The Beauty Behind K-Riz & ‘Fresh Air’

My friend Jerome aka ‘K-Riz’ recently released his LP Fresh Air this summer. I had the pleasure of following the process of his hard work over the last year, attending recording sessions and rehearsals. It was such special moment to see and hear the final result. Below is a piece I wrote for HipHopCanada, chronicling his journey. I’m so proud of you K-Riz!


– Rosa

May 14, 2015. On a balmy spring evening, K-Riz posts himself contently inside Up In Arms Studio, the safe haven where he’ll hibernate for the next year as he creates his passion project, Fresh Air. He’s perched on a leather chair, deep in thought, nodding his head and humming to a track being played back to him. This recording session was one of several I was invited to sit-in and I must say that it was a pleasure to watch his vision come to life. K-Riz literally put everything on the line for this body of work, quitting his full-time job to focus solely on his music.

In front of him is Nato, engineer and owner of Up In Arms Studio, completely un-bothered as he works at the mixing console, chiming in every once in a while to drop some knowledge, mixed with his witty one-liners. Nato and Riz have had a solid musical relationship over the years, working on several projects including The Low and The Low: Side B.

Photo by Nicholas Yee

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Summer Sixteen / OVO Fest 2016

I took a much needed vacation to my favourite city, Toronto, for Caribana and Drake‘s seventh annual OVO Fest (July 31 & August 1). It was a jam-packed weekend of fabulous weather, food, drinks, music, and a few celebrity sightings along the way. Although this was my third time visiting Toronto, this was my first time attending the infamous long weekend. I believe I’ve found myself a new tradition!

As a huge fan of Drake, OVO Fest has been on my bucketlist since it’s inception. In the last six years, the Toronto-native has shared OVO‘s stage with the likes of Jay Z, Eminem, Outkast, J. Cole, Nicki Minaj, Big Sean, Kanye West and many more. Year seven surely didn’t disappoint. Not only was the venue moved from the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre to the Air Canada Centre, OVO Fest 2016 was combined with Drake and Future’s current Summer Sixteen Tour.

Drake, alongside Future, put on an amazing show with surprise appearances from Popcaan, French Montana, Rhianna and Kanye West. I’ve posted a few photos/videos from my Instagram page below. Enjoy!

– Rosa

I did it. #OvoFest2016 #SummerSixteen

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What a time to be alive. #OVOFest #SummerSixteen

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@champagnepapi x @frenchmontana #NoShopping #OVOFest #SummerSixteen

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You. Still. Can't. Make. This. Shit. Up. #KanyeWest #OVOFest #SummerSixteen

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The chemistry. You can't make that shit up. @champagnepapi x @badgalriri #OVOFest #SummerSixteen

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Running through #the6ix with my woes. #OVOFest #SummerSixteen

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My Recap of Hot 97 Summer Jam 2016!

I decided to kick-off my #SummerSixteen with a quick trip to New York and New Jersey for Hot 97 Summer Jam, the largest running hip-hop festival in the world! While it was short (too short), it was most definitely sweet. Below is my review on behalf of HipHopCanada. Enjoy!


East Rutherford, NJOriginally published June 8, 2016Hot 97 Summer Jam certainly had it’s ups and downs this year, but the annual outdoor hip-hop festival was another one for the books. On June 5, MetLife Stadium went toe-to-toe with Mother Nature as severe weather warnings forced the Festival Stage (scheduled from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.) to be officially cancelled and the Stadium Stage to be pushed back from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Not a great start, but the 55,000 fans in attendance wouldn’t let that ruin their Summer Jam.

With the traditional tailgate party going down in the parking lot, we stuck out the weather to enjoy a few beverages and BBQ as we waited for the gates to open at 8 p.m. Once MetLife allowed entry inside the stadium, the show almost went off with out a hitch.

New York’s own, Uncle Murda and Maino started things off with surprise guests 2 Milly. Picture the entire stadium breaking into the “Milly Rock.” Now let’s start the show!

G.O.O.D. Music | Photo by Pete Monsanto

Continue reading “My Recap of Hot 97 Summer Jam 2016!”

Beyonce Shuts Down Commonwealth Stadium on the Formation World Tour

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a HUGE Beyonce fan. It’s more of an obsession to be honest, but I’m unapologetic about it. It’s Beyonce. Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I found out she was going to stop in Edmonton on her Formation World Tour. By the grace of the good folks at Live Nation, I was granted a review ticket on behalf of HipHopCanada.

