Regarding the fate of the Raptors, we’ve heard from sports broadcasters, pundits, armchair critics, NBA fans, and NBA players themselves about what the future holds for the franchise, and what they should do with the number four pick in the forthcoming draft lottery, given this disappointing past season where the Raptors failed to make the playoffs. But who we haven’t heard from is the Toronto Raptors official DJ 4Korners, who might know a thing or about the Raptors given that he provides all of the music at every home game, and is one of the ultimate insiders, but in a non-traditional sense. He and his production partner Ashton Adams have a new house music project called 401 WST that we think is very playoff-worthy.
Dalton Higgins: What have you been up to during this pandemic, where you obviously could not be DJ’ing at Toronto Raptor home games, because due to Canadian government restrictions they have been playing their home games in Tampa, Florida since March 2020?
4Korners: It's been really rough watching our guys call an arena in Tampa "home" for the season, and I know it was rough on them being there too. I sent them a likkle care package of warm up mixes to make it feel a bit more like Toronto, but otherwise I've been live streaming DJ sets, recording new music and learning as much as I can on what I call "YouTube University"
DH: As far as playing DJ gigs in general, you probably used to play out a lot, so how did you make that adjustment, to now playing in (Zoom DJ sets?)
4K: I used to play out a lot is a giant understatement lol. I've been playing clubs, concerts & festivals steady for the past 15 years at least. 200+ shows a year, and that's on top of basketball. So for all of that to go away in an instant was the WORST! I've definitely embraced the virtual space playing some corporate events on Zoom, and regularly on my own Twitch channel. It's been a Godsend in terms of being able to play music and connect with people in some type of way, and I'm so thankful for all the new relationships I've built online over the past year and a half. But being alone in a room in front of a camera is definitely NOT what I envisioned when I got into this business, so I'm really grateful to be getting back out and playing live shows.
DH: This new 401 WST house music project with you and your collaborator Ashton Adams sounds lit and it's intriguing. Why aren’t people able to make the connection between house music, techno, and it’s invention and innovation by African-Americans? Techno was invented by Black producers from Detroit, same thing for house music, it’s Black producers from Chicago, but these music forms almost feel now like they are very Euro driven?
4K: First off, thank you. Ashton and I are really excited about this new project. We actually started it in late 2019 expecting to launch with a tour in 2020, which super didn't go as planned lol. But yes beyond bringing people together on some high vibrations, we're on a mission to reconnect the dots that have somehow been scattered. I think Black creators often don't get credit, or lasting credit for the things we bring to the world. It's happened too many times in music, fashion, with inventions...this list goes on. With House and Techno etc, I think the combo of electronic music blowing up in the UK then spreading across Europe and the "EDM" boom in the late 2000's across North America have all but cut ties with the origins of the music. I read an interview in Billboard Magazine not too long ago with the legendary Kevin Saunderson (Inner City) entitled "The Dance Scene Is Still Failing Black Artists" and it broke my heart! It's awesome that all kinds of people from all over the world have embraced the vibes. It began as a result of exclusion so yes, ALL are welcome. But how ridiculous is it that MILLIONS of people love the music, a lot of the originators are still here, and active, and dope, yet they get very little love from the movement they started?? Nah, we're here to bring bring it back and let everyone know that #HouseMusicIsBlack.
DH: How did you connect with R&B singer and rapper Zach Zoya? Music industry insiders whisper that he might be one of Canada’s next big things?
4K: Music industry insiders are correct. The kid is a star!! I met Zach a couple years ago at a Spotify event actually. Kardinal Offishall (Big Up Kardi!) brought a bunch of upcoming Canadian artists on stage with him to perform and Zach was one of them who's talent really struck me. We linked and just kept in touch. When Ashton and I were working on this record, the idea came up to tap Zach in for this one, and once he sent us the first demo, we knew we made the right choice! What he brought to the record was exactly what it needed. I wish we could have got in the studio together to record it though, but you know....COVID. Ashton & Zach still haven't even met in person. This has been a full on virtual collab, but with things opening up we plan to change that asap!
DH: Which classic house music producers inspire you? And are there any new school house music producers we should be checking out, outside of you and Ashton?
4K: This is a loaded question lol. I could be here all damn day BUT I'll just give you a few of my top ones. The Godfather Frankie Knuckles, of course!! I'm also a HUGE Inner City fan (salute again to Kevin Saunderson). MK who's been and is STILL killing it, Cajmere / Green Velvet, Dennis Ferrer, Felix Da Housecat...mannnn how much time do you have? lol. As for New School there are modern day legends like Black Coffee, Idris Elba, I'm a big fan of Carnage, Gamuel Sori...there's a really dope young Canadian talent named Seb C. Lots man. But my personal favourite producer of all time is Pharrell Williams. The musical spectrum of his catalog is boundless but always so so Black!
DH: As someone who spends an awful lot of work time inside NBA arenas, what are your views on Cannabis use among NBA players and how the league should be handling it. It was heartbreaking to see American sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson suspended and then left off of the U.S. Olympic team roster after she tested positive for marijuana. Under the NBA drugs policy and through the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NBA and NBA players, the rules stipulate that NBA players are not allowed to smoke weed.
4K: I think this is a controversial topic that shouldn't be controversial at all!! Weed is legal and big corporations are making BANK in that space. So how can it still be openly celebrated and frowned upon simultaneously? I wonder if this is how alcohol use was viewed shortly after prohibition because sports franchises have tons of alcohol sponsors these days and arenas make serious coin selling what is technically a legal drug. If marijuana is now legal, what's the difference between that and alcohol? I'm not even a big weed smoker, but I like things to make sense, and this doesn't. And while on the subject, people in jail for weed related crimes where it has been legalized....why are they still in jail? It's just really clear that there are deeper reasons why some things are "criminalized" more than others, and that need to change.
DH: Why do music lovers need to check out your new single? And what can we expect from 401 WST in the coming months?
4K: Everyone should play this song on repeat because it will not only raise your vibration, make you smile and dance, but it's also a really deep, relatable record if you listen to the lyrics. It' a song about vulnerability, facing your fears and mostly it's about REAL LOVE in a sometimes fake, superficial world.
People in jail for weed related crimes where it has been legalized....why are they still in jail?