Hailing from the very #outchea suburb known as Mississauga, Ontario, Junia-T has been a mainstay in the pre-Drake Toronto hip-hop scene as a rapper and producer. Sonically, this mad scientist uses his wits to carve a lane that’s more of a riff on Toronto’s past rather than conforming to the turnt-up anthems of his contemporaries. Having recently collaborated with artists across the pond like Little Simz, Junia-T is becoming an international name while still staying close to his roots by working with Toronto pioneers Rich Kidd and Slakah the Beatchild. Without a doubt, Junia-T is working 24/7 to keep the soul in the Six. We caught up with him at Toronto’s infamous Yonge-Dundas Square for a blunt and a history lesson.
IX: Alright man, let’s start this up! What is the first album [of somebody else’s music] that changed your life? What did it do to change you?
I would say it was the first Black Star album. Like at the time, I was still young, just writing about whatever, you know what I mean? ‘Cus I just liked to rap, I didn’t really put two and two together as far as like expressing my life into music, you know what I mean? So I was rapping a whole bunch of shit I wasn’t living until I heard that album. And that album kind of gave me the confidence to rap about my life ‘cus I was younger at the time, I was in high school. And at my school, we had like a big cypher all the time, you know what I mean? And I was like one of the LONE dudes that’s bumping like J-Live, Cannibal Ox, like Def Jux and all that stuff, you know what I mean? And everybody else is bumping like the brand new [DJ] Kay Slay mixtape, Fabolous, like Red Cafe, you know what I mean? So it was good, that was the album that allowed me to be that underground rapper and still feel superior to whatever their opinions were, you know what I mean? [sparks blunt]
IX: As a producer and a beatmaker, what is your process…
Security guard: You can’t smoke that here, man.
Ahh really?! Let’s go for a walk.
Security guard: Yea, you guys can go for a walk, go across the street, come back, no problem. You just can’t smoke on the Square. Thanks guys!
IX: Thank you! Thank you for not being the cops!
I don’t even sweat it, I smoke always. Smoking that loud!
IX: So as a producer, beatmaker, do you try to use more like hardware or software, like what’s your shit? What kind of programs do you use?
I’d say it starts with software. I started with Fruity Loops back in my high school days. That was the first thing that we could get our hands on so I rocked with that for a couple of years. Then I just felt the importance of needing to learn how to use gear, you know what I mean? So I bought an [Akai] MPC1000 so I ran with that for a bit, it was cool, but I still prefer software. Fruity Loops, Ableton, my laptop and a controller, you know what I mean? Like it’s all in my bag right now, I travel with all that shit. [I make a lot of] sample-based stuff, I play a lot of stuff plus I got like musicians at my access so whenever I have a sample of some sort that I want redone…