From the living-room of his apartment in the heart of Toronto, Roy Woods virtually welcomes Numéro, a cup of tea in his hand. From the very start of his career, the Canadian rapper was hugely acclaimed. After getting noticed by Drake’s manager Oliver El-Khatib, he then signed for OVO Sound, the Canadian rapper’s music label. The track Jealousy from his first EP Exis released in 2015, was a turning point in his career and sealed his position on the international hip-hop scene. Besides, the musician is a real talent hunter. Through his collective Unlock The Underground, he digs up new artists and professional and gives them a platform to showcase their gift. After a two-year absence following the release of his phenomenal album Say Less (2017), Drake’s protégé comes back with Dem Times (2020), a second EP of 6 intimate tracks cradled in a melancholic and trippy rap.
Numéro: How is lockdown going for you?
Roy Woods: I am currently back home in Toronto, Canada. The circumstances of what is going on are really crazy, but I am kind of used to the quarantine lifestyle, so it has been a smooth cell for me. Over here in Canada, the rules have been loosened up a bit and people can meet in groups of 10 now, so it hasn’t been too bad.
Did you develop some new talent during this time?
No, I didn’t! [Laughs.] It would have been nice though, but just did what I am used to do, like cooking for instance.
“One artist I definitely want to collaborate with for a long time is Frank Ocean. If I can get to Frankie, I will be the happiest man!”
You started playing and producing your music at a very young age. How did it all start?
I was born in Toronto, Canada, North General Hospital… 6:36 am… no, actually I have no idea! [Laughs.] I am 24… hair is grey! I just love to make music. I started when I was 15 years old and I took it pretty seriously. I always knew I wanted to do music, so when I was in grade 9, I went to a public school called Terner Fenton Secondary School and attended a couple of music classes. One of them was instrument, and as singing classes didn’t exist, I picked the drums. It was perhaps the only instrument I have ever played, aside from the recorder in middle school! [Laughs.] Everything really started with the local music scene here in Toronto.