No Introductions – Raz Fresco Has Earned That


As long as I stay true to myself, I will always have self-style wisdom. It will always be like that as long as I continue to draw from myself in the purest form. No one can do you better than you. On this album, I did me.

There is something different about Raz Fresco. He’s no longer the polo-sporting OG Raptors 7-spitting teen who seized the attention of DJ Holiday at 15-years-old and later helped set a precedent for young ambition in the Screwface Capital. There’s a mature and steadfast assertiveness about the Toronto artist-producer hybrid now that was once concealed behind throwback brands.

It’s quite a transition from the young artist I had initially sat down with three years ago for our first official interview for a Canadian rap mag; an afternoon that produced his first two-page spread and my first glossy print byline. Putting In A Grind Beyond His Time, the Summer 2012 headline read.

It was one of those impossibly ~Toronto~ spring afternoons in 2012 that only those that have experienced Toronto in the spring could understand. The mid-May air smelled of spring blossoms and original Wild N’ Mild backwoods, as the bypassing tinted Hondas bumped 2 Chainz through rattling speakers and distorted base. The birds chirped along to “No Lie.”

Draped in vintage Polo Sport, from his fleece retro headband to his navy sweater, with a gold AK-47 bullet ball chain hanging from his neck, the 17-year-old emcee sauntered up to our meeting spot a half hour late. I greeted him, Bakers Club familia The 6th Letter, and Toronto OGs Rich Kidd and Junia-T, who also reached the park, before Raz and I took a sunny spot alone on the concrete steps of an old church, where it was quiet. My questions regarding his recent Stylus Awards nomination, prosperous beat placements with Wale, Big Sean and French Montana and his preparation for his upcoming DJ Holiday-hosted mixtape, Cakey Pocket$ were folded in my left hand, while I held my recorder with my right. We didn’t waste time.

“Do you want to just start by introducing yourself on the mic,” I said to Raz, who adjusted his gold-rimmed sun glasses.

That’s how I used to start all my interviews back then. It helped to quickly locate the audio in my ever-full Olympus VN702PC that I carried unyieldingly. Raz would later learn this little semi-professional journalistic foible of mine quite well over the following few years as I learned his live performance practices like I too was a member of his Bakers Club collective.

For the next two years, it seemed like every bill the blunted baker had booked, I was scheduled to cover for my publication, snapping photos in the media pit and sticking my recorder in his face post-performance, with the same introduction, as he rattled off a short quote or two about how much he enjoyed the opportunity to perform at said event. I always knew exactly where to find him, relaxing backstage with the headliners, before even being a legal age to enter the venues that circulated between Toronto’s Opera House, Sound Academy Wrongbar and the MOD Club. I had witnessed him open for A$AP Rocky’s first sold-out Canadian show, perform on the half-pipe of an indoor skate park for a hazy 420 PRIME party and drop live exclusives on the Dundas Square stage during MNFSTO. A front row seat to the transformation of Raz.

Fast-forward three years later. It’s summer in Toronto and Raz Fresco is preparing to release his debut album, Pablo Frescobar on July 1 under his recently launched indie label BLKLIGHT, along with the help of a new distribution deal with Duck Down Music Inc.

I called him via Skype from my Nordic flat following Easter weekend to talk about the upcoming album. We started with small-talk about my trip overseas and he informed me of his own plans to create a global imprint. Pablo Frescobar will be his key to that – he hopes – which may finally allow the now 20-year-old spitter to successfully break into the US market. Features from Tre Mission, Joey Bada$$, Chuck Inglish and Raekwon might possibly aid the transition, but there’s something in Raz’s tone that sounds drastically different from the young emcee I had sat on the church steps with three years prior.

Assertive. Mature. Ready.

We start the interview and there’s no need in introduce himself on the mic. Raz Fresco has earned that.

Read part of my interview with Raz at Exclaim! Magazine: here


Raz Fresco 2013 (1)

Raz Fresco 2013 (8)


Photos By: Nicholas Telesca

You must be logged in to post a comment Login