MusicNB describes itself as the provincial music industry association that elevates, promotes and represents New Brunswick’s music community through development, promotion, and celebration. In addition, MNB provides a support network for musicians, managers, and businesses that are involved in the creation of music within the province of New Brunswick.
The mature, conscious rapper calls New Brunswick home now but grew up in Halifax. He says in Halifax, he didn’t feel outnumbered despite being a minority, but in New Brunswick, it’s a different story: “Racism is here, and it's real, and it forces you to move differently for your own safety and happiness,” says One8Tea. “Usually, it’s the subtle stuff, like being followed around in stores.”
One8Tea’s song, I Guess It’s Complicated, discusses the day-to-day life of a Black man standing out in his community, trying to get through his task list while facing “subtle” racism that can sometimes be life-threatening. While rapping about his to-do list and joke texting with friends, he launches into a laundry list of reminders to make sure he is safe as a Black man in a white community:
- Make sure your pants don’t sag so people “know you're not a threat”
- Tell your wife your location at all times
- Avoid rushing
- Make sure to speak properly
As One8Tea paints the reality of being a Black man, even in New Brunswick, he reminds listeners that Black people have always lived life trying not to be another George Floyd. And that murders like Floyd’s are not new, only having the video evidence is. Throughout the song, One8Tea tells white allies and the church that being clear about where they stand as allies is crucial to ending racism and making the world better for our kids.
As Black people struggle to have their voices heard, it is poignant to have this song become the first time MusicNB recognizes a Black person.
Growing up in a very musical family, One8Tea always loved writing poetry, and with the musical influences in his life, it “just worked out,” giving him the right tools to turn this passion into a career. A hip-hop artist and “a strong believer in God,” One8Tea says his faith more than anything influences his music. “If I am going to make music, it has to be relevant to me and my life or someone I know. I rap about a lot of things, but I am Black, and I am a believer, so I guess these two things drive how I create.”
Of the New Brunswick music scene, One8Tea says, "there has been little effort to be inclusive. If you break through, fine, but it's not trying to help you get there. For example, it's 2022, and I am the first to be doing certain things. The music scene here is very white-centric, but for the most part, everything in NB is. That said, I don't think enough of us have the resources to be successful in this place because the music scene is a "who you know" type thing, and if you don't get to sit at the table and be represented, it is hard to be in the know about some of the resources. MusicNB is not the only avenue to showcase your talent anymore. There are Black artists who have left and done great."
Previous to winning this MusicNB award, One8Tea had been nominated several times for an East Coast Music Awards. He also won a Covenant Award from the Gospel Music Association. On May 6th, One8Tea’s winning streak continued as he took home his first East Coast Music Award for Rap/Hip-Hop Recording of the Year for Ventilation 2.
On becoming the first Black person ever to win an award at MusicNB, One8Tea was shocked, “I was surprised because I know the type of talent that has been here forever. It blew my mind when I found out, but somebody goes first so others can go too. I hope this continues for other artists after me.”
For Black New Brunswick and East Coast artists, One8Tea advises, “Do it. Make music you like and stay true and honest to who you are. Longevity will come from being a good solid person. It takes a long time, dedication, and commitment, but if you want it, you can have it.”