444-0018: Esay Bando - '96 Hova

"Feel Like We Been Fighting All Our Lives"

“’96 Hova” is the latest single from former D-boy turned rapper Esay Bando. The Toronto artist has already dropped a number of salvos from his forthcoming EP A Cinderella Story (cover below). The project was produced by Rich Kidd and it’s coming out Friday, September 23.

It’s a very mature and diverse project for a new artist and it’s proof that Bando is a man with a lot to say and the plans to say it all. The inspiration for “’96 Hova” is best told in the artist’s words. 

“I’ve fought for my freedom, I’ve fought for my family, I’ve fought for my life,” he relates. “This was probably the hardest song to make because I’ve never felt so vulnerable in my space… this one is for the survivors!”

Having to get home early each night was the reality that inspired the A Cinderella Story concept, along with with the parallels of a person looking to transform his life. The project includes the already released street anthem “2 Legit to Quit,” which introduced the city to Bando’s unique drawl and knack for turning a phrase.

Previous single “Out The North” relates the story of the Chilean-born artist being stuck in Canada for more than a decade battling legal troubles and recording on house arrest, against the relatable backdrop of trying to break out of Canada as a new voice in the rap game.

“The number one thing that I’d like to be known is that the completion of the project happened under curfew,” Bando told us earlier this year.


Overall, the EP is the story of getting away from the bids and the pain and the cycle and you will hear it in the six tracks, mixing hard-hitting street rap with melodic, reflective music, trying to carve a clear path from inside the struggle to outside of it.


Watch out for A Cinderella Story in September on 444% in partnership with Bando’s Stashbox Culture.

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