Toronto star Pressa finished 2020 strong with the release of his latest EP, Gardner Express, named after prominent Toronto highway; the Gardiner Expressway. By the end of 2020, and on Spotify alone, the lyricist had racked in 23.3 million streams. Sitting comfortably in his LA home with his built-in home studio, the artist shares that his story was not always as lavish, “Coming up in Driftwood where our houses weren’t the best houses, some seasons we would have roaches, some seasons we would have mice. They’ll go away and then come back later in the winter,” he shares.
Pressa grew up in an impoverished Toronto community called Driftwood, one block away from major intersections Jane and Finch. At the time of recording his highly regarded Prestige album (that featured the “Roaches and Mice” soundtrack), Pressa shares that he only released that project to give his fans something to sit on. “When I dropped that tape I wasn’t really focused, like my mind wasn’t even right. It took me a year to sign my deal and another year – ‘cause I was caught up in some personal shit.” These days Pressa seems more poised as his face can be seen all throughout his hometown of Toronto, on billboards posted by Amazon Music and Spotify.
Pressa’s rise to fame snowballed after the commercial success of his Murda Beatz produced hit “Novacane” in late 2016. The song allowed Pressa to start becoming an important figure to Toronto and land an opening spot on Drake’s ‘Boy Meets World‘ tour. Pressa’s unique and distinct voice, as well as his presence across the country from Vancouver to Toronto really allowed him to garner international success and become a poster-child for Canadian come-up stories.
As an individual who built a name and reputation for himself in the street life, Pressa explains that coming up in the streets and then coming up in the industry is really just the same grind all over again. “You just got to treat the game the same – you get the same results, you feel me? But the difference in the music industry is there’s no chance of you going to jail. You can die but it’s slimmer, rather than coming up in the streets where you can die and you can go to jail. You’ve got to treat the grind the same, you’ve got to double up on them,” he concedes.
On “96 Freestyle” the outro track to Pressa’s Gardner Express EP, Pressa spits, “I told Crodie if they get me, bet the hood cry like Nip,” making it apparent that the rapper is starting to embrace the role of becoming a mentor from the hood. He relays, “I try to give kids that are younger than me that are making music opportunities – for them to get to L.A. like I did, and start living like how I did. All my friends or my friends’ little brothers, they be going through it but they be rapping, you know what I mean. So I’m here to support all my friends that are talented.”
Speaking on his self-owned recording label Blue Feather Records, Pressa declares that they are focused on recording. “It’s really just like teaching my homies how to fish and stuff, or helping them wherever I need to step in. But it’s not for no money or nothing, that comes later on. Like rich people don’t ever work for money, they work for something, not money.”
Pressa shares that his goal with releasing his Gardner Express EP now was solely to end the year strong, declaring that it was an express project that he conceptualized just a few weeks prior. In the future, he says his fans can expect his major label debut album. “Just all the dawgs, a bunch of the dawgs dem are on it,” he details about the upcoming project. For now, he urges his fans to get his new EP and to keep streaming Gardner Express.
Stream Pressa’s new EP Gardner Express below, and follow him on Instagram to keep up with all his future releases.