By Vanessa Tam
VANCOUVER — Listening to his latest neo-soul flavoured futuristic R&B tracks, it’s difficult to see the connection Stevie Ross had as Subway, half of the rap group The Scale Breakers over five years ago on Vancouver Island.
Hailing from a small town in Alberta with a complicated past associated with drugs and gangs, Ross is looking towards the future with a new sound and a new overall vibe in terms of his music. “I truly feel that everything I make is better than the last song so I never really am satisfied,” he shares. “I don’t wanna be a street rapper but I think I do have a story to tell from being around that life.”
Inspired by artists like Kanye West, Moka Only, and Drake, Ross’s latest project, Something In Wonderland, is a project that he has been working on for the past five years in collaboration with local producer Aaron Hamblin, aka Speechless. “We banged that whole EP out in like four days. [Hamblin] already had some of the beats made and then I came in and played on some of them,” he explains. “Then for the next like three years after that we were replacing all the instruments with real horns and whatever. It’s crazy that I sat [on this EP for so] long but it sort of feels like it stood the test of time for me.”
Always hustling, Ross sells beats and hooks that he produces to other artists on the side to make ends meet and constantly battles with the internal decision to either keep them for himself or to sell them off to the highest bidder. “The new stuff that I’m making, I’m writing it for me but if somebody’s like, ‘Oh I would buy that,’ I’d sell it. Just to build my name and get these meetings,” he says, justifying his decisions. “That’s where I really feel like one day, they’re gonna exploit me because for $250, they shouldn’t get that [beat] you know? But in return, I’m eating off of that and paying my bills and I don’t have to go work a job. So it’s tough.”
In terms of the local hip hop scene in Vancouver however, Ross remains optimistic. “2016 was different I think because everybody started mobilizing together. Like [Matt] Brevner’s connection with Snak [The Ripper] and Merk[ules] and then Stompdown [Killaz] and them embracing me. Then being cool with the Hicu, Seth Kay, Spotty and the So Loki guys, I feel like there’s all these different groups who have like mad respect for each other and it’s not fake either,” he says. “Not like a few years ago in the underground hip hop scene where everybody was sort of on their own tips. I really think this past year everybody was really like, ‘Yo we need to work together because we’re never gonna be able to be like Toronto if we don’t.’ When I see people out now it’s always love, you know.”
Stevie Ross’s Something In Wonderland is now on Apple Music. He performs at Alexander Gastown January 13th.Alexander Gastown, BC, British Columbia, Something In Wonderland, Stevie Ross