Night Lovell: The King of Canadian Underground Rap

This feature was brought to you in part of CJLO's "Hip Hop For Life" series - highlighting Canadian hip hop between June 7th - 14th.
I remember the first time I heard Night Lovell. I was 21 years old sitting on an L-shaped leather couch in my friend’s basement. The room was thick with cannabis smoke as I heard a loop of slow-pitched male vocals. The song eventually dropped into a full-blown trap beat but unlike any I had ever heard before. This slow, ominous and ethereal sound was unlike any of the trap music I had heard before. I had to ask my friend Justin who played the song who the artist was. He replied “Night Lovell. He’s from Ottawa.” I replied “Dude... This is insane. He’s from Canada? Wow.” That song was the 2014 track “Dark Light” off his first project Concept Vague. At that point, what I had come to know as trap music was a southern-based hyped-up, bass driven and exaggerated version of hip hop - artists such as Juicy J, Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame were pioneers in the genre. 
Night Lovell, born Shermar Paul in 1997, offers what is missing in today’s rap music.  He offers an alternative to traditional trap music consistently delivering brutal nihilism, personal displays of weakness and a dystopian universe to lose yourself within. The macho alpha male stereotype that rappers often embrace is exactly what this niche of artists is fighting against, often showcasing deep emotion and vulnerability. He also represents a growing trend amongst young artists of not signing to major labels and choosing to remain independent. 
Night Lovell proudly represents his home city of Ottawa. He has the year 1855 tattooed on his chest which is the year the city was incorporated. In his 2019 interview with The Fader, he explains that in Canada he believes that the winter forces you to get to know yourself better and that he prefers the slower pace of the city as opposed to other major cities like Toronto or Los Angeles. He references Ottawa throughout his music with songs named “Rideau Swing” and referring to “OT Gang” in his lyrics on the track “Mary Jane.” In the 2019 16Bars interview, Night Lovell explains that his father was a local Ottawa rapper as well. He was known as MC Renegade and supported Lovell throughout his early career, encouraging him and reassuring him that his music was exceptional. 
Since 2014, Night Lovell has been consistently refining and polishing his sound with each project. His approach to conceptualizing his music and his projects is what makes him stand out. We are living in an age where every rapper is releasing projects as “albums” when they are really glorified mixtapes or compilations of different singles with no cohesion. His most recent album is called Goodnight Lovell. It dropped in 2019 and is undoubtedly his best work. In the 2019 interview with The Fader, Night Lovell explained that the album cover is a cage that represents his dreams and the skeleton represents what would happen if he was stuck within these dreams. In the 2019 16Bars interview, Lovell indicated that some recurring nightmares that he experiences involve centipedes, being stuck on an island and the pressure of performing at a level that he isn’t comfortable with yet. To how these themes tie in to the album cover, you decide.
His most recent music video “Lethal Presence” has amassed an impressive 3 million views since December, 2019. It is a showcase of his visit to perform in Moscow, Russia. The video includes drifting cars, screaming fans, a night vision effect and a shirtless man firing an automatic weapon. This contrasted with the relaxed yet dark and haunting music perfectly exemplifies the controlled chaos of Night Lovell’s music.
Listen to Night Lovell's music here.