Stars like Drake, NAV, and The Weeknd might have helped put Toronto and Canada on the hip-hop map over the last decade, but now Vancouver native Boslen is being heralded as one of the most promising stars to emerge from the country’s West Coast. Interestingly, despite a number of impressive tracks and a strong fanbase, both in the US and Canada, the 21-year-old’s dream was not to be a rap star, instead, he had hoped to be a professional rugby player. However, while on a full athletic scholarship to play for the University of Victoria, and a spot on Team Canada Rugby, he suffered two torn ACLs, career-ending injuries. But then came an epiphany: to start making music. Fast forward to 2020 and Boslen is on track to dominate with his most recent song “Vultures” garnering over 170,000 streams in a little over a month.
Last week, I got a chance to sit down and chat with Boslen over FaceTime to learn more about how he reinvented himself, his aspirations, and what drives him to stay fresh in today’s hip-hop landscape.
BEN BIJUR: What’s up Boslen! Nice to finally connect man, tell me a little bit about yourself..
BOSLEN: Yeah, so basically, I’m Boslen, from Vancouver, BC. I’ve been taking music seriously for about two years now. I actually tore my ACL a long time ago while I was at the University Of Victoria in Victoria, BC on a full-ride scholarship, just trying to do rugby and shit. I got injured and I was like, “Damn.” All that shit just washed away. Seven years of my life just washed away. So, I was like, “I need to do something.” And I used to rap when I was really young, about 13, 14, and I just picked it back up. And then that’s how I met my manager. I literally slept on his couch for six months in Vancouver, North Van, and then finally got my own spot. I’m from Chilliwack, BC, that’s an hour outside of Vancouver and I’m 21.
BB: Wow. That is a crazy story!
B: Yeah man, it’s trippy. A Lot of people trip up when they hear it. I’m not religious at all, but that was literally my first time praying to God. I was like “God, If I can’t have rugby, and I devoted seven years of my life to this shit, can I have music then?” I shit you not, literally an hour later, this kid named Isaac Markinson, who had been managing me, probably for four months and was living with me, and we eventually got evicted, that’s when I moved out here. But bro, I shit you not, an hour later I prayed, Isaac comes storming in my room, and basically we got an email from this label in LA called KIDinaKORNER, run by Alex da Kid and basically, they offered me a record deal, which we ended up turning down.
BB: How much music had you dropped at this point?
B: I only dropped a tape called “Motionless” and then two singles, I believe. One called “Balance” and another one called “Poison Boy.” None of that shit’s on Apple music or Spotify. It’s all on SoundCloud now. That was all I had at the time and I was just dropping it. But I was getting made fun of and shit by the rugby guys. Like, “Why the fuck are you doing music?” I just kept going with it, I just didn’t care. Then I just kept rolling and then we literally got that offer. I was, “Okay, bet we can actually run with this.” And then from there we went to Isaac’s couch, slept on his couch for six months, just trying to attack this. And that’s when I started getting booked for festivals and shit.
BB: So, just tell me a little bit about where your sound comes from and where you have to go mentally to put out these amazing records?
B: Okay, this might sound weird, but since I came from competitive sports, what I like to do is compare myself to others a lot. Not even just A-list artists. I can name, Kid Cudi, Travis Scott, Post Malone, Tupac. But the main artists that I really get inspired from, that actually I’m gravitating towards and help me stay on the track of just making new creative shit, just be a creative genius, are guys around my own level. So, there are guys in the city (Vancouver), like Ily Miniaci, Vory, Dominic Fike, Kaash Paige. Like all these artists, I’m not saying like I’m close to them, by any means, but I’m just saying it just feels different when you’re listening to an artist that hasn’t popped yet. So, it’s just artists like that I just like to gravitate towards. It feels more personal on me and the mentality that I tap into when I’m making music is, it’s really weird. My way of making music is weird. I hate to say the word vibe because it’s so fucking cringy, but it’s really about the vibe and it’s really about who’s in the room and what shit I’m going through during the day.
BB: That’s what’s up! Tell me a little bit about the creative process behind your latest single, “Vultures.”
B: For my last single, “Vultures,” I was in the studio with these guys from crew (??) named Manila Grey, and one of them was saying, “There’s so many fucking vultures in the city,” blah, blah, blah, blah. And they were just using it in a negative term — they were using a negative slang. And I was like, “Okay, well, let’s see if I can use it like a positive way, possibly.” So, I kind of used it in a way where vultures, to me, it’s not really like a person that’s kind of like trying to take shit from you. It’s more about a person in the middle, because there’s always those fans that … they’re not hating on you but they’re not supportive. They’re like right in the middle. They’re like the vultures just swarming the sky, just watching. So, yeah.
BB: Awesome. Are you signed yet?
B: I’m signed to an independent label named Chaos Club.
BB: That’s great. Congrats on that for sure. So, it sounds like a lot of your music is based on inspiration and things that just happen in the moment and in your life. But also, a lot from other artists. Who are a few artists that you’re listening to every day?
B: This is low key, always the hardest question to answer, bro. When people ask me who I listen to, I have no idea who I listen to all of a sudden. I’d have to say Cousin Stizz, Jaquees, Travis Scott, Kanye West, and then, damn bro, a lot of Vory lately.
BB: So, if you could work with an artist right now, or in the future even if you don’t think now’s the right time, who are one or two top artists that you would love to work with?
I think the number one artist I’d want to work with is probably Travis Scott. Yeah, Travis Scott. It’s not just cause he’s fucking Travis Scott though. He’s obviously the hottest rapper right now. But I just feel the way that he went through these different phases is just crazy. It’s hella inspirational. Or I’d love to work with I think The Weekend. That’d be crazy.
Yeah, that would be insane. Obviously you’re still being introduced to many fans and there’s a lot more to experience in the music industry, but at what point so far did you feel like, “Oh shit, stuff is really starting to pick up, I feel like a real artist now.” Was there anything that happened whether it was someone showing love on Instagram, or someone reaching out, or a session? Whatever it was.
Bro, it’s just crazy because the supporters I have right now and the family, there’s kids in Australia asking me to just wish them happy birthday and shit. But the main thing that hit me was there’s been at least a handful of kids that have actually DMed me and said they were on the verge of actually killing themselves, and the main thing that they said was that my music helped them through that. So, it feels like that really hit home with me because I know what it’s like to be in an isolated place. I come from Chilliwack, BC and all kids do out there is just coke, there’s nothing else. Like there’s no clubs, there’s no fucking like big fancy malls. It’s just a small town. I know what it’s like to be isolated and I know what it’s like to feel vulnerable. So, when kids reach out to me and they say my music helps them, then that’s all I want to do. Because my main goal with my career right now is just inspiring kids, because everybody sees Toronto, everybody sees all these fucking big places, but nobody pinpoints Vancouver. Because there’s thousands of kids here, bro, that are just like me, that just have the same drive as me, they’re just as talented, that just need an opportunity. They just need that light at the end of the tunnel. So, I feel like that just helped me a lot
Yeah. Well, that’s great. That’s awesome that your head is in that place because I feel like a lot of people are still trying to work towards that. And it’s great that you’re feeling all this so early on in your career. Lastly, you said you were in LA — have you been to any other US cities?
Specifically for music, the only places I’ve traveled for music are LA and Toronto. That’s it. I’m trying to go to New York soon.
Check out the rising star’s hottest single, “Vultures”, below.