Thursday, December 30, 2010

LIVE VIDEOS : Joel Plaskett at St. Ann's Auditorium

Joel Plaskett at the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver back in 2009.
Halifax singer-songwriter/rocker Joel Plaskett played a one-off show on December 28 2010 in Victoria while he's on the west coast visiting extended family. The sold out 200 person audience in the quaint, lovely little St. Ann's Auditorium were treated to solo guitar (or $5 keyboard) renditions of material from his solo career, songs with the Emergency as well as oldies from the defunct Thrush Hermit. Plaskett played two separate sets and was called back out for 2 encores, taking many requests from the audience, as well as calling the seated crowd to its feet in joining his karaoke sing-along to hit "Fashionable People."

Below are 5 videos from that night. Although the video quality suffers from the dim lighting in the room (no spotlights!), the audio is crystal clear. I hope you enjoy the three new songs from Plaskett, and two "oldies"-- "Non-Believer," one of my favourites, and "Before You Leave" from the Hermit days.

The Island Girls and the Harbour Boys (New)

I'm Yours (New)

Absentminded Melody, transitioning into For Your Consideration (New)


Before You Leave (Thrush Hermit)

NEW ALBUM : Mother Mother - EUREKA

Vancouver's Mother Mother announced that their third full length album, EUREKA (Last Gang Records) will hit stores March 15, 2011 worldwide. Tour dates to follow and will be announced soon. In the meantime, here is the track listing for EUREKA:

1) Chasing It Down
2) The Stand - streaming now at!
3) Baby Don't Dance
4) Original Spin
5) Born In A Flash
6) Simply Simple
7) Problems
8) Aspiring Fires
9) Getaway
10) Far In Time
11) Oleander
12) Calm Me Down

Here's Mother Mother performing one of those new tracks "Simply Simple" on CBC Radio Q during the Olympics in February:

Diamonds in the Rough : Headwater, Harlen Pepper, Tariq and more

CBC Radio 3 has recently launched a recurring playlist challenge, the "ehList," which switches themes every week. For the past week, the challenge was to create a "diamonds in the rough" playlist, which would recommend undiscovered or underplayed artists to the staff at Radio 3. Naturally, I compiled a list of a few artists who have piqued my interest. Some old, some new, some borrowed, some blue. Although I haven't been able to devote blog time to many of these artists, I hope to remedy that now... Take a listen and let me know what you think!

Here's one of those artists, Headwater, whom I had the pleasure of catching outside on the CBC Vancouver Plaza on a bright summer day. So pretty much the opposite of what the weather is likely to be at your part of the country. Hope this helps make your day a bit warmer!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Track of the Day : Shimmering Stars

Shimmering Stars is a Vancouver 4-piece that plays dreamy, harmony-laden pop. The low production quality gives their singles a distant quality, as if you were overhearing a band practice next door. I recently had the pleasure of recording a Track of the Day over at CBC Radio 3, featuring their song "Sun's Going Down." You can download that over at Radio 3.

Shimmering Stars cite as their influences, amongst other things, "Bo Diddley, anti-socialness and anxiety issues." You can read an interview with singer/guitarist Rory McClure, along with a free download, over at The Line of Best Fit. If you like what you hear, their EP East Van Girls/Believe is available on iTunes. A full-length album is in the works for 2011 as well.

Shimmering Stars - I'm Gonna Try from Salazar on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Best of 2010 : Top 10 Albums

2010 had seen the release of many great albums by both long time veterans, as well as relative newcomers. With all that being said, the cream floats to the top, and certain albums stand out as definitive, both musically and personally. Some end up drilling into your mind and taking residence there, informing and adding colour to your life. Below are those albums for me in the past year. I'd love to hear what yours were as well!

Without further ado, my top 10 earbud companions for 2010. Links to reviews and details when available:

Honourable mention:
Yukon Blonde - Self-titled;
Jamie Lidell - Compass;
Jason Collett - Rat a Tat Tat.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Best of 2010 : Top 10 Live Shows

2010 was amazing for live music in Vancouver, most notably due to the Olympic games and its twin component the Cultural Olympiad in the earlier part of the year. With all that being said, the cream floats to the top, and certain shows stand out as definitive. There's always those few shows that you mention over and over to friends, those "and when so-and-so did this... I FREAKED OUT!" moments that you can't help but relive. Below are those shows for me in the past year. I'd love to hear what yours were as well!

