HALIFAX -- Winter will hopefully be something we can all soon put behind us, but for rapper Ray Reaves, the chilly vibes will live forever on his latest EP Winter Wasteland, released in early February. 

The final instalment of four seasonally-themed EPs, Reaves’ project is swift and concise, consisting of five tracks and a 16-minute runtime. While his preceding works featured an overarching theme of love and heartbreak, Winter Wasteland takes a new approach to romance altogether—a much colder one. 

“It’s a new vibe I’ve been feeling lately,” says Reaves. “I used to be such a hopeless romantic, and it showed in my music. Now, I’m just focused on making quality content, getting my financial situation elevated, and progressing in my career over actively chasing women.”  

Releasing his fourth body of work since relocating from Halifax to Toronto, the 22-year-old has been hustling to establish himself as a name in Toronto’s vibrant urban music scene. 

“Everything’s been elevated since being here,” says Reaves. “As far as the sound of the music out here, it’s a lot more fresh and in tune with the current market.” 

However, living in a city of millions presents its challenges. 

“The biggest challenge has been tapping into the live market,” says Reaves. “I used to play a show every other week in Halifax. I had almost no connections when I first came here, so I’ve been meeting new people and finding new ways to reach audiences and going back to grassroots stuff to reach out to people.” 

Despite audience building being a work in progress, Reaves’ music is experiencing success on streaming platforms with singles like “The Only One” released in February, amassing 100,000 plays on Spotify. Furthermore, he’s been featured on the cover of Amazon Music’s New North playlist, earning himself a place among Canada’s up-and-coming hip-hop artists. 

“It’s super inspiring because there’s always new sounds and new people coming up out of here that are getting recognition globally,” says Reaves. 

Continuing his musical incline, Winter Wasteland is a contemporary work with a trap-soul vibe (read R&B fused hip-hop) and features collaborations with Halifax-based producers Matty Galaxy and Fontaine. The rapper even sings on tracks like “Change Your Life,” in which he discusses investing in updating a female companion’s material status, despite not having time to invest in a relationship.

“I’ve spent stupid amounts of money on plane tickets to get a girl from Halifax or North Carolina to come stay where I’m at,” says Reaves. “I was seeing a girl when I wrote it. I was writing the song, and she was like ‘I need to get my nails done,’ and I said ‘no problem’ and spent a bit of money. But she wasn’t even my girlfriend because I couldn’t commit to having a girlfriend—it’s weird.” 

With no time to waste, Reaves notes he’s wrapped production on an upcoming music video expected to hit the internet in the coming weeks. And for fans wanting more of his artistic offerings, there is plenty to come. 

“Right now, I’m working on as many singles as I can possibly make over the course of the next three months,” says Reaves. “Then all summer, I’m just going to push as many singles and music videos as I can… And depending on the what the singles’ traction looks like, then it’s album-album time, maybe a 16-track LP.”