From an outward appearance, you would never guess that Canadian hip hop artist Fin-S (real name Colin James Paul) harbored such a deep and rich voice. One quite similar to that of DMX- a bit raspy and gruff, yet filled with humility and truth. Born in Toronto Canada, but raised in the streets of Miami, Fin-S grew up with the sounds of music all around him. From the sounds of the surrounding Caribbean Islands such as Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Haitians, and Jamaicans- the sounds of music were entrenched in Fin-S’ roots. With a father who was a talented musician himself, working with artists such as The Temptations and the late great Bob Marley- Fin-S was destined for distinction and his own divine right to shine on the music scene.
Coming from being a DJ on the Toronto hip hop scene, Fin-S took his music skills and honed them to do what he wanted to do the most- Rhyme. Wanting to reach a higher plateau with his craft, Fin-S took his dj’ing and rhyming skills and partnered them with his business acumen and formed his label Black Pearl Entertainment. Although he’s not an old school vet in the game like some of the artists that he’s worked with, Fin-S is well aware of the schemes and tricks of the music industry. He knows that you have to have a tough skin to survive in this game and he has voiced that he’s ready for anything that comes his way.
Fin-S is not just the average emcee in the game. He doesn’t want to just stick to rhyming and making music. He’s about uplifting one another and helping those who really want the help. He attributes this characteristic to his fellow emcees and friends here in the U.S. Being loyal and humbling yourself are two things that Fin-S prides himself on. “People don’t know where you stand if you show no loyalty”, were the words he spoke to me. He is wise well beyond his years, which is a rare quality nowadays. He believes that without God, you have nothing, and all of your gifts and promotions come from the Most High.
It is my opinion that this young man is well on his way to greatness. Having produced for many artists such as Wajeed from Slum Village, Rishi Rich, Darryl Riley, Alana Bridgewater, Baby Floss, Isem, Lisa B, Tara Chase, King Reign, and Black T Mafia… to name a few, Fin-S isn’t here for the time being; He’s in it for the long haul. I got a chance to sit down and dig into the brain of Fin-S to find out what he’s feeling about the music industry today. Check it out under the break.Colin Paul. I love the name Colin. Why not go by the name Colin P? Why did you choose the name Fin-S?Fin-S: You know what? I didn’t really choose the name Fin-S. What actually happened was, I was with this shorty and one day, she came to school with this earring that had “Fin-S” on it. She said, “you know, this represents you. This is my gift to you to represent our relationship” and I was with it. But I was a DJ at that time and I was going by DJ CJ, which stands for my name Colin James. So I started wearing the earring to the parties and what not, people started calling me DJ Fin-S and that stuck. So that’s how I got the name.So you took the DJ off and just kept the Fin-S?Fin-S: Well yeah. It’s sort of a natural progression. I went from a DJ, to a producer, to an artist, and finally now I’m CEO. Do you still do a bit of DJ’ing on the side?Fin-S: I mean, yeah. When I do my production, I still use elements of dj’ing like scratching and what not. It depends on the feel of the song and what I’m trying to achieve on the song. What was it like having a father who was a musician? How did his musical talents influence you in your career today?Fin-S: It’s kind of funny actually. He’s always tried to get me to play an instrument. But that wasn’t my thing when I was younger. I was always like “pop just get me a sampler… please just get me a sampler.” because I was always into hip hop. I had my little turn table and things of that nature. When I would get home from school, I’d drop my book bag down on the floor and go straight to the turn table and start scratchin until my hands would start to hurt. So I was always more into the electronic side of making music than actually playing an instrument. As far as the influence, I was surrounded by it everyday. So when I get into the studio now, I know when a note is off. I’m just like “naw, that’s not right. You gotta move that here, you gotta give it a bit more flavor.” So that influence alone has rubbed off on me a lot.Give me your definition of what hip hop is to you.Fin-S: Hip hop is an embodiment of culture put through the medium of music. You can go around the globe and you can touch on Oriental music. You can go over to India and grab some Indian music. You can go anywhere. You can go to Jamaica and get some Reggae and you can make some hip hop. It’s really the sounds of Africa coming out in us. That beat is going to be there, so it doesn’t matter what element we are using because the beat is what constructs hip hop. I see on your album “The CEO” that you got Pharrell, Snoop, N.O.R.E., and even hip hop great Kool G Rap on board. What was it like working with these guys who are industry vets?Fin-S: It’s a blessing. They’re all real cool people and real recognize real as far as where the talent is concerned. Where I’m from, I’m from Toronto, which is a mega city and we call this place the screw face capital of the world (laughing)! Dudes over here love to hate’cha! For me, it’s an honor when a person in the U.S. or in Europe