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Monday, June 14, 2010

Can American based hip-hop define itself north of the border in Canada?


Canadian Hip Hop has been under a sort of Canadian apartheid when it comes to the genre of Rap Music; it's infancy had seen more struggles then it would have liked to endure. Toronto above all I would argue has been the Mecca of Canadian Hip Hop exporting personalities that have tried to live up to affable expectations.

Michie Mee

At various points along the way, it seemed as if certain artists were being groomed for a mainstream career of Drake proportions; but like watching the Toronto Raptors lose in a playoff run, our chance would never quite happen as many would have expected it to. So, I thought I'd take the liberty of trying to show my viewers some of the many attempts on the part of Canadian Hip Hop to break from the meager status of not being known.

Maestro Fresh Wes

1) - MCJ and Cool G

The first Canadian rappers to get a full-fledged major record company push, straight outta Halifax. Their label Capitol Records was flush with the success of MC Hammer at the time and they were to be the Canadian counter-part (Didn't quite work that way). And you can always tell that the people at some of these label's don't know what there talking about; they branded this group “Double R&B” — which was to stand for rap, rhythm and blues. MCJ was the rapper, Cool G was the singer.

2) - Kish

Kish whose name is Andrew Kishino (was often mistaken for a white rapper) but he's actually of Japanese descent — and now has a career in Hollywood doing voices for animation, video games, and commercials (definitely the smarter route to take in today's fledgling world of music sales). At the time of his Canadian debut he was a Canadian pop star, product of A&M Records and his most memorable work/album was called 'Order From Chaos'.

3) - Organized Rhyme

This group had four minutes of real fame when they came out with a video called "Check the O.R". Just 3 guys from Canada's capital city (Ottawa) who took a pilgrimage to a Toronto neighborhood called Jane and Finch, to win over the more urban natives. The group disbanded and the O.R.’s DJ went back to his native Ottawa to work in Computers.

4) - TBTBT (Too Bad to Be True)

TBTBT was the Canadian counter-part to American similarities, groups like ABC and Kris Kross, a fusion of singing and rapping that was seam stressed together by Warner Bros and rap label Cold Chillin’ Records which was centered around legendary producer Marley Marl. This group is another example of how American conglomerates came north of the border seeking talent but would undoubtedly string them through the machine of one hit wonderment. There music played to some fan-fare in the UK and got commercial air-play in Canada for their one hit "One Track Mind" which won them a Juno-Award. When I think of this young group I am reminded of just how easily one can come to success in this music business, and yet elusively it can still be so far away.

One of it's members, a singer named Brother J is currently working on newer material and his musical resurgence is being constructed in the weeks and months to come via our management company (I AM IN DEMAND MANAGEMENT).

5) - Dream Warriors

Dream Warriors consisted of King Lou, Capital Q and Spek — they were part of that Island Records machine in the U.K and I remember them having a a good momentum for a time, TV and Radio blasted there tunes for a few years but something got lost along the way, the formula didn't seem to work and now one of the group's members (Spek) currently resides in Dubai. It's just funny how you can have this popping career one day and the next day your fishing somewhere in some remote country lol.

6) - Ghetto Concept

Ghetto Concept was a crew from Rexdale (Toronto) and they were one of the dopest to me; and among the few whose sound that I liked from Canada. Anything would have been hard to break out in an era dominated by Rap Groups like Wu Tang Clan at the time, and this group was marred by it's own obstacles and hardships that impeded their progress. Once again, it was like a star that couldn't quite rise above the horizon. The video below entitled “Krazy World” provides a fantastic time capsule of what mid-’90s Toronto rap felt and looked like. I wished these guys blew the fuck up...

7) - Choclair

Choclair: The artist born in Scarborough as Kareem Blake was the golden boy when his album Ice Cold sold 50,000 copies in November 1999 via Virgin Music Canada, and an American deal with Priority Records earned him a coveted endorsement from rap mogul Master P. Kardinal Offishall is arguably the more famous of the crew given his more recent successes with Akon but no one can deny that Choclair garnered attention for Canada from many American counterparts and continues to work on his craft.

8) - Grimace Love

Toronto MC Grimace Love, aka. the General of the legendary Monolith crew. This MC is a personal mentor of Hip Hop History to me and he's someone I'm currently working closely with. His history in the rap game is well documented and his craft is continuous and still relevant (to me). As far as rap acts go these days this artist isn't fading into obscurity marred by troubles and tribulations.

Grimace says: "I remember back in the day, you could count the good rhymers on your hands. Today, I hear about sick cats all the time, young cats, older cats from all across the GTA. So definitely, the artist base and the skill base is on the rise. Artists have also taken it upon themselves to get their business skills in check. Instead of waiting for labels to find them they started there own. All big changes over the years."

In that same vein...he hismelf has started a label called Whole Wheat Brothers Music of which I am a part, and this is his newest video out to date entitled "Grimstone"

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