In the current zeitgeist that perpetuates vulnerability as a weakness, DijahSB stands strong in their morals and lived experiences, proving instead that their openness is a strength. The Toronto-based lyricist not only divulges their perspective through song, but also through their online presence. They never back down from giving impactful insight, willing to educate others through sharp—and oftentimes blunt—cuts of the jib that ignites growth and introspection.
However, DijahSB’s polarizing presence in the music industry is what drew us to them. While others pander to the masses, the rapper holds no prisoners with their impeccable intellect and empathetic approach to justice and reformation. “Anything that’s against the greatest good for the greatest amount of people, I’m going to speak up,” they proclaim.
Taking the trip from Canada to Brooklyn for NYC-based music and ice cream social, Sundae Sauuce‘s event, DijahSB took some time from their short trip to impart hot takes on loyalty, ice cream for breakfast, and when to let your Twitter fingers rain.
It’s pretty rare that you see rapper-producers collaborate as frequently as you do with Cheap Limousine. That type of loyalty was super common in the 90s and early 2000s, but it seems like doing the weirdest shit in any genre is everyone’s goal rather than consistency. What makes you go with this approach instead?
First of all, Cheap Limousine’s sound just fits my pocket so well. And you kind of stuff that is old school, but sounds so new. And that’s how I like to describe myself as well. Old school flavor, but new school feel. So we fit perfectly in terms of that. But it also I also just love the loyalty aspect of it. Like you said, just being able to grow with one person and seeing that come up with them. It makes a difference. Building that relationship with somebody and then seeing it become something—it really makes a difference rather than like, a one-off producer that maybe one song blows up then the rest of them doesn’t. So just being able to kind of connect on that level musically [feels right]. And then you never know which song—because we have so many songs [together]—could be the one. I think that makes me much happier, much more obligated to work with just one person. But other than that, his music and his production are just some of the greatest stuff that I’ve heard ever so it’s really easy for me to just choose nobody else.
In 2022 the EP, you did do something a little different and collabed with another Toronto group, Keys N Krates. Seeing as you normally work with Cheap Limousine is based in Italy, how was it working with other musicians who are actually in your area?
It makes it that much sweeter because that’s what I love. There’s a different kind of love [because] they’re so successful with what they do. So for a team like that to want to have me on their production really warms my heart. It just validates everything that I’m doing thus far. Because they’re so successful. They’re so great at what they do. So for them to have for me to be on board with them. It really means a lot.
Can you rank these rapper-producer duos from most to least goated: Missy Elliot and Timbaland, Drake and 40, Guru & DJ Premier, Prodigy & Alchemist, DijahSB & Cheap Limousine
Dijahsb & Cheap Limousine
Missy and Timbo
Guru & DJ Premier
… Who am I missing?
Prodigy & The Alchemist and Drake & 40.
I’ll do The Prodigy & The Alchemist and then Drake.
Do we like Drake?
We.. we like Drake. We like aspects of Drake.
[Laughter] So Drake, Keys N Krates, DijahSB. Now that we’ve mentioned some Toronto artists, what is a common misconception of the Toronto hip-hop scene?
A big misconception is that there’s a big support for us. A majority of artists are just so talented, so great, but a lot of it is lacking financial support. And you don’t really have a [major] label [in Toronto]. You could say, there’s OvO, but that doesn’t really count. There is Sony Canada, but that’s for all of Canada. I don’t think there’s really like a label that’s championing specifically Toronto hip-hop artists. I feel like we need that pipeline of Toronto [independent artists] to a label that kind of has the pipeline to other avenues, to be able to make it internationally. Because if you’re staying in Toronto, it kind of stifles you. It’s kind of just… That’s it.
A big misconception [of the Toronto hip-hop scene] is that there’s a big support for us. A majority of artists are just so talented, so great, but a lot of it is lacking financial support.
Whereas if you make it internationally, or in the states, it’s different. That’s why it’s best if Toronto had something to export its talent to a label and develop the talent here, that would change everything. You’d have a lot more Toronto exports. I wish Toronto would put more value into music and entertainment because it does make a difference, even financially, for the city. Drake literally stimulates the economy right now.
