Growing up in the war-torn streets of Lebanon is not your average upbringing. For Scarborough rapper and entrepreneur Noree “Strizzy Kastro” Remo, nothing has been ordinary or come easy.
Now as he prepares to release his first major single (featuring Juno award-winning Canadian artist, Belly) in late February, Kastro thinks back to the experiences and events that brought him to where he is today.
“Growing up for me wasn’t your ordinary childhood. It involved a lot of violence including wars in Lebanon to shootings in my neighbourhood,” Kastro said. “I don’t remember half the cartoon shows that the people around me talk about.”
Kastro, 21, uses his unique background and the events from his checkered past to fuel his drive to make music that hits hard and is relevant to the residents of Scarborough.
“If it weren’t for the experiences I went through, I wouldn’t be doing music, period,” Kastro said. At the end of the day doing music may seem fun, but when I write those words on that paper, it helps me contain all the hardships I had from the past.”
In 2009 Kastro was featured on the cover of Volume 5 of the Toronto hip-hop DVD King of the City, and he is again slated to be on the cover of Volume 6, which comes out in March. He has also released numerous songs and videos on YouTube under the alias “Strizzy Kastro,” and recently collaborated on a mix tape song with well-known underground Toronto hip-hop artist, Mayhem Morearty.
“(My music) is a way to release my frustration in a positive way. Some people might say I glorify violence, but really I’m just like a news reporter, except it’s my news, my life and my thoughts,” Kastro said.
Born in Lebanon, Kastro moved to the Chester Le housing projects in Scarborough when he was nine-years-old. Since then he has moved all around Scarborough and still resides there today. He has recently founded Money Up Front (MUF), an entertainment business and record label for aspiring talent in Scarborough.
“We don’t have a real (music) industry, so we have to create one on our own,” said Kastro of starting MUF. “Singers, rappers, photographers, models, video directors, you name it, we got it.”
Kastro encourages the youth in Scarborough to stay focused on the important things in life and to never lose sight of their goals.
“Aim high in life. Every choice you make now affects your future,” Kastro said. “Be committed to your education.”
But he warns that things are not always so easy, dreams alone don’t pay the bills.
“I’m still having the same problems as if I wasn’t a musician,” Kastro said. “I gotta make sure everything is organized and ready to go if I need anything while I’m focusing on my (music) career. I’ll achieve it the same way I have been achieving things now: principles.”