Music

5 things you need to know about rapper Fame Holiday

The 24-year-old Mississauga, Ont., artist honours Black Lives Matter with new song, video.

The 24-year-old Mississauga, Ont., artist honours Black Lives Matter with new song, video

A still from the songwriter's new music video for 'Take Me Away.' (Courtesy of the artist)

He's been rapping since he was six years old, but with the release of his new track, "Take Me Away" — his  most personal song and music video yet — Fame Holiday is ready for the world to wake up to his gifts. 

The 24-year-old Mississauga, Ont., artist wrote "Take Me Away" in support of Black Lives Matter, and his powerful new music video depicts Holiday's community coming together in their own solidarity march and demanding an end to systemic racism, discrimination and anti-Black violence. 

"One of the main reasons I started making music was to be able to express myself without talking to a bunch of people about the way I feel about things," Holiday told CBC Music via an email interview. "I've always been a private person when it comes to showing my emotions; it's something I'm slowly working on as time goes on." 

Holiday first recorded "Take Me Away" in July 2020 with "zero intentions of releasing it."

"I made the song for myself, to just get my thoughts out on how I feel about Black Lives Matter. Not seeing any justice, seeing so many stories about Black people dying from police brutality, such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and racism still being such a strong issue, made me genuinely frustrated and sick of the word that we live in today because I know that we can all do better."

"Take Me Away" also marks five years of Holiday's journey as an emerging, independent artist. He's not a household name — at least not yet — so before he breaks out, here are five things you need to know about Fame Holiday. 


1. He's a prolific recording artist

Since the release of his 2017 debut full-length album, Above it All, Holiday has been steadily building up his discography track by track, including his 2018 EP, Made for This, and his second full-length, 2020's Temporary Love, an R&B/hip-hop tangle made as a tribute to modern relationships

2. Community is key

"My neighbourhood influences my music because of the way I grew up, being around a lot of people who took a negative route and me being one of the only ones to do something more positive with my life. I feel like I'm a prime example of not having to be a product of your environment. Focusing on my music really helped me avoid getting caught up in the wrong things like selling drugs, getting into trouble with the law and going to jail. Besides my great-grandmother, my mom and a few of my closest friends, music definitely moulded me into the person I am today.

"In regards to my community, it has also influenced my music in a positive manner. A lot of the kids in my neighbourhood tell me that they look up to me. My music and brand has allowed me to give back to my community via charity events, supporting local brands, and using my platform to help spread good vibes and unity within the community. Being able to talk about the struggles in my neighbourhood and community plays a huge role in my music because I'll never forget where I came from, no matter how big of an artist or how successful I become in the future." 

3. Drake holds a special place in his heart

"I started rapping at the age of six, but the first song I ever recorded and released was at the age of 14 over Drake's 'Forever' instrumental. The song was about me chasing my dreams no matter who hated or doubted me along the way and one day becoming one of the greatest artists in the world. The thing that inspired me to write it were my friends in my school and in my neighbourhood. They always encouraged me to take music seriously because they saw my potential and talent."

Drake is also Holiday's dream collaborator: "He also inspired me at a very young age to keep making music, staying true to myself and just because a few people might not rock with your music in the city, doesn't mean the rest of the world won't. He's a perfect example of taking things to the next level, even when the closest people around you don't see the vision. I feel like our sounds would complement each other very well because we are both versatile artists."

4. DIY is how he gets it done

"My greatest moment in my career so far was selling out my concert at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto, independently, with no manager, no label, no grant funding; just myself and a few friends who saw the vision. It wasn't easy to sell out the Phoenix. It took a lot of sacrifice, long days and nights and hard work. This included booking the venue, handing out flyers every day for two months around the GTA at malls, movie theatres, parties, schools and other public settings, and personally dropping off hard copy tickets to all my supporters.

"It was all worth it in the end though, because I had a successful, sold-out show and it was rewarding to see how much my hard work paid off and also to see how much people genuinely support me on my come-up. A lot of people encouraged me to do a smaller venue because they didn't think I'd be able to pull this off, but that night was a huge eye-opener because my determination proved them otherwise." 

5. Black Lives Matter

"In the music video it was very important for me to showcase unity; different colours of people coming together to support one thing and one thing only: Black Lives Matter."

This story is part of a CBC project entitled Being Black in Canada, which highlights the stories and experiences of Black Canadians, from anti-Black racism to success stories Black communities can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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