I almost fell over when I realized Live Nation had given me a FLOOR SEAT to review the show. This was my third time seeing Beyonce live, but this was my first time being so close to the stage. It was absolutely unbelievable.

Here’s my review below, hope you enjoy!


Edmonton, Alberta – Albertan’s know what they’re in for every May Long Weekend. Rain or more rain. Sometimes Mother Nature will add a dash of snow for decoration. On May 20, the kick off of the coveted holiday-weekend and the day of Beyonce‘s Edmonton stop of her Formation World Tour, the weather couldn’t have been worse for an outdoor show.

Like clockwork, a cold 6 degrees mixed with bitter wind and rain. But that isn’t going to stop Queen Bey and it certainly won’t stop the Beyhive. We put on our parkas and our Timberlands, headed to Commonwealth Stadium and dealt with it. It’s Beyonce.

There were no Timbs or parkas for Beyonce and her dancers. Only leather or sequenced-bodysuits, lace-fronts, heels and leotards. It was fierce and it was fabulous. Opening the show with “Formation”, Beyonce and her dancers confidently marched onto the the stage in all black with bolero hats. Those. Hats.

Photo courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment

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Behind The Scenes at the 45th Annual JUNO Awards – Part 2

Calgary, AB – In part one of our behind-the-scenes coverage at the JUNO Awards, we gave you a sneak peak of all the action on the red carpet and inside the media centre. The beauty of having that exclusive access is the face time we get with the nominees, winners and everyone in between. What makes award shows so exciting is the unexpected at every turn and the mere minute you have with every artist, before they’re whisked away.

HipHopCanada was able to catch up with a few of the nominees and winners over JUNO Weekend, as they circulated the red carpet or took part in the Q&A sessions backstage. Artists included: Kafinal (Reggae Recording Artist of the Year), Kardinal Offishall (Rap Recording of the Year Nominee), SonReal (Rap Recording of the Year Nominee) and Alessia Cara (Performer and Breakthrough Artist of the Year). We also caught up with R&B/Soul Recording of the Year Nominee, Patrick Lehman the day after the televised broadcast on Sunday night.

From Canadian hip-hop legends like Kardi, to the next wave like SonReal, everyone brought good vibes for a wonderful celebration of Canadian music. See how it all went down after the jump.

Q&A with Kafinal – Reggae Recording Artist of the Year (Nah Complain ft. Daddy U Roy)


His suit was tailored to absolute perfection and his postive vibe was infectious. There was something about Kafinal’s presence, that shifted the energy in the room. Kafinal didn’t have a care in the world, he did just win a JUNO after all.

HipHopCanada: As far as the reggae and dancehall genres go in Canada, how have you seen it progress within the last decade? What changes in the growth have you noticed?

Kafinal: Well, I migrated in 2009 and since I’ve been here reggae is just booming. There might be room for improvement, but as you know the song “Nah Complain,” we are grateful for whatever position we are in and we’re just working to advance. There are artists here that are making great, valuable impressions globally and we’re just thankful for everybody supporting the artists. We’re just moving forward.

On the Red Carpet with Kardinal Offishall – Rap Recording of the Year Nominee (Kardi Gras Vol. 1: The Clash)

Looking fresh to death in a custom-made varsity jacket by Roots, the four-time JUNO award winner and Canadian hip-hop ambassador made his last stop of red-carpet interviews with HipHopCanada, before heading into the Holt Renfrew JUNO Red Carpet Lounge.

HipHopCanada: This jacket is fire, first of all.

Kardinal Offishall: Thank you, thank you.

HipHopCanada: I was in Toronto for NBA All-Star Weekend, and I saw that you hosted [as a DJ] for a whole bunch of parties. I just wanted to know if that transition, from an MC to a DJ, was something you’ve always been working at?

Kardinal Offishall: It’s not really a transition. For me, back before I got on, in high school I used to make mixtapes and sell them for studio time. Since I was 12 or 13 I’ve always had a love for turn tables and I think the only difference is I stopped playing parties publicly for many years, obviously to do the MC thing. But right now me, Cipha Sounds, Starting From Scratch, and Dready [from the UK] – we formed the Celebrity Marauders. So I can go out and have fun with it again – know what I’m sayin? Not just be one of those “celebrity DJs” but just a DJ who actually happens to be a celebrity as well.

