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Dax, photo courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment Canada Dax, photo courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment Canada

Hip-Hop/Rap

DAX: “I wanted to know how I reacted to anger… and I found out anger was a motivator.”

In our exclusive Cover Story, we explore how Dax’s journey from poetry-driven past to hip-hop heavyweight has been shaped by personal philosophies, musical ingenuity, and the promise of greatness.

Dax, photo courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment Canada

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In the dynamic world of hip-hop, where artists constantly vie for the spotlight with flashy beats and catchy hooks, Dax stands out as a beacon of lyrical depth and poetic expression. This Canadian rapper isn’t just another artist in the bustling music scene; he’s a storyteller and a visual one at that: at the time we interviewed him last year, his channel had managed to accrue over 1 billion plays. That wasn’t a blip, either, having also managed to achieve over 3 million subscribers at the time; he now has double that number of subscribers, with even more followers on TikTok (9 million as of this Cover Story). It’s rare to find a rapper who seamlessly weaves visual formats for his songs, but Dax does it with inhuman effortlessness.

His journey in the music industry is a testament to the power of authenticity. Drawing inspiration from the legendary Tupac, who also started his illustrious career as a poet, Dax has embraced this lineage. His homage to Tupac is in spirit and form, as seen in his striking one-take remixes and covers of some of Shakur’s classics. This connection goes beyond mere musical influence; it’s a deep, resonant chord that ties the past and present of hip-hop, showing the genre’s evolution yet reverence for its roots. Check out his latest single, “Eternity.”

His stances on things have earned him a steadfast fanbase, and ire as well. Multiple collaborations with controversial figures like Tom McDonald (most recently on “Black & White”, a tongue-in-cheek take on a hot button issue), an unapologetic and open disclosure of his Christian faith, and his various irreverent takes on a host of other topics mean he’s been sidelined outside of the digital spheres of music. That’s not phased him though: standing with balloons and a bright smile, you can see him at various points throughout his profiles celebrating milestone after milestone of eye-watering numbers of plays, followers, and views.

We sat down with him to discuss how he’s not only built a strong fanbase but also carved a niche for himself in the digital realm of music. With over 6 million YouTube subscribers hanging onto his every word, Dax’s journey from poetic musings to hip-hop fame is staggering.

You can watch (on YouTube) and/or listen (on SoundCloud) to the full interview as you read our full write-up below.

In the realm of hip hop, few artists serve as both a mirror and a window like Dax. Emerging from the cultural nexus of Nigeria and Canada, he challenges the very fabric of the genre, delivering lines that read like existential treatises disguised as lyrics. A master of duality, his oeuvre wrestles with the human condition, navigating both the sacred and the profane.

From the platinum certified “Dear Alcohol” to his exploratory third EP, “What Is Life?,” Dax has crafted a sonic tapestry that demands intellectual engagement. Recently nominated for a Juno award and preparing for a headlining North American tour, Dax offers a tantalizing glimpse into the future of music, a future that is as cerebral as it is visceral.

Join us as we delve into the intricate psyche of an artist transcending boundaries. I wanted to say thank you very much for speaking with us today, Dax.

Dax: “Wow. Wow. What an intro. Hey. Wow. Thank you. I appreciate that, man.”

I mean, it’s no secret. You’re blowing up now, and you’ve put so much time and effort in. I mean, I just checked and you passed a billion views on your YouTube account a while back. I was wondering when that happened exactly. Do you remember?

 

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Dax: “A couple months ago. I think, yeah, it’s crazy to hear that. It’s like, because I’m so focused on making more and I just got out the studio and I made something that I literally got to film and drop on Friday because it just came to me.

“So it’s like, it’s great to hear those types of positive words about my work, especially as I’m continuing to move forward. Thank you for that.”

Yeah, no, absolutely. Well, even just objectively speaking, it’s nice to have those, those reminders. So I guess my first question is: how do you balance commercial success with artistic integrity in your work? It’s a loaded question, but I’d love to hear your answer.

Dax: “You know, it’s crazy. Music is the only thing in my life that’s ever just come so easy. Like, if there’s the one thing I don’t worry about, is music.

I have so many songs that aren’t even out yet that I’ve made. And then I’m working on like 15 songs right now. They’re all just like, you know, line by line that I’m writing them. And the balance is just, I stay ahead of the game. So I never have to worry about creation. Anytime I make a song now, it feels like I’m making extra.

It’s so interesting, people always think I spend hours upon hours, that I spend a lot of time, but most of my time is spent thinking about how I’m going to get the music to the people. And the easiest part of it is making the songs. So to balance it is, it’s not hard at all.”

Wow. So then can you describe the process of writing “The Abyss?” I wanted to talk about that one. What emotions or thoughts were guiding you in that endeavour?

Dax: “So ‘The Abyss,’ I think Logan sent it to me, or I sent him that song, like three years ago- yeah, two or three years ago. So when I tell people I’m ahead, it’s like: I could stop making music now and have enough. With that rate, I released for the next, you know, forever.

So, ‘The Abyss’ is something I wrote two, three years ago. Where was I when I wrote ‘The Abyss?’ I was drinking every day. That was around the time, I made maybe ‘Joker,’ or maybe a year after I made ‘Joker,’ so yeah, it’s tough to even think… that was around the time when I started saying to myself, ‘what is life?’

About a year or two years ago, something like that, which ended up being now the name of this EP slash album. Before that period of time, I was saying to myself all the time, even back on my Twitter, I used to tweet ‘Pain paints paintings.’ So it’s like, these songs are coming out now, but they’re old.

I was drinking more, a lot of anger, you know, there’s a lot of different things here and there, probably negativity with whatever was going on in my life. And those are just the words that came out of me.