This past year, I had the pleasure of seeing several Vancouver-based artists several times, including Hannah Georgas, Said the Whale, We Are the City, Aidan Knight, and Dan Mangan. I was fortunate enough to cover the Vancouver Folk Music Festival once again, as well as play witness to the first rendition of the Live at Squamish Festival. For the full list of shows I had attended, you can check out my concert listings.

Without further ado... the top 10 ticket stubs of 2010. Links to original reviews or photos when available.

photo: Skot Nelson

#4: Diamond Rings at Biltmore Cabaret- November 20

#3: Mumford and Sons at the Vogue - October 23

Honourable mentions:
Library Voices, Paper Lions & Bend Sinister at UBC Pit Pub, Oct 29;
The Malahat Revue (Hannah Georgas, Jeremy Fisher, Aidan Knight, Said the Whale) at Vancouver Folk Music Festival, July 18;
Hannah Georgas w/ Colleen Brown at Venue Nightclub - May 22;
Jamie Lidell at Venue Nightclub, June 14.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

LIVE VIDEO : new songs by Joel Plaskett Emergency

Joel Plaskett Emergency (photo: Brenda Lee)

That's what I like to see! Joel Plaskett Emergency played to a hometown crowd at Halifax's The Seahorse on December 17. My friends over at The Broken Speaker caught a video of him mentioning that the band has been churning out new material for their 3 night stint, before busting into a mandolin-led song possibly named "Lethal Weapon." True to form, JP returns to ol' faithful electric guitar to deliver a noodling solo before the song wraps up.

*** Update: There's more than one new song! The other videos, also put up by Broken Speaker, are tentatively named "I'm Only Happy When I'm Sad" and "I'm Yours." Videos below.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Canadian Hip-Hop: A Bright New Day (Pt. VI)

Welcome to PART 6, the home stretch of Canadian Hip-Hop: A Bright New Day. This Special Feature originated as my final research paper for the World Pop Music class at UBC.

Don't forget to check out:
Part I: Canadian music context, research sources
Part II: influences on Canadian hip hop, especially from our neighbours to the South
Part III: history of Canadian hip hop as well as the 4 major styles
Part IV: the frustrations and roadblocks that rap artists face and how they've adapted.
Part V: explorations in Aboriginal and francophone rap.
There's also a corresponding playlist to go along with the feature, which you can listen to here on CBC Radio 3.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think by leaving a comment!

International influence of Canadian hip hop

Drake (photo:
Kulawick’s words, that the next big step for Canadian hip hop scene is “to break a Canadian hip-hop act in America," have been prophetic, as the mega success of two Canadian hip hop artists have directed international attention on their home nation (qtd. in Krewen). As Maestro Fresh Wes states in an interview, there’s finally a “light at the end of the tunnel... [though it’s been] a long ass tunnel” (National Post Staff). National Post has recently declared it the “golden age” of Canadian hip hop, as signified by the meteoric rise of rappers Drake and K’naan (Medley). Aubrey “Drake” Graham is a 24-year-old Toronto rapper, whose 2010 album Thank Me Later sold 447,000 records in its first week, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard 200 (“Drake (Entertainer)”). After starting his acting career in 2001, Graham began rapping in 2006, releasing several mix tapes and an EP. His music tends to lean heavily in the “party rap” style, often addressing specific girls and his feelings for them. Drake’s music caught the ears of major players in the American rap scene, including Kanye West and Eminem, leading to collaborations and a bidding war by record labels. In April 2010, his EP won the Juno for Best Rap Recording, which is notable especially since at that time, Graham had yet to release a full-length (“Drake (Entertainer)”). In other words, Drake has cracked the border.

K'naan (photo:
The other notable Canadian rapper with international sway is K’naan, born Keinan Abdi Warsame. The style of K'naan’s music tends to be reality rap and jazz/bohemian rap, especially due to the focus of his music on his tumultuous childhood growing up in war-torn Somalia, as well as struggles with the educational system and law enforcement in North America. In his own words, he describes his style as “an outcome of my personal experiences, travels and musical tastes. It’s also born out of the struggles and beauties that I remember from our ancient culture” (qtd. in Mitchell and Pennycook 31). Musically, he lists the influences of African artists such as Youssou N’Dour, traditional Somali music and Ethiopian jazz (“K’naan”). On top of rapping, K’naan also plays the traditional African drum, djembe, and tours with a full live band (Mitchell and Pennycook 31). K’naan’s music gained international attention when the anthemic single “Wavin’ Flag” from his second album Troubadour was played prominently during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, as well as picked as the Coca-Cola anthem for the 2010 World Cup.

