Terell Safadi and his experience as a Black musician in Canada

Terell Safadi‘s impactful lyrics in ‘Black History’ are markedly resonant and powerful with a call to action to listen and a call for equality. ‘Black History’ holds powerful and poetic messaging to carry you through the visual narrative of Terell’s own experiences, the injustices of continuous police brutality and the effects of slavery. The video for ‘Black History’ was released earlier this year in honour of Black History Month. We spoke with Terell about bringing his lyrics to life, navigating the music industry as a Black musician and his advice to emerging artists.

 

Terell Safadi, Black History


What did the first days of your career look like? How did you break into the industry?

I first broke in locally with a remix called “Black Red Yellow” It was a song about the Vancouver Canucks’ old retro jersey colours. After that, I started to gain exposure on a national level with my videos airing on Much Music and touring across Canada with Bone Thugs N Harmony.

What drives your work?
Knowing that I have a talent and voice that needs to be used to motivate, make people feel good, and sometimes give them something they can relate to so they know they aren’t alone.

What have been, and continue to be the barriers you face as a BIPOC musician navigating the industry?
I can only really speak for the Canadian music industry right now, but there’s definitely a lot of push back towards Black artists in rap in Vancouver. Only a hand full of Black artists have broken out of Vancouver ever. Vancouver’s Black population is only around 1%, that being said, I feel like we don’t really have a voice here and the voice that we do have is silenced, we aren’t as unified as we should be. I can’t really say why but white artists definitely get more fan support, and I know the quality of all the music is very competitive.

 

Terell Safadi by Jalil Ayaz Chaudry

 

What parts of yourself as a musician do you hope to see more of in the music industry?
More truth, more people being who they actually are. More people standing up for us, more people actually making good music and not just mindless stuff to get streams and views and bring a negative view of the culture.

The music video for your song ‘Black History’ came out this February for Black History month, tell us about your experiences that shaped and informed the lyrics.
These lyrics are a reflection of my life, what I stand for, and what I’ve been through as a Black man. I was finally able to articulate all the things my friends and I talk about in private, the frustration with the system, the anger that goes along with watching someone with the same skin colour as you be treated less than an animal.

Tell us a bit about the process in the creation of your video, how did you and your team bring your words to life?
Because I was able to get video funding from Creative BC and the Vancouver Music Fund I had the budget to hire all of the proper people and put them in place to execute my vision. I was able to really tell my story and also portray parts of my life like police using excessive force.

What message do you want people to take away most with your lyrics in ‘Black History’?
“It ain’t White VS Black, this is right VS wrong, this is life VS death”. A lyric from the song that I wrote that before George Floyd’s tragic murder. I just wanted people to understand I just want equality, nothing more nothing less. I don’t want people’s pity I want people’s understanding. It baffles me that some Canadians think that we don’t go through the same racial injustices as America, you can’t tell me we don’t because I have experienced them first hand!

What advice do you have to young and emerging musicians trying to break into the industry?
Take advantage of the resources we have at our fingertips, if you’re Canadian, look at our grant systems and see what kind of funding you’re eligible for. Use data to market your music. Collaborate with other artists on the come up and put your platforms together to create more of a buzz. Too many artists out there want to be the quarterback and the receiver but you can’t be both, BUILD WITH PEOPLE!!!

Do you have any upcoming projects we can look out for?
Yes, I have an EP coming this JULY 😉 and a few other releases to set the summer off, be on the lookout for that, and the videos to roll out with it. Follow me on Instagram to keep up to date!

 

Terell Safadi by Lucho Berzek

 

Black History Video Credits
Producer: Angela Harris (Fair Wend Entertainment Services)
Production Assistant: Garrett Vandusen
Director: Terell Safadi
Videography & Editing: Ronan Bryson
Styled: Style Me Rude

 

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