here’s my music and they’re like “Yo, this kid is hot. I wanna work with this dude!” That’s a blessing from God and I always pay homage to the Father. Nothing happens without God. I want to say that first and foremost. Through that medium, that is where all these beautiful and wonderful things are coming from. Aside from the artists that we just named, who else have you worked with?Fin-S: Luney Tunez is on the album. He’s a real cool dude. We brought him up to Toronto to do the video for a song called “Putty Cat” that’s on the album. He’s a super producer and he’s an artist as well. He’s signed to Block Entertainment and does a lot of production for Bad Boy South as well. He did the song for Gorilla Zoe and Gucci Mane “Walk With a Waddle”. I’ve also work with a dude named Darryl Riley, from our company, which is Black Pearl Entertainment (BPE), he’s on the album. There is another girl who is a phenomenal singer and her name is Toya Diamond who we just got on the album, Travon “Treez” Johnson aka Shon Don from Doggy Style Records, and just recently Mos Def. It’s a real nice community. You gotta keep those relationships. Earlier this year, AskMen.com put out a list of the top 10 Canadian rap groups. On that list was: Choclair, Swollen Members, Tom Green, Cadence Weapon, Dream Warriors, Buck 65, K-os, Maestro, Kardinal Offishall. What do you think about that list?Fin-S: I think it’s corny! The only person I would exclude from the list is Kardinal Offishall because he’s doing his thing. But the overall list is corny. The reason why I say it’s corny is because Canada is still in it’s premature stage when it comes to understanding the urban music industry. They’re kind of scared because they don’t want to see none of us riding around in Lamborghini’s or no Bentley’s pullin up to the offices. That’s a fear out here for them, so they push us to the back. If you walk into a label in Canada, I’m going to tell you right now… I’mma put it out there- they play mind games with you. They’re going to sit you down and talk about giving you 5g’s to market your record. What are you going to do with that? So it’s like they set you up for failure. So they focus on the Rock, the pop, groups like Nickleback, Alanis Morissette, Celine Dion and the like. They’re scared of the urban power. It’s going to happen regardless because Drake just broke down the door. So now they have to pay attention. And that’s what I was about to touch on- The music scene in Canada. When people think about Canada, they don’t think bangin music and they don’t think a hot music scene. But you now have artists like Kardinal Offishall and Drake coming out and they’re flourishing. They’re putting Canada on the map now and it’s like saying, hey, we here… recognize. What do you think?Fin-S: We’ve been doing it for years! A lot of people don’t know but a lot of the production on American albums is from Canadian producers. You got Rich Kid, you got Boy Wonder, Sound Smith, Mega Man, and so on. All of these kids are producing on G-Unit records and a lot of other albums but a lot of people don’t know that. So the talent is here and it’s been groomed for a long time. It’s kind of like the kid that doesn’t get to play with the other kids on the playground. Like, that kid is going to go in the corner and become a genius because he’s gotta do something. So that’s what is going on in Canada right now. The talent is phenomenal. The talent on my label right now is ridiculous. I don’t even know another word for it other than phenomenal. Most of the artists on my label are from Canada.Where do you see your career in the next 10 years?Fin-S: Ahhh man. I’d love to be in a position where I’m running a successful label. We’re doing major things internationally, and we own our masters. That’s where I’m looking to be in the future.With everybody jumpin on the auto-tune bandwagon, you know I had to ask this question- will the people ever hear any auto-tune vocals coming from you?Fin-S: (laugh) You know what? They’re going to hear one. I got one joint on the record and it’s called “G-String”. It’s more or less for the strip clubs. So I had to put that on there. I just had to do it. But it’s just the one. You ain’t gon’ see me singing on auto tune or getting other dudes to sing. Honestly, the majority of the singers on our label, BPE, are professionally trained singers, so we really don’t need to use the auto tune. I just did that because it’s for the strip club and it needed that feel. So are you trying to say that the folks who use the auto tune are hiding behind the device because they can’t sing?Fin-S: Of course!!! (laughs)That’s what it’s for. But I’m going to tell you something. On the real… that boy T-Pain can sing his ass off! I don’t care what nobody says. I agree. T-Pain is super talented. I think the whole auto tune thing was just another gimmick for him. But it brought him out. Fin-S: Defintely! They’re not ready for him. He’s just as talented as D’Angelo.Really?Fin-S: Yeah!!! I watched T-Pain at a concert here in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre and homeboy was playing the piano on some church gospel type feel and singing at the same time. When you can improvise like that, just off of thought, that’s a musician. That’s not a dude who’s thinking about what notes to play next or how am I going to make this sound right? Naw… that’s just coming to you and you’re putting it out. I haven’t seen that since D’Angelo.What was your take on Jay Z’s