HipHopCanada: I was actually just listening to Juan Epstein, and on the episode Cipha Sounds was saying how he went down to Toronto just to watch one of your sets. That’s cool that you have that kind of relationship.

Kardinal Offishall: Yeah, that’s my brother. Yo, on May 14 we’re gonna have a big combination birthday party. Me and Ciph, so that’s gonna be dope.

HipHopCanda: That sounds awesome! Anyways, we’ll let you get on your way. Thank you so much for your time!

Kardinal Offishall: My pleasure! Enjoy.

On the Red Carpet with SonReal – Rap Recording of the Year Nominee (For The Town)

Showing love to the west coast in an Oakland Raiders bomber jacket, the Vancouver-native kept it casual and cool on the red carpet. When he stopped to chat with HipHopCanada, he made it known that the west is up next.

HipHopCanada: So it looks like we have a mutual friend in common – Bob Butcher?

SonReal: Yeah! That’s the homie.

HipHopCanada: He’s actually the one who put me on to your music. We noticed that there were a lot of west coast artists performing at JUNOFest [this year] and we think we’re kind of seeing a shift of more support in the west coast verses the “Drakes” and “The Weeknds.” We just wanted to know what your take on that was. Do you think that the west is on the rise?

SonReal: Yeah, west coast is next man! I’m coming out with a single on Friday, that’s going to change my whole game. It’s called “Can I Get A Witness” – I wanna come out and be one of the first people to go and do my thing the way I want to do it. From the west coast we got people like Snak The Ripper, Merkules, Brevner – we got all sorts of artists who are talented as hell and I think it’s gonna come out in a big way. I think we’re next.

HipHopCanada: Well, we’re all standing behind you.

SonReal: I appreciate that, thank you.

Writers note: SonReal’s new single, “Can I Get A Witness” is now available on SoundCloud.

Q&A with Alessia Cara – Breakthrough Artist of the Year

After opening the show with an remarkable performance of “Wild Things” and “Here,” then snagging the Breakthrough Artist of the Year award, the beautifully talented Alessia Cara graced us with her presence inside the Q&A room.

HipHopCanada: Congratulations on your win. With a girl your age (19) and with your success building the way it has, you’re such a grounded person. How do you stay so humble? What keeps you grounded and at a good level?

Alessia Cara: Thank you! I guess many different factors. I think the first factor is, as cliche as it sounds, just keep good people around you . It’s really important, I think your team is everything and my team protects me. It doesn’t even feel like a team, it just feels like family. My dad is always with me, my mom comes with me when she can, so that’s one thing. For me, the fame side of things, it doesn’t even attract me. It actually scares me so I try to steer away from that as much as possible – inject some normality in my life whatever that means. If that means having friends around, if it means shutting it off for a few hours – I like to just be normal. Even though my job is obviously not normal.

Q&A with Patrick Lehman – R&B/Soul Recording of the Year Nominee (Butchy’s Son)

With all of the chaos surrounding the rep carpet, I didn’t get the chance speak with the Montreal-born singer, songwriter and producer. Thankfully Patrick and I caught up over email so he could share his experience as a nominee at the JUNO Awards:

“This weekend at all the Juno events has been incredible. Being able to sit at the Juno gala and hear my name called for R&B/soul album of the year is something that has been in the back of my mind since I was a child. As an independent artist in Canada, it’s an incredible feeling to be recognized and nominated for my album as a whole amongst so many inspiring artists.

It was a thrill for me to have my family along for the ride too. Being able to meet and talk music with so many Canadian heavyweights this weekend like Kardinal, Alessia, Ria Mae and even Melanie Jolie has been unbelievable.”

Interviews conducted and transcribed by Rosa Jason for HipHopCanada

Behind the Scenes at the 45th Annual JUNO Awards – Part 1

Calgary, AB – On April 3, the country celebrated Canadian music at the 45th Annual JUNO Awards inside Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome. Sarah Jay and I were fortunate to be on the scene on behalf of HipHopCanada, which included the untelevised awards ceremony at the TELUS Convention Centre on April 2.

From the red carpet and inside the media centre, we gained exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the nominees, winners, music executives and more. You name it. We saw it. Now let’s get to the business.

