The debut album from Toronto rap trio Prime Boys should be heard worldwide

Koba World is both celebratory and mournful – their first music since their manager and friend Koba Prime's murder in a Queen West shooting

Rating: NNN

Toronto’s Prime Boys should be proud of their debut. The Esplanade-based trio of Jay Whiss, Jimmy Prime and Donnie have dropped 11 tracks that lay firmly in the T.O. hip-hop sound of Drake and the Weeknd – a sound they likely had a hand in coining, considering Prime’s role in coming up with “the 6” as a nickname for the city with the longest commute in the continent. 

The album comes packed with summer-friendly swag and solid hypnotic beats – a handful of them coming from exploding Ontario producer Murda Beatz. Check out Tinted for a nice piano loop, or Emergency for a well-placed “winner / gagnant” OLG terminal sample. 

The overall sound is a 6-friendly mixture of the celebratory and the mournful – the latter especially standing out after the murder of their assistant manager and friend Kosi Modekwe (aka Koba Prime) in the same shooting that took the life of local rapper Smoke Dawg. As a result, Prime Boys delayed the album and renamed it from Prime Forever to Koba World in tribute. 

The R&B-inflected pop rap sound isn’t anything new, but this is an exemplary version of it. Twelve songs is just enough to get a sense of the group without being overwhelmed. The three MCs fit nicely together, although their consistency and focus on similar topics (being fly, losing friends, having fun with money, being people not to mess with) makes it hard for their distinct personalities to come across. 

Though the subject matter and sound don’t vary terribly, the album still feels like a watershed moment for the music of the city – three dudes living a stone’s throw from St. Lawrence Market have released something worthy of airplay around the world.  

Further age, wisdom and experience could give the music more depth and open up their sound and range of subjects/metaphors. 

Top Track: Hold Me Down | @theflans

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