And that’s got to be a really weird sort of dissonance. Cause there’s, like you said, you’ve grown since that point. And that actually prompts a question that I had about, your tracks often explore themes of. You know, existentialism, morality, personal struggle. So I guess, how does your worldview shape, maybe not those themes, but your answers to those themes?

Dax: “How does my worldview shape the answer to those themes?”

V13 Cover Story 047 - Dax - January 29, 2024

V13 Cover Story 047 – Dax – January 29, 2024

Or how does your worldview shape those themes?

Dax: “How does my worldview shape those themes? It’s just me and my life. Whatever comes out is essentially what I feel when I’m going through what I see around me.

So my songs are my world. I think, for example, a song like the abyss is old, but a song like ‘Dear Alcohol’ was written, like it came out like a month after I wrote it or two months, so that was, was like in the moment, but ‘Dear Alcohol’ was also a poem I initially wrote that had like eight paragraphs. In the very beginning when I was in college.

So there’s that too. But yeah, they all, they’re all what I’m seeing, what I’m going through, what I want to avoid. Sometimes I may say things that I’m trying to avoid. Yeah, my worldview shapes it all. You know, I could, I’m gonna tell you, I could really rap about anything, you know, if I wanted to make a song about.

You know, Listerine? I can make a fire Listerine song, you know, but, so it’s like, but sometimes it might show up as a bar. Like a lot of the things that show up as bars in my song is something that maybe just recently happened to me or things like that. So, how does my worldview affect my songs?

My songs is my worldview or my worldview. I think that’s the best answer.”

It’s interesting. Cause like, I actually am really excited about a song like “Dear Alcohol” because, and you must’ve seen this, but there are people, there must’ve been people that have been coming out of the woodwork to say like, man, that means a lot to me. Have you been having that reaction?

Dax: “Oh yeah. College, high school people I’ve known, cause I think alcohol addiction isn’t something a lot of people talk about, but you know, I’m getting to the story about that for me, but you sort of go through life and you remember these periods of times when you were all partying with your friends.

And while you’re in it, you’re just like, ‘Oh, this is dope.’ But then it’s like, how does one just put that away? And now we’re like 29 and 30. And then you like, go back home and then, your friends are like, yo, I’ve been drinking way too much, like, you know, and you’re like, Oh damn.

So that continued from when we were 17, like, how do you get out of that habit? You know, and I mean, I look at myself and I’m, I’m one of the most disciplined people I know, and it’s like, I was still in a habit of it. And it took me making a whole song to only go six months sober and then I drank again, you know so it just made me think like, ‘Man, this is really something people are struggling with,’ especially with alcohol being such a socially acceptable thing. You know, it’s not like the cigarette that you can no longer make commercials for, you know, it’s like, it’s still everywhere.

No, you’re absolutely right. And “Dear Alcohol” in that same vein, you’d touched on the fact that it was part of a poem series and one of those was “Dear God.” And again, that must’ve been the exact same. You speak on something that you know to be true in your heart, and then there’s got to be these responses of people coming out of the woodwork again to thank you for having that.

For both those songs, and for the rest of your songs, really, I, I also have a question about, you know, when it comes to polarization, it seems like that’s the word that’s on everybody’s lips, but you must be noticing, like, there’s, there’s an either or of black and white. To what you’ve been hearing, so like that segue, but that polarization, have you noticed that where have you noticed that if you have, and most acutely, or most loudly?

Dax: “I’ve noticed it in the way I’ve been able to grow. I guess growing up I used to be like, man, they only allow this type of music to blow up. When in reality that’s music is the heart of my music is the easiest to blow up. I probably make some of the most shareable music, you know, especially with the way I built it without all the, you know, smoke and mirrors, you know, all my views on YouTube are organic and it’s there.

I don’t see people without, you know, a bunch of, whatever they do, ads and paid this and that that are getting 70 million views, you know, with the ratios that my things are doing. So in reality, it’s like, I think. It’s really this type of music that is easiest to blow up. It’s just not being made that often, or maybe at the level at which I’m able to do it.

I think I’m seeing the most polarizing and like the organic numbers I’m able to generate with all the bells and whistles involved. You know, and sometimes I look, I’m like, God damn, when did I hit 8 million on Tik Tok or 6 million on Facebook or this and that and that? And I’m just like, this is insane.

If someone who knows how the industry works and how people are gaining all these crazy insane numbers, like to be able to do it this way, I think that’s the most polarizing for me. I don’t think people see that because they don’t understand how these things work. But for me- and then obviously with the messages I receive on a daily basis in my DM’s, emails, all social media apps.

And then if I ever do like, you know, run into somebody. And I’m all ages of people just telling me certain things and I’m just like, ‘Wow.’ You know? ’cause sometimes I’m sort of oblivious to it and I’m just like, in my own world, right? So sometimes I’ll just stop and think like, man, someone really took, because I read a lot of dms and I answer to a lot of people, but I like, and I read all my YouTube comments too, and I’ll just sit there and I’ll be like, ‘Yo, this person really just wrote me like eight paragraphs,’ and I’ll read it and I’ll be like, man, this stuff is really resonating with people. So I think that is definitely polarizing as someone who’s super competitive. Like I love the pressure of being that guy that makes these things. And I don’t want to fail the people and I like that feeling.

So it keeps me on my toes. I like it.”

V13: And that fits with with the model of how you’ve done it, which is unusual. It’s YouTube. You’re a very video-focused artist. Was that always the vision from the very get go?

Dax: “I started off making poetry and motivational videos.

It just never made sense to me to not have someone see me saying it because they’ll see it on my face that I’m meaning what I’m saying. Obviously they can feel it too with the audio, but I wanted them to see and feel that. People always think like, “how do you do these one-take videos?”

The one-take videos derived from me not having enough money to pay for a full fledged music video. And just being like, ‘Yo, just show up and I’ll get it the first- how much can you charge me? I’ll get it on the first try. How much is that going to cost? And you don’t have to edit it. Just send it to me.’

