Chris Nicholls Image by: Chris Nicholls
“I don’t know, I’m just trying to create a new genre,” says Ebony Oshunrinde, before pausing and laughing at her own nonchalance.
Her seemingly casual remark is particularly affecting here as, currently, the Brampton-based 19-year-old producer is a wunderkind of sorts and best known for being the 16-year-old girl who produced for Jay Z before going on to produce two songs for Drake’s 2015 album If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.
Oshunrinde’s now legendary story goes something like this: At age eight, she created her first track using a Casio keyboard and then spent years teaching herself how to create music on her computer before a chance encounter with rapper Travis Scott saw her music land in the hands of Jay Z, who asked her to produce the beats for the song “Crown” on his 2013 album, Magna Carta Holy Grail.
“It was weird,” she says. “It didn’t feel like my beat anymore because you never imagine Jay Z using your stuff—especially at 16. And then it just started, including people knowing my name.”
While much of Oshunrinde’s early career may sound serendipitous, today the young producer spends nearly every moment working on her music. “I wake up and I make a beat, or I head straight downtown [Toronto] and just make beats at my friend’s condo all day. That’s it.” (She’s currently rumoured to be producing for Rihanna and Pharrell.)
Does she ever think about being a woman in such a male-dominated arena? “It crosses my mind because it has to cross my mind. Plus, people are constantly bringing it up. But I don’t care at all. It’s not about that, anyway—it’s just about creating something cool.”