Local Musician Collaborates with The Rascalz to Raise Awareness for Parkinson’s Disease

April 8, 2024

Parsa G. Shiran, a.k.a. Legacy, The Producer, is a senior medical student at UBC and a hip-hop and afrobeat producer from Burnaby, B.C.  For his debut musical project, he’s partnered with Parkinson Society British Columbia for a music series to raise awareness and proceeds for Parkinson’s Disease, in honour of his grandfather who passed away from Parkinson’s Disease. As part of the project, Legacy will be repurposing a series of mid-2000s Canadian hip-hop classics that he grew up watching on MuchVibe, in collaboration with DJ Kemo of The Rascalz; it’s an instrumental project, releasing Wednesday April 10. We chatted with Legacy to learn more. —Vita Daily

Can you tell us more about your decision to partner with Parkinson Society British Columbia for your debut musical project? How did your personal connection to Parkinson’s Disease influence this choice?

I think to fully understand the extent of the connection and decision I’ve got to tell the whole story. I picked up producing 2 years ago during my second year of medical school. Every student has to do a research project of their choosing, and at the time I was fascinated with this newfound passion. So I decided to do a literature review in the realm of ‘Art in Medicine’, investigating how music can impact the patient experience. It was around this time I find out my grandfather on my mom’s side had passed away of Parkinson’s Disease. He passed before I was born, so all I knew of him were pictures and memories. I remembered hearing a couple stories about him from my eldest aunt about fending off wolves, and defending his family from attackers. He was a monster of a man at 6’8”, 320 pounds. But there was also this story of him jokingly dancing for the entire family to belly dance music. I remembered having a fleeting idea to look into Music Therapy & Dance Therapy as Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. I pivoted my research project, and the literature review was incredibly favourable for these two treatment methods to be the two most effective. I call the culmination of discovering music, understanding my grandfather’s experience with Parkinson’s Disease, and conducting a research project into dance & music therapy as treatment with favourable results, together as ‘Alignment’. 

This entire project is in honour of my grandfather. I think he would want me to do my part in helping those currently living with Parkinson’s Disease. Towards the end of his life, my mom was his caretaker for 5 years or so. This condition impacts the entire family. I want to bring as much awareness and fundraising to support the Parkinson’s effort as I possibly can. There currently is no cure. The Parkinson’s Society of British Columbia is a charitable foundation that helps those living with Parkinson’s on a grassroots level through various support groups for the individuals and their families, as well as advocating for and supporting neurosurgery treatments & further research to identify a cure.

Here is the PSBC’s most recent annual report for those that are interested in supporting and want to know more. Much Love. 

Your project involves repurposing mid-2000s Canadian hip-hop classics. What made you choose this particular era and genre for your debut project?

This project is tapping into that nostalgia of watching Much Vibe as a kid, and connecting to what I see as the golden age of Canadian hip-hop. This is a tribute to them. It’s a tribute to what was such an important part of my childhood. And since it’s my debut project, I feel it’s only right to pay respect to those that paved the way for current Canadian hip-hop acts like myself. They laid the foundation for what you see today. 

Collaboration seems to be a significant aspect of your project, particularly with DJ Kemo of The Rascalz. How did this collaboration come about, and what role does collaboration play in your creative process?

I met DJ Kemo through a mutual friend. Shoutout to my old basketball coach, AG. I still remember Kemo assuming I was too young to know of The Rascalz, haha. We started working together, and he soon became a mentor and friend. He was there to bounce ideas off of and work with from start to finish of this project. When I brought a song I wanted to sample or had already worked on a bit, he had stories about each artist or unique DJ stems of their songs. He was there to provide constructive feedback from inception to mix to master, and even cover art. Credit due, Kemo mastered this entire project, and my boy Mdknght assisted in the mixing. Generally speaking, collaboration is key to busting open the limits of your creativity, growing beyond expectations, and ultimately achieving the best end result possible. Now, the key to collaboration is the relationship. I want to create with people I genuinely connect with. 

Could you share some insights into how you’ve approached repurposing these classic tracks while paying tribute to the original artists? What challenges did you face in putting your own spin on these songs?

To start, the song selection has its own process when it comes to a thematic project like this. It’s gotta be something I genuinely enjoyed listening to and watching the music video of as a kid. It’s gotta have certain segments that you hear and instantly recognize, and these segments have to eventually sound good when I repurpose them to modern hip-hop. So when I’m listening, my ears may perk up to the part of the song I identify as the reason why people love the song so much in the first place. I listen to my gut. Why do I love this song so much?

The challenges are there for sure, haha. You’ve got to somehow utilize identifiable components of the original song, put your own unique and authentic spin on it, and make sure it’s a dope beat at the end of the day. It can’t be too close to the original, and it can’t be too far off. My goal is, if the listener recognizes the sample and can’t put their finger on it, they recognize the feeling they initially felt from hearing the original. Ideally, the listener that can’t put their finger on it, the listener that knows the sample, and the listener that has never heard the sample – all 3 of them find my beat dope. 