Just like that. Let’s get it out. So that’s where the one-take videos came from. I make music videos for every single song. I don’t want there to not be a Dax song in the world that doesn’t have a music video. I’m still making all the videos for my Pain Paints Paintings album.

All the, ‘What Is Life’ EP is going to have a video. I just think it’s dope. It’s like people watch TV. I watch Netflix, you know – you want something to put the words to, you know?

No, that makes a lot of sense. And speaking of videos, I saw the recent one, “Black And White.” I wanted to ask about that: I think that’s the second collab that you’ve done with Tom McDonald, is that right?

Dax: “Third, third, third. Yes, sir. Lot of people don’t know how many we have, it’s interesting because it’s funny to see like some people will be like, ‘Oh, why’d you work with Tom?’ I’m like, bro, I’m like. Yeah. That’s why the second line of my song is I’ve been fucking with Tom before he got cancer was speaking the truth and expose the world for what it actually is.

So was the first time on “Propaganda” or was it not?

Dax: “No, the first time was ‘Blame The Rappers,’ it was like three years ago.

I did extensive research, believe it or not [laughs] Good. Thank you. So with, with Tom what was the, how did this sound? Well, and with Adam [Calhoun] as well, what was the genesis of this particular track and video?

Dax: “This particular track, he sent me, he was talking about their album, he had texted me.

We’re always like, you know, in contact here and there, we talk on the phone sometimes. And he told me they were making a second album and he sent me some options and that was the one I liked. And then I just had this thought in my brain like, ‘Oh, I like where this is going.’ And then I just, you know, had a couple changes I wanted to make to this and that.

And then just like the way the whole. They encircled around and then, we filmed the music video. Nova [Rockefeller]‘s amazing. Yeah, it was a smooth process since we like, you know, made videos before. It was very like, but this was actually the first time we met in person to film a video. The other two videos weren’t filmed in the same place.

So this was my first time meeting Tom.”

Oh man. That’s got to be eerie and a little bit strange, right?

Dax: “Yeah. I think that just like social media, I’ve had videos before where it’s like, you know, you just piece it together. But yeah, this was my first time meeting him and so it was great.

Amazing. And I mean, opening up that, that meet, it also means tours are getting announced left, right, and center. And yours, you’re starting off. And you’re starting it in Canada. So you’ve got the Homeland Tour, and then you’ve got a US right afterwards. Is it special to you to be able to tour? What’s the part that you’re looking forward to the most? [This interview was recorded back in August last year, so that’s all done now – Ed.]

Dax: “I mean, I love touring. I haven’t been touring that long. This is going to be like my third Canadian tour, maybe. The first ever tour I went on was with Tech Nine.

So, you know, I got a crash course real quick. That was like my first ever time performing, boom, there I was. So it was crazy. I learned a lot and I learned that I can do this because I’m very military in terms of just, I do the same stuff every day. That’s just the way I like to live life. Everyone always knows what I’m doing. It’s like, call my mom right now: ‘Oh, he’s probably working out. He’s probably doing this. He’s probably at the studio.’ 

“So touring for me is nice. I get in a routine, do a bunch of pushups, drink a bunch of water, eat rice and chicken and get on stage. And yeah, I like performing the songs that people love for people.

I think to say I love being on the road, I’m not going to lie: don’t love being on the road for too long. I don’t want to be a road warrior, I don’t want to do- that year, I did a hundred shows. I’m never going to do a hundred shows in a year again. Cause it was too tough on my, like the mental health that comes along with it is just too much.

Dax: “But, I want to just grow in that space and just continue to do bigger and, you know, bigger shows and have more people come feel the energy. I want to expand on what, you know, all the stuff that go along with tours in terms of like set design and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But yeah, I love it. It’s fun.

Dax: “It’s my job, you know, and I love my job. So that’s a plus. I do what I love and I love what I do. So I’m happy.

How do you maintain an authentic connection with your fans as your popularity grows?

Dax: “You know what’s crazy: I just be myself. One of the first poems I ever wrote was just about accepting who you are. And if people don’t fuck with it, fuck ’em. You know? So I think people are saying, ‘How do you go so hard all the time? Do you ever burn out?’ I’m like, ‘Nah.’ Because I’m just being me. And I am a person who works so insanely hard that it doesn’t make sense.

It may not sound healthy to most people, but that’s how I’ve always done it. And so what do I do is I just do my best and it’s like, my best is going really hard. So I reply to a bunch of DM’s. I go live a bunch. Up until a while ago, I would stay after every show and take a picture with everyone. It’s getting a little bit too big now so I can’t, cause they’ll kick me out of the venue and all this stuff. 

“People have thresholds. You know, it’s like if I put 45 pounds on a bar and someone else put 45 pounds on a bar, it’s the same way: I may be able to do it 50 times and they may be able to do it 10 times.

So it’s like, we’re doing the same things, but my threshold for it is just maybe bigger. So to me, how do I maintain it? I just be me. And if me is not enough, I don’t stress it. I’m not a perfectionist in any type of form. You know, I’ve put out songs before that I’m like, ‘I didn’t say this word right, but fuck it.’ You know, like I try. And so if I can reply to a bunch of people, I do it, which is most days. And if I can’t, I don’t stress it. Life goes on. You know, if someone gets offended or feels some type of way, I don’t respond to any type of negativity. I don’t care. I spend time with positive people.

When it comes to being so present and transparent and very much available to people, that must take a toll on mental health, but I can see already that you have something of a framework already to at least a little safe, right?

Dax: “Right. Yeah, the framework is this: I’m not a secret, but I’m private. I’m lucky where I can transcribe all these insanely deep things onto paper. But no one knows what I do on a daily basis. I don’t expose myself, what I do, where I go — maybe who I’m with.