Continue reading “Behind the Scenes at the 45th Annual JUNO Awards – Part 1”

2016 in Instagram

With only 4 months in, 2016 is looking a-okay! I decided to have a little fun and highlight a few favourites from my Instagram account. I’ll be sharing more of my coverage from the JUNO Awards via HipHopCanada soon, stay tuned!


– Rosa

45th Annual JUNO Awards Calgary – April 2-3, 2016

I'd like to thank the academy…#JUNOS

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etalk's Ben Mulroney & Danielle Graham prepping for the red carpet. It's about to get real! #JUNOS

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Just did an impromptu interview with @kardinalo! #JUNOS #thatjackettho

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@alessiasmusic giving me LIFE in that dress. Gorgeous! #JUNOS

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Chavril. 😂 Seriously though, the 19 year old fan girl in me just came out! #JUNOS

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NBA All-Star Game Toronto – February 14, 2016

@champagnepapi #NBAALLSTARTO

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Still in shock. #NBAALLSTARTO

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When @myfabolouslife casually comes thru your section…#NBAALLSTARTO #ThatJacketTho

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Best. Valentine. Ever. #NBAALLSTARTO

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Excitement Builds As NBA All-Star Weekend 2016 Approaches Toronto

There comes a time every now and then when an event is so legendary, that even the mildest fan would agree that it’s a once in a life time opportunity. That would be NBA All-Star Weekend where the who’s who of sports and entertainment come together to witness the battle of the best NBA players of the East and West, bask in the glory of celebrities and attend the most extravagant star-studded parties of the year.

While it may not be the Super Bowl, what makes NBA All-Star 2016 (taking place Feb. 12-14) particularly special is that the annual event will be held in none other than Toronto, ON. The first time held outside of the United States. Even the unveiling of the official NBA All-Star 2016 uniforms was a big to do, with their incorporated elements to pay homage to Toronto and Canada. What a time to be alive!


I’m going to keep it 100 for the loyal basketball fans who may be reading this: my knowledge of the NBA is little to none. Therefore I’m not going to front on you with a plethora of basketball stats and predictions, that I really don’t know anything about. What I can say is what a victory this has been for the City of Toronto and the Toronto Raptors organization.

After a grueling three-year rebuilding period, the Raptors finally came through with a playoff spot in the 2013-14 season. This was the first time since 2008, which birthed the #WeTheNorth campaign, now known nation-wide. The Raptors then claimed a playoff spot for the second time in 2015. While it resulted in a disappointing 4-0 sweep for the Washington Wizards, the 2014-15 season was one the best in Raptors franchise history and former point guard Lou Williams became the first ever Raptor to win Sixth Man of the Year.

So how’d I do?

While I may not be big on basketball, what fascinates me is the connection between hip-hop, the NBA and it’s star-players. For example: the homage artists pay in their music (Shouts to Peter Jackson), Jay Z’s love affair with the Brooklyn Nets and the culture’s ongoing obsession with anything to do with a pair of Jordans. Even the Raptors’ official DJ, DJ 4KORNERS, has become famous in his own right, touring from city-to-city when not posted up at the Air Canada Centre.

We can’t escape talk of the 6 Side without the 6 God and I ain’t mad it one bit. Drake reigned supreme in 2015 and continues to do so as we’re fresh into a new year. As Global Ambassador for the Raptors, Drake played a key-role in the re-branding of team’s new uniforms, even unveiling a custom OVO jersey at 2015’s OVO Fest. On top of all that Drizzy has accomplished, having his hometown host NBA All-Star for the first time in Canada is just icing on the cake.

While we’re at it, let’s take a small trip down memory lane:

1. Drake dropped If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late to everyone’s surprise during New York City’s NBA All-Star 2015.

2. He basically made history with his opening performance for 2015’s OVO Fest. Meek Mill, anyone?

3. Not only was he victorious in the now infamous beef with Meek Mill, but “Back to Back” is now the first ever diss track to be nominated for a Grammy.

4. What A Time To Be Alive, anyone?

5. The NBA just announced that Drake has been selected as head coach of Canada’s All-Star Celebrity team, who will face team USA (lead by Kevin Hart) at the All-Star Celebrity Game on February 12.

6. The highly anticipated Views From The 6 release date was moved to January 6, 2016… but here we are again. Maybe it drops All-Star Weekend? Patiently waiting.

Trust I can go on, but I’m sure you get the point.

