M-city SOLO, a man who is an artist, singer, songwriter, performer, motivational and public speaker. It's interesting how one person can do so much. Inspire so many. Much like Luckystickz, these two men are in classes of their own. In 2005, with his brother, M-city SOLO (Khalyil Rouse) created Music With A Meaning. This tour was designed to inspire the youth in elementary schools, high schools and universities alike. 250 shows and over 50,000 youth inspired. Madness.
Motivational speaking aside, SOLO's new single, "Still Think About You", is out now. This song digs right into his personality and speaks of his past relationships and gets personal. It also marks the artist's singing debut. We sat down with the Montrealer who is the city's first to sign with Akon'sHitlab Records.
When you were young, describe what your childhood was like in Montreal and how you knew you wanted to become an artist. M-city SOLO: Growing up I was a quiet, reserved kid in the small town of Pincourt, QC. There wasn’t much to do so your imagination was crucial and I had a little group with my cousins and brother where we’d perform for family during holidays and different events, being that I was so quiet borderline introvert, performing gave me a sense of power it gave me a rush especially since I was terrified every time we did it. It was a way to me to conquer my fears and get love all at the same time, from then I knew it was what I wanted to do.
In 2005, Music With Meaning, branded by your brother and yourself, inspired an entire Montreal community. You traveled to elementary schools, high schools, and basically became a community leader. You have also performed at bar mitzvahs’, concerts, clubs and fairs. Looking back on these moments, describe the build-up of that, and how you and your colleagues, got these events. M-city SOLO: It really started when my old high school heard I was doing music and contacted my brother for me to perform and say a few words on what was happening in Darfur at the time, cause I was from that school the students were really receptive to my message then I perform a record that wasn’t related at all and it showed that just because I rap about my experiences doesn’t mean I don’t have something positive to say. My brother saw what was happening while watching the show himself and immediately started contacting schools and school boards after, and MUSIC WITH MEANING was born.
How do you feel knowing you have inspired many lives in the process? Did you receive any letters or any thank yous? M-city SOLO: Honestly, it’s the greatest feeling ever! LOL, when we started it was just to perform and spread a message, I underestimated the power of the message. I started seeing people cry at shows, then started receiving messages and videos of what I did for them, to me I’ve already accomplished more than some of your favorite artists.
This generation has been surrounded by so many pieces of social media both inspiring and negatively affecting other people’s lives. For example, bullying has been a huge problem for years. What is your opinion on this generation, and what advice can you give to overcome its difficulties? M-city SOLO: I find that this generation is kind of numb, technology is erasing human interaction and empathy, they don’t realize the impact of what they say or do cause by the time they’re done doing it, they’ve already moved on to the next thing, there’s too much information coming and not enough not time to process it, kids have all the same information as adults minus the experience, then you end up having people that know everything and nothing at the same time. They need guidance but they’ve been neglected. My advice is knowledge of self, the more you know yourself, the more you learn to truly love and embrace yourself don’t try to fit in enjoy your originality then THE world no longer exists only YOUR world does. “A tree with strong roots, laughs at storms” _some guy lol.
After performing in all these schools where did you take your step into performing music? M-city SOLO: Not sure if I understand your question but after performing at so many schools I actually took a break from performing, mainly because I’d placed myself in a box without knowing, I went from being the rapper that did school shows too the guy the does school shows and happens to rap and wasn’t able to be myself or perform the records that weren’t as school friendly so I took some time to rebrand myself.
In your biography, you state that your own style is a mix of modern pop, Electro, Rock, Reggae and hip-hop with a distinctly Caribbean flavour (a tribute to your proud Trinidadian culture). Club manager and DJ Nate Thomas said that your electrifying performances and style are definitely one-of-a-kind and rare to find. What artists inspired you to create this intriguing approach to music? What does it mean to you, that your style and determination is unlike other artists? M-city SOLO:Kanye, Kendrick, Andree 3000, Micheal Jackson, bad news brow. It means everything for me to have my own style I was always taught real artist has something original. Have a style that if someone else did it, it’ll be clear they’re copying you.
Montreal's M-CITY SOLO Debuts "Still Think About You" Music Video.
In 2015, you released the Khalyil album, with hit songs like “Mary” and “Warrior.” You state it is an introduction of yourself, as your name is Khalyil Rouse, and you could not thank your uncle Marlon Long, enough for helping you out. How did your uncle help you? M-city SOLO: My uncle Marlon really made it a point that I finished what I started and we worked on every record together daily from arranging the music, playing instruments ourselves and recording at countless studios he was with me threw he whole process, sometimes on it more then I was. LOL.
You are the first Montreal artist to get a production deal with Akon's Hitlab Records. How did you get that? What kinds of productions have you done for them? M-city SOLO: I got that deal threw my brother/ manager we were looking for acts to perform at our school show and they had an artist we were looking at, then they, in turn, started looking at me and a deal was made, Majority of the Khalyil records were redone at Hitlab (Zone, Warrior, relate).
Your new hit single, “Still Think About You”, is a track you developed that speaks about exes and your personality. This track has made emotional connections with people, some laugh and some cried. How can this track teach another person about life’s challenges and how to approach them? M-city SOLO: I guess what you can take from this record in terms on life challenges is, yeah you may have messed up in the past but don’t be scared to shoot your shot today, if you have someone on your mind call them; send them a message tag them on my song.