Above: Proper’T. Photo ©Brett Colpitts
EDITOR’S NOTE: By day, Stittsville’s Tanner Foster works as a gold buyer at Westgate Shopping Centre. In his spare time, he’s pursuing a passion for music as a rapper known as Proper’T. He’s performing this Friday at Ritual Nightclub downtown and is releasing a new EP soon titled Mainstream Pub, a tribute to Stittsville’s famous watering hole. Here’s an edited interview I did with Proper’T earlier this month.
GLEN GOWER: How long have you lived in Stittsville?
TANNER FOSTER: I was born in Toronto and my family moved to Stittsville when I was five years old. I went to both Sacred Heart and South Carleton, and then went to Algonquin College for Business Marketing and I still live in Stittsville.
GG: How did you get into rap?
TF: When I was in high school I was an athlete and played a variety of different sports. I wanted to differentiate from other students. I thought of doing fencing! But then I saw someone else who went to our high school who was a rapper, and it seemed like something I’d want to do.
I’m self taught, I never had someone to show me the ropes.I spent a lot of time listening to different hip hop artists and how they made their music sound proper. I would spend a lot of time writing verses, focusing on the flow and how it sounded. I developed my own style that way and have been evolving ever since.
GG: Who are your influences?
TF: When I first started my favourite artist was Classified. I used to religiously listen to him every day, how he perfected his craft. He was one of the only artists I listened to. As time went on, I moved on to different styles: Machine Gun Kelly, Method Man, Redman. I always liked the way they rapped and the way they looked. I still get new influences, like Kendrick Lamar, Drake and other hip hop artists.
GG: Where do you want to go with your music?
TF: I know everybody has high hopes for their career. I want to penetrate into the U.S. market and I want to be a mainstream artist with my own style and flavour. We’re from a small town. Stittsville is very unknown from the outside. My whole plan is eventually I’ll have to move and put my face out in L.A. and New York where hip hop does really well. A big part of this game is networking: who you know and who they introduce you to. What I’ve been focusing on a lot is meeting people and getting in their good books. As soon as an opportunity comes up I always take it.
GG: How do you describe your sound?
TF: I like to write very creative things that have a message. I want to be telling you something, not just giving you random nothing. I’m very conceptual. If I want to write a song about love, it’s not going to be about a girl, it’s going to sound like it’s about something else. As for lyrics I’m really big on being creative. I want to say something in a way that makes you think about it. It’s a lot of fun stuff when I rap. I like people to be bobbing their heads.
I do have an EP coming out, Mainstream Pub. It’s a shout out to the Main Street Pub (on Stittsville Main Street), my favourite bar in the city. The whole thing about the mainstream now is everybody is doing what everybody else is doing. The bulk of rappers take what others are doing and put a little twist on it. To me it feels like everybody is following what everybody else does. I want to be part of the mainstream, but don’t expect me to follow what everybody else is doing.
GG: Do you just rap or do you make your own beats as well?
TF: I wish I could! Right now I’m working with the best producer in the city, Jay White.
GG: Tell me the hip hop scene in Ottawa.
TF: It’s fairly under the radar. When we play shows a lot of the time the support in Ottawa is lacking a little bit for hip hop. Whenever a big name comes through everybody’s there, but whenever locals put on a show the support’s not there. There’s a lot of talent, but we need to get people out.
Right now I have a small fan base. The bulk of it is people that I know. I live with a band, Mayfield, signed to the label We are Triumphant. They are huge supporters, they always come out to my shows and tell their friends about it. My biggest supporters are close friends and family.
GG: Is music a full time thing for you?
TF: No, I’m a gold buyer, I buy and sell gold and silver. I work at Ottawa Gold Buyers at Westgate Shopping. My co-workers are really big supporters as well.
You can see Proper’T live in the next few weeks:
- March 27: TurnUpForPups – HipHop Event Fundraiser, Ritual Nightclub
- April 10: Opening for the Peter Jackson Solo Tour, Ritual Nightclub
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