Being beside the massive American industry, Canadian hip-hop artists have always had to work a bit harder to get noticed, but Peter Jackson might be taking it to extremes. Already this year, the Ontario-based MC has produced two mixtapes—his own Boombox & A Tape, featuring guests Royce Da 5'9 and Treach of Naughty by Nature, and another from his 90Nickel collective—and that's just a warm-up. Less than a week after he's done his current cross-country tour opening for Tech N9ne, he'll take off from coast to coast again supporting Pharoahe Monch, right before his debut full-length, In My Life, drops in May.
It's a punishing schedule, but Jackson doesn't seem to mind the work—in fact, he seems to be downright relishing it. Surely a part of that comes from a work ethic developed while hustling for shows in his native Ajax—not exactly Canada's hip-hop hotbed—though, as he explains, there's a much deeper, personal reason for his tirelessness, too.
"I think everything changed when my best friend was killed a few years ago. From that point, I really didn't take any time or anything for granted: it was, 'I gotta move now, I gotta go now,'" Jackson says while on his way to Ottawa, where he's kicking off the first tour. "I just don't want to be left thinking or wishing about what I could have done."
There's definitely not a lot of room in his life for "coulds" at this point. With his streetwise, history-steeped take on hip hop gaining him attention on both sides of the border, he is a man that's not just doing, but doing well. Not that it's slowing his drive any: he isn't exactly nervous about the coming release of In My Life, but he does sound like someone who knows what's at stake with his debut record.
"The album is called In my Life, and it's very personal to me, so every song has a meaning, every song fits a certain formula to build this puzzle of what this album is, which is basically my life up to this point," Jackson says. "With mixtapes, I'll spend a week listening to beats, a week writing and a few days recording. But I've been working a year and a half on this album, because I want to make sure this one is around for a long time." V
Sat, Mar 20 (8 pm)
With Tech N9ne, Krizz Kaliko, Big Scoob
Starlite Room, $25