While penning pages and constructing beats for his self produced album Miles To Go, Rel had no idea that it would go on to win 2 Independent music awards, both the judges pannel and voter's choice for best hiphop album. Fresh off a nomination for best live performance at the Toronto Independent Music Awards, and a Juno win for his production and mixing work on Shad's classic "TSOL" the young artist would continue building his skills, pushing his own records, and eventually working with some of Canada's best in hiphop; Thrust, Ghetto Concept, Wio-K, Theo 3, Korry Deez, Grimace Love, Ghettosocks, Moka Only, Eternia, Fresh Kils, Elaquent, DJ Uncle Fester, Lancecape, Ric Notes, and Tone Mason amongst many others. "Those awards were great, but the reward in working with so many artists that I respect so deeply holds 10 times the value. No one can take those moments, relationships, or accolades away from me, that's the win." reflects Rel. Soon, his album The 13th Floor with Fresh Kils would hold the #1 slot on college radio hiphop charts for more than 10 weeks, not something many indie artists can boast.
Rel had barely cut his teeth as an artist when the music industry turned the inevitable corner into the digital era. Managers, agents, promoters, and labels began to be fewer and more exclusive than ever, and a resounding notion that the internet had handed power over to artists everywhere seemed to be screaming "If you want it, go out there and get it! ". Rel took it as a challenge, and did whatever he could to get on stage and prove that he had every right to be there. Encouraged by Shad's manager Gaurav, Rel began to plan release parties in well known hiphop spots in Toronto. With relentless promotion on the street level, he saw turn outs nearly close to capacity in support of every release between 2011 and 2016. "I remember being out there hustling during the worst winter weather promoting my first record release in Toronto. 2000 flyers hand-to-hand ouside venues of other live shows, as many radio interviews as I could get, and a gang of posters taped up everywhere anyone might see them. That was all before I knew about any kind of promo online. But yo, the that first release was unforgettable. All my hard work really paid off" says Rel. Shortly thereafter, a tenacious young Rel was invited by Fresh Kils to join an east coast tour, and jumped at the opportunity. Connecting with artists in Halifax like Ambition, Ghettosocks, and DJ Uncle Fester gave Rel the inspiration to begin booking tours instead of just single events. Now, these years later the artist can confidently say that he has played on stages in 4 of the 7 continents, playing shows in Japan, China, Australia, Spain, and coast to coast tours of the U.S. and Canada. A far cry from open-mics and talent award shows from his early carreer. "Sometimes all I need is someone to tell me I can't. There was this agent at one of these industry conferences telling me it would be impossible to book a tour through Australia. I went home, put my head down for a few weeks, and pulled together a 10 show tour spanning Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and more. It was dope! Don't ever tell me it's impossible... I just might prove you wrong". Years of experience shine through in Rel's live show, making it an unforgettable blast of heavy beats, singing hooks, MPC pad smashing, and crowd engagement that leaves listeners asking for more every time.
"It wasn't really a calculated decision to do all the music myself. That just kinda came out of necessity you get me? I wanted to rhyme, so I needed beats. I made the beats, I needed hooks. I sang the hooks, then I needed to record and mix them. I recorded and mixed them, then I needed to master them... and so on. After my first few studio sessions with other engineers, I just couldn't see a reason why I shouldn't learn to do it all myself. In my own way, in my own timing. No doubt, it took me longer to get to where I'm at, but I really feel like it's all in the pocket now. I was meant to do all this " says Rel with an honest transparency that seems to defy the handful of bragging rights that come packaged with a skillset like his. His demeanor is genuine. Pragmatic. Tied to earth. There's something about a multifaceted artist that puts them in a different category. When that artist does it all at varying degrees of skill, it's beyond understandable, it's expected. Not so with Rel. The beats are ones that knock, and yet move the soul. Then he sings a hook after spitting out a carefully crafted verse full of playful similies and metaphors, and you can't help but ask, is this really all the same guy? Seemless would be the word. You can tell when you take them in that these songs just kind of live inside him. There's an endearing senses of vulnerability in the writing, and a thoughtfulness that makes evident the difference between Rel the songwriter, and your average "known for the hottest 16 emcee". You know right? the ones with less than mediocre hooks, and a painful absence of any sort of vamps/bridges/refrains etc. What we hear from Rel aren't just bars, they're sentiments, reflections of a soul who has taken the time to be sure that the sonics are skillfully crafted and well thought out on multiple levels. When queried about the time he takes for each element of a song, Rel puts it this way, " For real for real.. there's a heap of dope emcees, great spitters... but where are the songwriters at? The game is a rat race. I get it. Content is king or whatever... but I don't get why anyone wouldn't take as much time as they need to get each song correct. This is your legacy. YOUR legacy. It's what we're gonna leave behind. Besides all that, I got stuff in my head and my heart that I need to get out of me. I love bars, I really do, but I can't get all that suff out just doing random records of a 16 here and a 16 there.... naaah, can't even picture that. I also can see where I'm missing it. I got miles to go STILL. real talk. I need to keep stepping up my game despite everything I've accomplished." The Emcee/Producer - Singer/Songwriter also has numerous mixing and mastering credits to his name, really making him the full package. An inspiration for self-sufficiency, Rel stands in a class all his own, and seems quite comfortable in that space. When he's not making his own music, you can usually find him working alongside some other talented artist, helping them reach their aspirations for a higher sound in his studio The Reservoir.
