By Cole Brocksom
Canadian rapper Patrik talks about the Spadina EP, his experience in Toronto and his artistic message.
It was -14 C outside on January 25th but things were getting heated inside Lee’s Palace on Bloor Street. High energy performances from local artists on stage, and the bruised and sweaty audience members thrashing in the mosh pit fueled an atmosphere of frantic excitement.
The intensity coming from the crowd was matched when Toronto and Montreal-based rapper Patrik took the stage. But instead of the reckless, devil-may-care attitude in the pit, Patrik’s energy is drawn from his passion for the subjects of his music. He believes the most important thing he can do with his music is to deliver a message that’s important and relevant to the audience.
“I’m a person of the people,” he said on stage, inviting audience members to come talk to him backstage after he finished performing. His set was brief, but still brimming with passion for the people, and for the message he gives them through his art. Fans lined up in front of the back room at Lee’s Palace to be greeted by handshakes, hugs, and a big smile from Patrik.
“[At] a lot of my shows, I always ask, like, ‘who came here by themselves?’ And people will be like ‘yo, me.’ That’s what’s up.” Patrik explained in an interview that, despite growing up with five siblings, he has always had the personality of a loner. He often chooses to watch movies or read when his friends would rather go to parties.
“I just want to teach people that it’s ok to be you, you know?” Patrik said, “It’s ok to not be like your best friend, or not be like your girlfriend, or not be like what your parents want you be.”
Patrik grew up in Toronto but has spent the last year living in Montreal, where he began writing the Spadina EP released last November. Based on his experiences growing up downtown, Spadina was written to give “a universal perspective of a young black man’s experiences in the city of Toronto growing up in low income housing.” Patrik said moving to Montreal to write the album helped him focus on the most important things that happened to him in Toronto.
“It’s like, ok, you’re gonna write a song about Spadina. Like yeah, but you’re on Spadina every day. I could write so many things. But then it’s like, ok, I’m not on Spadina, what are the most important things that happened there? Boom, boom, boom, song.”
Patrik said that at the release party for Spadina, held at Brimz in Toronto, he was told that it was refreshing to have a Toronto artist who is actually from Toronto itself and not the GTA like many other artists.
“But because Toronto is becoming a Mecca for music, they all identify with Toronto. Which I think is amazing because Toronto’s going to build a very specific type of sound of music. And that’s what I like about this project because it doesn’t sound like anything else that a Toronto artist has put out, you know?”
The six-song track listing of Spadina includes songs with titles like “Bay St. Interlude”, “Speaker’s Corner”, and the titular opening track “Spadina Ave.” The entirety of the album is filled with references to Patrik’s family and friends, his Toronto lifestyle, and his faith. Patrik also touches on topics from the internet and social media, to crime and poverty, all packed into a 20-minute run time.
“I’m a huge fan of, small, compacted music. ‘Cause we live in a generation now where you can’t make a twelve-song album, or a fifteen-song album. No one has the attention span for it,” Patrik said, miming scrolling on a phone screen. He described it as a Tinder society, where everyone is so caught up in everything available on the internet and people are constantly looking for the next thing. He made reference to Pusha T’s Daytona from last year as an example of the compact, consistent project he wants to create.
“It’s like, do less, say more. You know? So that’s what I’m all about,” Patrik said. He said he wants his listeners to take realize his music is “more than just me putting words together, singing, rapping, or giving you a fresh beat to bump to.”
Patrik views his talent for writing songs as a gift from God, and sees it as an opportunity to address critical issues and get people to start meaningful conversations. “So, for me, it’s like own the craft, work at it, as if God himself said ‘hold this down, I’m coming back for it one day. If you didn’t do well with it, I’m gonna be disappointed’.” This motivates Patrik to address topics like abuse, violence, and heartbreak.
“All I can do is speak my truth and whoever rocks with it rocks with it,” he said, “I just want to uplift people, man. That’s all I want to do.”