D.O.A.? Were you thinking it’s about time?Fin-S: I agree with Jay. I agree with big brother. The reason why I agree with him is because it’s over saturated. You have dudes that are coming out that haven’t really put in the time or the energy to perfect their craft, and who are now putting out records with auto tune. They’re filling their records with auto tune and not talent. To me it’s cheese music and Jay Z had to get rid of the cheese. It was once good cheese and now it’s bad cheese and so you have to throw it out. I listened to some of the songs on your myspace page and I must say that I absolutely loved “Brand New” with Kool G Rap. But my favorite track was the joint with N.O.R.E. “Movin On Up”. That was hella catchy and full of energy! The Jefferson’s theme song was so apprapo! Fin-S: I appreciate that! It’s just the energy or the feeling. With my music, it doesn’t really matter what song I’m doing, I like to have a feeling behind the music. Whether it be a get up stomp your feet and clap your hands joint, or a slow down and think about what you’re doing. Whatever the emotion is, it has to be there behind the music. You can’t just make a song. That’s corny to me. It’s gotta have emotion behind it. Right. It’s got to have some kind of meaning or the people aren’t going to believe it. Fin-S: Exactly! You can’t lie to people. People lie, but the ears don’t. That’s why God left them open.I like that! Ok. So I gotta ask a few questions so we can see where your head is at right now and a few questions for the ladies who might want to get to know ya’ a little better. LOL!!!Fin-S: That’s coolFirst off, what music are you listening to in your MP3 player?Fin-S: I listen to David Ruffin, Inez Fox, Skull Snaps- a lot of old school. Aretha, Tom Brock… you know that real soulful sound.Is that where you get a lot of your influence?Fin-S: Oh yeah. I soak it in. To me, in my opinion, that is when music was really being made. That’s just my opinion. That was the jump off. Now folks are trying to emulate what was seen back then and everyone is trying to get back to that point. Dudes used to sweat in the box for 13 hours or more, smoking cigarettes and making music with one take. Taking one take to record and not using the digital stuff we have now. If you could pick one artist to do a mega collabo with, who would it be?Fin-S: D’Angelo. I’m actually trying to get him right now. We’re in the process of trying to make this happen. My business manager knows his people, so I’m praying to the Lord we can get this to happen because it would be a beautiful record. What was the last movie you saw?Fin-S: District 9. Favorite food to eat?Fin-S: Curry chicken, Dahl and rice. Are you Jamaican?Fin-S: I’m Guianese. My parents are Guianese. I was born in Toronto and raised in Miami.Pet peeves?Fin-S: Bullshitters. That’s really it. You know, people who don’t fly straight. People who have ulterior motives I don’t fool with. I rather you tell me what’s good from the get go. That’s why I’m big on loyalty. I’m a producer, so I encounter a lot of artists. I try to help them become who they should be as an artist when I put them in the studio. But what happens with these dudes is they get a big head when they get a good song. People get in their ear, blah blah blah. So that’s a big thing over here. The loyalty factor is missing here in Toronto. So there is no loyalty in Toronto? Is it because everybody is searching for that big break and don’t want to share the wealth?Fin-S: Yeah but it makes no sense. No man can become a millionaire by himself and no man can build an island or a castle by himself. It’s foolish. You might as well build a sand castle, which you can do by yourself. The ideology hasn’t set in yet. The mentality of being profitable and community, like the idea of love your brother or teach your brother… hasn’t caught on yet. I think for me, as a company and an artist, that’s what I’m trying to bring here to Canada. I’m not even going to lie, I got that whole concept from the U.S. My boys in the U.S., I love ’em all. They’ll die for me and I’ll die for them. K-os said it in one of his songs called “Crabs in a bucket”. That’s what it is up here in Toronto Canada.Skinny Jeans or baggy fit?Fin-S: It depends on the mood. So you’re with the skinny jeans movement?Fin-S: Naw, not like the Rolling Stones or nothing like that. I like my pants to fit just right. Not too tight, not too baggy. Just enough to fit over my AF1’s. That was going to be my next question, Jordans or AF1’s?Fin-S: Well you got your answer (laugh)!!!Iced out piece or dookie rope?Fin-S: What? Hell no. I want an iced out piece. Don’t give me no dookie rope.Playstation 3 or X Box 360?Fin-S: I’ll go with the Playstation 3Small waist/thick thighs and a nice backside or Average waist/average thighs and a small bump in the back?Fin-S: Everything! Everything! Give me everything. I don’t discriminate. I participate.Boxers or Briefs?Fin-S: BriefsLights on or lights off?Fin-S: Depends on the occasion… and the situation.What do you have coming up next?Fin-S: I’m just focusing on the business. We’re looking at a few labels now. My manager will be in Atlanta for a few days. So we’re trying to set up the infrastructure of the company before I put anything out. But around the beginning of the year, look for something hot coming out. That’s what up! You can check out Fin-S and some of his hottest tracks on his myspace page at www.myspace.com/therealfins or on www.youtube.com/blackpearlent