2016 has come to an end, and it’s been a very active one for the Toronto music scene. Many artists from Toronto and the GTA have gotten a chance at the spotlight this year. Artists like J-Soul and Jahkoy got record deals with major labels, the full OVO Sound team released projects this year, and Tory Lanez’s debut album released. Our city and it’s artists have been getting noticed by many people in the music industry, which means a lot of music careers will be taking off in 2017.
This list consists of 41 projects released in 2016 by artists from the 6ix and it’s surrounding areas. To avoid controversy the list excludes all OVO Sound artists, Tory Lanez, and The Weeknd. These 41 projects are not ordered from best to worst or worst to best it’s just a list of amazing Toronto/GTA hip-hop/r&b releases.
11:11 – 11/11 (EP)
He’s from the west-end of Toronto and his debut EP in 2015 took the Toronto music scene by storm. It was a self-titled project, and each song met the high bar he set for his EP. Towards the end of 2016 11:11 followed up with his second EP titled 11/11 and released on November 11, 2016. Although his debut is preferred over this new and much shorter EP, the 2016 release still shows how very talented 11 is.
Adria Kain – Reverse Psychology (EP)
Toronto’s talented R&B artist Adria Kain has had a spectacular year. Her growth has been so organic, and her music is so feel-good that it’s hard to not root for her success. At the beginning of the year Adria released this 4-song EP titled Reverse Psychology. Later on in 2016 she also received praise from New York rapper Joe Budden. Her EP Reverse Psychology is short, sweet and poetic.
ALL.ME – Cold Hearts, City Lust (EP)
In 2015 Somali-Canadian rapper A.M introduced him self to the scene with his debut EP–SIX:A.M. The project consisted of his single Patience, and his collaboration with Toronto’s rising trap star Robin Banks for The Come Up. ALL.ME is one of the various popping Somali rappers from Toronto. In June of 2016 the young rapper/singer released his second EP–Cold Hearts, City Lust. The project got some attention to the point where Noisey featured it on their blog.
ALX&R – ENDS (EP)
If you haven’t heard of Mississauga’s melodic new rapper ALX&R in 2016 you will in 2017. He’s made a lot of progress throughout the year and it lead up to the release of his debut EP. His songs are a new style of wavy, and melodic trap flows. The Sauga native became a member of Toronto’s popular music collective BEVSTMODE. Getting towards the end of the year ALX&R released his debut titled ENDS EP, which was produced by BEVSTMODE’s talented producer Rare.
BADBADNOTGOOD – IV (Album)
BADBADNOTGOOD is Toronto’s hip-hop infused young jazz band. In early 2015 the band teamed up with Wu-Tang’s Ghostface Killah for a joint project titled Sour Soul. The project received award nominations for Polaris and a Juno award. This year the bad released their fourth album and fittingly titled it IV. The album received praise from various artists of Toronto’s music scene.
Charlotte Day Wilson – CDW (EP)
Charlotte Day Wilson proves she’s Toronto’s princess of Soul in her self-titled debut EP–CDW. From start to finish Charlotte vocalizes soulfully over each mellow instrumental. Aside from releasing her debut project, Charlotte also kicked off her Fall tour with Local Natives. Her tour had over 25 destinations and she has a performance at The Mod Club in April 2017.
Clairmont The Second – Quest For Milk & Honey (Mixtape)
Weston Road has proved to be a breeding ground for a lot of hip-hop talent. Most of us know J-Soul got signed at the start of 2016, but he isn’t the only one putting on for Weston Road. Clairmont-The-Second is the young rapper from Weston whom already has four project under his belt, including this one. The project is called Quest For Milk & Honey and the production was also handled by the young 18 year old Toronto rapper.
CMDWN – ATLANADA (EP)
FIJI is the Toronto rapper of the CMDWN collective’s rap duo. His label mate is from Atlanta and his name is Ca$tro Guapo. In March 2016 the duo released their debut project after receiving a lot of attention for their banger What’s Her Name, Wrist and Glo. The project was cleverly titled Atlanada and is one of the catchiest and strongest trap mixtapes of 2016.
Cardo Antonnio – ESTATE (EP)
Towards the end of 2015 Cardo hopped on to our radar thanks to the HotNewHipHop feature he got for his song Y Pree. In 2016 Cardo made his debut with ESTATE. The project kicks off with a monologue introducing us to Cardo and cleverly listing the tracks on the EP. The project was entirely produced by Cardo’s brother and producer J Cortz. The two continued to release dope music together straight through to the end of 2016.
