The mainstream success of Canada's rap scene over the last ten years has become apparent the world over. A success which, as many a hip-hop head would fervently argue, wasn't an overnight development. Years of key output from figureheads like Kardinal Offishall, k-os, Saukrates, BrassMunk and many more, was involved in a scene which has since facilitated the emergence of artists like Drake, The Weeknd, PartyNextDoor, Torey Lanez, and Roy Wood$.
Derin Falana is another artist showing major potential, but his success definitely hasn't come overnight. Formerly known as The Flan during his formative years as an entertainer in and around Brampton, Ontario, Derin decided to shed the moniker for his self-released LP Live From Rocky Mountain last year. It's a dreamy, bass-laden journey inspired by Maurice’s Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are, and marks the calibration of Derin the artist and Derin the man.
Read on to learn more about both, as well as checking out the brand track and music video, “Cruising," which we’re happy to premiere today.
You didn’t originally intend to pursue rap as a career path. Can you tell us a little more about your background?
I grew up in Brampton, Ontario and I've lived here my entire life. I released my first song in 2012/13 and have been at it since. Beside sports, dance was my first love. I can't remember when I started but it was definitely before the age of 10 so I was doing this long before rap entered the picture, and I still dance. The music for me goes way beyond just MP3s. I want to be an entertainer.
I was the dude that everybody would point out when a speaker asked the audience if any dancers were present during high school assemblies! Over the years I've taught myself the choreography from at least 20 music videos so it was definitely an obsession.
Coming up, who do think influenced you the most as a dancer and a rapper respectively?
Besides MJ and Usher I was heavily influenced by Omarion and B2K early on. NBA Live 2005 had just come out and my homie happened to cop it the same day Omarion released his video for "Touch." So instead of playing this game that we were dying to get our hands on, I spent most of that day watching the video over and over again trying to figure out how he was gliding so graciously on the concrete with Timbs on. Then Chris Brown came out and he kind of took over in terms of my dance influence.
My music influences were more from the R&B side (which doesn't really make sense because when I started, it was straight rap) but I guess that's just the way it was. My favorite rappers at the time were Wale and Big Sean. My favorite R&B artists were Chris Brown and T-Pain. There was also a period of time where I went back and was listening to a lot of music from the '90s. Ready To Die and Life After Death are two of my favorites from that era.
I don't really have a rapper/dancer influence because there aren't any rapper/dancers out right now! It's always been singer/dancer, so I'm basically in uncharted territory.
For your last release, Live From Rocky Mountain, there were parallels between the project as a whole and the book-turned-blockbuster Where The Wild Things Are. You’ve said that it was a testament to where you were physically and psychologically at that time, so with that in mind, where would you say your forthcoming release is coming from?
My newest project will be the next step. Live From Rocky Mountain was about me launching this dream from home base. Envisioning this new life for myself and doing everything I can to plant the seeds for it. So now, the seeds are slowly beginning to sprout and I take the next steps into making this dream more of a reality. I haven't reached my destination yet but I'm en route now.
Tell us about the "Cruising" song and video, which are both premiering today.
I really like this song because of what it means to me. My team and the people around me understand it on a completely different level because they witnessed the things that brought this song about. I also like the fact that this song will mean something different to each listener. For some it could mean moving out, for others it could mean graduating university..
For me, it meant being in control of my life. It's like fixing and finally getting a car to start that was giving you problems before. You put in all this work and finally everything is where you want it to be and now you're cruising. Long story short, I worked this job as a server that I wanted to quit for the longest time but was afraid to because of financial uncertainty. I took time off to go to New York and release the project, I got a little taste of a new life, and then I returned to Brampton and went right back to work.
The funny part about this story was that one or two weeks after my mixtape dropped my work place randomly closed down. So the entire time I was planning my escape, the universe ends up doing it for me. It was a reassurance that everything happens when it's time. The music was and is still doing well, things picked up, I was doing okay, and I haven't worked a job since. I was in a good place and that's where “Cruising" comes from.
I know you don’t have a definitive title for the project just yet, but can you give us any more information about what else has been recorded so far?
All I can really say is that I have a lot of music recorded, and a lot of new music coming out. All of it produced by the usual suspects (Po, Lucidox, Jahmal Gittens, Jordon Manswell, Anthony Bastion fka Brammah). I've also done some work with Lord Quest, Prezident Jeff, as well as a few dope records I did with !llmind.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but you have a qualification in Psychology, right? Either way, what would your assessment of the music scene be as it stands today in comparison to what it once was?
I did go to school for Psych, and I do think differently because of it. The internet has changed the landscape of the industry. Social media has made it easier for artists to connect with their fans on a personal level. It's rare that artists just burst onto the scene out of thin air like how it used to be. Now, you can follow an artist from rags to riches and watch them grow. It's a different ball game now. Streaming is taking over and people are consuming music at a much faster rate so artists are releasing music more frequently. I'm a fan of letting my music live a little before I put out more because I am telling a story. I just think it's dope to give fans music and then give them another piece of the story so they can see that the two coincide.