As a final, optimistic note wraps up this necessarily brief vignette on Canadian hip hop, Andrew DuBois comments in Medley’s piece for the National Post, declaring a bright new age for rappers up north:

The international and States-side success of K’naan and Drake is important for Canadian hip-hop not just because those two artists have finally ‘made it big’ elsewhere, but because their success will activate interest in what is already (and has been for some time) a diverse and genuinely robust national scene.
In that sense, even if K’naan and Drake are outliers in terms of market share and media attention, they do represent something about how Canada (not just in hip-hop, but indeed as a country) represents itself to the world — namely, their national and ethnic identities are mixed and culturally interesting. (Dubois, qtd. in Medley)

Indeed, the successes of Drake and K’naan stateside and worldwide illuminates a plain and simple truth, that although diverse and eclectic, the world is interested in whatever “Canadian hip hop” is, that there is a distinctive sound to our nation’s rap that is viable and desirable. In short, the world is listening.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas and holiday music galore : Free and for donation!

The copyright of this totally doesn't belong to me.
I have 8.1 hours worth of Christmas and holiday music on m hard drive as this blog post is being written, and a good chunk of that is free and by a lovely host of Canadian indie artists. So for you and your family's entertainment this holiday season, let me share with you some of these free holiday mix tapes, singles and albums fundraising for worthy causes. If you like the artists you hear, make sure to check out more of their music!

It is my hope to update this whenever free Christmas music becomes available. So please let me know if there is a link that I've missed, or if a download is no longer available!

Free compilations/albums

The Line of Best Fit has started a fine tradition of getting Canadian indie heavy hitters like Basia Bulat, Jason Collett and Great Lake Swimmers to cover some of their favourite Christmas songs along with some originals as well.

Download Ho! Ho! Ho! Canada
Download Ho! Ho! Ho! Canada Deux

Mental Beast got a all-Vancouver cast of musicians for their mixtape, named The Eggnog Experience, back in 2009. Artists include Lightning Dust, Apollo Ghosts, Brasstronaut, Analog Bell Service and much more.

Dan Moxon of Bend Sinister recorded an 8-track Christmas album with Jon Bunyan in 2006, complete with all the classics.

The Province Empty Stocking Fund Playlist, featuring 10 BC artists who donated their songs for the Empty Stocking Fund.

Free Singles

Hannah Georgas shared her lovely ditty "Christmas Touch" with me last year. Don't miss it!

Elephant Stone has two singles "Jingle Bells" and "A Hawaiian Holy Night" on their website for download.

Parlovr has two singles "I'm Santa" and "Spike the Eggnog" on their website for download.

Treelines covered "Little Drummer Boy," available for download from their Bandcamp page.

Said the Whale has their 2009 EP West Coast Christmas for download, at the cost of your email.

Library Voices w/ Julia McDougall - "Baby It's Christmas" (MP3, right click and save)

The Ruffled Feathers wrote you a letter and have "The Highest Mountain" for free download.

The Rural Alberta Advantage offer up "Little Drummer Boy," recorded live. (Via

Kellarissa is offering up a few traditional Finnish songs over at Mint Records.

Data Romance also covered "Little Drummer Boy." (via Line of Best Fit)

Fresh for 2010, Said the Whale has released 2 singles named "24 Days of Christmas" and "Brightest on My Street" for download.

Cadence Weapon covered "We Three Kings" back in 2006 for the CBC.

Ricardo Christoff Apparatus (Buck 65 & D-Sisive) do "The Night Before Christmas."

Charitable Compilations has recruited Canadian favourites such as Jill Barber, Jim Bryson and Old Man Luedecke for their annual themed Christmas compilations. All profits go toward Daily Bread Food Bank.

2009 - A Peanuts Christmas
2010 - A Country Blues Christmas

Jill Barber, Rose Cousins and Meaghan Smith teamed up to record A New Kind of Light back in 2007, which includes lovely originals alongside traditional favourites. They're three stellar artists and as you can imagine, the outcome is superb. Proceeds of this album goes toward food banks in the Maritimes. You can order the physical album here from Feed Nova Scotia.

Other Christmas Compilations

Prince Edward Island All Stars including Jenn Grant, Al Tuck, Paper Lions and Boxer the Horse cover their favourite Christmas tunes and contribute some original material as well.

