Hip-Hop Wired: Considering your current status with not being able to cross the border, how much did that weigh in on titling the project Dear America?
P. Reign: We had about 100 names picked out prior to us coming up with the title Dear America. But because of my current situation with not being able to cross the border, the name kind of picked itself. A lot of my music is based on the fact that I can’t cross it.
Being a Canadian artist, the ability to cross the border is everything if you’d like to reach a certain level of success. The concept came about naturally. I was kind of forced to choose that name. I’ve been doing my thing in Canada for the past 10 years, crossing the border is needed to get to the next level.
HHW: You separated Dear America into an EP and a mixtape. What was the significance of that move?
P. Reign: It was originally one project. Then we took records that we thought would do better commercially and packaged them into an EP to give fans something to purchase. We didn’t want to give away too much music for free.
HHW: From your perspective, what inspires that dreary sound Toronto has contributed to Hip-Hop?
P. Reign: Life for us on a day-to-day basis. They say Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world, so there’s an array of different backgrounds in one city. Even back in junior high school, you’re exposed to a lot of ethnicities in your classrooms; you’re exposed to a lot of backgrounds at once.
HHW: Drake and you tell uniquely different stories in your music, despite being from the same city. Considering your life’s story, what’s one misconception people have of life in Canada?
P. Reign: Not to say that Drake created a misconception, but he and I walked a different path in our lives. He tells his story, and he does that very well. I do the same. But we come from two completely different ends of the spectrum.
I’m from the side of Toronto where a lot of sh*t goes down. His side of Toronto is variably quiet. I can only tell the story as best as I can. I grew up experiencing a lot of things that he didn’t. When we crossed paths, we’re probably 18 or 19 years old. He ended up seeing a lot of things through me, and I saw a lot things coming from his side through him.
One misconception is that there’s no hoods. When you think of Chicago and L.A., the gangs, and the violence, not to say that we’re on that level as far as the media coverage and the amount of violence, you have to understand that we have a smaller population. It may not happen as often, but it happens.
It’s frustrating when people don’t believe the story, or they have a notion that you may be lying before listening to your music, because you don’t understand. Scarborough, where I’m from, or the other parts of the city where we have poverty, drugs, and gangs, that’s the story I tell, because that was my life.