Born in Liberia, West Africa, Kollie Soriba is an Ottawa-based MC who moved to Ottawa when he was only six years old.

He played sports throughout his life and was a competitive basketball player in his teenage years. While he enjoyed the competitive atmosphere, Soriba opted to branch out and pursue another interest—music.

Known as Soweezy, the up-and-coming Ottawa rapper has already released a few tracks in addition to countless songs with the group Hkdagang. While his specialty lies in rap, his influences are far-reaching. Whether it’s pop, reggae, or traditional Liberian music, Soweezy tries to draw inspiration from many sources.

“If you looked through my phone, you wouldn’t be able to tell what kind of genre’s my favourite,” he said.

The spark to pursue a music career came while he was hanging out with a friend who was crafting a beat. Without hesitation, Soweezy began freestyling.

Being able to make music allows him to pour out his emotions and speak openly to the world. He writes his own songs and sometimes doesn’t even draw ink to paper, as he prefers to freestyle. It didn’t always come naturally, though, as Soweezy recalls the first time he stepped in front of the mic.

“If you go back and listen to the first song that I made, compared to a song that I make now, you can hear [the difference in] the level of confidence in my voice,” said Soweezy.

Drawing inspiration from Lil Durk—a native Chicago rapper—Soweezy often stretches his voice beyond the confines of rap.

“Right now I’m not even just making rap songs, or singing songs, I’m also getting out [of] my comfort zone,” said Soweezy.

Yardboyk—whose given name is Kai Knight—raps alongside Soweezy and is a close friend. They met in Grade 7 and have been friends ever since. Yardboyk has seen Soweezy grow over the years and values the hard work and dedication that he puts into his music.

“This guy’s work ethic, that’s his number one thing,” said Yardboyk. “Like, we could be sitting in a room doing nothing and Soweezy will be like, ‘Yo let’s make a track, let’s make a track right now.’”

Although Soweezy usually freestyles, there are other times in which he will sit down and write for days.

“If I want to sing about a relationship, it’ll take me maybe five days or so because I really pour thought into it,” said Soweezy. “I’ll lay in my bed at night—sometimes until three in the morning—just writing lyrics.”

If it doesn’t work out, I delete it and keep going.”

The upcoming release of his EP The Story on Feb. 14 is the next step to introducing himself to the Ottawa music scene. With this release, Soweezy hopes to captivate and draw listeners to his art.

If his work ethic is as potent as those around him believe, Feb. 14 will be an above-average Valentine’s day.