After three long years, John River just dropped The Storm. (Who waits three years between their debut and sophomore mixtape?) Allow me to tell a story.
Back in 2012, a then-17-year-old kid from Mississauga called in to The Come Up Show on CHRW 94.9 FM and requested his own song. (Again, who does that?) His name was John River. We played it and kept in touch.
A few months down the road, I interviewed him. It was a rare exception, considering he had no mixtape to his name, just a couple videos (since made private on YouTube), and a big dream to become the greatest rapper in the world. It was the first time we had spoken, and it left an impression. It became the first of several interviews — each one becoming a favourite of mine.
The following year, that same kid from Mississauga messaged me: he had a story to tell. That summer, he had waited overnight in the airport to meet J. Cole, and then took a bus to Queens to track down the President of Dreamville, show up at his doorstep, and rap for him. (Again, who does that?) A few months later, he met them all again.
Fast-forward to 2015. Again, that same kid from Mississauga goes on to do a TEDx Talk. He gets nominated for a Much Music Video Award. Andrew Wiggins tweets his “Hope City II” video. Kardinal Offishall brings him out onstage and tells the crowd he’s next up — all of this before his sophomore mixtape even drops.
Three weeks ago: I get a call while in Newfoundland. The Storm is about to drop. Within a week, we’re sitting down together at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre, catching up for yet another interview. He had just returned from Chicago.
“Do you think the people will like it?” he asks me.
I had listened to the mixtape three times through just the day before. What I couldn’t articulate at the time was this:
That same kid who requested his own song on the radio, waited overnight in an airport to meet J. Cole, took a bus all the way to Queens with a faint hope of meeting Ibrahim, and caught all those people’s attention before his second mixtape even dropped? I wouldn’t bet against him for the world.
Check out The Storm below. Shouts to HNHH for the premiere.