Canadian artists have been making their way to the US for some time now. Well before Drake, you had artists such as Kardinal Offishall, K’nann, K-os, and Saukrates who have made some noise in the US market paving the way for artists like Drake, Justin Beiber, and The Weeknd to take flight. Since their arrival, Canada has kicked down the door bringing in a new wave of rappers, singers, and producers from all over the country.

One the rappers coming out of Canada who is making his voice heard is 20-year old Pressa, hailing from the Driftwood neighborhood in Toronto. Pressa, who isn’t even old enough to legally drink yet has been rapping since an early age, but technically just started his music career last year. Even though he is just getting started, the young rapper is quickly making a name for himself and showing a different side of Toronto; vividly depicting and shedding light on what it’s like to grow up in the heart of one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods and having to deal with the losing of close friends to gun violence or jail, police raids, and more all at a very young age. His unorthodox voice mixed with his baby face and ruthless rhymes makes him stand out amongst the crowd.

His first two singles “Deadmihana” and “TBH” that he released in early 2016 quickly became street hits with each gaining over a million views on Youtube, followed by starting his independent record label, Blue Feather Records soon after. With a growing buzz in his city, he linked up with Murda Beatz (who has produced for Migos, 2 Chainz, Drake, 24hrs and more) for the single “Novacane” off of the producer’s debut project Keep God First. The song helped propel Pressa’s buzz even more with him receiving co-signs from Lil Bibby, Meek Mill, The Weeknd and even Drake taking a liking to him. Drake would eventually end up doing more then co-signing the young rapper,  taking Pressa with him on his Boy Meets World Tour in February and had him open up on select dates in London. From there he continued his UK excursion and joined UK rapper Giggs who is one of the most important figures in UK rap, on his Landlord: The Tour. And in the midst of all that, he released his debut mixtape Press Machine which featured the buzzing singles “Deadmihana,” “TBH” and “Lavish”, proving that those singles were no fluke and that he has more where that came from.

Despite facing a heap of legal troubles, Pressa continues to keep his head up, pushing through and continuing to grow his rap career. With the way this year is going, the young Toronto rapper is keeping his foot on the gas pedal as he continues to tour throughout the UK and even has plans on releasing another project before the year is up. Get familiar with Pressa as he talks about his upbringing, debut project, touring with Drake and more in our interview below.

1. How long have you been rapping and what inspired you to start in the first place?

Pressa: I have always dabbled with rap. Started around the age of 9, but ever since Kwasi Skene-Peters (WASSI), my best friend died I took it seriously and told myself this is what I wanted to do. I want to have a better life for my family and his, so I decided to exalt all my energy and feelings into music. Then I put together a hit song with my bro’s Robin Banks, Gd, and Fb from the neighborhood called ”Wass Gang”.

2. Did growing up in Driftwood, one of the roughest neighborhoods in Canada, have an influence on your music? If so, explain how.

Pressa: Growing up in Driftwood had an influence on my music, all my life experiences were derived from this one neighborhood. If I wasn’t born in Driftwood then I wouldn’t be who I am today. My music is a true reflection of me and my dreams which all came from this one place.

3. Who were some of your influences, besides the obvious?

Pressa: My Uncle was big on music he was in a live band as a drummer and he exposed me to all types of quality music such as Bob Marley, Garnett Silk, and 2pac. Also, some of my influences would have to be 50 Cent and Gucci Mane then, later on, I was a big fan of Meek Mill and Drake.

4. When did you establish your independent record label Blue Feather Records and what motivated you to do so?

Pressa: I established my brand right after my first single “Deadmihana”. I felt like if I was going to be in this industry I was going to be in it for real. I told myself I was going to go independent and learn how to finesse these bands like it was the trap, so basically, I just found a new form of trapping. I ain’t never take no handouts so I wasn’t going to come in this game under anyone else but myself.

5. You just released your debut mixtape Press Machine. Creatively, explain your mental state that helped propel you while putting it together?

Pressa: Mentally I was just trying to make good music that appeals to all different target markets, not just one type of fan base. As you can see that is why I have drill type music, trap music, and music that the ladies can relate to and also sing along melodies that kids could sing to. I just wanted a tape that everyone can listen to and relate to. I didn’t want my tape to be all about drill music when I have other types of fans. I’m not just trying to have only male fans I want to have a lot of female ones as well.