Derin Falana – Live From Rocky Mountain (Mixtape)
Brampton’s rising star Derin Falana released his second project this year. Falana formerly known as The Flan introduced himself to the scene last year with his project 905, which was featured on HotNewHipHop. In 2016 Derin released his follow-up to 905 titled Live From Rocky Mountain. The project, which was set to release in May 2016, dropped in April due to high demand for the mixtape.
DijahSB – Manic Luxury (EP)
Dijah is one of Toronto’s most underrated local artists. Her voice is smooth, calm, and poetic. The passion Dijah has for rapping is evident through the delivery of her lyrics. Her project Manic Luxury is a 5-song EP and she proves that she can really rap her ass off. The project contains production credits from Martin Sole and features with Leila Dey and Tamera Russell.
Don Meeno – Giinchy 5x (Mixtape)
Don Meeno was quiet for most of the year, but he kicked it off with a strong group mixtape. The mixtape is called Giinchy 5x and it served as a more sophisticated intro to the Giinchy team. Zeko, Friyie, W5vy Davis, and BongB were the rappers on the project.
Gov – Nights (EP)
UK-born and Toronto-based artist Gov made an interesting debut in 2016. His EP Nights is 8 songs long and contains feature from rising Detroit star Amir Obé and rising Indiana star Ye Ali. Both Ye Ali and Amir Obe have been making big moves in the past two years. Gov’s project really expands his audience beyond UK and Toronto to areas in the States.
Elcee The Artist – Love Notes (EP)
Toronto rapper/singer teamed up with California producer Bonham Carter this year to release his project titled Love Notes. The project is a blend of catchy, uplifting hip-hop/R&B vibes. The production is mellow, feel-good and very well done.
Harvey Stripes – Yours To Discover (EP)
Harvey Stripes has been around for quite some time. The Toronto rapper has had a very active year, releasing two projects. His EP titled after Ontario’s slogan “Yours To Discover” is 6 songs long and 5 of them are features. Harvey taps big names such as Soulja Boy, and French Montana for his Yours To Discover EP. Toronto rappers Layla Hendryx and Rexdale’s rising star NAV are also featured on Harvey’s project.
Jahkoy – Foreign Water (EP)
Toronto’s next R&B superstar might just be Def Jam signee Jahkoy. The Toronto-born singer lives in L.A now and is a part of the Def Jam family. In November 2016 Jahkoy released his debut EP. It’s called Foreign Water and his single California Heaven featuring SchoolboyQ is the single. This is a huge step for Jahkoy. Let’s hope 2017 is the year he becomes Toronto’s next mainstream artist.
Jazz Cartier – Hotel Paranoia (Mixtape)
Jazz Cartier has had an amazing 2016. He released his follow-up to his great 2015 release Marauding In Paradise. After releasing Hotel Paranoia at the beginning of February 2016, Jazz sold out The Mod Club for his homecoming concert. The performance had to be moved to a bigger venue–The Phoenix–and he sold that out too. He then live streamed the event and performed most of Hotel Paranoia and some old songs from Marauding In Paradise. To end the year Jacuzzi was able to sell out a third venue for his event New Jazz City. It’s been a spectacular year for Jazz Cartier and it all started with Hotel Paranoia.
J Soul – Jane 2 Miami (EP)
Rich Gang signee J-Soul re-released November Twleve in 2016 after signing with Birdman. The project included a couple of new releases, and the Rich Gang tags, but remained generally the same. A few months after the re-release of the mixtape that got Soul signed, he released the Jane 2 Miami EP.
JAPE – PLAY (EP)
Toronto artist Jape’s debut project PLAY dropped this year. The EP is songs long and produced in majority by Canadian producer Prezident Jeff. Only one song on the whole project was not produced by Prezident Jeff and that’s DOA, which was produced by Montreal’s High Klassified. All in all, Jape released a strong first project and we’re excited to see what he has in store for 2017.
Jviden – Pure
Brampton’s very own Jviden releases a follow up to his 2015 EP release titled W.A.I.T. Jviden was on K.Forest’s first 2016 release Forest Fire. Jviden and Forest then teamed up to release Classic, which is the single off of Jviden’s project–Pure. His new EP–Pure–has 5 features, and all of them are from the GTA.
