OPTIKZ IS A RAPPER, SINGER, SONGWRITER, MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATE 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 hope, courage, inspiration and honest, raw reflections of trauma and healing.
Born in 1983 in Cairns, Queensland, Australia, Darren Piper (Optikz) and his family moved to Guelph, Ontario, Canada in 1990. As a young teen he struggled to figure out where he fit in and found acceptance and connection in the skateboarding, partying and hip hop communities. A severe skateboard injury to his right ankle, along with a lower spine disorder, forced him to have two major reconstructive surgeries and put the brakes on his dreams of a 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, released the single “Message In A Bottle” produced by LYVE and he 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" at The Aud in Kitchener. Then in 2007 he released the single “Rise Up” produced by and featuring JUNO AWARD winning producer MARCUS KANE.
His career and fan base kept growing with the release of his second independent, underground full-length album, FOCUSIN featuring the singles “Coming From The Cold” produced by JUNO AWARD winning rap artist and producer CLASSIFIED, "We Rock The Mic" featuring JUNO AWARD nominee and GMA DOVE AWARD winner MANAFEST, "Break" which the music video for debuted on MUCH MUSIC and stayed in rotation for several months in 2007, 2008 and "Lets Stay Together" that went number 1 for 7 weeks straight on Galaxie Satellite Radio Max Trax The Beat in 2008. He went on to be one of the winners of another top-40 radio contest: the B101 fm “BASEMENT TAPES” Contest. He opened for JUNO AWARD winner K'NAAN, ELEPHANT MAN and GRAMMY AWARD winner Nas 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 mental, emotional, physical, religious and
sibling sexual abuse resulting in a myriad of mental health challenges including depression, anxiety and complex post traumatic stress disorder among others and though he found hip hop music as a place to escape, alcohol, drugs and other addictions became his main means of masking all of the pain. Eventually, through drug and alcohol detox, rehab treatment, recovery programs, 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, DMX, JUSTIN BIEBER, NELLY FURTADO and others has given Optikz newfound inspiration and he feels he’s finally in the right place.
The teenaged Darren Piper adopted the moniker “Optikz” because before he started to rap he had a natural gifting as a visual artist with drawing, painting, graphic design and 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 wants to bring music with honest, raw reflections of trauma alongside hope and healing, with his newly-released songs “Love the Child in Me”, “So Long Goodbye”, "Dark" and more. As Optikz says:
“If I had heard a song like "Love The Child In Me'" back when I was 15, that would've changed the course of my life. That's the idea behind most of the songs I am writing for my official debut studio extended play 'The Optikz EP'.