Canada is an incubator for world class entertainment. Actors, musicians, and athletes have all established global success in many arenas. Our hip-hop scene, however, despite an immense amount of talent, hasnt popped on a grand scale yet. Some chalk it up to the size of our population and a lack of local support, others point to a lack of infrastructure and flowing capital. Artists have struggled to get heard and have even more trouble getting their records distributed to the music buying public.
Likely, the true answer falls within a of all these possibilities. The solution falls within improving on these factors (where possible) and keeping the movement headed forward. Ive witnessed a genuine growth in support in recent years and an increasingly stern sense of national pride the type needed to emulate the success-breeding unity of the Dirty South or the raw grit and grind of the Mid-West in recent years.
On a recent trip to New York City, my eyes were opened to the amount of support Kardinal Offishall’s “Dangerous” single was receiving south of the border. As one of the main focuses of Akons Kon Live imprint, Kardinal is preparing for the release of his 4th studio album, Not 4 Sale. With a strong US buzz as new ground, fans and industry heads alike are keeping their eyes peeled for the type of impact Not 4 Sale will make after its late summer release.
As an avid reader of AllHipHop, I was extremely pleased when I got word from Odeisel that a Canada Week special was looming. Im using this opportunity to put you up on some important upcoming releases from Canadian artists.
Mayhem has established himself as one of Torontos hardest working artists and has the promotional discography to prove it. Countless mixtapes, videos and performances have accumulated the type of buzz needed to make The Audiobiography a success.
It remains one of the most anticipated debuts coming out of Canadas Eastsides.
Checkmate was featured on the late 90s Rascalz single titled Northern Touch which remains a Canadian anthem till this day. Vancouver producer, DJ Kemo, who produced Northern Touch has formed a new production crew named The Vanguards who were the production brains behind Kardis Dangerous.
Kemo has also been working with some of Van Citys next generation of artists including Young Kazh and Tre Nyce.
Calgarys Deezuz recently dropped his album debut, Souldenera which has pumped new life into the scene out in Southern Alberta. The album featured various guest appearances including Kool G Rap, Sean Price and Vancouvers, Moka Only, who recently put out Volume 2 of his album Airport.
Edmontons E-Dot, who resides in Brooklyn and was introduced to fans via his connection to Uncle Howie Records has connected with soulful Toronto singer and producer, Darp Malone to release a self-titled album under the moniker of HERO. Some viral internet searches should make it easy to track down the vast array of remixes and videos the duo have put out.
Heading East to the Maritimes, just outside of Halifax in Nova Scotia is one of Canadas fan favorites. Classified has 12 albums under his belt and recently completed a sold-out Canada-wide tour for his album While You Were Sleeping, a greatest hits release used to introduce his vast catalog of material to newer fans. Hes currently working on his 13th project, The Day Before Tomorrow and developing his label, HalfLife Records which is home to various up and coming artists including J-Bru, Chad Hatcher and his younger brother, Mic Boyd.
Back to the streets of Toronto, hailing from Regent Park is a crew with one of the largest followings on Canadas Eastside. Point Blank is currently preparing for the August 19th release of their self-titled album debut on Tilt Rock/KOCH and theyve recently released their latest video single, God Only Knows which features Mark McKay. Earlier in the year, their Born and Raised in the Ghetto remix garnered them national attention and a high level of public anticipation for the albums release. Keep your eyes open for that one.
Before leaving Toronto, its important to mention Bishop Brigante AKA The Gambling Man who is preparing for the Fall release of his album The Poker Face which was recorded in 10 days, with 10 different producers, banging out a total of 10 different tracks. AllHipHop readers might remember IllSeeds recent posting of his Hard Times video or his role as the low-end dealer killed by Ray Liotta in the movie N.A.R.C.
A quick look into the Canadian spectrum of hip-hop wouldnt be complete without mentioning the immense talent coming from our Francophone artists. To mention just a few, one of the biggest names holding down Real City, Montreal is Sans Pression (SP) who is likely one of the most recognizable French Canadian artists nationwide and across the Atlantic in France. SP recently put out a new album called La Tendance Se Maintenant which has been extremely well received by his fans. Another project, although out since the beginning of the year but definitely worth mentioning, is the latest release from Imposs titled Mon Poing D’Vue. Imposs is best known internationally from his group Muzion and work with artists such as Wyclef.
Ending off this summary is our nations capital, Ottawa. Belly is set to drop his next mixtape with Whoo Kid and will follow that up with a collaborative album with Kurupt. The 2 originally linked up on a big single titled Im The Man from Bellys double-CD album debut, The Revolution which was certified Gold in Canada and recently picked up the Best Hip-Hop Video award at the MuchMusic Video Awards.
Internally, HipHopCanada remains focused on the growth of the Canadian hip-hop scene and we recently launched our record label, HipHopCanada Digital, in partnership with KOCH Entertainment Canada. The first artist weve signed is Gangis Khan AKA Camoflauge who hails from Scarborough, on the Eastside of Toronto and has recently sparked a huge buzz locally that we hope to really push to the next level. We begin work on his album later this year.
Hopefully this little summary of the Canadian Hip-Hop scene gets you interested and excited. The scene is fresh and hungry and artists from East to West are looking to make that crucial impact south of our border and overseas. Stay tuned, were coming.
Jesse Plunkett is Founder/Co-President of HipHopCanada.com http://www.HipHopCanada.com