Nanaimo rappers are aiming to bring Christmas cheer to the less fortunate at the sixth annual Hip Hop’s Toys for Tots.
Since 2014, organizer Tyler Barnes said the yearly fundraiser, toy drive and rap show has raised around $10,000 for youth in need. This year’s concert takes place at the Globe Hotel on Nov. 22, featuring local openers Mike Sherm, #MoneyWon, QB, Skrill250 and Oktiv6, with Vancouver-based rapper Junk headlining the show.
“He’s one of the best MCs out of Western Canada, really, right now,” Barnes said of Junk. “I’m really excited to have him on. He’s a pretty big name and he just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”
Junk, real name Ian Tonino, said he’s held hip-hop workshops for underprivileged youth in the past and likes giving back to his community. When he was approached to take part in Hip Hop’s Toys for Tots, he said “it wasn’t even a question.”
“I believe the youth are the future and to make them happy even for a couple hours or for a day or two with some toys … I’ll always be about that because I come from not very fortunate circumstances, so I get it,” Junk said.
Last month Junk quit his day job to focus all his time on his music. He said it felt like he had two full-time jobs, but now that he can devote himself to his art completely he plans to finish 2019 on a high note. He’s got “two more projects, a couple more videos and one single with a massive artist” to be released in the coming months.
“I’ve just been at home and nailing a lot of things, being creative, finishing projects and just tying up loose ends and just focusing more on me, which is really good because that’s what I need to do,” Junk said. “I need to focus 24 hours a day on doing this. Not 10 or eight.”
On Nov. 15 Junk’s next EP, Together in Pieces 2, comes out. It’s a sequel to a record released earlier this year, though very different in tone.
“The first one was more like headphone music, cruising at night, really listen-to-the-lyrics kind of music,” he said. “And this one is just very hype, very energetic.”
Junk said Together in Pieces could potentially be an endless series. He said the title refers to all puzzle pieces that make up a person’s life and the struggle to keep everything together.
“‘Together in Pieces’ is basically saying, ‘Try to make the best of what you’ve got and glue it all together and put it all together to look at the big picture of what you’re going to become and what you’re going to achieve,'” he said.
WHAT’S ON … Hip Hop’s Toys For Tots 2019 takes place at the Globe Hotel, 25 Front St., on Friday, Nov. 22 at 9 p.m. Tickets $25, available from the artists or online. All ages show with a 19-plus area. Toy donations can be dropped off at Jonny’s Barber Shop, 309B Wesley St., monetary donation can be made at online.