Hip-hop artist and business grad Charles Morgan, a.k.a. Aspektz

For Charles Morgan, getting an education was just as important as making a name for himself in the music industry as Aspektz. The Toronto-based hip-hop artist completed a bachelor of commerce degree at Guelph in 2008 and an MBA at York University this year. He’ll be on stage at U of G Sept. 5 for the halftime show at the Orientation Week football game.

“We have a really cool live show,” says Morgan. “It’s super high energy. We’ve been getting a great response, so the show we have planned for O-Week is going to be incredible.” On stage with Aspektz will be drummer Jaren Hayman, also a 2008 B.Comm. grad.

Blending elements of electronic, hip-hop and reggae, Morgan set out to create a signature style of music that represents the 416 to the 905. “We noticed that a lot of regions, like the West Coast and down South, they sort of have region-defining sounds, and we found that Toronto and Canadian hip-hop in general doesn’t really have that region-defining sound. We set out to take elements that haven’t been used and put them together into a sound that can be known on a worldwide level as the Canadian hip-hop sound.”

He’s just as comfortable inking deals in a boardroom as he is performing on stage. It’s that blend of business savvy and musical talent that keeps him at the top of his game. “I approach music from a business-minded perspective, and that’s where the commerce degree enabled me to connect with alumni and other people on a business level.”

Morgan not only writes his own music, he also wrote the theme song for Court Surfing, a basketball show on the Score, and the theme song for the Toronto Raptors called Go Raptors Go. His other corporate partners include Gucci, Lexus and Timberland. “We’ll never piggyback our brand with something we don’t believe in 100 per cent,” he says.

Aspektz’s mix tapes are part of the Academic Probation collection; two mix tapes called Detention and Commencement were released last year, and a third mix tape is scheduled to drop later this year. His latest single, Swivel, was released on iTunes in July, and his album is coming out in December.

When asked if the album Academic Probation is a reflection of his own experience at Guelph, Morgan replies, “I consider myself a student of life. Sometimes certain priorities joust other ones from the list. It’s sort of a reference to juggling all kinds of walks of life. There are also some hidden references that will be explained.”

His music video for the next single, Snow Day, was filmed in Quebec, but this isn’t just another music video. Filmed with a 360-degree camera, the video puts the viewer in the centre of the action.

“If you watch TV, it’s like walking around with blinders on,” says Morgan. “What the 360 camera enables us to do is capture 360 degrees around you at all times.” The online video allows viewers to click and drag the cursor for a panoramic view. “It creates a brand new music video every time you watch it.”

In the Snow Day video, Morgan wore the camera strapped to his chest as he rode a dogsled through the Quebec countryside, taking viewers along for the ride. “You’re actually immersed into the environment,” he says.

Morgan started performing music in high school with some friends. One of them became DJ Wristpect, with whom Morgan maintains a working relationship. Morgan last performed at U of G’s Orientation Week in 2008. This year’s show will also feature DJ/drummer duo Crash Dex.

Always looking for new projects, Morgan plans to find new ways of making music profitable for artists. “We’re looking to develop things like product placement and corporate partnerships where an artist can still make a living from music even though the music is being made available for free.”