Toronto is at the center of hip-hop's spotlight right now thanks mainly to Drake and The Weeknd's colossal success over the years. With the added attention, artists like PartyNextDoor, Tory Lanez, Roy Woods, Jazz Cartier, Jahkoy and plenty more have broken out and took the game by storm. Another new artist coming from The 6 is ShaqIsDope.

The downtown Toronto native's SoundCloud page is littered with records with thousands of streams and his sound is turning heads in the industry. Now, Shaq is looking to be the next Canadian to cross over from the North.

“Right now we’re working on two projects," he said to XXL while in New York City. "I’m putting together a quick EP and also a next mixtape right after that. So that’s two more projects by the end of the year and a video hopefully soon.”

With plenty of music already under his belt and a lot more on the way, 2016 may be the year ShaqIsDope becomes a major name in the industry.

Name: ShaqIsDope

Age: 23

Hometown: Downtown Toronto

I grew up listening to: "I grew up listening to all the East Coast cats, like Fabolous, Big Pun. Pun is my favorite rapper [but] the person in the game that really inspired me to rap is Fabolous. His whole wordplay and how he put things together, it was just so different. It was something that I definitely wanted to do. Pun’s work ethic was crazy plus his breath control. He was a big dude but his fast flow and the way he switched it up, plus he’s Hispanic. I’m Hispanic as well. He’s someone I could really look up to. [I’m] striving to be one of the greats.

"Just having a love for music [made me want to pursuing rapping]. I started off as a Michael Jackson fan. I lived with my older brother so he would always play hip-hop. But when he started playing Fab and DJ Clue mixtapes I used to take a really good liking to it. I started off freestylin’ and went from there. I started freestylin’ when I was 11 and then I was like, ‘Let me try and write a song.’ I wrote my first record when I was 17. From there it was a progression and I felt I could really do this now. I just have been finding different ways to elevate my craft."

Most people don’t know: "My history, my family’s history. I come from a very mixed background. I come from Trinidad and Venezuela roots. So I like to incorporate that into my music."

My style’s been compared to: "My sound is like conscious but a little bit bouncy. There's still a turn up but there’s a message that you can take from it. People like to call me a young Canadian Fab."

My standout records or moments to date have been: "I would have to say my joint called 'Stay Focused' on Spotify, so that would be my biggest record to date. My in-house producer Pitt Tha Kid sent me the beat. I was going through something with this chick, things didn’t work out. And I said, 'I can’t let this get to me, I got to stay focus' and that was just the whole creation process. Reminding myself and also letting my homies know during bad times you have to stay focused."

My goal in hip-hop is: "To be the next Canadian to make an impact in the United States, to be up there with Kendrick, J. Cole, Drake. One day I want to be right next to them or even bigger."

I’m gonna be the next: "I’m the next superstar."

Follow ShaqIsDope on Twitter and Soundcloud.

Standout: Black Frames


"Stress Free"