Rowjay - Class of 2020



Where are you from?

I’m originally Italian and Quebecois and I grew up in St-Leonard.

What’s your music like?

Ignorant, trend-setting but also smart and arrogant…

What do you like about the rap scene in Montréal?

I would say the diversity, the fact that we are bilingual, we're just in one big mix of cultures; haitians, italians, arabs, quebecois, etc. That’s why I feel the culture in Quebec has had such an influence on Canadian culture. When you think about it, maple syrup and poutine came from us after all.

What’s the vibe when you’re making music?

It really depends on my mood. That’s what they say about us leos, we’re really lazy but when it’s time to be serious, we’re serious. If I’m not in the mood. it is what it is. But all of sudden I can just become super productive.

What’s your day-to-day like?

I make music everyday, work out, smoke weed, play video games, smoke more weed, shoot videos… [laughs]. I’m not gonna lie, there are days where I do absolutely nothing. I’m more of a gamer than an athlete, but I try my best to stay active.

Who are you listening to at the moment?

Right now, I’m listening to a lot of rap. I’ve been listening to the new Freddie Gibbs album, especially the song with Rick Ross on it. So fire! Other than that, I’m listening to a lot of soundcloud rappers both American and French.

Are you more into anglo or franco rap right now?

It’s always going to be anglo for me, but I still listen to a lot of french rap, there are some underground rappers in Europe that are super hard. I really fuck with underground french rap right now.

You’re really popular in France, how do you explain that?

I think it’s mainly because we don’t have enough media outlets covering us here whereas in Europe they are more interested in rap. For example when my album Kung Fu Margiela 2 dropped back in February, no media here really cared about it but NPR placed me on their weekly releases next to Meg the Stallion and Lil Uzi Vert.

Do you feel like you’re more recognized for your music outside of Montreal?

For sure, I’ve been saying it from the jump, “depuis 2015 je m’exporte!”… I dropped my first tape in 2014 and people in France were already fucking with it.

It feels like you’ve created a bridge between Montreal and Europe, do you ever think about that?

Yeah, I think about it and it’s pretty cool. When I’m in France, I promote a lot of our local artists that I like: Jeune Loup, Shreez, Mike Shabb, Le Ice. Even the ones that I don’t listen to as much. It’s important to have a neutral perspective when it comes to culture and I’m conscious of the position I’m in.

What’s next for you?

I got an album coming out in the fall, mixtape of the year, actually album of the year!

Artist: Rowjay @rowjay
photography: Koku Awuye
Words: Yasmine Seck & Alpha Oumarou