Last week, we asked our Instagram followers to tag a Canadian hip-hop artist who people were sleeping on. One of those names was Vancouver rapper Teon Gibbs. We decided to check him out and soon discovered why he was an artist the world indeed needed to know about.
On the west coast, far away from Toronto, home to Drake, The Weeknd and Tory Lanez, and the epicentre of Canadian hip-hop and R&B, Gibbs is one of the artists working to make sure his side gets their due. With coverage from CBC and Complex, and placement on playlists like Northern Bars, Gibbs’ time in the spotlight may not be too far off.
Although he has only been making music professionally for the past three years, he first discovered his gift with the pen 12 years ago at the age of 13 while moving all over the world with his family, making his home in various countries, including Botswana, Angola, South Africa and England.
Today, he is gathering steam, having racked up over 100,000 streams on some releases. In a time when artists are buying streams, views and playlist placements, Teon Gibbs’ success thus far has been organic and independent, and can be chalked up to straight hustle and good music.
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Gibbs is truly a versatile artist who can give you some laid back west coast vibes on songs like “Prophet”, but then make you turn up with more trap and club bangers like “Rookie Szn”. Fans might even expect some Afro Beats in the future, as well as some Canadian and international collaborations.
When asked how he defined his musical style, the former Centre for Arts and Technology student told SHIFTER, “My goal is to be able to do any style of beat, any style of production, and to do it just as good, if not better, than your favourite artist. Whether that’s a trap song. Whether that’s an R&B song, or Afro Beats. I’m very confident in my skill set and in my writing ability, and I’m confident I’ll make a song that you’ll listen to and be like, ‘How come this isn’t on the radio?’ or ‘How come this isn’t in a movie?’…That’s really where my mindset is. I think sonically, my sound is more Gospel chords with 808s”.
Citing the growth of Toronto’s hip-hop scene over the past 15 years, and the growing talent in Vancouver, including Manila Grey, Boslen, singer Omar Khan, he is very optimistic about the Vancouver hip-hop scene.
“Realistically, 15 years ago we had great music coming out of Toronto, but it wasn’t looked at as a central hub as it is now, ” he told SHIFTER in a recent interview. “In a lot of ways, it was kind of like a Vancouver where you had a few artists kinda poppin’, but it wasn’t really revered in that kind of way. It kind of inspires you to realize it could happen here.”
Gibbs is putting his money where his mouth is, founding the 100 Collective, a multi-faculty community for Western Canadian artists. The collective puts on pop-up showcases for visual and performing artists, a COLOR-inspired video performance series, as well as a podcast and merch, all in support of the arts.
While plans for Teon Gibbs’ 2020 tour have been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he has plenty of music in the stash and has some new singles on the way before releasing a full project in the Fall. As the Summer roles around and the pandemic gets under control, it’s only a matter of time before the slept on artist and his equally slept on city get their time in the sun.