OPTIKZ IS A RAPPER, SINGER, SONGWRITER, MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATE, ACTIVIST AND ENTREPRENEUR.
The journey of rapper, singer, songwriter Optikz, once littered with unresolved childhood trauma, multiple addictions and mental, emotional and physical health issues is now paved with songs of healing, hope, courage and inspiration.
Born in 1983 in Cairns, Queensland, Australia, Darren Piper (Optikz) and his family moved to Guelph, Ontario, Canada in 1990. As a teen he struggled to feel safe and secure: at home, an abusive and dysfunctional religious family environment; a shame-based church community; and at high school. He found acceptance, connection and respect in the skateboarding, breakdancing and hip hop communities. A severe skateboard injury to his ankle, along with a lower spine disorder, forced him to have two major reconstructive surgeries and put the brakes on his promising skateboarding career. As he recuperated, he found solace in hip hop music and by the time he was 18, he’d joined and help build the rap group RCR and was featured on the group’s first and only release, Royal City Records Presents RCR. The group performed several shows in South-Western Ontario and in 2001 they opened for rap group THE RASCALZ at the "RELOADED" Tour in Guelph.
Optikz continued to quickly develop his talent for rhyming, singing and songwriting participating in local rhyme cyphers, hip hop open mic events and freestyle battles against other local emcees. In his early 20s he left RCR to go solo, releasing AREA FIFTY ONE NINE COVERT OPS, his first independent, underground full-length solo album. 2006 turned into a watershed year as Optikz graduated from Seneca College’s Independent Music Production program, won the Magic 106.1 “ROYAL CITY SINGS” contest and was one of four winners of the 91.5 The Beat “RHYTHM OF THE FUTURE TALENT SEARCH” contest. He also opened for SNOW, K-OS and JELLESTONE at the 91.5 The Beat “HIPHOPTOBERFEST and released the single “Rise Up” produced by and featuring MARCUS KANE.
His career and fan base kept growing with the release of his second independent, underground full-length album, FOCUSIN featuring the single “Coming from the Cold” (produced by CLASSIFIED). He went on to be one of the winners of another top-40 radio contest: the B101 fm “BASEMENT TAPES” Contest. He opened for NAS, KNAAN and ELEPHANT MAN at the “HIP HOP IS DEAD" Tour at Kitchener's "Centre In The Square" and for JD ERA and BISHOP BRIGANTE at the "WELCOME TO G-TOWN" Urban showcase in Guelph. He capped off the decade of growth and creativity with the release of his third independent album, DESTINY, in 2011. He continued developing his writing skills, composing commercial theme songs and jingles for a variety of clients including the national retailer MARK’S, Vegehut Bakery Ltd., the GUELPH GRYPHONS and ARCH Aids Resources and Community Health.
Although he was gaining recognition and accolades as a rap artist, Optikz struggled with, unresolved childhood trauma from emotional, psychological, physical, religious and sibling sexual abuse. Although he found hip hop music as a place to vent his rage, despair, hopelessness, overwhelming sadness, frustration and confusion, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and multiple other addictions became his main means of escape. Eventually, through drug and alcohol detox, rehab treatment, recovery programs, counselling, therapy and a spirituality that works for him, Optikz found himself on the road to recovery.
His continuing journey of recovery has led to a wellspring of creativity and inspiration resulting in a new direction in his music career. He made the decision to create all of his new songs within the walls of METALWORKS STUDIOS, rated Canada's Best Recording Studio an unprecedented 17 years in a row at the CANADIAN MUSIC WEEK AWARDS . Working in the same studios that have seen artists like DRAKE, JUSTIN BIEBER, NELLY FURTADO and others, has given Optikz a newfound confidence. He feels he’s finally in the right place and it’s only a matter of time before his new songs begin to make waves and gain widespread notice.
The teenaged Darren Piper adopted the moniker “Optikz” because the word “optics” means the study of light and vision and the positive angle on life that it cast. Even in his darkest times, he tried to bring light into the situation. Now, with a renewed vision, he hopes to bring the message of courage and healing to others through his newly-released song “Love the Child in Me,” and his works in progress “So Long Goodbye”, “My Own Lane” and more. As Optikz says:
“If I had heard a song like "love The Child In Me" back when I was 15, that could have changed the whole course of my life. That’s the idea behind a lot of the songs I am writing for what will be my official DEBUT STUDIO EXTENDED PLAY.”