Non-Canadian Free Singles/Albums

Beach House has "I Do Not Care for the Winter Sun" for download on their website.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Canadian Hip-Hop: A Bright New Day (Pt. V)

Welcome to PART 5 of Canadian Hip-Hop: A Bright New Day. This Special Feature originated as my final research paper for the World Pop Music class at UBC.

Don't forget to check out:
Part I: Canadian music context, research sources
Part II: influences on Canadian hip hop, especially from our neighbours to the South
Part IIIhistory of Canadian hip hop as well as the 4 major styles
Part IV: the frustrations and roadblocks that rap artists face and how they've adapted.
There's also a corresponding playlist to go along with the feature, which you can listen to here on CBC Radio 3.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think by leaving a comment!

Aboriginal Rap

Kinnie Starr (photo: press)
There are more than 1.3 million First Nations and M├ętis in Canada, out of the country's total population of 34 million (Sabourin). The aboriginal population faces similar environments as many of the ghettos in the US. Namely, Krims identifies high rates of unemployment and alcoholism, frequent segregation on reserves, family instability (particularly formed by the notorious history of “residential schools”), poor social services, institutional discrimination, and high rates of drug addiction and violent crimes in the First Nations population as endemic problems (181). Thus, it’s not surprising that aboriginal youth have embraced rap as a form of personal and political expression. In particular, the “realist rap” tradition, with a focus on storytelling and addressing the audience in the first person, is very popular.

Sabourin identifies Algonquin rapper Samian as the first to rap in his native language. Sonically, it may sound similar to mainstream rap, but the themes deal with mostly native issues. Krims speaks to Albertan Cree rapper Bannock in depth about the similarities that can be drawn between the Cree population and the black population (184-188). But the most successful and celebrated first nations hip hop artist is Kinnie Starr, who blends hip hop with alternative rock. She has been active since 1995, and since then she has won a Juno, collaborated with Cirque du Soleil, had her music appear in major TV series and signed to major US label (“Kinnie Starr”). Starr has a strong following because of her outspokenness on native issues, as well as her bisexuality.

Phelan notes in a piece for Wawatay News Online that "hip-hop sometimes has mixed messages of violence and hate but when you put it in an indigenous format it's much different. Then it's about sovereignty and self-determination." In order for this empowering music to reach receptive ears, however, it would have to be embraced by radio stations, as well as retail stores. Aboriginal rap often ends up in the "world music" section in the record stores (Sabourin). However, the independent music scene has taken note. On CBC Radio 3, the stream of CBC Radio that is focused on promoting Canadian independent music, there is a specialized podcast dedicated solely to First Nations music. Ab-Originals features hip hop in about 20 percent of their podcasts, named “Suzette Amaya's hip-hop, rap and urban picks!” Interestingly, hip hop seems to be better represented in this podcast series than in the remainder of CBC Radio 3’s programming, which speaks to the importance of hip hop in minority cultures within Canada (“Ab-Originals Podcast”).

French (Quebecois) hip-hop

Dubmatique (photo: Cyberpresse)
If Toronto, the densest populated city in Canada, is the capital of Canadian Anglophone rap, Montreal is the capital of Francophone rap, incorporating influences from both U.S. rap and French rap, and exemplifying the politicization of the French language (Chamberland 311). Hip hop was still in its nascent stages when Quebec started to develop legislation to ensure the survival of French as the dominant language (Low, Sarkar, and Winer 62). These language policies, as well as the Quebec region being the intersection between European (particularly French) hip hop and American hip hop influences, allowed Francophone rap to emerge. The first successful Quebecois hip hop group was Dubmatique, who’s been active since 1992. The two emcees originated from Senegal and Cameron, and their music draws from jazz and rhythm and blues styles (“Dubmatique”).

Nowhere else in Canada is the politicization of language more evident than Quebec. As rap music is inherently based around wordplay, Francophone hip hop artists found rap to be an effective outlet in challenging the norms of language- whether it’s English or French. Drawing from influences in African American Vernacular English (AAVE), Quebecois hip hop have pushed the French language to the limit and created several varieties of Quebec hip-hop vernaculars. Some of these vernaculars draw from Haitian French Creole, Jamaican English Creole, Spanish and Arabic on top of French and English, due to the cultural mix of immigrants (Low, Sarkar, and Winer 67).

In Part VI, the final part of this Special Feature, we'll wrap things up by looking at two popular Canadian hip hop artists - Drake and K'naan.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Support Vancouver Is Awesome!

