Who is Killy? Get to know the Juno breakthrough artist nominee

The young rapper with his own label and platinum singles wants to change the game.

The young rapper with his own label and platinum singles wants to change the game.

Rap artist Killy is nominated for Breakthrough Artist at the 2019 Juno Awards. (Courtesy of the artist)

The Juno categories of breakthrough artist and group of the year have gone through a few different identities in their 45-year history, but what's never changed is the incredible pedigree of the categories' winners. A veritable who's who of now-established and future Canadian music industry icons have taken home these coveted Junos.

Breakthrough artist winners include Burton Cummings, k.d. lang, Colin James, Alanis Morissette, Jann Arden, Avril Lavigne, Michael Bublé, Feist, Drake, the Weeknd, Alessia Cara and Jessie Reyez. The list of breakthrough group winners is equally star-studded: Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Rush, Glass Tiger, the Tragically Hip, Nickelback, Alexisonfire and A Tribe Called Red.

Think of the Junos as an opportunity to survey just a little bit more of the country's music scene, its depth and breadth, and then keep checking back as CBC Music posts its handy primers for each artist and group, as well as some context to help deepen your appreciation of these great musicians.

Who: Killy.

Where: Scarborough, Ont.

Sound: Hip hop that's equally at home on the catwalk or at the club.

Why they're nominated: The 21-year-old rapper-songwriter-producer was born Khalil Tatem in Toronto to Filipino and Bajan parents. He began releasing music in 2016, but it was his 2017 hit "Killamonjaro" that went viral and made him a major player on the scene. Since then he's started his own label, Secret Sound Club, and released a full-length record, 2017's Surrender Your Soul, and an EP, 2018's Killstreak. Killy's already had two singles certified platinum.

Previously: Going to high school, working in a grocery store.

Fun fact: His first hometown headlining show (1,400 capacity) allegedly sold out in two minutes.

Quote: "I'm not afraid to wear what people are afraid to wear. I'm not afraid of criticism when it comes to wearing certain pieces. I did a show in a baby blue fur hoodie — and that was Women's FENTY by Rihanna, but I don't give a f--k 'cause it still looks sick. I'll still wear it. Like for me, fashion really doesn't have a gender to it. I usually wear whatever I think is cool, and if that means it's a women's fur coat, then it's a women's fur coat." — Killy to High Snobiety, 2018

'Killmonjaro' (2017)

[Strong language warning]

'No Sad No Bad' (2018) 

'Distance' (2017)

[Strong language warning]


Wherever you are in the world, you can watch the 2019 Juno Awards on Sunday, March 17, broadcast live from London's Budweiser Gardens at 8 p.m. ET on CBC, CBC Radio and online at cbc.ca/junos.


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