From the East side of Toronto to the underground rings of battle rap, this King of The Dot representative, Scarborough native and award–winning artist has rightfully earned yet another title: jack of all trades.
Bishop Brigante who recently released his debut album Legacy in March, has built a strong foundation for himself, not just as a successful recording artist and battle rap champion but as an actor as well, appearing in Orphan Black, Narc, Evil Feed and starring in the TV series Platinum.
At a young age Bishop found himself clinging onto every word of Slick Rick’s hit single “Hey Young World”. The rappers storytelling and intricate rap style influenced Bishop to pursue more from life and himself.
“Hey Young World stood out to me because I was a kid, I was the young world and he was speaking to me,” says Bishop. “It impacted me in a big way and that was my first push into telling myself, I need to do this.”
Bishop’s early beginnings are rooted in Toronto’s underground rough, rugged and raw battle rap scene. Whether it was his friends bringing battle challenges to him or him jumping in a circle amongst some of Toronto’s most lethal such as: Maestro, Kardi, Saukrates, Choclair and more – he made sure to let others know who he was and what he could do. Often singled out because of his light complexion, he instantly stood out as someone that could slaughter the mic and any component that he came in contact with. Notably, Bishop was the first Canadian rapper to appear on BET’s Freestyle Friday segment on 106 & Park, winning for three consecutive weeks.
Bishop’s lyrical style has many layers to it. On one end he is fun and loose with witty punch lines and on the other he is aggressive and nasty, hitting us with his battle rap hooks. His versatility has led him to work with big names in hip hop such as: Snoop Dogg, Drake, JD Era and the late Nate Dogg himself.
His latest project Legacy – an album composed of eight songs placed in a specific order – takes fans through personal, intimate and key moments throughout his career. Starting with “That’s The Way,” which was his first single leading to “About to Change” his second single, which was a big record for him and his team, “Hard Times” was a reflection of his current environment and what made him who he was, while “Shorty Grindin’” featuring Drake and JD Era reflected when his network and hype began to grow and expand more and more, and lastly, “My Style” which was during the end of his time with Bodog Music.
Now, when it comes to hip hop today Bishop finds himself at a tight crossroad. He has an ear for music and most importantly, for the culture. Although his head is constantly bumping to some of today’s hottest such as: Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Rick Ross, Westside Gunn, Conway and Migos, he finds that all of today’s artists are just getting by. Second to that he respects artists who aspire to be different and who start something new in hip hop such as ‘mumble rap’ – a term he greatly dislikes and describes as a ‘hater term’.
“I believe the content in the music caters to a shorter attention span today due to the lack of emotion evoked,” says Bishop. “Listeners invest less of themselves into the music because there is little they can cling onto; therefore it is easier for them to let it go… it isn’t like before, when an artist would drop an album, it was like a treat to us!”
Like Bishop, hip hop has many layers beginning with its four main elements: emceeing, graffiti art, DJ’ing and breakdancing. Each layer has history that has contributed to what Bishop describes as a culture, a lifestyle, a movement and poetry in motion – that’s hip hop.
Although Bishop’s success appears to be second nature, this Toronto prodigy had a major fear of becoming successful, which has resulted in him walking away from major deals prior to his Legacy release. His biggest fear was that success would tamper with his moral compass or how his loyalty is set up, but with the help of his son, he pushed forward.
“I want people to know that my legacy is that I cared in my music, that as long as you’re still breathing you can turn anything around,” says Bishop. “I’m a spokesperson for survival and hope – no matter what you can still smile after all the bull****!”
Lastly, we asked Bishop to finish the following sentence for us: I fell in love with hip hop when I heard …
“Slick Rick- Hey Young World … I was the young world!”