Vancouver Is Awesome Inc is a community-based, incorporated non-profit organization dedicated to spreading a positive message about the city of Vancouver and the arts and culture within it. Founded, edited and maintained by folks who live here and who truly love our city and the many communities fostered here, we deliver lighthearted yet thoughtful news through our blog, Facebook, Twitter, in our print annual as well as our weekly piece on 100.5 The Peak. We also work beyond the media, producing events and partnering with other organizations and companies and generally making Vancouver a better city for you to enjoy.

Hey everyone! Please help Vancouver Is Awesome reach their fundraising goal of $20,000! VIA is headed by the tireless Bob Kronbauer, and the blurb above only gives a fraction of the impression of the work they do for our fair city. The contributors to the blog, all volunteers, including my good friend (and independent music editor) Christine McAvoy, take their role as ambassadors of awesome seriously and work immensely hard to spread the good news of Vancouver arts and culture. Although you may not need another reason to donate to VIA, my favourite Vancouver blog, they are also giving away a massive list of donated prizes from various businesses. All those who donate will be entered into the draw!

And not to mention, you'll get your name on this sweet plaque. Please head here to donate today!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Canadian Hip-Hop: A Bright New Day (Pt. IV)

Welcome to PART 4 of Canadian Hip-Hop: A Bright New Day. This Special Feature originated as my final research paper for the World Pop Music class at UBC.

Don't forget to check out Part I, which sets out the Canadian music context, as well as my research sources. Part II talks about influences on Canadian hip hop, especially from our neighbours to the South. Part III notes the history of Canadian hip hop as well as the 4 major styles. There's also a corresponding playlist to go along with the feature, which you can listen to here on CBC Radio 3.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think by leaving a comment!
Toronto's Masia One (Photo: CBC Radio 3)
PART IV. Diversity in Canadian rap

Medley writes in the National Post that it’s difficult to identify a specific “Canadian sound,” which had originally hurt the scene when American talent scouts would come knocking. He notes that while U.S. rappers are easily identifiable and marketable based on their community identity (East coast vs. West coast), Canadian hip hop often integrates influences beyond our borders. In Canadian rap, you can find elements of “dancehall and reggae, African and world music, garage, underground battle rap, and indie-rock” (Medley). This fusion of influences was evident as early as the late 1980s, when Toronto's Dream Warriors pioneered a hip hop sound combined with jazz. Later, we would see this fusion in Michie Mee's Jamaican Funk: Canadian Style, and most recently, the African-laced instrumentation of K'naan and the indie-rock-friendly style of Shad (Motion Live Entertainment and Saada STYLO 15).

Even a casual listener of Canadian hip hop artists or Canadian indie rock/dance/pop/folk can pick out the large number of collaborations and influences between the genres. For example, Saukrates has recently released a track named “Emily Haines,” dedicated to and named after the lead singer of Toronto new wave rock band Metric. Vancouver by way of London, Ontario rapper Shad enlisted the help of two members of Broken Social Scene, one of Canada’s most critically acclaimed musician collectives, in recording his latest album TSOL. Halifax rapper Classified had celebrated folk rocker Joel Plaskett sing the hook in his single “One Track Mind.” K’naan worked with Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett for his track “If Rap Gets Jealous.” k-os collaborated with new wave dance group You Say Party, Cadence Weapon with indie rockers Think About Life... and the list continues almost infinitely.

When interviewed about the diversity of Canadian hip hop influences, Saukrates responds, “Being eclectic is our sound. Artists up here are fearless. This thing about melody and MCs singing? We started that. And I’ll do a shameless plug, that Big Black Cadillac record? It’s five MCs on one record, we started that whole thing! We’re fearless because we were brought up here in the melting pot” (Kaplan). Similarly, Shad notes in the same interview that “the changes in hip-hop happen so rapidly. I was born in Africa and we have artists in Canada – K’naan, etc. – and we’re the first to be from Africa in Canada making hip-hop music... [This kind of music] wouldn’t have been called hip-hop in 1995” (Kaplan).

Frustrations abroad and at home

Saukrates (Photo: artist website)
Saukrates’ comments about being fearless and innovative certainly come from a place of experience. In an unprecedented 2010 National Post interview between eight prominent Canadian emcees, including Saukrates, a common thread in their comments include frustrations with the music industry and need for persistence in order to have longevity in their careers (National Post Staff).

