Innate in his pedigree, Khalik Provo stumbled upon what would become his future aspiration through his family’s musical past. You don’t need to travel very far into his heritage to find musical inclination — it’s a trait shared by his father, aunt, and uncle. But for all those musical roots, Khalik’s own creativity was unbeknownst to him until a particular family incident at the age of 14. Khalik and his older cousin were hanging out at the makeshift studio shared by the family, and his cousin was attempting to record a rap verse. “It was annoying to watch, and he took the longest time recording it. So I just wrote and rapped a song right there, and it was better than what he was recording, plus I didn’t have his annoying fake, raspy rap voice.” This story of silly competitiveness is very telling of Khalik’s current-day personality, but it also acts as the origin story for Khalik's rap alter-ego: SeT. Now, four years out of high school and under the umbrella of Toronto’s rapid musical freight, he has defined his own sound, and now faces the challenge of getting that sound out to as many people as possible.
In honour of his curiosity and fascination with Egyptian mythology, the name Set is taken from the Egyptian god of chaos. It reflects a yin-yang factor, a harmonic flow of “appreciating the sun, because there is rain”. It’s the negative and the positive, the paradox of transforming from a shy high school student who never participated in talent shows, into a outspoken and ambitious artist who demands to be heard. Participating in a collective project called CReW (Creative Rebels World) alongside other rookie rapper Dillan Ponders, SeT has stepped out of his enclosure where “only my family knew I was rapping”, and into Toronto’s hip-hop scene, being featured on Ponders’ new single, “Selling Dreamz”.
Along with joining the front lines of Toronto’s indie rap scene, SeT adopts a holistic angle on all artistic mediums. While music may be his current love, it was the visual arts that first captured his attention and allowed him to channel his spontaneity into something cohesive. “I don’t know what I’m going to draw until I do it, sometimes there are mistakes, but they just makes it more unique.” His progressive attitude has been inspired by some of his musical idols, with Kanye West acting as one of his main mentors. “I used to listen to stuff like Dipset, and 50 Cent. That’s the stuff I liked at the time. But when [Kanye’s] Graduation came out, I heard someone who was really dedicated to music, and I gravitated to it.”
Without a definite progression of creating music, SeT lives with the beats he’s made, taking solitary time to listen to a repetition while mumbling along to it. After he’s built the foundation of the song in this way, he’ll design and conceive ideas around that base, careful to never get hung up on making the words fit perfectly. “I love Kid Cudi, he doesn’t care about the rhyme, he cares about getting the across idea. That’s something I try to keep in mind every time I write a song.” It’s a theorization that he follows with his own music, where he includes “entendres, double entendres, even triple entendres,” all which produce a idea that adheres to a deeper, more cognitive thought.
With a myriad of encouragement and adoration from the most important factor in his life, his family, SeT continues to pursue the a career in the music industry. Despite the fact that success in this business is a statistical rarity, SeT’s positive energy shines through onto anyone in his immediate area. He carries himself with a childlike outlook on life, but when asked if he would describe himself as being “based,” he draws a blank, not knowing exactly what the term, originated by Lil B, means. After having it explained to him, SeT sits and ponders before calmly stating, “I only have one life, the world’s a shitty place because people act shitty. You can’t just sit on negative energy, [some] people build off of it and it’s great. That’s what I do. Is that based?”
As SeT continues to sit humbly on his throne of alacrity, he determines his next steps. Previously releasing a mixtape filled with an abundance of 22 songs, he has decided to focus on the quality over the quantity in anticipation of his debut album, AuRA. “Your aura is just the way you carry yourself, a profound beauty in each unique identity.” When SeT is asked about the meaning of success, he simply lists “waking up, drinking beer and having a cigar,” along with doing interviews and meeting innovators that can dream up wild ideas like “futuristic flying cars”. These idealisms paint SeT as a happy-go-lucky optimist, making him an unlikely candidate to pursue a career in rap. As time goes on, one can’t help but wonder if the rose-coloured tint on his lenses will fade with experience. But for now, it’s best to just enjoy him SeT for what he is: a happy rapper with a lot of potential.
Evelyn Kwong is a writer living in Toronto. She has no Twitter.