K. Forest – Forest Fire (Mixtape)
2016 was an impressive year for K. Forest. The Brampton artist released two projects. The first one was Forest Fire. The 14-song mixtape was very well done, and really showed us how talented Forest really is. The mixtape had features from Brampton native Jviden, and Pro Era’s very own CJ Fly. K proved he could be both the vocalist melodizing on the chorus and the rapper killing the verses.
K. Forest – Eyes of Taiga (EP)
The second release by K. Forest towards the end of 2016. The project is called Eyes of Taiga, and it’s an 11-song EP. After the hype for K. Forest’s hit song Guidance–which eventually got remixed by Travis Scott–Forest released his Eyes of Taiga EP. Although the project didn’t have Guidance on the tracklist, K. Forest pulled out a new banger titled Link, which went on to become the single.
Keffaleng – Still Shanti (EP)
Keffaleng has been known to make dope, drugged out party music. His record Off The Wall made our 6IXMIX for September and it still serves as the perfect pre-juicing anthem. Keffa went on to remove all his music from SoundCloud and release an EP titled Still Shanti. The project consists of production credits from some very credible local producers like CVRE, Vinnyx, and Nahum.
Kavale – Carpé Diem (Album)
Toronto rapper Kavale declared he’s an artist to keep your eyes on with his album release–Carpé Diem. Kavale tells us a part of his story through this follow-up to his 2015 album Genius. The Toronto rapper co-produced the album with Arion Knight, and it only has three features altogether.
Kysean – In The Mist (EP)
His name is Kysean, he reps the GTA as a whole, and he dropped two EP’s this year. The first one was Young Pharaoh, which he quickly followed up with In The Mist. Both projects have collaborations with Trouble Trouble and Frost whom are mentioned in Toronto rapper Nav’s songs frequently. Kysean appears to have really found his sound through these two tapes, and In The Mist reflects that.
Khemistry – Darktrap (Mixtape)
Trap music in Toronto has really been booming throughout 2016. Khemistry is one of the few Toronto rappers to release a trap mixtape, and it was very impressive. His debut project Darktrap doesn’t only prove Khemistry has a unique sound, but that he can really rap. Three music videos came from the project and all of them where shot by Toronto’s known director Zac Facts, who’s worked with Tory Lanez. Khemistry is definitely one to watch in 2017.
PLUTO – Just 4 Now (EP)
Scarborough singer Pluto was growing in the Toronto music scene before it really started booming. For some time he was not very active, but fortunately he delivered an EP in 2016 titled Just 4 Now. The short 4-song project is this cool, modern, feel-good vibe of soul mixed with subtle electronic sound. Pluto also continues to prove he is a extremely talented singer by hitting notes not any modern day auto-tune rapper/singer can hit. The final song on the EP is a local east-end to west-end feature with Mississauga’s John River.
Pryde – i don’t belong here (Mixtape)
Brampton’s young local star Pryde (fka D-Pryde) is taking it to a new level in 2017, and i don’t belong here is part of the prelude to that. The multi-talented rapper took a break from music after going through a very hard time, but started 2016 with a boom. His mixtape i don’t belong here is fueled with aggressively passionate raps and vocals that are just the start of his transformation. His 2017 album title has been released and it’s titled Russell after his real name.
Ramriddlz – Venis (EP)
In 2015 Mississauga artist Ramriddlz got sometime in the Drake spotlight after he remixed his song Sweeterman. The song become a local hit of sorts, and got a lot of attention globally as well. He followed that up quickly with his P2P EP, which was a blend of dancehall, hip-hop and R&B. Ramriddlz quickly became a known in Toronto’s music scene and beyond. In 2016 Ramriddlz dropped the follow-up to his 2015 EP with branding similar to the first and titled it Venis. The production was done mainly by his producer Jaegen with help from producers like 1Mind, CVRE, Sevn Thomas and more. The feel of Venis continues on the same catchy blend of sounds as P2P, but a little more tropical.
River Tiber – Indigo (Album)
East end Toronto’s River Tiber caught a lot of people’s attention in the past two years. His song No Talk was getting noticed and got played on OVO Sound Radio and was sampled in Drake’s song No Tellin’. In 2016 the talented young producer/singer/songwriter released his debut album Indigo including his hit single No Talk, and a new single featuring Daniel Caesar called West. River Tiber’s debut album Indigo is incredibly unique, and pretty addicting after a few plays.
