When thinking of the things Toronto is known for, a few answers are commonly expected – indefinite similarities to New York, the beautiful city skyline and die hard Blue Jay and Maple Leaf fans. However, thanks to Drake’s rapid rise to prominence in the last five years and his record label OVO, local talent such as The Weeknd, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Majid Jordan and DVSN have become internationally known. Toronto is home to icons like Kardinal Offishall and Director X. Although this city has become more recognized as ground zero for unique and promising talent, there are creative individuals whose talents go unnoticed.
SHEV is a 23-year-old Canadian underground recording artist and producer. Formerly known as the third member and co-producer of the music collective Remain Giant, SHEV has since then released music and collaborated with artists, such as Bay Campell, kick starting his solo career.
Born and raised in Toronto, SHEV studied general arts in Scarborough at Wexford Collegiate and in Rexdale at Humber College.
He enjoys expressing himself through music and occasionally participates in local showcases.
“I think being a solo artist allows you to get all your ideas out,” said SHEV. “You have to really calculate your moves before you make them.”
It’s a fight for the spotlight and recognition by big labels for underground artists in Toronto. Many showcases and listening parties are held by promoters within the urban communities but the word about these hidden talents usually stays on this social platform.
“I don’t really think about the challenges, I make music I would want to hear,” said SHEV. “If someone is even inspired by what I’m doing that’s huge for me. That’s what keeps me motivated.”
Many young, multi-talented entrepreneurs live in the inner-city communities in Toronto.
Meet Kiyara Tennent. A 22-year-old Canadian woman with Jamaican roots. She was born and raised in Toronto’s East side, Malvern to be exact. Kiyara is a wardrobe stylist self-described as “a young black woman who continues to believe in herself and leaves the rest up to God”.
She studied fashion styling at Toronto Fashion Academy in 2015 and currently working towards her Bachelor Degree in Psychology at York University.
“Many people are confused to know I am studying psychology when my interest is in fashion,” said Kiyara. “There’s such a misunderstanding of the two interdisciplinary fields in that they are one and the same. With my end goal being image consulting as a career, psychology is a great fit for me.”
After being an athlete for 10 years, the former track star decided to search for other interests and possible career paths.
“I’ve always had an interest in fashion and self-expression, so I thought why not put effort into helping others show who they truly are through what they wear,” she said.
Kiyara launched her personal style blog, THESTYLEPERSONA, nine months ago and has received nothing but positive feedback since. Although she has many accomplishments under her belt at a young age, Kiyara recognizes the adversity she has faced and the obstacles that have yet to come.
“The most challenging part lies in the fact that I am a young black woman in the fashion industry who is dedicated to having a voice and a purpose behind my brand,” said Kiyara. “In a time when quantity is valued over quality, it is challenging to stay true to your message.”
This generation of creators demands attention and power in the industry. They are making power moves as young entrepreneurs from Toronto and demand that their artistry is acknowledged.