Today would be Toronto rapper Redway’s 27th birthday. The rising star died tragically in a fiery car crash last August. One year prior, the Mississauga-born artist dropped his menacing video for “On Fire,” produced by the wunderkid WondaGurl, and the next month, he’d go on to drop his fourth album, Years Ahead. “WondaGurl and myself created a new wave. Stop fronting like I’m not Toronto’s next it,” Redway told Complex around the time of the premiere. And he was—but it didn’t come easy.
Redway released a total of four albums in under eight years, and that’s after spending most of his teenage years participating in battle rap events around the Mississauga area. Like many artists attempting to stand out in an emerging scene, Redway experienced the shadier side of politics in the Toronto rap community, as detailed in his extensive interview with Noisey around the time of his Years Ahead release.
Just like he anticipated, Years Ahead, did set him apart from others in the scene. It was a triumphant effort; its entire purpose spelled out in the intro and title-track, where Redway rapped, “Baby I been on the come up/Pray one day the people love us” over a soulful sample. It was on his track “YKTO (You Know the Ones)” that he addressed the years of struggling to make a name for himself on the scene and displayed a seemingly effortless flow, one that showed his improvement as an MC and defined the lane he was aiming at conquering.
And all of that was cut short, when he passed at 26 years old. Now, his family and management are aiming to keep his legacy alive with a few posthumous releases, including the premiere of his track “40 Lower River” on his birthday. Any proceeds from his posthumous releases will go to his family, his mother in particular, the inspiration behind his drive for success. It’s a more harrowing look at where he saw himself in the hip-hop scene—as one of the real ones, who wasn’t looking to change in the shadows of his success.
Redway, as he raps, was looking out for himself and his real ones, none of the fake industry shit. The track’s title is an ode to his in-home studio, and “40 Lower River” was the first track he recorded there. It’s clear Redway was on a path to greatness, a path later cut short, but to remember his legacy, “40 Lower River” is a look into his mindset, and the mindset that should inspire other artists, as he raps, “To value all the blessings when the pain hits.” Stream “40 Lower River” below.