|JD Era- Performing at Manifesto|
I've been trying to catch up with this guy for the last two months. His "Thirt3en" mixtape had squatting rights in my CD changer in my car for a good year until someone "borrowed" the CD.
But as promised, as soon as he was off the Unexpected Victory tour with Raekwon through 35+ dates in the U.S. and 13 dates in Canada, I was finally able to chat with JD Era at his listening party this past Tuesday.
Sitting beside the man of the hour, with a Canadian flag on the sleeve of his polo, I asked the most important questions I wanted to ask in the time limit I had, as I wasn't the only one trying to do an interview. Regardless, I still was able to steal some of his time during a party dedicated to Era's blood sweat and tears for his new project, No Handouts.
JD Era is Toronto, from head to toe, without a doubt.
JD Era is Toronto, from head to toe, without a doubt.
As I'm leaving the interview, he jokes around, telling me, "Make me sound good...!".
No need to make any effort, Era. Talent and skills speak for themselves.
JD Era's listening party for No Handouts happened this past Tuesday. Photographers, interviewers, friends and fellow artists gathered to support him on his new project. DJ Dax (host of Era's Thirt3en Mixtape), DJ Ritz, Shi Wisdom, Jeni (Flow 93.5), Kardinal Offishall, TorontoRappers.com were just a few of the large group of attendees.
Era was personable, professional and had this ambitious demeanour. He was hungry for his piece of the pie in the rap game, and with his new deal, he had just been handed a big ass fork.
|JD Era (right) and Wu Tang's Raekwon a.k.a. The Chef (left)|
JD Era just tells you what it is. He just says it, but not in the basic form of language that you and I may use... He's got this wit, or a clever routine, rather. His talent isn't hidden, but it was somewhat prevalent in Toronto. However, we weren't the only ones to notice.
Last year, Era was signed by Wu Tang's Raekwon (pictured above) to Ice H2O Records as the first on the roster, a big move for the Toronto artist. Less than a year later, he was given the opportunity to tour with Rae (Era calls him Rae, I figure I will too). He had just performed the last show in New York off the Canada/U.S. Tour, in what must have felt surreal. Era says,
"For me, the tour was f***ing epic. I come from being kind of in Canada, and doing shows in Ontario... I got to start out doing 13 dates in Canada, and Rae took it to the next level by letting me tour the States, you know, so that was another like 35 dates. So, the tour was crazy, I got to go to the middle of nowhere, like Pontiac, Michigan and to bigger cities like Chicago, Baltimore, New York, and you know, they showed me love. The tour was special for me, to break out of the Canadian rap mode and kind of do something different"
For those of you that may not know him, Era isn't new.
If you pay attention to Toronto music and culture, you'd know that Era won the Marc Ecko freestyle competition six years ago, solidifying his credibility. "Every year it feels like we progress a little bit more. From the Ecko days 'til today, it's like, it's crazy for me to see the progression. I came from a freestyle background, I wasn't writing verses, I wasn't writing songs. Now I'm writing records, and people are acknowledging that they like my music, not just my raps or freestyles, but my full records. For me to be at this point in my career, it's amazing. I want to push it even further, not just for people to like my songs, but to them liking my entire album".
So, here is this Toronto artist that is in this cycle of constantly aiming higher after every accomplishment. Era's got the formula down pat, and we've seen this in works before. You know Drake, you know Kardi, Choclair, Maestro, Saukrates, K-OS and so on.
As Jonathan "Bizz" Brown from Hip Hop Canada reported, history in New Orleans, Miami, Atlanta and L.A. shows that regional risings is not because of a solitary artist, but it is because of a collective of top shelf artists. Era's on this top shelf, but I was curious to see who else would land on the top percentile for our city right now. Era was curious too, "We got a lot of artists doing their thing. For me, I wanna see who's gonna step up to the plate... Who's gonna take the torch? I'm waiting on the new energy".
|Kardinal Offishall (center) shows support to|
JD Era at his listening party -- May 1st, 2012
Photo by Jonathan "Bizz" Brown
Era was signed along with fellow artist Gangis Khan. Khan and Era reacted to the cosign in different ways, as The Torontoist reported, Khan released 3 mixtapes in a span of 5 months. Era, on the other hand, decided to be methodical. When I asked about his approach, he expressed his preference for being methodical, in order to take the time process his ideas, "For me, it was to present one project as opposed to a bunch of tapes. But for Camo's [Gangis Khan] movement, it is important for him to put out a bunch of music, it's how his people gravitated towards him, but definitely it was a purpose for me to take those steps". Era appeared on five tracks of Raekwon's "Unexpected Victory", which also appearances by CNN and Styles P. This is a major move for Era to be in a project with such big names, and not to mention, the big cosign by The Chef himself.
A great moment during the listening party was when Raekwon was able to call via Skype to congratulate Era on his project, "I'm proud of you, you definitely accomplished the unstoppable... toast to everyone that came out to represent you. All the radios, social and media networks... I just had to say, congrats".
So Era has this big cosign, a big ass fork and drive that'll likely guarantee success. He's got the support of a beautiful city and a wide range of opportunities to school you on how its done. Don't get it twisted, though, there are no hand outs here. Era's working hard for his share and understands the process and consequences of his determination.
He raps, "They askin' me is it true? You signed wit' homie from Wu... You from Toronto... your name is who?"... How does he answer to that?
I'm guessing he's just gonna be methodical and rap a couple verses to you and let you know that when it comes to this, Toronto don't play around, and neither does he. Plus, considering he can freestyle, he might have to embarrass you on the mic in the process.
JD Era "No Handouts" CD Release Party:
Venue- Body English (Misssisauga)
Hosted by Raekwon, Angela Yee (of Power 105) and Jeni (of Flow 93.5)
May 18th, 2012