Fighting against labels is also part of growing up in a town with a negative stigma.
“Oshawa is perceived as a dirty place. That’s because every other block is a ghetto, then it’s not a ghetto then you are back in the ghetto. Its crazy, it’s the only city I have seen built like this but I do love it and the people in it do love hip hop as well,” he says.
But what doesn’t kill you can make you stronger and growing up with adversity can give you an edge over the competition, who may not have had to struggle so hard.
“If an Oshawa artist goes to Toronto everyone thinks they are going to be thrash. It’s a competitive genre but I have to compete twice as hard to prove that where I am from shouldn’t matter. I am already battling with the skin complexion, I am not producing what’s on the radio so I am fighting three ghosts at the same time,” he says.
Rooks was also battling another ghost, himself. He has overcome depression, anxiety and addiction. He says music is now his addiction and he credits hip hop with giving him the reason and weapon to choose sobriety.
“I know I experimented with things I shouldn’t have experimented with. You know how you feel when you are sober, you know how you feel when you are intoxicated. You know how you feel when you shift from intoxicated to sober. One day I never got that feeling back. I was trapped and then I was diagnosed with derealisation, depersonalization. So basically you feel as if any minute you can snap into a dream and you are watching a tv screen but its your eyes and its very scary and with anxiety on top of that it triggers an attack. I feel using those substances pushed some chemical imbalance in my brain over the edge, which caused all that. But when I became sober and made music all the time, rather than recreational shit, it was easier to get things done and see the positive side of things.” he says.
Keeping it real McCoy takes his lived experiences and puts them into songs. Authenticity is vital to hip hop and McCoy says chasing radio is not his goal. Connecting with fans who relate to what he is saying is. He says he has people leave comments online about how certain tracks gave them hope, inspired them or saved their lives.
“I have a song called ‘Revenge’ which is to raise awareness about depression on and anxiety and suicide. It’s tough for me to present to the crowd because I have dealt with it all,” he says.
His new album, ‘evoL’, is set to be released mid 2019. It follows on his 2016 release, ‘Sonny Boy Wonder’ and is a collection of singles dealing with the darker side of relationship.
“The first line of the chorus on ‘Poison’ is ‘It’s your love is like a poison to me/ I know that it’s lethal to breathe, but it’s your love/ It’s like a drug which has a hold on me/ and I hope you take the pain away when you leave, with your love’ It’s a numbness, I have a song called ‘Numb’. “
Its not the sunniest side of this things but Rooks does find himself in a much brighter place now.
“It’s the yin and yang, good and evil, of love as a force. If good love and bad love crashed into each other, the album would be the theme song. It’s got everything and I know I have never written music as good as I have right now,” he says.