Kevin St-Laurent has been rapping since the turn of the 2000s. “At 15, I was making mixtapes that we recorded in my basement. I even stuck the stickers on the records. I would give them away on the street or sell them for $10,” he recalls.
The one who grew up in the Limoilou district, in Quebec, benefited at the time from an active local scene. “There were a lot of artists, including Limoilou Starz. We saw them working, then we said to ourselves that one day, we would like to do like them, go on show […] It was easy for me, the studio was around the corner. After the studio, it was barbecue freestyles,” recalls the MC.
The movie 8 Mile, starring Eminem, was also released in those years and helped rap battle competitions explode in popularity. “The first dollars I made with rap were in battles,” says Souldia. Afterwards, I started touring bars, even though I didn’t even have an album. People were paying me to just rap. I was already in a gear. Rap has become a mental illness. »
For Kevin, music was a way out. “I grew up on crime, on drugs. All my entourage, that’s it. The people who have surrounded me all my life, I will not deny them. These are people I love, he says. Where I come from, there is a limit to getting out of it. Your cousins who were in prison are still going to come to your baby’s baptism. It’s like there’s a kind of 20% of you that’s always going to stay there. I think we have to take it. »
After going through youth centers, Souldia experienced prison in 2009, when her career really seemed to take off. After being behind bars for almost 30 months, what followed was even clearer for him: “As soon as I encountered rap and saw that there was money at the end of it, I thought to myself, “This is what I’m going to do until I’m financially comfortable.” »
Souldia was often told that his dream was never going to materialize, especially not in Quebec. “Making a good living out of it is a long time. It is very possible, but you have to be persistent. Success, at first, is like becoming some kind of superstar without having the money. Everyone thinks you’re rich. I’ve had situations in grocery stores where people would run, scream, pass out, and then I had $100 in my pocket,” the rapper describes with a smile.
It was precisely the programmers of the Francos who offered him his first important stage. “I completely freaked out!” My biggest show, I gave it last year, at the Francos, on the Bell stage. For the past two years, I’ve been living crazy sick business. »
On Amnésia, the first song of Unconventional, Souldia announces: “I rap in French, the rest I don’t tabarnak”. “I grew up listening to a lot of French rap. Afterwards, I saw Yvon Krevé, Muzion, Sans Pressure who rapped with a Quebec accent. When I discovered that I could do it without leaving my accent aside, I found it magnificent. »
Souldia calls himself a “defender of French”. He would gladly accept an offer from the government to take part in the promotion of our language, but he is aware that the political authorities probably do not want to participate in the dissemination of his remarks. “Let’s find influential players,” he suggests. I have respect for older people, but I think that it is to young people that we must speak to put the French language forward. »
“I miss the big stage at the Festival d’été [de Québec]. I miss checkboxes, but my life goals, I have already achieved them. I have already exceeded what I dreamed of when I was a kid. I have fun. This is my second MTelus. I really want it to be sold out,” says Souldia.
Two years ago, the 38-year-old launched his label, Altitude Records. Young Jay Jay and his old friend Die-On – who will open for the show this Friday night – are the two artists in the stable.
“We take our time, because it’s already a lot of studio, show, family routine. I want to write cinema. I want to write series with my friend from Iceland Film, Usef Naït, who directs all my clips. We already have a series plan. The next step is going to be behind and in front of the camera. »