On The Radar: Toronto’s Jazz Cartier

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Photos by Ryan Skinner

A resurgence of talent from Drake and Degrassi’s birthplace is notable, Canada being mentioned in connection to Hip-Hop Top 40 more often than not. You have The Weeknd, Torey Lanez, PARTYNEXTDOOR and others taking up major chart space, all calling back to the “6” as home. But when I ask up-and-comer Toronto-based rapper Jazz Cartier if his upbringing there draws a strong tie, he credits moving around internationally as a child to his musical stylings now.  

“My influences are more broad, but Toronto is a broad city. The difference between me and other Toronto artists is that many of them don’t get out. Their topics are very dull. I am just very fortunate to be who I am today.”

The night before our interview Cartier was at 1OAK in Hollywood, fresh off the plane from playing a show in Austin with his LA date scheduled for the following night. I ask if he does a lot of writing and work while here, as a lot of his production happens on the West Coast.

“When I am in LA, no,” he laughs a little. “I get ideas from out here, but other places allow me to write. This is where I do my living, and then go back. I would call myself a professional partier at this point.”

Photos by Ryan Skinner

His songs revolve around the lifestyle of a twenty-something on the brink of greatness in the rap game. Cartier’s ability to taste what comes next seems tangible. Since his February drop of the latest album, Hotel Paranoia, the man has been on the run, with a European tour slated and new VR video drops that keep him top of mind.

“It’s been pretty good. Not pretty good, actually. It’s been overwhelming. 15 festivals scheduled. This summer alone I think I am playing 20 to 25 shows. I feel like the album was a cohesive project. It showed more of my artistry in comparison to my first one. I got out of my element which is cool to see for the first time.”

Something unique makes Cartier a bit more cohesive than others at the same place in their careers. His visuals, whether that be his own aesthetic or the video work he’s done with John Rierra and others, even dating back to 2014, seem to have an understanding of his vision. His earlier music, which has obviously evolved in his latest ventures, doesn’t completely flop like the starting work of some beginners. For someone who has had his presence completely captured by the internet due to his age-related starting point, Cartier has stayed genuine.

“People worry too much about their look. I think my Twitter is filled with bad jokes that I let fly. I usually only tweet when I’m hungover. I think that is a big part of me. I’m real with people.”

The version of Cartier that I am getting for our interview is mellow, tired from the travel and nights out. He claims he has two sides, often referencing Jacuzzi as this alter ego that you hear in his tracks. Raising pitch, tone and attitude, the persona allows him to go wild while the other side of him is reserved and collected.

“The diversity of my music goes between the chaos and the calm. I think that defines me. I am relaxed right now, but you should have seen me last night.”

Photos by Ryan Skinner

Cartier’s content does sway into heavier subject matter throughout his work, all with the angst and emotion said topics deserve. “Black and Misguided”, “100 Roses” and “Save Me From Myself” off Paranoia go to places that obviously make bigger statements than those revolved around women or rising success. Cartier makes a point to say he isn’t looking for the reputation of someone seeing the worst of the situation, especially with things going so well in his current career.

“The earlier stuff I put out was much darker. I’m not really that person. I am a really happy guy. Life is good. What’s there to be mad about?”

When I ask about future albums he seems excited. Like most people on the promo tour for their latest venture, the new stuff in conception is actually where their mind is focusing. He doesn’t give much details but ensures fans won’t be dry this summer.

“I have a lot of singles coming out. I am going to be putting new music out all summer, just keeping my foot on everyone’s neck.”

Follow him on Soundcloud here.


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