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THRUST’s ‘Northern Touch’: We Look Back on 20 Years of Canadian Hip-Hop with the Pioneering Rapper

We recently sat down with Canadian hip hop veteran Thrust and had him dish on his role in one of Canada’s classic anthems, “Northen Touch”, and his general thoughts on the Toronto hip-hop scene that continues to gain traction worldwide.



Christopher France helped inspire Canadian artists with the track “Northern Touch,” released in 1998. One of the first rappers to come out of Toronto, France is humbled to be a part of the hip-hop and R&B scenes in the six that are currently at the top of their game. He kicks it old school when he steps out right in front of the mic, his nickname is the Grandfather of T-Dot, ladies and gentlemen, he is known as Thrust.

Thrust believes that Toronto always knew there was a spark here; the artists were consistently confident they could compete with other major cities. It’s a testament to what all the artists continue to say about the city and about themselves in the game. And was he wrong? Absolutely not! PureGrainAudio recently sat down with the 42-year-old artist to find out more on his thoughts on being a part of the hip-hop game in Toronto, and a sweet treat on when to expect his new EP!

When “Northern Touch” came out it was an instant banger and helped kick-start the Canadian hip-hop movement. How does it feel to help inspire a whole generation of Canadian artists? How did this song come to be?
Thrust: It feels awesome to be part of such a historical and classic record. I think every artist dreams of making a song that stands the test of time. The song initially was for a compilation that got dropped and was then was eventually put on the Rascalz Cash Crop LP. The song actually was around for a while before surfacing.

The Canadian classic Cash Crop was released way back in 1997 through Vik and Figure Four Records.

Currently Toronto is at the top of the hip-hop and R&B scenes with artists like Drake, The Weeknd, Tory Lanez and Nav just dominating the airwaves. What are your thoughts on the new Toronto hip-hop scene?
Thrust: To see the city being represented on a global scale is the best feeling. We always believed that this was our rightful place. I salute all the artists who contributed to this. My only other wish is for our authentic emcees to get their fair shine as well, as this city has so many.

If you had to make an all-star song with current Canadian hip-hop artists, who would you put on that song?
Thrust: I would definitely get boi wonda to produce it. Probably try and get Pyro, Drake, Tory Lanez, Adam Bomb, and Mac Trill!

Who are your musical inspirations and what is your dream collaboration?
Thrust: My musical inspirations are definitely KRSONE, Chuck D, Rakim, Kane, and Whodini. My dream combo would be with Erick Sermon or Dr Dre fosho!

“Northern Touch.” is the classic track that started it all!

In recent years, there has been a small shift in the sound of hip-hop and we are seeing young artists like Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Pump and Juice WRLD rising in prominence with music that is very different than traditional hip-hop. How do you feel about these new artists and their movement that is changing the sound of hip-hop?
Thrust: The new sound has its place, but we have to really look and see if it’s really hip-hop? Or a by-product, in my view. If you don’t respect the culture as a whole then your just making music. Hip-hop is like being a Rasta in a sense to me; just because you have dreadlocks, are you one? We all know the answer. So that’s my only beef with a few of the new school artists.

In your music I hear touches of New York rap as well as a little funk. Have you drawn any inspiration from any other sources other than Canadian rap?
Thrust: Great question, I actually grew up between New York City and Toronto. This is where my sound comes from. Most of my hip-hop influence came from spending every summer till I was 20 at my cousins’ in Brooklyn and Queens. As for the funk, I always got down with that, so we incorporated it into our swing.

What do you like to do other than making music?
Thrust: Other than rapping I also produce music. I have a podcast called Viewsbeforethe6ix. I love sports and working out! I also get down with RC cars and kits.

What is next for Thrust?
Thrust: What’s next is our EP called The Original Six coming out on November 23rd!

Feel the “Rage” from Thrust way back in 1996!