“But I don’t share my personal life in any capacity. Nothing with Dax’s career has anything to do with what girl he’s with, what he wears, what car he drives, how much money, everything that I- all that people want to hear with Dax is the song, and then I interact. But I never take it too deep, you know, I talk about trauma, but I don’t get into insane specifics of what happened in maybe childhood and this and that, because I truly believe when you give people access to that type of information, they use it to destroy you.

You know, like, social media has never helped any relationship stay together. It’s only ruined them. So why am I going to give people that? They get access through the song! There it is. So, I am super transparent in terms of the music, but in terms of my actual life, I don’t post my life.

I live. I post, advertising my music and skits and stuff. So I, it’s really chill for me. I’m not a materialistic person, any type of way. I’ve always lived below my means, so I don’t worry about… you know, I wear the same thing every day, I just drive a normal car.

Like, I’m just chilling. And I just happened to start making music at 22 years old. So it’s like, everything is super just chill for me.”

It’s very apparent that you’re not stressing about what, what the rest of everybody else in hip hop or rap or whatever is doing.

Dax: “Right, yeah, I don’t concern myself with any other man. I concern myself with what I’m doing and the people I have to take care of, and then the people who support me, but in terms of like, you know, watching, nah.”

What’s been your most rewarding moment so far?

Dax: “Every morning just like waking up and getting to choose what I want to do has been super rewarding. Moment music wise, performing ‘Dear God’ on national TV was pretty dope. That one on Canada Day — that one felt really good. You know, to just have a beat playing and my words were making people feel some type of way and they could understand everything I was saying. That felt really good.

That was a dope moment. And there was a lot of people there.”

When you put it that way, even objectively speaking, like we were saying at the start of this, there’re certain moments that you could point to and say-

Dax: “Yeah, that was dope.

It’s so empowering to just be like, I could go in my room, I could write something and just tell someone, just put the camera in front of me and I’m gonna just say it.

And that’s enough. That feels good. You know, like these words matter.”

Do you feel if words matter, do you feel a responsibility to advocate for certain values?

Dax: “I think I feel a responsibility to advocate for the values I believe in, which all my songs sort of do. But I do think I have a responsibility with the words that God has blessed me with to make sure that I’m staying disciplined and advocating for certain things. 

But luckily it just comes to me naturally. I do feel it, but I can’t ever see myself going astray anyways. So I don’t feel pressure. It’s just like, I’m doing what comes naturally. And that is that. And that just really goes back to the words my mom has been saying to me since I was a child. That’s why upbringing and parenting is so important because the words you say to your kids really shapes them. Even just getting off the phone with my mom now, the stuff she’s saying is just like essentially the way I talk, you know, so it’s like, it just flows naturally with the way everything is.

So no, no pressure, but yeah, I do definitely want to know what I’ve been advocating lately. For me, it’s the ‘To Be A Man’ stuff. I actually do feel a responsibility to advocate for the mental health of men, because with things that I’ve been through and have gone through, I’m just like, man, there’s a lot of dudes out here struggling because of this. If I can go through this stuff, my God. So that’s something I’ve actually recently felt pretty strong about, like even just abuse of men in relationships.

You know, like these are things people don’t want to talk about, but like this shit is very real.

Right, you can’t control the outcome of who you’re going to impact. You can only control your piece of that, but in that realm, and I meant to say this earlier when talking about ‘Dear Alcohol,’ like that spoke to me because I’m going on near a decade dry.

So everything you said, I was like-

Dax: “I’m jealous.” [laughing]

What do you replace it with, right? And I mean, you’re replacing it with your creative output, I think it’s fair to say, right?

Dax: “Yeah, I mean, so what happened was once I dropped ‘Dear Alcohol’ I was sober for six months and I went on my first ever vacation and I drank and then after that, I didn’t drink for a long time until I went on a second vacation and then I was going through some stuff and I’m not going to blame it on that, but I was definitely running to the bottle for a minute while I was dealing with some shit.

I would say right now I’m like tapering off, but I’m about to go back on tour. So it’s like, damn, sometimes I take a couple shots of tequila before a show just to loosen up. So for me, it’s like… 

“The thing with me and alcohol was, I never got blackout drunk, you know, like I was never throwing up, I was super functional. I was the type of person like, ‘Okay, I have all these tedious emails to send,’ I would take a couple sips of tequila and literally do 500 pushups while I’m doing all this crazy work. So it never got in the way of anything. I just knew it wasn’t sustainable and I couldn’t be doing it every day.

But it’s like, then this like career showed up where it’s like, I can do it every day.”

Yeah — out of all of the careers, that’s the one.”

Dax: “Right. And then I would just say, ah, you know, so it’s like, I have to regulate. Do I think I’m going to never drink again? I can’t stop forever. I don’t think that’s possible — it’s possible, I’m an idiot for saying that, it’s possible. But I’m like, do I want to never drink again? And it’s crazy. Cause like no one ever knows if I drink. My first time I ever drank was in my basement. I was 17 years old before I went to my first party.

So for me, alcohol was a superpower because I would drink when no one saw me. So I would just show up feeling more confident, show up being super not nervous and all these. And so for me, alcohol was always like a superpower. So I’m not like a necessarily social drinker. I just recently started drinking in front of people, but it was always just something I did by myself.

If I knew like, ‘Ah, this is going to be sort of a nervous situation. Let me just take a shot or two before this thing so I don’t feel any nerves.’ Because when I drink, I don’t give a fuck, but it doesn’t change how I act. Like, no one would ever know if I’m drinking, which is a dangerous thing too, because I don’t show it at all.

Nothing changes other than just, I give less of a fuck.

Yeah. It depends, cause you’re drinking at a certain level. There’s like, you know, there’s grades there, right?