There’s been an interesting dichotomy during the pandemic of artists who have either quit their jobs to do music full time or relied so much on touring that they had to find “normal” jobs once we were in lockdown. I’m sure a huge switch causes anyone to feel unsure of themselves, but I like to ask artists who’ve made the transition full time into music: What was your come-to-Jesus moment was that you made the right decision?
There’s been a few things. Like seeing more money in maybe a day than I have in like, my entire retail yearly income. That makes me understand that there’s money in this and that I’ll be able to sustain myself for the first time. I got a huge check and I said, ‘Wow, I got this because I made something that took me maybe 25 minutes to write.’ And the value of music is so it’s so strange because just this one thing that you wrote can bring so many opportunities, especially financially. So once I realized that I realized that anything is possible. And every day, I just have my mind open to the possibility of a new opportunity that could help me financially.
There have been times when I do get those opportunities and I’m like, ‘Okay, I made the right decision.’ I’m not going to a job that stresses me out because now I have the right mindset to be able to create. And that’s the most important thing to me. So it balances it out, you know? The only difference is with retail and other jobs, you get paid every Friday and it’s guaranteed. Whereas freelancing or being an entrepreneur, you don’t know when that check is coming. So that’s the only thing that’s really been difficult for me. Other than that, like I’ve been enjoying being a full-time musician.
Speaking of money and the value of music, you’re never one to back down from giving your hot takes. I think your outspokenness on NFTs is pretty brave considering Twitter is always Twittering.
I feel like they’re just really inaccessible. The process of setting up the wallet and buying the coins and all that shit, it just makes the music feel like it’s just for a certain demographic of people that can afford that. I don’t feel like that’s the part that should be scarce about music. I want everybody to be able to access it. With streaming technology, anybody could look up your music and listen to it. And although it might be a disadvantage to the artists most of the time, for the consumer, it’s a great way to find artists that you love. And I just felt also that so people getting scammed. And once I figured out what exactly it was I was just like…
Not for you?
Not for me. I’m not going to dabble in it. But the thing is, I want to support them. I understand why artists would do them. It’s so difficult to make any sort of money in the industry. So this NFT shit has people programmed into believing that this is how artists are going to retain ownership and make money. All I really think that it does is remove the people that actually care about you—the fans that actually want to listen and support you. I feel like it just removes them. And then now you have a bunch of crypto bros that are buying your thing, but they only want to buy it because they think it can have value later. They don’t care about the artist.
How do you decide which battles on Twitter are worth fighting?
Actually that’s a funny question. I’ve been a wild out on there, but I’ve been I’ve been calmer than usual recently. You’re right. It’s about picking the right battles. So to Tweet about and be public about, a majority of the time I’m going to speak out against something because it’s something that other people are going through. And I want people to feel validated when they see that somebody is on their side.
The other day, they were arguing about working from home. And I talked to somebody about it because they said something stupid. And they’re like, ‘Why do you even care if you don’t work a nine to five? If you’re a rapper full-time, why do you care?’ Because it’s not about what situation I’m in. I don’t have to be in this situation to care about it. It’s not fair that people can’t work from home. That’s the kind of thing that I defend. The working-class people and anything that’s like, against the greatest good for them, and the greatest amount of people, I’m going to speak up.
Anything that’s against the greatest good for the greatest amount of people, I’m going to speak up.
As a non-binary artist, do find it easier or harder to process gendered discourse in hip-hop? Especially the huge topics right now like Rico Nasty and Playboy Carti, or Megan Thee Stallion and Tory Lanez.
I’d say it’s difficult. I feel like it’s difficult when we’re being judged, or people are against us because of it. It’s a difficult conversation to navigate on Twitter, because you don’t know the tone. And it’s very hard to get across a point when everybody’s just mad or angry, and not really debating to gain information, but they’re debating because they want to be right.