The beauty of NBA All-Star Weekend is that you really don’t need to be a sports-stan to enjoy yourself. There’s something for everyone, and if you love a good party, then this is the place to be. As an avid fan of hip-hop, All-Star Weekend is known for having the hottest artists in the game come through. (If you didn’t catch the recap of Hot 97’s Tip Off concert, during All-Star 2015, you’re welcome).

Jay Z and Lebron James’ annual 2 Kings Dinner is rumored to be held Drake’s new and exclusive, Sher Nightclub. With it’s members-only status, located inside the Air Canada Centre, the plush nightspot should be one of the most desirable of the entire weekend.

So far has been my go-to source to keep up with the events in the city. As the big weekend rapidly approaches, the website is updated with the hottest parties in Toronto, whether you ball or on a budget, there’s something for everyone. If you’re wanting the ultimate All-Star weekend experience, but aren’t too familiar with the city, then I would recommend this site as a good start for resources.

After watching All-Star 2015 vicariously through social media, my level of FOMO was at a 10. That’s why attending this year, on home soil, wasn’t even a question. My flight is booked and I will be onsite on the 6 Side come February 11-14! The events I’ll be attending during the weekend are still unknown, but be sure to catch up on the action as it unfolds on HipHopCanada, as well as our Instagram and Twitter feeds. Perhaps I’ll get into the big game? I might get into Drake’s uber exclusive club, I may even rub elbows with the notorious Norm Kelly! Stay tuned my friends.

– Rosa

Summer’s Here!


It’s official, summer is finally here! What a summer it’s been so far, it’s been two months since my last post. I definitely wasn’t anticipating this long of a delay but so much has happened I could barely keep up! June started off with a week in New York City, followed by a few days in Penticton, BC, which then lead to Ponoka Stampede and Calgary Stampede – so there’s an entire month right there. I can’t complain though, I enjoy being busy and summer only lasts so long in these parts.

Now that we’re into July, my events have slowed down quite a bit which has given me more time to focus on my writing. Speaking of which – things have really picked up for me since I launched my website in April. My portfolio has provided some potential leads and eventually landed my first contract! I’ve met some great people along the way and hope to continue to do so, networking is the fun part of the job after all.

HipHopCanada is treating me well as always, the concert circuit has slowed down quite significantly this summer but the local artists are as hungry as ever. I’ve been receiving a large number of submissions to review so that has kept me busy with content. We have a HUGE music festival coming up on September 5th. The One Love Music Festival will be held at Calgary’s Shaw Millennium Park and is featuring J.Cole, Nas, Machine Gun Kelly, Raekwon, Travis Scott and Wale. Now – if you’re even the smallest fan of rap music then you’ll know how epic that line-up is! I still can’t believe it as I write it! My partner-in-crime, Sarah Sussman, and I will be covering the entire event behind the scenes so it will definitely be a day to go down in history. As much as I don’t want summer to end – I can’t wait for this one!

Recently I’ve expanded my resume by contributing to, the official website of Hot 97’s Marisa MendezThe beauty of the internet – Marisa is located all the way in New Jersey, yet I can do my work just fine here in Edmonton. Life Is Tremendez is catered to all things hip-hop, entertainment and lifestyle – which just happens to be a few of my favourite things. I’ve only been contributing to the brand for a few weeks but Marisa has been such a pleasure to work with. Her website and writing style are immaculate and I’m so excited to be a part of her team. It’s a great feeling to step outside the box and work with new people and a new platform. If you’re big into entertainment news then make sure to check in regularly on Marisa’s website – you can find my work in all posts marked Rosa_Jay.

So in a nutshell, that’s my summer so far. I’m only getting started so stay tuned!


What’s New

What’s new? It’s been a month since my last entry and events are at a steady space for the spring / summer season. April was an impressive month for concerts, which just happens to be my favourite source for content. Two artists in particular included Waka Flocka Flame and Travi$ Scott; both dynamic performers in their own right. Check out both reviews below and stay tuned for my next concert review featuring Yo Gotti at Union Hall on May 8th. Thanks for stopping by!

Travi$ Scott: YEG Event Centre, April 18, 2015

Travi$ Scott_Edmonton_450x300-10
Photo by Jordan Staples

Read the full review here.

Waka Flocka Flame: Union Hall, April 11, 2015

Waka Flocka_Edmonton_450x300-13
Photo by Andrew Lynn

Read the full review here.