If a question were posed and the answer in response was spoken as follows:
Toronto and Atlanta.
To what do you reckon the inquiry pertained?
Second question: Other than being large North American metropolises, what do these two cities really have in common? It is difficult to come up with more than one response.
The right answer to the second question is vast influence on the world’s current music scene, and the right question to the first answer would run something like this:
What two cities have the most of it?
Of course Toronto and Atlanta do not represent the only possible answers to this question. Cities like London, Los Angeles, Stockholm, and Chicago alongside others unmentioned are perpetual members of such a list. But in music’s current state, it is easy to argue that the two least likely, most interesting, and perhaps even the two most influential cities are Toronto and Atlanta.
In many ways, both cities represent two sides of the same coin. Though largely possessing entirely different styles, Toronto and Atlanta are most often attributed with genres like hip-hop, electronic, and R&B. Today, artists in all three genres are producing hit after experimental hit that continue to change music and open the door for more artists from both cities.
When discussing experimental artists from Toronto, a niche particularly worth exploring is the Caribbean-inspired, R&B-esque production that has become popular and mainstream by way of artists like PARTYNEXTDOOR and Drake. Difficult to define without using ‘-esque’ and ‘-inspired’ as vocabulary aids, it is a styling born of reggae vocalism, electronic production, R&B themes, and intermittent hip-hop lyricism. Long-story short, its influences are vast. An explosion of the sub-genre’s popularity has led to the exposure of many Canadian artists expanding its reach and perfecting their craft.
One of these artists is K. forest. With the release of his debut album Eyes of Taiga in 2016, he found quick success, primarily due to the biggest hit from the album: Link. A high-energy, bouncy-yet-dark, catchy-as-hell jam, Link is a perfect example of the difficult-to-describe Toronto style in question and also an example of what K. Forest is capable of.
But quick success in the modern Toronto scene surrounded by so much burgeoning talent is not necessarily a blessing. The massive reach of Link has left K. Forest typecast within the small Toronto sub-genre and although PARTYNEXTDOOR has found universal success from it, there may not be much room for another top artist. It is evident that since Link’s explosion, K. Forest has also been trying to display a wider and more impressive range of ability within the R&B genre. Releasing nine singles in 2017 and earning smaller-grade success with many of them, K. Forest is on the verge of escaping his chain-link fence and becoming a true influence not just in the Toronto trap-hall circuit, but in music as a whole.
To get to that point, K. Forest could use the helping hand of an artist representing a very different side of the R&B spectrum in order to display and expand his range. Preferably, such an artist could also use the assistance of a young up-and-comer with a unique sound like K. Forest. To find such an artist, let’s look towards Atlanta.
Like Toronto, Atlanta is full of artists exposed to the world through the city’s success in hip-hop, electronic, and R&B. And like in Toronto, many of these artists are experimenting in ways to create new sounds through the combination of elements from all of these genres. Though the modern hip-hop circuit in Atlanta is usually related to hype-worthy artists like Future, Migos, and 21 Savage, the R&B side of the spectrum is a little more unpopulated and because of its lack of coverage, honestly a little more intriguing.
Releasing his first music in 2014 and releasing his most recent work more than one year ago, producer and R&B artist Summertime Stories is one of Atlanta music’s biggest mysteries. After earning his way to spots in a countless number of "R&B artists to watch" lists through 2016, he seemingly disappeared.
His style heavily combines electronic production with R&B, making him apt for the current state of experimentation as well as making him well ahead of his time when he first appeared on the scene. In many ways, his biggest release, gotxa bvby can be credited as a heavy influence on the direction of electronic R&B since, particularly heard in the music of fellow Atlanta artists like 6lack. His unique style is something that is largely unheard and often strived for and his ability to successfully immerse the listener into his passionate, twisted, romantic world is powerful.
Summertime Stories’ lyrics are truthful, his vocals are otherworldly - definable even as ghostly, and his production is bizarre and mysterious yet of the utmost, largely unmatched quality. I strongly suggest an immersion into his SoundCloud on a night accompanied by a vice of your choice.
His unique sounds and talent would prove him an artist whose collaboration could elevate the music of a less experienced artist looking for direction and an improved sound. At the same time, Summertime Stories could benefit from the collaboration of an emerging artist like K. Forest in order to re-introduce his name and his sound to the scene while perhaps making his challenging music more widely approachable.
This collaboration wouldn’t only be for the mutual benefit of two artists looking for new direction. This collaboration would simply make sense. K. Forest’s high-energy, reggae-inspired Toronto vibes over the dreamy production and vocals of Summertime Stories would bring a new sound and styling to the worlds of electronic and R&B, all the while merging the experimental music of the Atlanta and Toronto behemoths. Any fan of the experimental R&B, hip-hop, or electronic scenes and any fan of Toronto and Atlanta’s current reign on top of music as a whole would be infatuated with the interesting style that a collaborative project from K. Forest and Summertime Stories would undoubtedly produce.