Dax: “Exactly. Like I’m the type to like, if I’m going to do something, let’s say maybe I’m doing a music video, I might take a water bottle and I would like measure out, okay, I’m going to put this much and this is how much I’m drinking during the whole music video and I pour the rest out.

I’ve only puked like once or twice in my- twice in my life.

Wow.

Dax: “Yeah.

That sounds far more reasonable. But also you’re right that it can get a little bit insidious.

Dax: “Right? And also my tolerance gets a little bit bigger. You know, so what used to be like, I only need this for this like maybe eight hour shoot. Then it’s like, Oh damn. Well, I can do that now.”

I know that game, believe me. But that level of self awareness is a really, really tough thing to do. I can’t help but… Yeah, be envious when it comes to your creative output. I genuinely value like your ability to just say, nope, I’m going to be me. I’m going to do me. Who was most responsible for that? Or what was most responsible for that in shaping-

Dax: “Looking back, probably like my mother’s words. Cause like, you know, me was always enough, you know, and I just looked back things, you know, I should, I should have been telling me like I was meant for great things since I was, since I can remember, you know, God put you here for a reason.

You’re meant for great things. God showed me a vision of you up on this and you were in, you were in full white and these are things I’m hearing at six, you know. Even till now, I just got off the phone, she’s still saying the same things. So it was just like, I was always meant to do great things because she told me I was, and then I believe it.

And then, you know, I see my mom and my dad, they work insanely hard. So the belief, instilled in me from a child, you know, we learn all these, we learn everything, languages, so we pick it up quick. If you learn those types of things at a very early age, it sticks with you. So that led me to finding the law of attraction at 11 years old.

And then I’m seeing my mom and my dad who work insanely hard. So all I know is work, you know, I’m in the truck, she’s delivering papers all around and all this crazy stuff and three jobs and this, and then my dad’s crazy as a PhD and he goes crazy hard, you know? So it was just like the speaking from them plus seeing the work and then just becoming this crazy work. And then like figuring out what certain things did to me. Like I wanted to know what alcohol did to me; that’s why I sat in my basement the first time and drank alone. I wanted to know how I reacted to anger, you know? And for me, I found out anger was a motivator.

So then sometimes I would start to like seek out things to make me angry when I played basketball, because I knew it was going to motivate me to go harder. So I figured out certain things and figured out how, how I reacted to them. You know, there’s certain things I know now that just make me shut down. So I know if this happens, okay, go to sleep because when you go to sleep and wake up, you’re usually over it, you know, just like figuring out early on sort of being aware.

I used to tell people they thought I was crazy. I was like, yeah, right now I’m sitting here, but then I have someone over there and someone over there and like, this motherfucker is telling me what’s going on and he’s telling me what and what not to do. So it’s like having people in the bleachers, you know?

It’s like, you know, they say, ‘Smart people learn from their own mistakes. Wise people learn from the mistakes of others.’ You know, so I was able to see my own mistakes, not repeat them twice and then also see other people’s mistakes.

So, you know, these are these guys that are like sitting here right now, listening to this interview, thinking about, ‘Okay, this, say this, don’t say that, you know, how is, how are you perceiving-’ You know what I mean? Just all these things going on in my head. 

But it’s always going, you can’t turn it off?

Dax: “I sleep great. My goal during the day is that I’m going to work so hard that I sleep like a baby. Because I used to not be able to sleep. I used to have trouble sleeping, but then, yeah, now I don’t.

So I call it simple complexity. Everything around me is so simple that I’m okay with what’s going on in here. So that’s why I pretty much wear the same thing every day. I don’t care about it, I don’t even like cars. I don’t like any of these things. I try to simplify everything so I can do whatever needs to go on in here, you know?

Did you ever, I don’t know, did you, did you ever fuck with punk at all? I mean, that, to me, that’s like punk as hell.

Dax: “I was an average music listener. So I heard what was ever on the radio. So I think I’ve listened to it. Is that like Avril Lavigne?”

Slightly more abrasive than that. Just because it’s eschewing the materialism that’s quite inherent in hip hop is all that is. I see it as an authenticity that you’re willing to have and a genuineness that just follows from how you conduct yourself.

Dax: “Yeah, I just live simply. And there’s certain things I can’t do that I used to, but you know, it’s like, you just try to simplify whatever it is.”

You mentioned talking about young men, and looking at their mental health these days. I know that, yes, the music itself, absolutely, just even understanding your take on things is 100 percent helpful, but if there was a specific way to reach out to people, if there was something that you wanted to pinpoint, that you wanted to help address, what would that be?

Dax: “You know, it’s crazy. The theme that I would want to address is what I think is the most important. That’s why I think ‘To Be A Man’ is my most important song. It’s like the only reason all of us are here is because a man and a woman decide to make a decision to have us.

So by default, that makes the relationship between a man and a woman the most important topic because the purpose that God put us here is to recreate more people. So it’s like, I think there’s just a misunderstanding for what men go through, because I think just growing up all of us men are taught how to treat women, how to not do this, how to do that.

And it’s like, we have to go get them. And they’re taught the man comes to you and so they don’t have to understand men to get one, but men have to somewhat understand women to get a woman. So I think I believe that there’re millions of men struggling in relationships and families that don’t feel like they’re being heard, because there isn’t an understanding for what men go through because not in any bad way to women, but women, they don’t have to understand.

So if you don’t have to do something, only very few are going to take the time as men have to somewhat understand women to, you know, flirt, have game to get them and this and that and that and that and that. So I just think there’s a lot of men struggling in these, in relationships.

And it’s like the world wants to be like, ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter, blah, blah, blah.’ But in reality, the most important thing is a relationship between a man and woman. Cause that’s the reason we’re all here. So if that relationship sucks, your mental health is going to suck. And I think a lot of mental health issues are linked to unfavorable relationships between the sexes, because we’re all meant to connect and be with people.

