Grand Parade, Sat, Sep 25, 6-10pm, free
If quarantine was a time of cocooning, no one is emerging more of a monarch post-pandemic than DijahSB. The Toronto MC has been grinding it out in the city’s indie rap scene for about a decade now, but the rapid-fire succession of their LP 2020: The Album and subsequent albums Girls Give Me Anxiety and Head Above The Waters (all dropped during lockdown) proved the rapper—née Kahdijah Payne—is more than just prolific: They’re potent.
A spot on the Polaris Prize shortlist and countless year-end, best-of lists are ample proof, but the real receipts are in the listening. Payne weaves a lyrical flow reminiscent of Lupe Fiasco and Supa Dupa Fly-era Missy Elliott with beats that skew wavy and golden-age in their addictive approach. Simply put, it’s been a while since a rapper from The Six has been so worth texting your friends over. Even Kid Cudi agrees, with the seminal rapper calling DijahSB’s work “tasty; chef’s kiss” in a viral tweet.
Now, as Payne prepares to rock the stage at Halifax’s Hopscotch Festival Saturday night (they’re sharing the bill with The Halluci Nation as part of Grand Parade’s free, 6-10pm showcase), the MC caught up with The Coast on their newest release, life post-COVID and more.
The Coast: While you were making music pre-COVID, it feels like new levels of fame and attention were reached during the pandemic—notably due to your smash hits 2020: The Album and Head Above The Waters. How does it feel to return to things post-reopening as a bigger celebrity than you were before?
DijahSB: I’ve always told people that quarantine—and having just been able to be inside and focus on me and my music—has been more a gift than a curse, because that’s how I operate in the first place. So the fact that we were kind of forced to be inside wasn't really a detriment to me, but then, I also understand the great part of it where a lot of people suffered and a lot of people didn't have the same privileges I did: like not getting sick or none of my family getting sick, and me being able to kind of persevere through something that's so difficult.
Everybody has become awkward socially and has forgotten how to interact with people–that’s definitely where I’m at right now. The fact that more people know me is kind of a strange feeling, but it’s definitely something I’ll get used to.
How does the newly released Tasty Raps Vol.1 fit into your body of work? What’s new or different about it, and what’s continuous from older projects?
I feel like it's not as cohesive as my last two albums, and I feel like that's OK because I just had kind of a concept and I’m trying to test the waters with it. It is one of my favourites because I have a feature on there that’s a dream of mine: It has the Mick Jenkins feature [on the track “Here to Dance”]. I feel like just like, the concept of it as well: The Kid Cudi tweet and me naming the record that, it’s just kind of fun. The other two projects that I had were just a little bit more serious, but with this one I just kinda had fun with it.
And how did it feel when you saw that Kid Cudi tweeted about you and your music?
When you listen to someone for hours on end and they help you get through some of your darkest moments and then they acknowledge you and say that your stuff is good as well? It really shapes the way that you view your art and your career: Maybe I am on the right path. It just felt good.
What’s your favourite DijahSB song and why?
I’d have to say “I’ll Pay You Back on Friday” because people love that song, how genuine and honest, it is about having to borrow money, and feeling like it’s your last resort. A lot of rap is about bragging and being bodacious about money and the finer things. Something you never ever really hear about is how in the moment, this person or this artist is broke and is trying their best to make it financially.