All Hail Canada’s rising queen of hip-hop and R&B

Addictiv isn’t afraid to throw down a challenge, especially a big one, when it comes to two of her closest passions: music and Canada. She’s stamping herself as the Canadian queen of hip-hop and R&B, and is ready, even encourages, anyone who wants to challenge her. I connected with the Montreal-native over the phone, at the end of her whirlwind week in Toronto.

“It’s not disrespect to anybody in Canada,” she said. “Nobody else has stepped up. My name’s Addictiv, and that’s a lot to live up to. I’m representing properly and strong.”

Before her debut album drops early summer, her first track Little Game is getting big radio airplay and a lot of traffic on her myspace page. Checking out the scene last week at Toronto’s Canadian Music Week, Addictiv was also in town celebrating two nominations for best new artist at the Canadian Radio Music Awards. “I’m not a diva . . . yet,” she laughed. “I haven’t earned that. Right now it’s about working on the music, blood and sweat. First I have to execute.”

Independent label Urban Heat Music has already invested a lot in Addictiv, aka. Tasha, recognizing a true artist because of her dedication and love for the music. They are also confident backing up her claim to the northern hip-hop and R&B crown. Urban Heat owner, Miguel Lopez, said “She doesn’t rap, loves rap, but she’s a singer. To be honest, she’s the closest thing Canada has to Mary J. Blige. And she lives the hip-hop and R&B way of life. She’s hanging out with the boys, going out bowling with the boys. She’s a real person and down to earth.”

She’s opened for Erykah Badu and Ashanti, and has worked with international artists like Papoose and Kay Slay, but stays focused on her commitment to making music, which she says has always been in her blood. Growing up there was always music playing in her house, from her dad practicing piano during the day to more lively evenings. She credits her family for inspiring her taste for music as a kid, and these days for helping her stay grounded.

She also gives others around her a lot of credit for keeping her head level, like Lopez, Urban Heat, and her management. Despite some education in New York City and feeling out the flavours in Miami and Los Angeles, Addictiv picks up knowledge in other places to bring it home to Canada. “I’m representing here,” she said.

And she hopes to see a bit of a shake-up in the Canadian scene. “There’s only a small handful of names from urban sound in Canada and I know we’ve got talent. We’re not raising a big enough buzz and rely on American acts too much. Forget that. We can do it. Radio needs to take on a Canadian artist and play the (grunt) out of it, and knock off some Americans. We gotta change that, and so it’s not just rock in Canada.”

The debut album will show off her range and power as a singer and song-writer with a mix of commercial tracks and introspective ballads and mid-tempo tracks, in what could be described as her ‘biography.’ “Music is the soundtrack of everybody’s lives, and mine,” she says. “I try to put myself in other people’s shoes, and also think about what I like to hear. What we listen to before we go out to the club, or when we get sad, or mad . . . everything that’s around us, there’s a song for it. A song can be about nothing, some hooky track with a good vibe you hear at a club.”

With an album and tour on the horizon, the singer, who describes her R&B style as sexy and class, not slack, holds some secrets back. “I don’t want to pull all my tricks out of the bag at once.” She does mention a cross-country tour she’ll be undertaking to visit high schools, promoting things like safer-sex, the dangers of drugs and the importance of education. Sharing a good image with kids is another important part of her growing success.

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