The Canadian artist, back with Take Care, reveals what inspires his emo-rap style
First rap record
Queen Latifah‘s “U.N.I.T.Y.” I was allowed to listen to this because there wasn’t any swearing in it.
Album that made me want to pursue music
OutKast’s Aquemini was a big one for me. Gangsta rap was popular then, but OutKast were the first people I heard using music and compositions to tell stories. I felt so close to it.
Artists who inspired me to sing
I always knew I could sing—I used to sing on girls’ voicemail greetings in high school—but I always wanted to be a rapper. As I got older, my tastes matured, and I started getting into soulful music like Jodeci and Aaliyah.
Father-son bonding song
The Spinners’ “Sadie.” My dad [Dennis Graham] is cool, but it stirred up feelings in him. I’m trying to make music like that.
Music for dark days
F-Action are these series of mixtapes by OG Ron C. They sound so gutter and the voices are all low. You could listen to this on the way to a murder!
Favorite new artist
I love James Blake. His attention to each song is incredible. There are sounds coming out of nowhere and it adds so much substance.
Musician who pushes me
The Weeknd’s Abel Tesfaye. He sounds like Prince or Sade. He’s from Toronto too, and to see my city embrace someone else? I’d never seen that. I was always the guy! He’s so gifted.
Little Dragon. I went to see Zoë Kravitz’s band Elevator Fight and she told me to listen to them. They’re a Swedish band and the singer [Yukimi Nagano] is incredible.