In the US, rap is second only to rock in terms of record sales, and hip-hop is a cultural and financial empire. Yet Canadian artists are more often than not “left at the border” (McKinnon). Saukrates was mishandled by labels Warner Brothers and Def Jam, and saw his career stagnate while the labels’ resources went to his American equivalents. Speaking from that experience, he demonstrates the characteristic drive of the Canadian rappers who have shown modest success with their craft. “I won’t be satisfied until the world accepts us. I don’t want to be pigeonholed just in Canada – only touring in Canada, only viable in Canada. No, no, no. Hell no. We’re going to do more than compete. We’re gonna get in there. America has heard the east, they’ve heard the west, they’ve heard the south – now here comes the motherfuckin’ north” (McKinnon). Another artist that’s currently enjoying success after decades of hard work is Kardinal Offishall, and he’s experienced a similar frustrating trajectory as Saukrates but with label MCA, where he got lost in the queue after a company merger. “With this label bullshit, I had to sit on my hands for a while when we went through all the red tape” (Kardinal Offishall, qtd. in McKinnon).

Unfortunately, Canadian audiences and industry haven’t been much more accommodating of home grown hip hop talent than the United States. There is only one hip hop album on the Top 100 Canadian Albums list, which was compiled from votes by music industry insiders. This lone hip hop album, k-os’ Joyful Rebellion (2004), came in at #68 (Mersereau). Moreover, although the book is sprinkled with features highlighting top albums in different genres of music, hip-hop is not included. In his spotlight piece for, McKinnon identifies that Canada “lacks the young, urban (or urban-minded) population needed to consistently support high-volume sales for its home grown rhymers. While mainstream pop and guitar stars like Avril Lavigne and Nickelback measure success in millions of copies sold, Canada’s microphone controllers can spend years hustling to reach modest targets like 50,000 or 100,000. Sales outside the country are a rare phenomenon.”

Due to a lack support or investment by record companies, retail and radio, it’s difficult for Canadian “urban” artists to be financially viable. Rap aficionados often know more about American rappers than Canadian ones, due to lack of intra-country publicity. This, coupled with what Morrow names as a “cultural cringe... in relation to local product” (198), means that Canadian hip hop artists are trapped in a difficult confine, where you need to succeed in an already saturated US market before anyone back home will acknowledge your craft. Up until recently, the only hope of home grown rap music being noticed is via play by campus radio, which is reflected in a short lived television series named Drop the Beat. The 2000 CBC series was one of the first to be focused on hip hop music and culture, and it prominently featured the campus radio station, which was the reality of hip hop at the time. As identified on Wikipedia, “until Toronto's Flow 93.5 hit the airwaves in early 2001, Canada did not have any radio stations dedicated specifically to urban music” (“Drop the Beat”).

Then everything changed with a protest. In 1998, Vancouver hip hop collective The Rascalz declined to accept their Juno Award for Best Rap Recording, protesting the organizers' decision not to televise the “urban” awards. Their statement implicated racism in the Canadian music industry: "In view of the lack of real inclusion of black music in this ceremony, this feels like a token gesture towards honouring the real impact of urban music in Canada” (qtd. in LeBlanc). Their boycott incurred great media attention and nationwide discussions, and in 1999, rap was included in the Juno live broadcast. Additionally, rap collective Northern Touch performed during the 1999 Juno ceremony and gave the Canadian rap scene a primetime audience, something it’s sorely needed (Krewen). It seemed that the next logical step for greater exposure for Canadian artists abroad was “to break a Canadian hip-hop act in America" (Kulawick, qtd. in Krewen).

Current state of Canadian hip hop

There’s currently a laundry list of exciting Canadian rappers enjoying success both at home and abroad. Shad just saw his critically acclaimed third album released in the United States. Kardinal Offishall’s single “Dangerous” was a huge hit in 2008. Classified saw his single “Oh...Canada” played prominently during the 2010 Olympics, and k-os has released a string of successful singles as well. Rich Terfry, otherwise known as Buck 65, hosts CBC Radio 2’s show “Drive,” and 24 year old Cadence Weapon is Edmonton’s poet laureate. As Terfry notes, “there’s been growth in the hip-hop scene in this country that didn’t exist 15 years ago” (Kaplan). In the same interview, Cadence Weapon notes that female MCs and Asian MCs are “out there. It’s just the gaze from the lighthouse moves slowly. Things happen, it’s just a matter of time” (Kaplan). One of those artists getting their time in the spotlight is Masia One, a female rapper of Singaporean origin, although she remains a slim minority in the larger Canadian scene.

In Part V, we will address specific populations and their use of hip hop as a voice - in particular, Aboriginal and francophone rap in Canada.