There’s something to be said about the youth today and their musical tastes. Sure, many would easily dismiss them for being ignorant about the monumental influences that past legends have given us. Yet, at just 15, Raheem’s flow and lyrical ability have trumped most of those whose albums are currently on the top 10 Billboards list, and not to mention his full appreciation of past musical influences. His journey to where he is now is inspiring, but equally as inspiring is his outlook on life and the extraordinary passion for his talent.
Born Jahkoy Palmer on March 23, 1994 in Scarborough to a 17 year old mother of Jamaican descent and a 16 year old Muslim father, he was raised in Lawrence Heights where his mother lived. At the age of 5, he then moved to the notorious Jane and Finch area. Attending school, Raheem wasn’t the best child as he would follow the older “bad” kids. Recognizing the fact that their child wasn’t doing too well, his parents decided to transfer him to a Catholic school and moved him away from the negative influences to Lawrence Heights where he stayed with his grandmother. Many would automatically assume that he would be the product of his own environment, yet despite his childhood in 2 of Toronto’s “urban jungles”, Raheem has used his life experiences and situations to embrace life for all it has to offer. He has always been very confident and been inspired by his optimists (teachers and family) that have surrounded him all of his life. Never the one to follow, he has never caved in to the “I’m going to start selling drugs to look cool” notion. It is a remarkable thing to hear as many at that age would fall deep into that peer pressure, yet for Raheem, he has always followed his own path.
Raheem started expressing his love for music at a very young age emulating musicians of all genres. He soon discovered the sounds of ATL, country, soft rock and instrumental that heightened his love of music. It was his uncle who showed him how to channel his thoughts through music, and thus at 12, Raheem started expressing his thoughts and life experiences onto paper as his uncle guided him along the way. With encouragement from both his mother and father, he studied past legends and their musical legacies while honing his craft. At 14, he began to take his talent seriously. Within 2 years, Raheem has already graced the stages of many enormous community events. He has performed for National Charity events, York University’s 106 and York Urban Arts Festival as well as being an act for Toronto’s Manifesto Art Festival.
Having benefited from the Remix Project’s studios (where his friend is enrolled in the program), Raheem’s music speaks for itself. Just by listening alone, you can tell that he is from a different breed of artists. His lyrics are a testament to his life; they are a reflection of his story and what he has been through in his 15 years. In “Those Were the Days“, where he recorded at Big 10 Studios at the age of 12, Raheem reminisces about his childhood, his friends that he grew up with and how time changes people. While clinging onto the lyrics, you tell yourself that this individual has gone through so much, yet you realize after that this was through a 12 year old’s eyes.
“Thoughts” is another track that exemplifies his lyrical skill. Done over a Tupac track, Raheem lets out his feelings while making you cling onto every word and sentence…taking you through his world. His ability to story tell and channel his thoughts through music is extraordinary for someone his age. Not even artists with years on their belt could articulate their stories as well as Raheem does, and done so naturally. For Raheem, music is meant to express your deepest emotions, yet he is disappointed with music nowadays as it lacks the true essence of its origins.
“Love is my religion ‘till the day I start thinking and stop blinking to actually see the world…” “Thoughts” by Raheem
Raheem spends countless hours on his computer doing everything from writing lyrics to searching for the right beats for a particular song he has written. He selects each verse with such a high level of intricacy that is very rarely seen, or even expressed by people his age. When asked about his influences, he accredits Lionel Ritchie, Savage Garden, Maroon 5, Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Tupac, Bob Marley and many more for showing him this form of expression and accredits ongoing encouragement to life as he experiences and perceives it. But it was Drake that truly gave him hope that someone from Toronto could actually make it major in the international scene.
“I was shocked about Drake. I mean, he was just Jimmy from Degrassi…and then somehow he met with Lil Wayne. From Toronto to international.” Raheem as quoted about Drake’s success
Meeting Kid Famous through MySpace has been another major eye opener for Raheem. Originally messaging Kid Famous for a collabo track, Raheem looks to him as a big brother and has found inspiration through Kid Famous’ journey of doing his own thing, along with his mixture of Canadian and American sounds. As being a role model to Raheem, Famous has dubbed him (and D-Pride, another home grown talent) as the future of Toronto hip hop.
With all this success at only 15, Raheem is still humble and cool about it all. His uniquely remarkable talent is undeniable and not to mention his persona: he is surprisingly mature for a young man his age. He has always used his music as a way to relay his thoughts and feelings; his thoughts are of nothing but expression of love for life and everything in it. Already with a mixtape under his belt (“I Am Prince, Volume 1”), he is currently working on his 2nd mixtape entitled “Heartbreak by Sin” and is honing another talent of his, acting.
If this is the future for hip hop in Toronto, then the future is looking mighty promising.