Vernon’s SonReal, centre, and TassNata, right, are heading to Toronto June 18 to walk the red carpet for the Much Music Video Awards. TassNata was nominated for Hip Hop Video of the Year, while SonReal was nominated for Pop Video of the Year. (Photo submitted)

Vernon musicians make a splash at MMVAs

Vernon’s TassNata and SonReal are working hard to put the Okanagan on the hip hop radar

The North Okanagan is associated with a variety of hobbies and all things outdoors. Rarely, though, is it associated with Canada’s hip-hop scene.

But Vernon’s TassNata (Justin Nerling) and SonReal (Aaron Hoffman) are working hard to put the Okanagan on the radar.

TassNata was nominated May 19 for 2017 iHeartRadio Much Music Video Award (MMVA) for Hip Hop Video of the Year for his 2016 release Let’s Go, featuring Toronto’s Juno winners Rich Kidd and Tona, while SonReal, who now lives in Los Angeles, was nominated for Pop Video of the Year for his track No Warm Up.

“It feels good,” says TassNata. “It’s something as kids that we always wanted to be on Much Music. To finally be nominated is a good feeling.”

Although he attended the MMVA ceremony as a guest of Rich Kidd and Tona last year, “It’s way cooler to do it yourself,” says TassNata.

While he is excited to walk the red carpet, TassNata believes his nomination will be influential in the Vernon music scene.

“There are a lot of younger kids that are in to hip hop,” he says. “When I was younger, it would have been cool to see locals on Much Music. I hope that it shows kids that you can get on, you just have to work really hard.”

However, being from a town with a smaller hip hop scene has its benefits.

“It was hard because we don’t have all of the resources, we just grew up recording at home,” TassNata says, adding that the lack of resources forces recording artists who are starting out to learn how to do everything, from production to recording, on their own.

“Back then, (SonReal and I) were the only guys rapping. Friends would say, ‘they’re so good.’ They were lying, of course,” he laughs.

TassNata’s video, produced by multi-Grammy nominee Tone Mason, has accumulated more than a million plays through its exclusive Facebook release. The track has also been played at Toronto Raptors games and throughout the 2016 World Junior Hockey Championships.

The two Vernon-born recording artists are the only B.C. artists who will walk the red carpet June 18 for the MMVAs.

“The fact that we’re both from Vernon is crazy.”