I had many issues with Toronto Hip Hop’s Bad Rap (NOW Magazine, March 21). The writing, the fawning, the nepotism annoyed me (message to Addi: Dude. You managed to get a feature cover story AND a performance spot. That’s pretty damn awesome. Congratulations, seriously. But, you should have just stated straight up that you were performing in the show. Just put it out there, front and centre, and framed the article from that perspective, and not given someone like me a valid reason to hate).
On to the content: it’s dated, a re-hash of the same conversations we (the indie hip hop community) have been having on the regular for at least the past five years. It’s weak in the sense that the piece criticises the Canadian hip hop industry for looking at the States for validation, yet it seemed like the measure of success used in the article for Canadian artists was an endorsement from Americans. The article, apart from being on a self-pity tip, barely addresses any of the issues mentioned on anything more than a superficial level (if anyone wants to talk about racism in the Toronto hip hop scene, let me know. I got tales).
Now that I’ve got the bitchiness out of my system, on to more important points. I definitely appreciated this article for getting people to talk about issues the Toronto hip hop community’s been talking about for at least the past five years. Problem being, it’s only going to get the same people (myself included) griping about the same shit. But hey, there are silver linings. It’s in a publication that the “establishment” pays attention to, so here’s a tip for artists submitting grant applications: this article is a weapon in your arsenal, just include it as supporting material with the most relevant pieces highlighted.
So where do we go from here? It’s too easy to simply start a bitchfest over something someone said, when what we really need is movement. I don’t think anyone really disagrees with what was brought up in the article – hell, we’ve known about it for years. But I believe that we can all agree that something needs to happen. So here’s a call to action: artists, emcees, producers, deejays, musicians, promoters, managers, label execs, etc. – let’s use this article as a concrete starting point.
- Let’s get together collectively (and not in a Canada Culture sort of way – that happened four years ago, and I still haven’t seen anything come out of it).
- Let’s find out what’s really going on and why.
- Let’s brainstorm ways to get the audience in love with local hip hop.
- Let’s get the major promoters on board, say, by having them commit to putting on a local act with every international one.
- Let’s develop the business side of the industry and create long-term sustainable economic strategies.
- Let’s give the audience back the power to shut down weak emcees and create superstars, rather than allowing them to treat local acts like charity cases.
- Let’s not rely on endorsements from Americans. Please, let’s not even mention them when talking about our artists; we can definitely find other ways to judge our self-worth.
And fuck a clique. Let’s not exclude anyone based on petty disagreements. And let’s quit whining. If we’re still waiting 11 years later for Toronto hip hop to blow up, maybe it’s time we stop for a minute and take a long, hard look at ourselves.
And step up.
THECYBERKRIB.COM NOTE: Attached to the NOW hip hop edition (feature piece mentioned above) there was a great hip hop showcase held by NOW called The NEXT SHIT at Toronto’s new venue Wrong Bar. The collective side of Toronto’s hip hop scene was apparent at this showcase, which in the end is created by the attitudes and behaviour of the artists themselves. As much as the media can get things right or wrong, it’s ultimately the artists who will dictate where a “scene” will end up – here’s to the hope that Toronto hip hop artists can continue to push themselves to move beyond their past generations and break ground for themselves, as their actions and successes will ultimately dictate the popularity among the local fans.
View footage of Kamau’s performance at The NEXT SHIT:
On the topic of fans, especially those in the GTA (TDot), a majority of you should be ashamed at the lack of support you give you domestic acts. There are continually new generations of artists coming up in the scene, solid acts, but most haven’t ever been to see them perform – most can only name the first (and maybe second) generation Canadian hip hop acts from over 10-years ago. Just keep in mind, when you buy that $30-40 ticket for you favorite international hip hop acts, try to put the same amount in to going to check out some new artists (same $ will probably get you in to 2-3 shows), whether they be local or international developing artists, take the time to support the new crop as it’ll be the only way hip hop culture will continue to thrive.
Got something to say? Post it in the comments section. I (and the rest of the fam) would also love to engage in thoughtful and constructive discussion around this. If you’d like to submit your feedback for consideration as a post, email it to info[at]thecyberkrib[dot]com with the subject heading “Enough of this bad rap ish”