With a body of work 4 years in the making on the horizon, Rashid St. James is finally ready to let us into his nightmare. Through his new project, The Nightmare in the Afterhour, the young artist documents a telling tale of his crazy lifestyle and opens the gate to the dark-underground of Toronto some may not be familiar with. Яkulture got a chance to discuss with Rashid his inspirations, life, and why on June 9th his nightmare should not be slept on.
For those who are unaware, tell us a bit about where you’re from and where you grew up.
I was born in Barbados, but I grew up in the Malvern community, in Toronto’s east end till I was 15. Then my family and I moved closer to the downtown area of the city.
What was the first song or event that inspired you to pursue music?
When I was like 14 years old, in my first year of high school I was labeled an “at risk youth”. My principal would come around at a certain point of the day and grab me and like 5 other kids, sit us down in a room and make us read. One day the book we had to read was Tupac’s book of poetry “The Rose That Grew From Concrete.” After reading that book I was hooked. It inspired me to write my own poetry and it didn’t take long till I threw a beat behind it.
Who are some artists that influenced you?
I have a weird obsession with the Sad 27, from Jim Morrison to Kurt Cobain. I admired what those artist did during their short time here. Kid Cudi has got to be my favorite overall artist though, I don’t think there is another artist who say’s so much by saying so little.
Where did the name ‘St. James’ come from and what does it mean?
Like I said, I was born in Barbados and my mom is from an area there called St. James. Showing respect to the Island and woman who birthed me I decided to add it to my name.
Toronto is buzzing with musical talent, how do you feel about the music scene emerging in the city right now?
It sucks all these niggaz are waste…naw I’m playing lol. I’m happy to see the talent here on the come up like never before. I think Toronto’s been waiting for it’s moment and now that it’s here, we ain’t tryna let it slip away.
In regard to the rising talent the city has seen as of late, what are some of the main similarities and differences you’ve observed compared to years prior?
A lot of the music we produce tends to have a dark undertone. I’m not saying we’re emo or anything, but we are in tune with the struggle of coming up in a city that has often been overlooked. Most artists coming out of here, speak to some form of emotion, whether that be a high or a low one. I think you can hear the frustration and drive through the music. We’re a hungry city, a hungry scene and we demand to be heard with a sound that’s undeniable
What’s your opinion on the impact social media has had on the music industry, specifically the impact it’s had on artists?
I think it’s dope. Social media has created a new type of access for up and coming artists to get their music heard by the world. It’s also given more power to the individual, and not just the record labels. But, it has also turned would-be-fucc-boi’s into internet gods. I see so many dudes on social media portraying a certain type of image and then I’ll see them in person, and they don’t live up to that cool guy image they want everybody to see them in , waste yutes a lot of waste yutes.
You’re gearing up to release your debut project The Nightmare In The Afterhour. Tell us about inspiration behind it and the creative process?
‘The Nightmare In The Afterhour’ is a lyrical documentation of the last 4 years of my life— partying and surviving in downtown Toronto while also observing. I create through experience, and my own personal poetic interpretation of how I see the world. Everything that you will hear and the feelings you will experience while listening to NITA is a Toronto night in it’s rawest form. And, it’s all fuelled by whatever drug I was on at the time.
What do you hope to accomplish with the release of NITA?
I hope to shed light on a part of Toronto that has been shaded in darkness for some time now. I want listeners to be there with me while I was pool hopping on molly with three white hipster chicks I didn’t know. Or be there while I was in an alley way tweaking, questioning my purpose in a city of millions.
What’s your favorite song off the project and why?
My favorite song is “In The City” because Solid Mas, my producer, made me re-write my verse to it and approach it with a ferocious flow I wasn’t use to using. I also feel the song embodies the highs and lows of my generation from beginning to end. Good girls really don’t last long in the city and all the young boys really be living hella fast in the city.
This project has been many years in the making. How have you been dealing with the stress and pressure of releasing such a personal body of work?
Weekly visits to my Psychiatrist and keeping positive people around me. I’ve had people come and go during this process and the ones who are still with me I expect to be with me till the casket drops, this is family, OOC.
There’s a dark undertone to a lot of your music, why is that and where is that inspiration from?
When watching a movie or show, naturally I identify more with the villain, and I’ve always been this way since a little kid. A dude like Superman wearing tights and red briefs always seemed kinda dweeby to me, sorry. I vibe more off what I can relate to, because what I can relate to, is what inspires me. We all have a dark and a light side, but for me, the dark has always been more natural and that’s where a lot of my music derives from.
If you could work with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be?
If you had to move to Mars and could only take 5 albums, which would you take?
Kid Cudi – The Legend of Mr Rager | Jay-Z – The Black Album | Lil Wayne – The Carter 2 | Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy | The Nightmare In The Afterhour.
What does hip-hop mean to Rashid St. James
Freedom to express feeling, perspective, and experience in an organic, unifying way.
– The Nightmare In The Afterhour –
Be sure to catch up on both visual releases from Rashid in support of his upcoming debut, The Nightmare In The Afterhour.