Your project is instrumental, which is somewhat unconventional for hip-hop and afrobeat music. What led you to this decision, and how do you believe it enhances the listener’s experience?

I think instrumental music can inspire the listener to dive into a mood or storyline of sorts all on their own, without being told what’s going on. It can inspire the artist listening to freestyle their singing or rapping. 

But to be perfectly honest, I do want to collaborate with artists after this project. A hip-hop beat can feel incomplete without some vocals on it. I want something of substance to be said that is in line with the feeling that my beat lays as a foundation of energy. I think the main factor in this particular decision is simply that this is delicate. I’m paying respect and tribute to legends. If I’m gonna have artists on these beats specifically, they’ll need to step up to the standard of tribute I want to deliver. I haven’t met these artists yet. 

As a senior medical student, how do you balance your academic pursuits with your passion for music production? Have you found any intersections between your studies and your musical endeavors?

It’s not easy, and it’s definitely not for everybody. It requires a lot of prioritization. My primary purpose in life is to heal, so medicine will always come first. Music is my ‘me time’. To do both, it requires focus management, on top of time management. I’m not wasting time in the library, I’m efficient. It requires sacrifice, I’m not spending time with people unless I’m truly trying to build with them. Understanding the stages of your life is critical. I utilized any spare time I had throughout the last two years of medical school to develop my craft, find my sound, and build a catalog. I understand that consistency is key to building a platform or career in music. So I have over 50 songs, multiple projects, and tons of media assets ready so I can consistently release projects throughout residency, which is the next stage of my medical career, and also the most important. 

When it comes to intersections, truthfully, I’d prefer to keep the two worlds compartmentalized. Outside of this project, and potential future opportunities to spread awareness with my music if it feels right, I want my music to be dope for what it is. I can be a great physician, and I can be a great producer, without the two necessarily overlapping. & the last thing I’m gonna be is gimmicky or cringy.

Beyond raising awareness and funds for Parkinson’s Disease, what broader message or impact do you hope your music will have on listeners?

Maaan. In addition to appreciating sample-based production, I hope listeners can truly appreciate that era of Canadian hip-hop. That was golden. I miss it. It was ours. Much Vibe, RapCity, Nardwuar, Much Music Headquarters, HMV. 

To the artists, I hope it encourages thematic projects that truly mean something to you. We need more authentic and meaningful music. We want to hear the real you. 

To the producers, I hope it encourages you to be the artist from time to time. Release an instrumental. Drop a beat tape. Fully express yourself, whether or not the artists are along for the ride. 

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for your musical career, both in terms of future projects and personal growth as an artist?

I’ve got some heat in the vault. Billboard-charting kind of heat. And I aspire to work with some of the artists I love listening to. I’ve got a different bag for each of Drake, J. Cole, Dave, Kanye, Future, Jack Harlow, Burna Boy, WizKid, Davido, to name a few. There are a few producers I hope to collaborate with as well: Boi1da, T-minus, OZ, Timbo, Metro, Havoc, and more. But until I gain the network or connection to the artists I want on these beats, I’m happy to continue building my own brand. Down the line, I expect myself to fully produce and release singles & full length projects with notable artists as the features, similarly to what Metro Boomin has done so well. 

As for personal growth as an artist, I’m finding myself getting reallyyy good at ‘setting the scene’ with compositions that have you feel an emotion. It could be nostalgic introspection, a feeling of back-against-the-wall deep ambition, a feeling of bliss after a life changing event, or really any emotion that is felt through a real world scenario or circumstance. When I paint this scene, and the artist I’m collaborating with feels what I’m transmitting, the end product is perfectly aligned for the listener to consume. That’s the stuff that hits the soul.

I’ve also recently had success with the Afrobeats and Amapiano genres. I produced my first Amapiano track this past summer. I sourced tribal vocals from the Mandinka region of West Africa, and complemented them with beautiful saxophones and flutes. It hits the spirit. I had a spiritual and artistic breakthrough with this one, and envisioned it complementing a Lion King scene with Simba, and a FIFA video game loading screen, and an NBA Finals commercial with Giannis. A few days later, I got an ad on instagram for the Vancouver International Film Festival’s Sync program, where you get a week of learning about Sync licensing and get to network to potentially get your music into feature films and video games. I was one of 60 to get accepted from like 250 international applicants, and attended the event this past October with some incredibly talented, traditionally trained composers. I got to meet and connect with the director of music at EA Games, and the music supervisors in charge of some of my favourite feature films (Disney, Marvel, The Mask, The Bodyguard, Menace II Society, Straight Outta Compton). Another instance of alignment. There’s something there.


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