88 Days Of Fortune has carved out a space in Toronto for grassroots, queer-friendly hip-hop, R&B and soul that continues to facilitate some of the best and coolest art and music in the city (and beyond) without necessarily receiving the widespread acclaim of some of its more rock-friendly (or literally Drake-friendly) peers. It's both old-school (the posi, collectivist, "together we elevate each other" approach has been compared to Native Tongues) and forward-looking in its genre-defying, mind-expanding afro-futurist spirit.
After six years, the proudly DIY 88 Days Of Fortune spent 2015 reaffirming its resolve and the new They Live mixtape is both the rallying cry and statement of commitment. "We had a lot of turmoil within the collective over the past year and this mixtape is our way of showing that we survived," 88DOF co-founder Ayo Leilani, a.k.a. Witch Prophet. "It's a testament to our strength and power to overcome. Minus a few members, we are still here."
The fifth release as a collective, the mixtape features new and unreleased songs from Witch Prophet, Sugg Savage, Yasmine, Miraculous Homie + SunSun and blurs the lines between indie, rap, electronic music and about 15 other genres, often within each song. And, because it's 2015, there's a "Hotline Bling" remix. Of the 13 songs on the mixtape, only two are by cis men. "It has a very strong female presence and we're very proud of that," says Leilani. "It's not something you usually see in the music community.
Have a listen above and then read Ayo Leilani's crash course in 88 Days Of Fortune - a lesson that should be on every "recent history of Toronto music" syllabus:
"It started with an email I recieved from a psychic who told me that I would have '88 Days Of Fortune'. Where I would meet all the right people. I would help them in their journey and they would help me in mine. That term '88 Days Of Fortune' stuck in my head and I decided to tell Keita Juma, Brendan Philip, Yannick Anton, Nadine Stillman, and WolF J McFarlane about it to see if they wanted to create a city wide tour together with that name (at that time we were wanting the chance to perform but had no platform to do it on)."
"Long story short , the city wide tour turned into a bi monthly showcase featuring artists like Njena Reddd Foxxx, Loaf Muzik, Climbing Poetree, LAL, Jahdan Blakkamoore, ILL NANA and so much more."
"Within 6 years 88 Days Of Fortune became a force of a collective. Throwing queer and female positive hip hop parties and showcases along with adding members Francesca Nocera, Spek Won, The OBGMs, Maiko Watson, THEESatisfaction, Amenta, MFP, Bahia Watson, Akoko, Jamilah Malika, Fro Casso, Latasha Alcindor, Yasmine, Bizzarh, Jah Grey, Tee Fergus, Deon Mars, and T.Ana Cole along the way."
"What united us all was the love of music and art. The passion we had / have to succeed. The magic that we created together."