Q

Ian Kamau's musical tribute to Toronto's Esplanade

The artist gives us a playlist of songs that remind him of his neighbourhood in Toronto.
Ian Kamau is a hip hop and spoken word artist, a writer and designer based in Toronto, Ont. (Milca Kuflu)

In a new segment we call the q Block Party, we invite guests to pay a musical tribute to the neighbourhoods they hold dear to their hearts. 

Today, hip hop and spoken word artist Ian Kamau takes listeners on a guided musical tour through Toronto's Esplanade neighbourhood, a southeast pocket tucked away next to the popular St. Lawrence Market and the now-closed Kool Haus music venue.

Below are Kamau's song picks and his reasons behind them.

Concrete Mob, "Boiling Point"
"Concrete Mob are a bunch of guys who lived in that neighbourhood, probably for as long as I've lived in that neighbourhood. Hip hop music in Toronto in the mid-'90s had a particular sound, it was very melodic, very jazzy with hard drums underneath them. It was the first song that I remember hearing out in the world by guys that were from my neighbourhood." 

Feist, "Gatekeeper"
"People used to go to concerts and they would sleep at my house after because I lived so close to the Kool Haus and so many concerts would happen there. I remember [my friend Moya Teklu] woke up in the morning and she played me this Feist album. That first Feist record is so ethereal."

Ian Kamau, "Dear Summer" (a reinterpretation of a Jay Z song) 
"The sound of the beat, it felt to me, a lot like something that would come out of Do the Right Thing. I just always think about the neighbourhood in the summer when I think about that movie — and so I decided to do an interpretation based on the neighbourhood that I'm from."

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