the bucket, there’s enough crabs to pull me out. Instead of me worrying about trying to get my ass out the bucket, I’ll help someone out the fucken bucket then they’ll help me out. And if they don’t help me out, I’ll die happy at the bottom of the bucket knowing everyone else is out of this motherfucker.”
For B1G Juice, it all boils down to authenticity. Be who you are and how you are and check yourself when you start to lean too much in the wrong direction.
“It’s hard to be selfless. It’s hard to think about other people. Like don’t get it twisted, we all fall for human emotion and we all think selfishly at some point in time, but it [comes down to] the difference between you constantly doing that and checking yourself and saying, ‘wait, this is selfish, let me check myself and change my fucking actions.’ You got to follow your own star, do your own thing and hopefully you’ll make your own name and then you won’t fall into that other bullshit.”
Those lessons, hard learned over the years, is what he spells out through the narrative of 10K. Line after line he pushes us to focus more on mental strength and finding authenticity in yourself and those people you surround yourself with. He encourages the listener to push through mental blocks and fuck fake relationships, hitting home the invaluable lessons of his life so far.
Photo Credits: Jordan Bailey, Myles (@mvterivlistic), and Oliver Payne (@oliverpayne_)
Film Credits: @samureyefilms @smileyboy.ca @objx.studio