Having been awarded close to 100K in Canadian federal and provincial grant funding over the years for numerous recording projects, videos and tours, Rel is no slouch on the couch when it comes to the numbers. "it (finance) has to be my least favorite part of being a full time musician, but if you ignore it, your days are numbered.. no pun intended. Doing what you love comes at a cost, but (in Canada at least) there are ways of keeping your career boosted. Understanding a little about grant funding can help a lot" says Rel. "I would also say that it helps to try and leverage whatever skill sets you have at your disposal, making a litte from each. For example, I not only save a little money doing my own artwork for singles, albums, tour promo/posters etc, but I offer that service to other artists I work with for a fee. Having multiple taps that drip a little here and ther will eventually fill your bucket, and can quench the financial thirst when the drough rolls up on you. Feel me? Grants are great, but are really supposed to be a support system, not the system in and of itself" It's that kind of outlook that has allowed Rel to stay afloat, but it's also obvious he is thinking outside of the box. Kickstarter campaigns are often frowned upon by musicians and artists, with the feeling that it sends the message that they're begging for a hand out. In 2016 Rel saw past that assumption, and threw himself into a Kickstarter campaign that netted upwards of 11K in support of his album Gas Money. "The fans are at the core of support in this thing for real." injects Rel, "there's none of this without them. I gotta give thanks for all of the love and support I've recieved." he says, while scrolling through his email sign up list. As an indie artist and entreprenuer, Rel owns and operates Gamma Delta Productions, the home of Reservoir Studio HipHop Solutions. Earning his living as a full time musician includes song features, live shows & touring, merchandises sales, music sales (digital and physical), beat sales, drum pack sales, mixing & mastering, recording, artist consultation, grant writing, and even donations from fans who just simply want to see Rel continue creating. Now residing in Spain, Canadian grant funding for his own releases may be a thing of the past for Rel, but he'll find a way, just as he always has.
Toronto native Rel McCoy writes songs for the thinker and the feeler. Hard beats, melodic hooks and a depth of writing that today’s hiphop sadly lacks, make Rel’s content distinguished and refreshing. Referring to himself as a “skeptical believer” Rel somehow makes the paradox work, encouraging listeners to “question everything” while making his faith known to those who dare to listen for the deeper stratum. The enigma of Rel unfolds further as he battles depression in one song (Sunshine), and then starkly contrasts it with an anthem of encouragement (Hallelujah), proving that there is nothing one dimensional about the emcee- producer.
Employing a writing style reminiscent of rhyme virtuosos like Elzhi, Black Thought, Freddy Gibbs and Nipsey Hustle, it’s clear that Rel has spent some quality time with the pen, and has taken strong cues from some of the greats. His skillful incorporation of classic machines [MPC3000 and the SP1200] give Rel that extra edge with a warm familiar groove, constructing bangers in his own distinct fashion. Without announcement the Canadian triple threat quietly packed up his studio and moved to Spain in late 2020 hunting for fresh inspiration, promising new content for 2022.
• 2 time Independent Music Award winner
• Contributions on 4 of Juno award winner Shad’s albums including Juno award winning TSOL
• Album The 13th Floor - #1 on Canadian College hiphop charts for more than 10 weeks
• Album Gas Money - video premieres on both HipHop DX and Noisey
• Live shows / Tours - Canada, U.S.A, Australia, Japan, China, Spain.
• Successful Kickstarter campaign 2016 raising upwards of $11,000.00
• Shared stage with Slaughterhouse, Pharoahe Monch, Pharcyde, Kev Brown, Jeru the
Damaja, Araab Musik, Masta Ace and many more
• Key Industry Conferences - SXSW, NXNE, COCA, CMW, NTMF, SLED ISLAND, PANAM GAMES