Kayo Guevarra---AKA The Caribbean Carter, born Filbert Salton---is gearing up to transform the Canadian hip-hop scene with his emotive lyrics and melodic beats. The charismatic lyricist fuses sounds from different genres---like alternative rock, soca, reggae and soul---to create an intense musical brew.
Earlier this year, Kayo signed a five-album deal with EMI. Since then, he's toured with Snoop Lion (then Snoop Dogg) and put out a free mixtape entitled The Escape Movement, available at kayomusic.com.
Guevarra is scheduled to release his first album with EMI later this year. While the mixtape is full of contemporary tunes, the upcoming album will feature a more "timeless" arrangement of sounds.
"What I mean by timeless is that it's going to resonate with people across different generations, across different walks of life in general," Guevarra says.
Kayo is originally from Castries, St. Lucia, where he was surrounded by creativity and artistic expression from a young age. His father enjoyed singing, his uncle painted and the future recording artist got his start writing poetry at 12. With musical influences ranging from Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill and Jay-Z, it's no surprise The Caribbean Carter quickly gravitated towards hip-hop as his musical outlet of choice.
"What really attracted me to hip-hop was the diversity," Guevarra says. "I found it's one of the only genres where you can incorporate any other element or genre into it and make it your own."
Kayo's work is a musical melting pot that doesn't discriminate against any genres. "Coming from a place like St. Lucia, or anywhere in the Caribbean, where rap or hip-hop isn't necessarily the genre of choice," he says, hip-hop "enables me to add elements that people are more familiar with, like reggae and calypso. I was really into Evanescence as a kid, and Linkin Park. I was into a lot of rock. Really I just gravitate towards anything melodic that's why I started incorporating that into my music."
At the age of 20, after making a name for himself in St. Lucia, Kayo decided it was time to reach a broader audience. Trading bouillon for poutine and white sand for cold snow, Kayo moved to Halifax to pursue a marketing degree at Saint Mary's University. He made his Haligonian musical debut performing at open mic night at the Gorsebrook Lounge.
Networking with local hip-hop artists, Kayo eventually crossed paths with his mentor-to-be---award-winning Canadian rapper Classified.
Class signed the rapper to his label, HalfLife Records, releasing Kayo's 2011 EP, One: The Prequel. Classified invited the young artist to open for him on tour and produced multiple tracks off of Kayo's upcoming album.
Kayo has also worked with Halifax rap veteran Quake. He was featured on three tracks on Quake's 2010 debut. Their chemistry in the studio blossomed into a friendship and in 2011 they released a collaborative EP, The Search.
Kayo is scheduled to graduate from SMU in October and plans to live in Halifax for at least another year. Make sure to catch one of his shows while the city still has him around. At the rate this rapper's going, it won't be long before he's seeking a greater stage.
Kayo Guevarra w/DJ Plaeboi, Sticks, Thursday, September 6 at GLounge. 1579 Grafton Street, $10/$12, Tickets available at HIM Boutique
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