‹ Tri-City Hip-Hop

Adrian Terell - SoundLab Studio

The summer of June 2012 changed my life. I was brought to SoundLab in Cambridge on Eagle Street North and, for the first time ever, I stepped into an official studio. I was there for hours and loved the atmosphere.

The engineer, Suspect, was my uncle's friend. I met him at a show he was hosting at Bobby O'Brien's with his crew, Marmel Entertainment. Until that point, I had only recorded songs at my friend's place. After hearing me perform, Suspect told me he liked my style, and that he could hook me up with a good price at his studio. I was in high school working two part time jobs, so I jumped at the opportunity.

Sometimes we’d have small parties at the studio. There was a relaxed vibe to the place, and the building itself really drew me in. It was in the top unit of a factory, surrounded by train tracks under a bridge. There were big windows overlooking the city and a large skylight. During the night, the stars would shine and you could see the neighbourhood light up. SoundLab was my own little paradise away from the city.

I would book hours in the studio to write, record, mix and master tracks. It felt like my second home. I learned how to flow, how to catch rhythms, and how to compose myself when people were around. I worked with engineers Suspect and DJ S-ONE, and I met Know-It there as well. Know-It and I would have conversations about hip-hop as he showed me his beats.

SoundLab had a big spacious room next to the studio room where they held hip-hop shows. I remember my first show there was intense. To get to the top floor you’d have to walk up a set of stairs with a big chandelier hanging down, and at the door you were greeted by security and people in charge of collecting the cover for the show. Once inside, there was a big stage in the room, with sets of big speakers and lighting and there was even a little V.I.P area with couches and windows.

Walking up those stairs and seeing people lined up waiting to see you perform was one of the most nerve-racking feelings ever, but I loved it. The lights were dim, and it wasn't the biggest place, but shows there felt like real hip-hop, like a scene out of a movie.

In an environment that was still mostly boom-bap, I was able to perform a new genre of hip-hop and still draw the older crowd in. These shows would range from 20 - 50 people but it was always a good vibe.

I created two mixtapes, filmed two music videos, recorded countless singles and features, and performed live a couple times at SoundLab Studio. That building felt like home, and it felt like hip-hop. I’ll never forget that old factory and the room that taught me so many lessons and connected me to so many people.

Adrian Terell