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The 6 Explained: The Story Behind Toronto's Nickname
Have you ever wondered why Toronto is called “the 6?” While Toronto has had many nicknames through the years, none of them have seemed to have the same impact as the 6. The nickname has left Toronto and even Canadian borders.
Now, there are people from all over the world who know Toronto as the 6. Despite the name’s popularity, many people would be hard-pressed to explain why Toronto is called the 6, much less its origins.
If you’ve ever asked yourself how Toronto got its most famous nickname, keep on reading to find out!
Why is Toronto Called the 6?
“The six” refers to the official area code for the city of Toronto, i.e. 416. The second most popular explanation is that it came from the six municipalities that made up Metro Toronto before it was amalgamated in 1998. The nickname was popularized by Drake.
Drake famously told Jimmy Fallon that he was debating on calling it the 4, but later decided on the 6ix because it “just sounds cooler”.
The term has been adopted by other Toronto-based artists such as The Weeknd and PartyNextDoor, and has become a staple in Toronto hip-hop culture. While some people have criticized the term for being exclusionary, others argue that it’s a clever way to rebrand the city and promote Toronto artists on a global stage.
When The 6ix became a popular nickname for Toronto, people from all over the world, funnily enough, including Toronto, didn’t know what the term meant, much less its origins. According to CBC News in 2019, “Why is Toronto called the 6ix?” was one of the most searched questions on Google in the country.
Before the 6ix
Before the “6ix,” Toronto was well-known by Canadians as “T Dot.” The term was introduced by the Toronto-born Rapper, Kardinal Offishall. In his song, “The Anthem,” Kardinal Offishall proclaimed that he was “from the T Dot.”
The city has also adopted other nicknames Including The Big Smoke, T.O, and baby New York, but in 2015 Toronto gained a brand new, perhaps its most famous nickname.
Shoutout to the 6ix God Himself
In 2015, the term “the 6ix” was introduced to the world’s vocabulary by Drake, another Toronto-born rapper. On his 2015 album, “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late,” Drake has a song called “6 God”. The self-proclaimed “6 God” is probably one of Toronto’s most famous imports and unsurprisingly, he has fervent fans in his hometown.
Just by calling Toronto the 6ix, Drake introduced the term to countless people. Arguably, Drake put Toronto, or rather the 6ix, on the map, but this was just the beginning.
The popularity of this nickname would only skyrocket in April of 2016. It was during this time the rapper released his album titled “Views From the 6.” The album did well commercially, selling millions of album-equivalent units.
It was even number one on the US Billboard 200. “Summer 16” was a big year for Drake and Toronto as a result. Quickly after that, people started adopting Toronto’s new moniker. Although the title of the album was later shortened to simply “Views,” the nickname stuck.
Who Created the 6ix?
Who exactly coined the term, the 6ix, has been hotly debated for years. Because Drake popularized the nickname, many are quick to assume he created it. The truth is, no he did not. That honour belongs to Jimmy Prime and Oliver North.
In an interview with Nardwuard, the rapper admitted that he did not coin Toronto’s nickname as many Torontonians assume. Local Toronto rappers, Jimmy Prime and Oliver North were the actual creators of the term.
Drake said, “Oliver and Jimmy were brainstorming about something and they had come up with the title together, Views from the 6, and I had asked Oliver if I could use the title because I really liked the title,” Drake said. “Oliver had come up with it but yeah, I give all the credit to Jimmy. He was definitely part of that process, finding the right title for the album, and obviously, that title birthed a whole movement for the city.”
How Popular is the 6ix Nickname?
People from Toronto widely underestimate just how popular the 6ix name is. Many other artists like Loud Luxury have followed in Drake’s footsteps, mentioning the 6ix in their music. And businesses all over the city have proudly included the 6ix as part of their name.
In 2017, Loud Luxury, the Canadian music production and DJ duo released the song “Body.” The song included “the six” in its lyrics referring to Toronto. It was also the duo’s “breakthrough hit” and hit the top 10 in many countries. Making the 6ix term one more time known all over the world through the music industry.
Take a walk along Toronto streets and you will see restaurants and bars with 6ix in their name. Businesses like 6ix Pizza, 6ix Fried Chicken, and 6ix Donuts are odes to Toronto and its newest nickname.
“The 6ix” has officially become the most popular nickname for Toronto, and it’s a term that is here to stay.
In 2022, Drake cemented his status as one of the biggest artists in the world. Since “Views,” he has released 3 albums and he is as popular as ever. When an artist as big as Drake says Toronto is the 6ix, people will listen.
Despite popular belief, Drake did not create the 6ix, but he surely popularized it. Today, people from all over the world know Toronto as the 6ix and we have Drake to thank for that.