We connected with Ezza CG for an exclusive interview to discuss his new music video “Care 4”, the Choom Gang, the hip-hop music scene in Niagara, Ontario, and much more.
After reading our interview with Ezza CG, stream his album “Enlit”, as well as Choom Gang’s “Dankonia”, and connect with him on his social media.
Describe the hip-hop music scene in Niagara, Ontario. Are locals supportive of homegrown talent or do they gravitate toward anything coming out of Toronto?
The Niagara hip-hop scene is pretty bonkers, man, like, I don’t even really understand what’s happening anymore lmao we just try to stay in our own lane and do our own thing now and that seems to go well.
I’m always supportive of anybody doing their thing from Niagara, but right now I’ll say the “scene” that exists has a lot of hostile aggressive energies and just weird shit that I feel is stuck in the past days of hip hop when rappers couldn’t all be in the same room without eyeing each other up and down and shit. It’s all just from insecurity - but our whole mission from day 1 has been to bring the love and that’s all we ever do is bring the love, and show love, and show others how to just let go and love, and it’s been amazing.
We’ve transformed things and been hugely influential here... whether that goes down in the history books or not remains to be seen - but I’m proud of what we’ve been doing to turn this thing around, and I continue to thrive on this.
Toronto is arguably the biggest scene in rap right now next to Atlanta, and we’re an $18 train ride away and we’re living like it’s 8 mile down here?? We could be a part of this massive Toronto wave, and with a few attitude adjustments we will be.
Kanye boldly referred to himself as the saviour of Chicago when he was coming up, and everyone thought he was nuts…. Kanye is my hero, so if I may be so bold… I will be the saviour of Niagara. Doesn’t sound nearly as cool, but I’m not as cool as Yeezy so… HAAAAAANHHHHHH??!?!
We're blown away by your new music video "Care 4"; congratulations on its release. How did you and the director Skursky come up with the treatment, which found you shooting it at Niagara Gorge?
Thank you so much for the kind words! It means a lot that people seem to be enjoying it. I hadn’t done a solo music video in nearly three years, and I pretty much disowned all my previous ones, so this is sorta my re-emergence into the world as a solo artist.
I actually wasn’t sure if I was gonna do any videos this year or just keep it to the music, but then Skursky approached me saying he’s got some new toys and that had me sold pretty quick ahaha.
“Care 4” was the first song I had some idea of the vibe I was looking for visually (basically a rap video version of “Planet Earth”), and Skursky came back with a more specific treatment and nailed it. It was a tough day and the gorge can be very difficult to hike, we also split up and got lost for 90 minutes carrying heavy gear in the heat. I’m glad it was all worth it.
"Care 4" appears on your album, "Enlit"; tell us about the development of the project. Also, who provided the production, and are there any featured artists?
“Enlit” is my way of introducing myself as an artist - just myself, with no gimmick or “theme” attached to it whatsoever. Me as me could be.
I’ve been rapping for a long time, like my whole life. I just turned 29 and I’ve been doing this since I was 10 or 11 - so I’ve been on many different journeys in this thing. I’ve gone by different names and executed different plans, to varying degrees of success. Then I went out to the mountains for a while and came back just wanting to shed my entire history as a rapper and start from scratch.
I started by working on the “Dankonia” project with Choom Gang, who I’ve been on all my journeys with as solo artists, but we’d never done a group project. So we did that and things started picking up again - I knew all along I’d be doing a solo project next, because working on “Dankonia” really got my creative juices flowing.