Shabazz – Alma Sola (EP)
Mississauga rapper Shabazz is K. Forest’s SVS label mate and another reason why you should keep your eyes on Sauga. As a build up to the project Shabazz released his single Club Medellin featuring rising Brampton star K. Forest. The single was a good one for foreshadowing what to kind of expect for the EP. The rapper does a great job creating a South American themed concept for his debut EP–Alma Sola.
Sean Leon – Life When You’re The Movie (Previews)
Sean Leon has a long catalogue, and it’s only going to get bigger and better. The Parkdale rapper has been teasing the release of his album Black Sheep Nirvana for a while now. Apparently it will come as a trilogy and Life When You’re The Movie appears to be the first part, or prelude to the trilogy. The project is made up of both old and new songs, including a track that is a diss to Toronto rapper Jazz Cartier.
ShaqIsDope – Black Frames (Mixtape)
He’s from Downtown, Toronto his name is ShaqIsDope and he’s a rappers rapper. Shaq keeps it real on his 2016 mixtape Black Frames. The project demonstrates that ShaqIsDope can make dope music while story telling and venting on slow and mellow beats. He also proves that he has a knack for making choruses that really work with his style of rap. The mixtape has only one feature and the rest is all Shaq.
$heed – Ward 11 (Mixtape)
Weston Road’s DollaSignSheed had to stay active in 2016 to follow-up his 2015 local banger “Kawaling”. And he did just that. After releasing a one, two loosie and featuring in a video with Prince Latif, $heed came through with his debut mixtape–Ward 11. In a time, and in a city where civic pride is such a big deal, releasing a debut tape based on the Ward in your city is an excellent concept.
Tamera Russell – Cavity (Mixtape)
In 2015 Toronto singer Tamera Russell released and EP titled Sweet Tooth. To follow-up she released a mixtape cleverly titled Cavity in 2016. The mixtape was produced mainly by Martin Sole and Tamera herself. Don’t let though low plays on the songs fool you, this mixtape is very well done, and extremely underrated.
Tasha The Amazon – Die Every Day (EP)
It’s been a great year for Tasha The Amazon’s career. She got the video for her single Picasso Leaning premiered on Billboard and opened up for YG on his Fuck Donald Trump Tour. As if that wasn’t enough she ended off the year with the release of her EP Die Every Day.
TiKA – Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid (EP)
TiKA has been recognized as a curator in the Toronto music scene for some time now. After taking a break from making music for some years she’s spent the past year or two getting active again. Her soothing voice works very well with her unique poetic sound on her EP–Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid.
TOBi – FYi (EP)
Brampton’s talented artist TOBi made an impressive surface on to the scene with his debut EP FYi this year. TOBi’s vocals and Nate Smith’s instrumentation throughout the whole project have ups and downs that really show off how versatile TOBi can be. The B-Town up and comer is a double-edged sword of talent with his singing and rapping. With this EP TOBi really made his mark and established his sound.
Tona – The Ivy League (Mixtape)
Toronto hip-hop veteran Tona attempts to bring real hip-hop back with his second solo project The Ivy League. Tona has a very east-coast flow throughout the whole project including the production. There’s a few features on the tape including Mississauga’s JD Era and Canadian rappr Kayo Guevarra. The Scarborough vet who has been around in the scene since the infamous Real Toronto street video was out, delivers a strong full-length project with The Ivy League.
TRIPSIXX – We Own The Night (EP)
TRIPSIXX is a Toronto rapper who’s a member of OVO artist Roy Woods group UTU. We Own The Night was one of the first project releases of 2016. The Toronto rapper’s debut EP is a wavy one designed for all the nocturnal, party people and drug pushers. Savage Shit is the single off the project and it has a video tied to it, which illustrates the feel of TRIPSIXX’s music accurately.
These 41 projects were some of the most notable releases of 2016. The honourable mentions list might be just as long as this one so we’re going to leave it out. These EP’s, albums, and mixtapes show how much talent fuels the Toronto music scene. Although some artists are not exactly from Toronto all of the music in the GTA helps grow the Toronto scene. Our city is a very unique place and the only other places that can relate or understand what the Toronto culture is all about are the regions surrounding the 6ix.
2016 has easily been the best year in Toronto’s music industry EVER!