I enter a lush conference room at the Evo student residence building in Old Montreal to find Sina Ghiassi, founder of hit interview series Montreality, awaiting me. He greets me while adjusting his camera, as he plans to film the artist who is about to enter the room. However, unlike his normal set-up situations, this filming is not for a Montreality interview, but rather a documentary on KGoon, a young Montreal emcee who Sina has recently announced as the first artist he will ever manage.
Moments later, KGoon walks through the room, sporting two thick gold chains, championship-esque rings on most of his fingers and a classic, navy blue New York Yankees cap. It’s the type of look you might have seen rocked by 50 Cent in his heyday, a man KGoon cites as one of his biggest influences.
“I grew up listening to 50 Cent and Lil Wayne. I think Lil Wayne was the guy I was listening to the most. At one point, I thought I was Lil Wayne, you know? (laughs) I wanted to be Lil Wayne so bad, bro! But I’m a big fan of 50, too.”
KGoon, born Brandon Buissereth, grew up in Montreal’s Little Burgundy neighbourhood with a keen sense of musical capability from an early age. “I started with my cousin, Seven LC. I’d say we were about 10 years old. We started at his crib, in his basement. At one point, we were just like, ‘Yo, let’s make some music.’ We went and bought a little microphone at the dollar store and started fucking around with his computer.
Although KGoon admits that this material and an early mixtape were “Not good at all,” the 21-year-old has since developed into one of the city’s most beloved hip hop figures. This was in part due to his breakout hit “100 Bandz.” Sitting at a healthy 340,000 views on YouTube, the single has received the attention of industry greats such as Boi-1da, Metro Boomin (both of whom played the track during Montreal tour stops), A-Trak (who brought the rapper onstage as a surprise guest during his Fool’s Gold Day Off concerts, two years in a row) and, most notably, New York veteran N.O.R.E., who had KGoon perform the track not one but six times during his Montreal show this past May.
With Sina and the Montreality team in the building to capture the N.O.R.E. performance, video footage of the “100 Bandz” feat became a hometown viral hit, receiving coverage from sites such as WorldStarHipHop, Noisey and HipHopDX. Its popularity stemmed from a mixture of obscene levels of energy from both the crowd and KGoon himself, along with a firm message from a bubbly N.O.R.E.: “Let’s be clear I’mma bring this n*gga to America and make this n*gga a star,” followed by further wild crowd reaction. It isn’t often Montreal rappers get co-signed by respected international names, let alone those who want to “bring him into Def Jam or Interscope.”
Aside from creating a bigger buzz for KGoon’s soon-to-be-hit, the show also saw the commencement of a work relationship between the rapper and the Montreality founder.
“I met Sina through Bad News Brown, RIP. Sina was always making moves with Bad News,” KGoon says. (Sina interned and later served as an executive assistant for Bad News Brown until his passing in 2011.)
“Even before the show, I had heard ‘100 Bandz,’ I’d seen the video,” Sina says. “Honestly, it didn’t really touch me at first. But when I saw him perform on that stage, bro, just his aura, the whole energy — I feel like you need to see KGoon like that, you know? He’s a performer, not all rappers kill the performance. But him, he was just insane! You could see that he’s a star.”
When asked to describe his sound in a couple of words, the two coin the term “cinematic trap.”
Incorporating trap elements into his music has been both a gift and a curse for the Little Burgundy talent, allowing him to stand out from many of his Montreal peers, while inviting comparisons to the likes of Young Thug and Future. However, the young rapper has no issues with the comparisons, choosing to embrace them with open arms.
“I love Future! Future is my favourite artist right now, hands down. Young Thug, all of them [in that scene] are cool, but Future is number one to me. I just took the vibe that I like and used it my way. So if people say I kind of sound like Future, I see it as a compliment. I’ve heard that before. What I’m doing is putting my touch on it but making sure I have my sound in Montreal songs, know what I mean?”
In any case, he believes the city has ways to go before we can pinpoint a definite sense of identity within the hip hop scene.
“Montreal’s kind of looking for its own sound, but I like the way it’s going, too. I think we’ll be where we deserve to be because there’s so much talent within the city; everyone is working on their own craft,” he explains, citing acts such as Speng Squire and the Posterz’ Husser as peers he particularly admires. “Toronto’s taking all of the shine, but it’s our job to elevate that bar. We could compete with other cities, we could compete with the world.”
This summer, KGoon released his debut EP, Tables Turn. Its lead single “Thousand” is a level up from “100 Bandz,” a vicious trap banger in keeping with the rapper’s undeniable thirst to keep hustling at any cost. Other singles, like the infectious “Goonie Gang,” proved simply inescapable for anyone enjoying a night out at St-Laurent hotspots such as Apt. 200 or BLVD44.
“Tables really turned!” states KGoon regarding the title’s meaning. “I’m talking financially, with family, everything. At one point, we were the ones in the back, looking up watching. Now, it’s the other way around, people looking up to us, showing mad love.”
In terms of the remainder of 2017, fans can look forward to a number of shows and collaborations from KGoon, along with he and Sina planning to return to the States following an “inspiring” work experience in Miami.
As for N.O.R.E.’s involvement in helping young rapper’s career, KGoon calls the Drink Champs podcast host “a man of his word,” assuring me they will meet with him on a future date. “When we feel like we have something solid for N.O.R.E., we’re gonna go check him. He’s basically waiting for us, so it’s all love,” he says.
Throughout the interview, KGoon and Sina build off of each other’s ideas, both slurping their own cups of ramen noodles on and off. It’s clear that they’ve found a wonderful match in each other, their artist/manager relationship leaving the doors open to endless possibilities for the future. ■
>KGoon plays the Solotech stage at the Ancient Future festival (Clock Tower Quay, Old Port) on Friday, Sept. 8, 9 p.m., $85 weekend pass, $15 for this show only