And if the one person you want to connect with doesn’t necessarily understand what you’re going through or can sympathize with you, but you’re always this rock because you sort of have to be, it’s going to mess with your mental health. Like you’d be surprised how many, you know, dudes go to jail and this or that a lot of these situations that a woman’s involved somewhere in it.

Especially as I get older, I’m like, yeah, this is important.”

I think there’s a question of perception around that as well. Do you think that perception is as big a question in that role or is that sort of secondary. Now by perception I mean guys and how they perceive they should do things a certain way, or they should have a certain type of person or-?

Dax: “Yeah, I guess, but I feel like, psychologically, people still end up feeling like ‘Why do I feel this way? Why is there something missing?’ It’s like, I’m supposed to do all these things, which you want to, but I just think it comes from understanding. I think- it’s tough because… you know, it’s crazy.

My thought of it expands as I get older. I couldn’t have made ‘To Be A Man’ when I was 21, you know, I had to be 28 and I’ve gone through a little bit of manhood, having to provide for people feeling unappreciated, all these things, you know, so it expands for me as I get older. But I think, yeah, I think perception plays a role.

I think it’s a tough topic. I think at the end of the day, you got to teach people how to treat you.

It takes time and you gotta find a partner who’s willing to, listen to maybe how you potentially feel.

That’s why I think the ‘To Be A Man’ song is important because it gives an understanding. My goal for the song was for women to understand what men go through. And it’s not that, you know, you don’t want someone to carry you, but just if someone understands, they can sympathize with you, you know, and that’s sometimes all people want is understanding.”

Yeah, absolutely. People want to feel understood and needed and wanted. Well, thanks so much for talking to us today. We’re really excited and all the best to you.

Dax: “Hell yeah, man. God bless.”

Director of Communications @ V13. Lance Marwood is a music and entertainment writer who has been featured in both digital and print publications, including a foreword for the book "Toronto DIY: (2008-2013)" and The Continuist. He has been creating and coordinating content for V13 since 2015 (back when it was PureGrainAudio); before that he wrote and hosted a radio and online series called The Hard Stuff , featuring interviews with bands and insight into the Toronto DIY and wider hardcore punk scene. He has performed in bands and played shows alongside acts such as Expectorated Sequence, S.H.I.T., and Full of Hell.

Alternative/Rock

Lovin’ Life Music Fest Drops First Year Lineup

Lovin’ Life Music Fest dropped their official lineup this week, and it is exceptional. The festival’s will occur on May 3-5th, 2024, in North Carolina.

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Lovin’ Life Music Fest 2024
Lovin’ Life Music Fest 2024

Lovin’ Life Music Fest dropped their official lineup this week, and it is exceptional. The festival’s first-ever installment will occur on May 3-5th, 2024, in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina. The star-studded lineup includes headline sets from Post Malone, Noah Kahan, and Stevie Nicks. From headliners alone, we can tell this festival has something for everyone.

The festival will showcase many popular acts spanning various genres and generations. Supporting acts include Maggie Rogers, Dominic Fike, The Fray, The Chainsmokers, Quinn XCII, Mt. Joy, Young the Giant, and NC’s DaBaby and The Avett Brothers. There will also be a local stage to highlight Charlotte’s own artists throughout the weekend. This is one of the most stacked lineups we’ve seen for the 2024 festival season.

Tickets to Lovin’ Life are on sale now! Grab them while you can; this is sure to be an epic weekend!

Lovin’ Life Music Fest 2024 poster

Lovin’ Life Music Fest 2024 poster

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Hip-Hop/Rap

Ice Cube Adds More Dates to “Straight Into Canada Tour”

Straight off the sold-out first leg of the “Straight Into Canada” Tour, hip-hop icon Ice Cube announces part two of the tour, with eleven new dates across Canada.

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Ice Cube at Manchester AO Arena, photo by Frank Ralph Photography
Ice Cube at Manchester AO Arena, photo by Frank Ralph Photography

Straight off the sold-out first leg of the “Straight Into Canada” Tour, hip-hop icon Ice Cube announces part two of the tour, with eleven new dates across Canada. In addition to the new dates, Xzibit, Merkules, Peter Jackson, and DJ Kav have been announced as direct support on select dates. Presented by Livestar Entertainment, International Touring Agency, Saskatoon Entertainment Group, and Invictus Entertainment Group, tickets for the second leg of the “Straight Into Canada” tour are on sale now!

As a triple threat, having garnered prestigious accolades such as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, Ice Cube transcends the boundaries of music, cinema, and sports, establishing himself as a legend in the world of entertainment. Initially rising to prominence with hip hop supergroup N.W.A., Ice Cube’s departure from the group at its pinnacle marked the beginning of a remarkably successful solo career in music, selling over 10 million albums and cementing his status as a rap icon. Cube has been a part of two groups since then. Westside Connection with Mack 10 and longtime friends WC and Mount Westmore, which includes multi-platinum-selling stars Snoop, E40, and Too $hort.

Expanding his repertoire, he ventured into acting and filmmaking, where he’s produced the Friday, Ride Along, Barbershop, and Are We There Yet? franchises, and the critically acclaimed NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton. He is also an acclaimed film writer (Friday, The Players Club, The Janky Promoters) and director (The Players Club) who is best known for his acting. One of the most bankable actors in cinematic history, he has also acted in the Friday, Barbershop, Are We There Yet? and Ride Along franchises, along with the 21 Jump Street franchise, and has had star turns as a conflicted teen in Boyz N The Hood, a greedy soldier in Three Kings and an elite government agent in XXX: State of the Union. His most recent acting part was playing Superfly in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.

Beyond music and film, Ice Cube co-founded the BIG3 basketball league, showcasing his passion for sports, and is currently working on his 11th solo studio album titled Man Down, to be released on his label Lench Mob Records in the Summer of 2024!

