Kayo has put together a brand new 13 track mixtape.
He may have been born and raised on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, but Kayo Guevarra (né Filbert Salton) does not operate on island time. Now based in Halifax, the ambitious young rapper has big plans for himself, both professionally and personally. And what might those ambitions be?
"To find myself, to not lose myself, and to not lose what makes me happy."
What makes Kayo happy is making music. His "artsy" family, which includes two older half-brothers and sisters, encouraged his poetry and rhymes which started out as "a way to write down my emotions because I wasn't that outspoken when it came to how I felt about things."
Inspired by the likes of Bob Marley, Wyclef Jean, 2Pac, and Jay-Z, Kayo, now 23, had his first gig performing a self-penned rap verse during a high school choir performance of R. Kelly's "The World's Greatest." Shows with local jazz bands followed, as did collaborations with soca and dancehall artists, although Kayo soon realized that "there really wasn't an audience" for hip hop in the Caribbean.
"I felt there was nothing else I could do musically to progress with my career, and I needed to get out. It was a long shot, but I just packed my bags and I did it: I came to Canada."
At 20, Kayo moved to Halifax and started studying marketing at Saint Mary's University. (He'll graduate in October.) He also immersed himself in the local hip hop scene, meeting future mentor Classified at shows. Their friendship was cemented after Kayo won a Classified-sponsored Facebook competition. The prize: having the "Oh... Canada" rapper produce his first single, "Triumphant."
"The music just really brought us together. We admired each other's work, really and truly. You don't get organic, natural relationships like that very often."
But their collaboration did not end there. Classified soon signed Kayo to his Half Life Records imprint and has produced the younger rapper's upcoming full-length album, including the EMI-released current single "1 Night," a club track about the beauty of women "and the insecurities they live with [that] ultimately destroy them."
Look for Kayo's upcoming album to include collaborations with Canadian rappers Quake and Shad, as well as Naledge from Chicago duo Kidz in the Hall. St. Lucian R&B singer Shayne Ross also appears on the record, providing the hook to a track called "Changes."
As much as Kayo's upcoming music is the result of his newfound Canadian connections, the Caribbean Carter admits that his homeland figures greatly into the mix as well.
"I feel like St. Lucia made me who I am, in one way or the other," he says. "Coming here from St. Lucia, being a foreigner, being someone of a totally different culture helped me stand out and really got me the recognition that helped me to be where I am right now, and I wouldn't be who I am if I didn't grow up in and wasn't raised in St. Lucia, if I wasn't raised by St. Lucian parents. I feel like this album is a dedication to everything and everyone that made me who I am to date, and St. Lucia is a major part of that."