I feel like we have to just continue having conversations because once you think about it, it benefits everybody it benefits men and women to just not conform to gender roles. So once people realize ‘Hey, I’m actually fighting for you as well as myself.’ I feel like gets better the conversation. People just want to be angry and nobody ever debates for actual information. They just want to be right.
That’s so true. Sometimes it’s also just fun to have discourse on stupid shit. Like just yesterday you said, “People who drink Dr. Peoper are a menace to society.” You just performed at an ice cream parlor at 11 am on a Sunday morning. Do you have any hot takes about having ice cream for breakfast?
Honestly, it’s so weird that there’s stuff like breakfast food, lunch food, and dinner food. Like it feels weird to eat a fucking chicken sandwich in the morning. But like who made that up? Who made it up that you can only have eggs and toast and bacon in the mornings? And like things like steak and burgers in the evening? Who made that up? Why is that a thing? Ice cream for breakfast? I just did it. I feel great. I feel energized. I love ice cream. It’s not very good for me because I’m lactose intolerant. But anyway, that is my hot take on ice cream for breakfast. I’m on ice cream for breakfast’s side. And yeah, it’s just so funny. I asked him about that other day. Like why do I feel weird eating a burger in the morning? I always feel like I have to eat something light instead.
But breakfast is the most important meal of the day!
So what’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Definitely like cookies and cream. Or like anything with caramel. I love a good caramel sauce.
Back to your music, you just dropped 2022 the EP. Why is naming projects after years so important to you?
I like to put a stamp on the year and look back at it as this is what I made this year. And also I started doing it during the pandemic. With 2020 the Album, I wanted to make something that would help people kind of forget about what’s going on. And it’ll just be something I could look back at and say, during this really difficult time, I made one of the best albums, some of the best music I’ve ever made. That was what was going through my mind when I named it. 2022 the EP, the same thing. I just wanted to make something to kind of help people going through it. Myself included. Because creating is like therapy for me. I had fun making it. I hope people have fun listening to it and that it will be an escape from what’s going on.
Creating is like therapy for me.
What is the biggest life lesson you’ve learned between the releases of 2020 the album and 2022 the EP?
Anything could happen at any moment. Scary how nature can turn into a whole different world for us to live in. So you really got to take it day by day. Because you never know what the future can hold for you. And the best thing that you can do is try your best every day and try not to think too far into the future. Because you never know. Everything could get canceled. And you have to change the way that you make music or that you make money in a matter of months. So you really just gotta take it day by day and try your best to be the best version.
I know you’re friends with chromonicci.. I actually just interviewed him and he was telling me how when he writes lyrics, they’re not always based on his lived experience and are actually sometimes like a loosely-based character. That’s common in rap and I know your influences are the hyper-relatable Lupe Fiasco and Kid Cudi, but do you ever do character work?
That is something that I haven’t explored, but it’s definitely something that would be interesting to me. Because I also want to maybe get into acting later on. So that could be like a good crossover, a good way to kind of see if that’s something that I was able to do. Being able to write from another perspective. I think people that do that are genius, are great. And it’s fun. Like stepping out of yourself and becoming something else. Definitely something I would want to explore.
With you mostly writing about your life, how do you recharge after baring your soul in bars?
I think it just comes naturally to me that it really doesn’t affect me in that way. I’ve always been a vulnerable person before it was cool. So the way that I navigate is very sensitive, very vulnerable. And I don’t take those as bad traits. A lot of people think it’s a bad trait to be vulnerable or sensitive. But I actually love feeling emotions and feeling sad, feeling angry—even though those are deemed as negative emotions, they’re still emotions that everyone feels. That the fact that I could feel those and go through that means that I can also feel the other extreme of happiness and joy. And that really makes a difference while navigating life.
I actually love feeling emotions and feeling sad, feeling angry—even though those are deemed as negative emotions, they’re still emotions that everyone feels.
Who are some Toronto artists we should be hip to?
Savanna Ré, RAY HMND, Terrell Morris, and everyone who’s on my manager’s roster.
Listen to DijahSB’s 2022 the EP below.