For the last seven years, SonReal has had one goal in mind—being the biggest artist in the world. When the Vancouver hip-hop artist first started out, he may not have been the most talented rapper in the game, but his naivety to that fact—and passion to push ahead—are keys to his current success.
“The music just kept getting better and we just didn’t give up,” SonReal says. “It’s not like I hit a gold mine and became able to sell out shows and do bigger venues. It really was something that I took my time with. I got better at singing, I got better at writing. I found out who my fans were and I connected to them more with my music.”
SonReal takes notes from artists like David Bowie and Stevie Wonder. His relentless hustle and lyrical honesty have touched a chord with fans across Canada, and now the United States. The rapper doesn’t pay attention to what the mainstream expects from him and crafts songs that sound “dope” to his ear.
“You get to a point in your career where you spend so much time hiding things that you wouldn’t really say,” SonReal explains of his lyrics. “I got to a point this year, and it was super fuckin’ difficult, but I kind of put it all out on the table and said, ‘Hey, if I say something that’s crazy right now, or if I say something that might be almost too honest, that’s good and that’s OK with me.”
Although he wants to be known as an album artist, he subscribes to the philosophy that there is no right way to navigate through the music industry. With his upcoming, yet to be titled full-length LP, SonReal is changing the way an artist typically releases an album. During his current “No Warm Up” tour, SonReal is releasing singles sporadically from his upcoming project.
SonReal wears his heart on his sleeve on stage, giving highly emotional performances that resonate with his loyal fan base. This current tour is his biggest yet, and includes stops in Boston and New York. While rehearsing, he had a decidedly tough task of choosing what to play from his now extensive catalogue.
“We wanted to do an hour and 20 minutes,” SonReal explains. “We were going over [the songs] and it was just banger after banger. Then we play them brand new songs. There’s this brand new song we play called “Repo Man” and it’s just ridiculous, man. It’s the loudest song of the entire set and people don’t even know the song, but they sing it with me.”
After releasing his latest video for “No Warm Up” on Jan. 25, it’s already received nearly half a million views on YouTube, definitely fitting with SonReal’s mantra of “go bigger” each time.