Ice Cube “Straight Into Canada” tour admat

Ice Cube “Straight Into Canada” tour admat

Ice Cube Complete List of Tour Dates:

February 21, 2024 – Penticton, BC – South Okanagan Events Centre
February 23, 2024 – Calgary, AB – Grey Eagle Resort & Casino
February 24, 2024 – Edmonton, AB – River Cree Resort & Casino
February 26, 2024 – Saskatoon, SK – SaskTel Centre
February 28, 2024 – Winnipeg, MB – Canada Life Centre
March 1, 2024 – Rama, ON – Casino Rama Entertainment
March 2, 2024 – Saint John, NB – TD Station
March 4, 2024 – Truro, NS – Rath Eastlink Community Centre [LOW TICKETS]
March 5, 2024 – Sydney, NS – Centre 200 [LOW TICKETS
April 23, 2024 – Victoria, BC – Save On Food Memorial Centre
April 25, 2024 – Prince George, BC – CN Centre
April 27, 2024 – Calgary, AB – Grey Eagle Event Centre
April 28, 2024 – Moose Jaw, SK – Moose Jaw Events Centre
April 30, 2024 – Edmonton, AB – River Cree Casino
May 2, 2024 – Hamilton, ON – First Ontario Place
May 4, 2024 – Ottawa, ON – TD Place
May 5, 2024 – Quebec City, QC – Videotron Centre
May 7, 2024 – London, ON – Budweiser Gardens
May 9, 2024 – Oshawa, ON – Tribute Communities Centre
May 10, 2024 – Laval, QC – Place Bell

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Alternative/Rock

The V13 Fix #004 w/ Darkest Hour, Glitterer, LowLives and more

From pop to metalcore, experimental grindcore to indie, each week The V13 Fix will bring you a roundup of all the new music worth hearing…

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The V13 Fix

Welcome to the latest The V13 Fix our weekly round-up of some of the best albums, singles and EPs to drop in our laps/inboxes this week. From pop to black metal to experimental pop to punk rock, there is something for everyone in this mix of new music. Check out and support all the bands and labels if you like what you hear and if there is a particular album you like, make sure you head over to Spotify and check out one of our specially curated playlists where there is more great new music added daily.

Alternatively, if you’re in a band or want one of your bands considered for inclusion get in touch. While we can’t guarantee every album or EP we receive will be included, there are still plenty of other ways we can support you.

So, without further ado, sit back, plug in your headphones and get this week’s V13 Fix of new music…

Crossfaith
Zero’ [Single]

When Japanese genre-smashers Crossfaith exploded onto the scene with their brutal, electronic-laced metalcore, the world sat up and paid attention. Well, after twelve months regrouping, the band are back with this new single, a massive statement that they’re ready to pick up where they left off but with a new energy. This new slice of heaviness from the band is packed dangerously full of pulsating electronics and pummelling metalcore. Equally as explosive as it is anthemic, “Zero” heralds a new chapter from the band who, after hitting the reset button twelve months ago, have returned with a vengeance.

Pick up your copy of “Zero” from here.

Darkest Hour
Perpetual | Terminal
MNRK Heavy

It’s incredible when you realise that Perpetual | Termainal is the tenth album in the rollercoaster career of US metalcore/metallic hardcore mob Darkest Hour. Spirit and dogged determination has kept the band going to this point and it is a theme which provides the heartbeat of this savage collection. Guitarist Mike Schleibaum explains: “The record’s theme centers around the duality of survival while embracing rebirth,” and, hearing the band hurtle through each of the eleven tracks, Perpetual | Terminal certainly feels like the sound of a band who have been reborn. An uncompromising, unrelenting metal assault, Perpetual | Terminal highlights exactly why heavy music would be worse off without Darkest Hour in it.

Pick up your copy of Perpetual | Terminal from here.

Morta Skuld
Creation Undone
Peaceville Records

Now, even though the new wave of modern death metal bands is doing a sterling job in keeping the flag flying high for the genre, sometimes it’s nice just to take a trip back into some of the old-school bands. Having formed in Milwaukee in 1990, Morta Skuld are still battering away with their latest offering from the death metal stalwarts indicating no sign of slowing down. For fans of the likes of Obituary, Morbid Angel and Deicide, the band expertly combine groovy moshy sections, blastbeats with swamp born vocals. Creation Undone isn’t metalcore, it’s not deathcore, there are no symphonies, this is just straight between the eyes brutality.

Pick up your copy of Creation Undone from here.

M.U.T.T.
Dirty Deeds
Quiet Panic

M.U.T.T. are a trashy punk rock band straight from the gutters of the San Fransisco punk rock scene. There isn’t much you need to know about the kind of punk rock M.U.T.T. peddle except that it comes devoid of airs and graces. Taking a route one approach, M.U.T.T’s punk noise is covered in snot and packed with attitude. Formed from the ashes of Culture Abuse, the project has moved on from the more rock and roll stylings of their debut album, Bad To The Bone, into more trashy waters. Offerings like “Downtown Boy” come with a suitably unpleasant sneer plastered across their face and, while this EP might a fairly brief listen, M.U.T.T pack plenty of bite into those eighteen or so raucous minutes.

Pick up your copy of Dirty Deeds from here.

Gen & The Degenerates
ANTI-FUN Propaganda
Marshall Records

Alt-punk collective Gen & The Degenerates tattoo their principals proudly onto their debut album. Written to a backdrop of disaster, tragedy and misfortune, ANTI-FUN Propaganda comes from a world of late nights and early mornings, sexuality, gender politics and mortality. It’s a punk rock album at its beating heart but, as vocalist Gen puts it, comes with a humourous approach and a love of dirty disco pop. Lyrically, tracks like “Famous” may come from a dark, bleak place but, as the video for “Big Hit Single” highlights, there is a wry smile and a sense of sarcasm nipping away at the subject matter to make sure we don’t lose sight of the fact that, while a quick look outside your window will show a world imploding on itself, it’s important to enjoy what time we have while we’re here.