“Enlit” - the whole idea stemmed from crazy conversations I had with DJ Ill Table Manners about spirituality, substances, and hip-hop … I could go deeper on that, but to summarize I’ll just say “Enlit” means “enlightened” and “lit" … ITM is mainly a boom-bap producer, and I’d done a lot of trappy stuff in previous years (a lot of Dankonia is more toward that end as well), so I had this idea to shock the world and make a classic hip-hop album and really rap my ass off. It was gonna be beats from all local Niagara producers, but as I was working, I started realizing that this was kind of a “theme” in itself that I found to be a restriction on my creativity - which was the opposite of what I wanted “Enlit” to be. So instead I started reaching out to my favourite producers I worked with in the past - ALXS from France, Chiveer from Russia (who did Care 4), Roca Beats from Holland, and Yung Nab from somewhere in America … about as far from local as possible LOL these guys worked on all my trappy stuff from years past - but they’re also very diverse themselves, so I went through their stuff and picked sounds that were cohesive and matched this new dreamy-cloudy sound I was looking for, but also kinda matched “Dankonia”.
The result took almost a year to put together, but I’m very happy with it. Got two features from Freelance Flint who is a fucking legend in East Vancouver, like he’s just somebody I really believe people need to know about - just an absolute beauty of a human being and probably the most slept on rapper in Canada. So I put him on twice, on songs that couldn’t sound more different from each other, and of course he nailed both. Then I linked up with Cashy from Miami who’s music I really love, and we’d been chatting about working for a while… he had this hook lying around that him and Yung Simmie did and I fuckin love Simmie too, so I had to have it on the album. Then I got Koma who literally only ever raps on my music, on the most personal track “Dawgs”. There’s something for everyone on there I like to think. No DJ Ill Table Manners beats made the album but he’s still listed as the executive producer, and our collabs are still coming ahaha.
Tell us about the Choom Gang; who are the members and how did you become a part of the collective?
Choom Gang is the street name for H.O.M.E. Records, which is the conglomerate a few of us best friends started putting together in 2008-2009. chuck Nyndees was the spearhead, the creative genius, the image setter, the man behind it all - and he recruited people who’s energy he vibed with that he saw potential in, and then he harnessed that energy to bring that potential out. He also made the greatest rap music ever, according to me. He passed away in a tragedy in late 2014 right when we were on an upward trajectory. This was the man who set up the mic in his bedroom, engineered us all, mixed and mastered us all, made beats, shot videos and edited videos, AND was the star rapper likely to blow up.
So aside from the indescribable emotional repercussions of dealing with the loss of my best friend and the man who made me realize who I am - we also lost our mentor and creative partner who was the driving force behind everything we did. Literally the only way for me to cope is for me to attempt to continue his vision, and that’s still where we are right now - so Choom Gang is a big collective, but on the “Dankonia” album we keep it to a core of myself, Rebel Mehari, and Jorelle because everyone else is scattered across the map. We snuck in verses from as many others as we could, but the bulk of the album is us three, carrying on the same mission we started back in the day while incorporating new sounds and styles. If you listen to the music, you’ll hopefully understand where we’re coming from.
Can we expect a follow up to Choom Gang's "Dankonia" album in 2020?
I would love to make this happen! Life’s been hectic in 2019, and as much as rap been going better this year, it’s still not paying the bills so we all have jobs and lives and other shit going on that makes it difficult… maybe one day that will change lol.
“Dankonia” and “Enlit” both just got nominated for Album of the Year at the Niagara Music Awards, so that’s certainly encouraging - and already has sparked conversations of a follow-up ahaha so I’m pretty sure it will happen. But we haven’t started anything yet, so I don’t wanna make promises. We just appreciate that there’s interest at all.
Speaking of 2020, what are some of your goals musically heading into the new year as a solo artist and as a member of Choom Gang?
Definitely going to continue working with Skursky on visuals, really want to get a good fleet of videos out from the camp. Probably will do a few more selections off “Dankonia” and “Enlit” before we begin to unveil some new stuff.
No plans for full projects as of yet - most likely will do a few singles with videos, not attached to anything and see how the response is. Basically try to keep this momentum going and the snowball rolling. We also recruited some new artists Lil Nucci, Jecoby, Just Zone, and ENVY who can all rap their asses off but don’t have much completed work out there - so I’m gonna try to work with them on bringing out their potential the way chuck did the rest of us. It’s just another one of those things where life unfortunately gets in the way - but please look out for anything with the CG name on it, cuz it’ll be at LEAST a little dope :P