Toronto-based rapper DijahSB chats with Atwood Magazine about their third LP ‘The Flower That Knew’, creativity and community, evolving in style and sound, and what they’re looking forward to this year.
Stream: ‘The Flower That Knew’ – DijahSB
Even with all the music I’ve released, I’m not very well known yet. It’s a pretty good spot to be in, actually. Like, I’m not very popular but I’m still doing enough to make this my career fully. So the potential is still huge, there’s so much I can still get done, and yet I’ve already done so much.
DijahSB knows how you feel.
They are someone who wants to persevere through the struggles just like you, right alongside you. A listening ear. They’re a kindred spirit who wants to incite joy, to elicit positive emotion and to make people dance. They accomplish this mission with ease across their third album, The Flower That Knew, released in November 2023 via Lowly. With jazzy, old-school-style production and a down-to-earth, conversational flow, it’s easy to see why DijahSB connects with audiences. This relatability is their strong suit.
“I always try to be honest about what I’m going through, and try not to be too preachy about it,” Dijah tells Atwood. “I just understand that a lot of people go through what I go through and probably appreciate someone being able to talk about it so openly.”
Water me, so I can bloom
Back like your boy out the tomb
I’m passionate, too, and smooth like Mike when he move
Because there’s some things that I’m fighting to prove
I’m sowing the seeds, and know I’m controlling the means
– “I’m Blooming,” DijahSB
Throughout the album Dijah sounds effortless, exploring topics like anxiety and mental health, persevering through adversity, recognizing blessings, the world’s current social climate and finding light in the dark times. But this central theme of character development often necessitates reflection and shadow work. Dijah likens this process to a flower’s growth.
“I love a good metaphor, so comparing my journey to that of any flower seemed perfect. The patience and upkeep it takes to grow a flower is the most significant part for me,” Dijah tells Atwood Magazine.
The key here is acknowledging our behaviors, and if they’re not conducive to our growth, won’t help us become the fullest version of ourselves, we mitigate them so we can move forward and level up to the next stage. This is not, however, something that can be done completely on our own. Having a strong community to not only inspire us but also keep us accountable is paramount to achieving, and ensuring the longevity of, any kind of significant success.
Grateful for the sun, I’m grateful for the rain, too
Don’t be acting like we walking inside the same shoes
Every time I’m down, the universe always came through
Giving up right now, is something that I just can’t do
When the sun finally shows up for you
Please don’t hide your
Cuz baby, when the rain comes for you
Know you’ll be alright
– “Forest,” DijahSB
“I feel like I get a lot of encouragement here and there that what I’m doing isn’t in vain,” says Dijah.
For the Toronto-based rapper, the influence and support of their community on their artistry is a beacon. “Those reminders that people are listening, it gives me the strength to pull through and want to continue on this journey.” The desire to experience and learn more can be born from the nourishment of facing life’s adversities. With over a decade on the scene, Dijah finds inspiration in the concept and practice of community, opening their world up to new opportunities to connect with different kinds of people.
The next step in DijahSB’s blooming process is to “continue to grow, experience and grind as hard as I can to be able to continue on this journey.” The Flower That Knew showcases the fruits of their labors here, and leaves room for the further expansion of mind and spirit.
Atwood Magazine had the opportunity to chat with DijahSB ahead of their performance at KCRW’s School Night, a music discovery series in Los Angeles famed for breaking new musical acts, about The Flower That Knew, creativity and community, evolving in style and sound, and what they’re looking forward to this year.
A CONVERSATION WITH DIJAHSB
What has your journey of growth been like over the past few years, in regards to the creative approach to your last two albums?
DijahSB: I’ve taken the approach of really wanting to make people dance, make people move or just feel something in general. I always try to be honest about what I’m going through, and try not to be too preachy about it. I just understand that a lot of people go through what I go through and probably appreciate someone being able to talk about it so openly.
In “Back Outside,” you reference a sense of individualism that many people adopted in the wake of the pandemic: “If you kept sane gotta give yourself kudos / think about it / we be going through it all / even when we needed to we couldn’t get along / pointing at the mirror cause it’s everybody’s fault / got the world on its last leg pulling at straws.” Can you talk about the influence of our current environment on your writing process?
DijahSB: Art should reflect the times, so I felt this one was necessary. I feel like isolation is where I thrive the most but I understand a lot of people struggled with that. I just like my music to be in the moment, like, you’ll be able to listen to it and remember a specific time.
How has your community influenced you across The Flower That Knew, and throughout your career?
DijahSB: I feel like I get a lot of encouragement here and there that what I’m doing isn’t in vain. Those reminders that people are listening, but also that they are being influenced by the things I’m saying, to keep going, to trust the process, it gives me the strength to pull through and want to continue on this journey.
DijahSB: Even with all the music I’ve released, I’m not very well known yet. It’s a pretty good spot to be in, actually. Like, I’m not very popular but I’m still doing enough to make this my career fully. So the potential is still huge, there’s so much I can still get done, and yet I’ve already done so much.
On the title track, “The Flower That Knew,” you illustrate a balancing act between expressing gratitude and wanting more for your life: “There’s got to be more to this / I know that I’m fortunate / but I done been through a lot so I’m bored of this.” Can you expand on this a bit?
DijahSB: It’s kind of repeating what I just said, like I’ve done so much, I need to level up. I need to feel like I’m doing things differently than before. I don’t like to feel stagnant and I don’t like reflecting and feeling like I didn’t do enough.
What have your favorite collaborations been to date, and why do they stand out to you?
DijahSB: That would probably be “Control” with Brazilian rapper Nill. It opened me up to an entirely new community in Brazil that loves rap and have since been fans.
What are some non-musical things that inspire you?
DijahSB: Probably just sneakers and streetwear.
After listening to The Flower That Knew and your 2021 album Head Above The Waters, they brought to mind a lot of acts like Digable Planets, De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. You’re keeping that old-school, jazzy hip-hop sound alive and well. What are some of the influences on your artistry?
DijahSB: De La Soul and Tribe imagery is definitely an influence. I also like to cite Kid Cudi, Lupe Fiasco and Common.
What was the discovery process of hip-hop, rap and R&B like for you growing up?
DijahSB: My parents never listened to rap and hip-hop, so I had to discover it on my own. I couldn’t tell you how exactly I came to start listening to it. My earliest memories really are listening to CDs or downloading songs on Limewire to burn onto CDs.
How have you had to navigate your personal identity as a queer, non-binary artist within the larger music industry?
DijahSB: I feel the support from other queer non-binary artists and fans, and it’s a great feeling to know that I’m able to be me while still receiving enough support to do this full time.
How do you feel that the music you’re making distinguishes you from your contemporaries?
DijahSB: I really consider all aspects. As much as I want to keep it real in the music, I also understand the aspect of it that has to sound good on the ears. I think there’s a specific craft to creating a song for consumption, and I really take it seriously to master the element of that.
Are there any dream collaborators you’d love to work with?
DijahSB: Definitely Kid Cudi.
What’s the biggest takeaway you want listeners to leave with after hearing The Flower That Knew?
DijahSB: Plant those seeds, water them and watch them grow. It takes time and patience, but understand that and trust the process. You know that the outcome will be that you bloom, so no matter what happens during the process, just know the results will be fruitful.
So what’s the next step in your blooming process? Where will you go from here?
DijahSB: Continue to grow, experience and grind as hard as I can to be able to continue on this journey, creating and inspiring people along the way.
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© Vonny Lorde
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