At 24 years of age, Montreal-based rapper Wasiu is young, but he speaks with a wisdom beyond his years on "Stereo Type," which debuts via EARMILK. Over a creeping, predatory beat supplied by Grammy-nominated duo Nez & Rio, Wasiu presents his reaction to the injustices of race alongside rappers such as Killer Mike, Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole, and Lupe Fiasco. As the son of first generation Haitian and Nigerian parents growing up in Montreal, Wasiu used a combination of his own experiences and general stereotypes to spit racist lyrics from the first person perspective of a racist white man.
"All I could think of were the reports of police in Ferguson using rubber bullets and shooting at innocents," Wasiu says about the rage and overwhelming frustration he felt from the Mike Brown case. He added, "I played the beat, and I ran the events in my mind, and I matched it with the rage I was feeling from all of that shit." "Stereo Type" sounds like a feverish nightmare as Wasiu uncovers racist stereotype after racist stereotype with equal parts righteous fury and emotional vulnerability. Wasiu never claims to have all the answers but he is willing to use his art as a catalyst for conversation.
"Stereo Type" follows Wasiu's first video single, "Physical," which was produced by Kaytranada. The track premiered with HotNewHipHop and its accompanying visual released via Noisey. "Where I grew up made it so I'm able to understand things or view things from a lot of different perspectives," says Wasiu, who raps with the dexterous singsong cadence of Mos Def and the cultural omniscience of Nas. His forthcoming debut album funnels his life experiences into a culturally defining opus that balances both optimistic and pessimistic perspectives on human themes. "I'm showing what people view as both the good and the bad," he says, "and how without the bad, you can't have the good, and so you start to appreciate the bad... for the good."
For Wasiu, being a pariah has always been a constant. A child of divorce from a Nigerian Muslim father and Haitian Protestant-Christian mother, he was torn between worlds, seen by both communities as impure, and a "mixed breed"-not entirely Haitian, not quite Nigerian. Even though he's Québecois (a Québec native), his immigrant parents tainted his claim to the province. Raised by his mother after his father moved to Toronto, he felt obliged to fit in with her side of the family. Resentments towards his father's beliefs and culture led him to drop his father-given middle name-Wasiu-so that he wouldn't be teased in his predominantly white school, where he battled black stereotypes by pushing his intellect past expectations.
"I wanted to fit in and didn't want to feel like a stereotype, so I'd force myself to excel but make it seem like it was no sweat," he says, "In a sense, I was assimilating myself to white Christian standards, and dropped my middle name to evade humiliation. That same name now is the one I use to represent myself, and it empowers my blackness due to its African origins."
Overcoming adversity and using those lessons as lyrical fuel is Wasiu's strongest suit. He is preparing his debut album which funnels his life experiences into a culturally defining opus that balances both optimistic and pessimistic perspectives on human themes. "I'm showing what people view as both the good and the bad," he says, "and how without the bad, you can't have the good, and so you start to appreciate the bad... for the good."