Pick up your copy of ANTI-FUN Propaganda from here.

Glitterer
Rationale
ANTI-

Following his previous band Title Fight ceased touring, lead singer and songwriter Ned Russin needed a creative outlet. The creative outlet soon manifested into what originally started out as solo project but, six years later, has blossomed into a fully-fledged band and the release of their fourth album, but debut as a full band, Rationale. An album with a sound deeply entrenched in the DC hardcore and indie rock scenes, Rationale is a rowdy listen packed with jarring indie guitars and slick pop melodies with the cohesiveness paying testament to the fact that Russin has found bandmates who share his creative vision.

Pick up your copy of Rationale from here.

Hands of Kalliach
Corryvreckan
Prosthetic Records

Spawned from the minds of Edinburgh, Scotland husband and wife duo have blended together melodic death metal melded with Scottish folk music to create an album that is a work of art. The title of the album is inspired by enormous whirlpool, Corryvreckan, which lies between some of the western isles of Scotland. As harsh yet as beautiful as the inspiration behind it, Corryvreckan is a jaw-dropping piece of work. Soaring passages of melancholic Scottish folk music crash into brutal death metal, like two perfectly matched components. Through the folk music, the pair capture a drama and the emotion that can only come from being truly living and breathing it. When matched up with the extremities of the death metal scene, the end result is utterly majestic.

Pick up your copy of Corryvreckan from here.

Job For A Cowboy
Moon Healer
Metal Blade

For fans of iconic progressive death metal outfit Job For A Cowboy, it’s been almost a decade since new music was last heard from the band. Having teased for a number of years, the band are now back with their follow-up to 2014’s Sun Eater pretty much picking up where the 2014 album dropped off. Unsurprisingly, Moon Healer is the kind of album you really need to invest your time and effort into to really appreciate. Skim over it and you’ll find another incredible album in the Glendale’s musical armoury. Dig under the surface and you’ll find yourself immersed in a world which thematically picks up the story from Sun Eater while musically delivers it in a tightly woven package of complex, experimental, progressive death metal.

Pick up your copy of Moon Healer from here.

Austrian Death Machine
Quad Brutal
Napalm Records

Ten years since their last outing, Austrian Death Machine are back with Quad Brutal, their first album for new home Napalm Records. Formed fifteen years ago by As I Lay Dying vocalist Tim Lambesis, the Arnie-inspired neck-wrecking death machine is back reinspired and reinvigorated. Joined by a bunch of friends from across the metalcore scene including members of Ov Sulfur and Wolves At The Gate, Lambesis is back with another full-throttle, adrenaline-fueled metal feast. With more muscle than your typical weights room, Quad Brutal is just pumped-to-fuck, beefed-up metal. There’s nothing fancy about this. No need to put your brain into gear, Quad Brutal is just here for when another couple of plates on the end of that bar just doesn’t seem enough.

Pick up your copy of Quad Brutal from here.

Royal Tusk
Altruistic
MNRK Heavy

To date, Alberta, Canada three-piece Royal Tusk have gigged with a veritable Who’s Who of Rock from Slash to Halestorm while, during the pandemic, frontman Daniel sang on viral at-home collabs with Stone Sour, In Flames, and Mastodon. Listening to the hard rockers third album and you can probably pinpoint all of those inspirations seeping through the thumping anthems. Full of hard rock bangers like “Fire In Your Veins” and “The Death of Common Sense” to “Hated”, Altruistic has the perfect blend of melody, singalong choruses and power. Of the album, bassist Sandy MacKinnon says “I really hope you want to blast it in your car and headbang” and we can’t think of a better way to enjoy Altruistic than that.

Pick up your copy of Altruistic from here.

Borkanagar
Fall
Century Media

Honouring commitments delayed by the pandemic means that it has been almost five years since we have heard a new full-length album from Norwegian progressive folk/black metal band Borknagar. Reading into the whole process the band go through to write an album though, you do get the feeling Fall would have taken as long pandemic or not. An unrushed, flawlessly-crafted peice of work, Fall sounds like Borknagar frontman Øystein G. Brun has worked tirelessly to ensure that every moment of this album plays out like a story. Blast of grim, violent black metal weave through epic passages of progressive rock and folk to tell a tale of survival. Heading towards their third decade, Fall feels like the Norwegians are still riding at the top of their game.

Pick up your copy of Fall from here.

Mother Mother
Grief Chapter
Warner Music / Parlophone

It’s fair to say that 2021’s album INSIDE catapulted Canadian indie rock troop Mother Mother to new heights. Piling up an incredible 300 million streams for said album Grief Chapter has some task ahead of it. The ninth album of their career finds the band at their most energized despite it focusing, lyrically at least, on themes of death and mourning. This is an album that transcends genres not only over the course of the twelve tracks but, as demonstrated on the brilliant opener “Nobody Escapes” or the stomping “Normalize”, many times within songs. An album which may come from a morbid place lyrically, by the end, will have you well and truly hooked.

Pick up your copy of Grief Chapter from here.

Lowlives
Loser’ [Single]
Spinefarm Records

It’s the year 2000 and Wheatus earworm “Teenage Dirtbag” is rapidly becoming one of the biggest hits of the year. An anthem for misfits, outcasts and losers, it’s a song we hold close to our hearts even 24 years later. Now, West Coast alt-rockers have gone and written their own version. A wonderfully hopeful slice of slacker rock, “Loser” has an almost pleading air to the chorus while the melody is lifted straight from the grunge/alt-rock 2000s. The track is taken from the band’s upcoming debut album, Freaking Out, so don’t worry if you’re going through that misfit phase because Lowlives have got your back.

Pick up your copy of Freaking Out from here.

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