You know him for his beats, humour, and undeniably engaging music videos. KTOE is the 23-year-old Toronto rapper, producer, and songwriter with an unforgettable sound that leaves listeners wanting more. KTOE is known for working with JUNO award winning rap artist Jazz Cartier and most recently, his live performance at Kardinal Offishall’s Free The City concert. He’s been making big moves in his collaborations and overall, career, however, it was not an easy journey to get to where he is now.
Much like every other child growing up, KTOE was curious and eager to find his niche. He tried different hobbies such as riding bikes, skateboarding, dance, and others, in an attempt to figure out what was right for him. He was determined to learn who he was and who he wanted to be. Eventually, his dad unknowingly guided him towards his calling.
“My dad used to DJ at parties, so he always had the equipment. I had all of this in the basement, so I thought, might as well try it out too. He used to bump music all the time and I was always around that. At the crib, he had his own studio and I would get into it. I’ve been doing that for a super long time. When I was a kid, I was trying to figure out these synchronization games on the computer too.”
KTOE’s dad is a St. Lucia native who would constantly play old school reggae and soca, with the occasional top hits like 50 Cent. Being around him made KTOE realize how much he enjoyed music and all of its forms. Prior to becoming an artist, he taught himself to be a producer first. From playing synchronization games as a kid to making beats as a teenager, KTOE has always been fascinated by creating sounds. His younger self would be proud of him right now, his music video tag line “This is a KTOE beat” is a signifier of this producer’s talent.
“I got so ahead of my time when it came to making beats. I was making different styles in high school. All the people in high school were like, “yo I can’t hop on your beat style, you’re too different”. At that point I was like, I was like “fuck y’all I’m just going to do my own thing and rap to my own type of beats”. That’s why before anything, I was a producer you know.”
In high school, KTOE was lucky enough to have a studio that he could use. His school had a new studio program where students can join and learn how to produce. There were many days where a young KTOE would ask his teacher if he can go to the studio and record, and they would allow it. He believes they saw his potential early on and so, they wanted him to practice what he loved. His hard work ended up paying off in the end because he won the award for the highest mark in music class.
After years of producing, he finally decided to get into rapping. He noticed that everyone had their own version of music, their own style. KTOE wanted to follow suit and create his own rendition of music as well. His high school teacher once said to him, “if you’re going to make music, just make sure you have your own type of sound” and this advice never left his mind. Until now, those words have stayed relevant throughout the course of his career.
“I want everyone that listens to understand that you can’t put me in a box when it comes to music. If you say KTOE can’t rap too hard, we got that. If you say, KTOE not soft enough for the females, we have that. KTOE is this or that, I want to leave the least amount of room for people to say I can’t do that.”
KTOE is a versatile artist that stays out of the box. He’s not just a producer and a songwriter now, but a rapper and he wants people to acknowledge that. He prides himself on being unique and being unlike any other out right now. His music, along with his videos, are distinctively him. They showcase his personality and his imaginative mindset. All he wants is to share this with the world and that is why he made his mark into the industry.
“I don’t want to think too hard when it comes to making music because it’s what I do every single day. Let me just be in my zone and create a fun sound. Even “Not My Friends” it was fun, I made that song in 20 minutes. Let’s just not think too hard about music.”
In 2016, KTOE started going to numerous parties as a way to get his name out the door. He would go, meet new people, play his music, and make new connections. Sometimes, he would even get the DJ to play his song at the parties. Through networking, he was able to get signed by Dr. Luke’s Prescription Songs publishing and as a result, his manager was able to put him on a song with Jazz Cartier, thus flourishing his network of connections.
“I got management through one of my home girls, her cousin is my manager right now. He said he really rocked with me and it’s been cozy from there. Then we got the song with Jazz, talk to Jazz, he got a lot of people to rock with me, cause he’s such a credible person in the industry. From there, it’s basically all history. I’m just being a genuine person and making good music.”
In 2018, KTOE was featured in Cartier’s 2018 album, Fleurever, on the praised track, “Right Now”. In addition to being the only guest appearance on the album, he also produced three of the tracks. “Right Now” instantly became recognized for its catchy hook and beat and is one of Cartier’s most viewed music videos on YouTube to date. Later in 2018, KTOE dropped his debut solo single and video, “Holy Ghost” and it did not disappoint. The single confirmed the rapper’s ability to deliver hard-hitting beats and captivating flows.
KTOE went on to release popular singles such as “Touring” ft. Jazz Cartier, “Not My Friends”, “Alter Ego” ft. Yung Tory and “No Baker”, before dropping his full-length project debut titled, “I’m Mad” in 2019. The artist says the 6-track EP is meant to put listeners on a rollercoaster of emotions. Specifically, his track, ‘Yellow Bandana’, talks about dealing with pain and fighting your demons. Now, his latest singles include “50 Grand 100 Grand” which dropped in July, and his freshest single, “Birkin” which dropped on July 30th. KTOE’s, “Birkin”, is about what women want and deserve from their men. The Hermes Birkin bag has been iconic in pop culture today for representing wealth, luxury, and prime. The “Birkin” music video directed by Elliot Muscat (J Balvin, Diplo, Selena Gomez), is a fun, humorous video that shows the rapper dancing amongst cheerleaders following a coach that tries to outdo him.
KTOE’s next upcoming project is his debut mixtape “Face Lift” set to release early this fall. It’s going to be a collection of music that will be new and matured. Since being in quarantine in the past couple of months, KTOE’s creative process has changed in terms of producing music.
“This project is going to make me stand out because people are going to notice “this guy is really taking hit shit seriously; he’s matured as an artist”. I had a project done before going to quarantine and we were going to drop it, bring it out to the world. But after quarantine, I had time to sit down and take in what I want to do and where I want to take my music. I scrapped my whole project, everything I had with all the features, and decided we were going to start fresh. We are going to lock in and take our time this time.
Before being in quarantine, KTOE’s process involved going through beats, choosing an uncommon beat, and then banging out a song. It would take 10-15 minutes to do the beat, afterwards he would start writing the lyrics. After quarantine, he chose to take more time on his songs. For instance, he would do the hook one day and come back to the verse on another. KTOE says he ultimately learned how to use his time wisely. Instead of trying to get a song sent out right away, he would take the time to improve them.
“Through quarantine, I learned how to take my time more in music. Before I used to not rush, but if I was feeling a song so much, I’d just get it out the door right now. But now, I have a lot more time to be myself on the music. I want to create more fire, more songs that resonate with people. That’s my process right now.”
This upcoming project will show a different side to KTOE, a brand new, cultivated artist, hence the title, “Face lift”.
“It’s basically just saying that new me. When a girl does a facelift, what does she feel like? A new person. Honestly 8 months ago, I was overweight, so I went to the gym, I started working out, getting my mind right and focussing on my mental health. Meditating too. I was doing all that. What better way of saying this type of thing but in a cool way, so let me brainstorm ideas and I came up with Facelift and I think it’s dope.”
KTOE has been booked and busy in the studio as he works with notable artists like Big Sean, WondaGurl, Roy Woods, Yung Tory, TripSixx, TY Senoj, and so many more. He hopes to get booked for shows soon as places start to open up again. His goal is to tour across Canada and America. He’s confident that it’s only a matter of time before he can. KTOE’s dreams are quickly coming to fruition and Sidedoor is honored to see it.
“It’s been a long journey, there’s been a lot of nos. I never made that rejection stop me. It might be a no right now, but it’ll be a yes in a couple of years. That’s my kind of attitude on a lot of things, I just know that with time and patience, grinding hard, anything is possible. I’m living proof. If I put myself out there and put my mind to it, I know I can do it.”