6. A majority of the tape was produced by Money Music and Motivated. Explain that relationship with them? How long have you been working with them and did they have a hand in creating your sound?

Pressa: I started out with motivated back in early 2016 at the start of my career the first single we collaborated on was TBH which was released in February 2016. After that, he has just been sending me wassi beats and I just been killing them. According to money music, I started working with him, mid-2016. He was actually willing to sign to my label which would have been the first producer I signed. He was just a young boy doing his thing so I jumped on one of his beats and killed it with “100 Wassi Bars.” Shortly after that, I used him for my feature with Tory Lanez.

7. How did you link up with Murda Beatz? And do you guys have more work in the stash because “Novacane” took off?

Pressa: Murda is my n***a we come from the same city and we have the same dreams. We have mutual friends and all but we just connected on social media because hard work gets acknowledge and we definitely heard about each other and decided to work. One day he hit me up and said I’m dropping a mixtape on Saturday and I want you on it. He sent the beat on Tuesday I finished the track Wednesday got it mixed on Thursday and sent it to him that’s why in the Novacane video “I said I’ll dirty it in 24hrs”. So far the connection has been tight and we got some Wass in the future for ya’ll, but real soon we gonna drop a couple tracks for the fans.

8. You recently opened for Drake’s Boy Meets World Tour. Can you tell me about how that came about and what was your reaction? Experience overall?

Pressa: Basically I been rocking with Niko he one of Drake best friends he been getting my tracks on OVO Sound Radio and shit and through him and one of my n****s on my management team who goes by banana which is the official OVO ball coach they said that Drake wanted to meet me and potentially bring me on tour. so I flew out to London with the idea of promoting my music so that way if the boy meets world tour didn’t go as planned it’s not like I came out here for no reason.

Ya, the Drake tour was crazy, I experienced and learned a lot from being around Drake and his camp. I found out this is a full-time job and there ain’t no lacking in this game. I learned a lot of industry wise and also as a person. I met a lot of real n****s and brand named artists and celebrities such as The Weeknd, Nicki Minaj, Lil Yathty, Trey Songz, Popcann, Odell Beckham Jr, Von Miller, Mo Peterson, and many more but also I met my homie Giggs who I fuck with till this day and who is basically a mentor to me.

9. Do you feel like your shedding light on another side of Toronto, a more authentic side per say?

Pressa: I wouldn’t say a more authentic side because no matter what side you rap about I guess it’s still a real life experience whether you rap about relationships, drug addictions, struggling, or living lavishly, they are all real life experiences. I would say I am shedding light on a different lifestyle of Toronto that no one has shed light on before.

Me being a local street kid fighting the system day in and day out, cops shutting down my venues, cops killing my best friend, friends in and out of jail, my childhood neighborhood going down for organize crime three times in my lifetime and sure not the last. I even got caught in one as a minor back in December 2011 called “Project Marvel” when I was only 15. Being targeted by the media with negative articles and every minute they use it against me to tarnish my name every chance they get when I’m just trying to build a career for myself and make a legitimate lifestyle.

Also growing up with no father due to him being incarcerated for the past 21 years ever since I was one month old. My brother is in the federal system doing double digit years, uncles in and out of jail and on the run. So basically growing up with no solid male role model. You tell me who is shedding light on these current problems or issues right now in Toronto? I’m not saying these rappers don’t exist but I can guarantee I am the one actually living it and shedding the most light and giving the most attention to the situation to let the world know these issues do transpire in Toronto as well.

10. 2017 has started off great for you, what else do you have planned for the rest of the year?

Pressa: Musically wise I would like to drop more tapes, at least one more this year. I would like to drop 6 more videos for the year. Get on at least 2 more mainstream artists songs and meet some key players in the industry. I would like to kill the game this year so that way next year I would be recognized as a freshmen for 2018. I’m going to keep releasing good music for the fans so they keep supporting and buying my music. I have a few tours in the works, one in South Africa and a few others. Now reality wise, I need to handle my legal problems so I can start traveling the states, see my dad and brother be released from prison, put my mom in a mansion and a foreign car and make sure my teams good. I want to continue on my straight path and get this legit money. I want to make some more bags, and lastly, I want to organize some charity events to give back to the communities that support me.

11. Is there anything you would like to add?

Pressa: Go get my first project Press Machine on iTunes. Make sure to follow me on all social media and look out for new music coming soon.