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2021 Juno Awards celebrates 30 years since creation of rap music class

The rap style in Canada has developed over the past 30 years, however not with out hurdles alongside the way in which. With a number of the largest names in hip hop popping out of the north, can new artists discover the identical success?

Regardless of its advanced historical past, Canadian rap music is prospering due to pioneers like Maestro Contemporary Wes, left, world famous person, Drake, centre, and rising expertise like Haviah Mighty, proper, who’ve every put their very own stamp on the style. (Getty Photos, Chris Pizzello/Invision/The Related Press, The Canadian Press)

When the fiftieth annual Juno Awards celebrates its half-century milestone on Sunday, the highlight will even be shining on one other anniversary — 30 years for the reason that creation of its rap class. 

When the Junos launched Rap Recording of the 12 months in 1991, the statue went to the hit single Let Your Spine Slide by Maestro Contemporary-Wes.

“I imply, I used to be excited that I gained. I used to be excited I received nominated. I used to be additionally excited the truth that for Black music, you realize, that is like like a catalyst for us as artists to take it to the subsequent degree,” he informed CBC Information. 

“I used to be a little bit nervous saying my speech as a result of I knew it was larger than me. It wasn’t nearly me. It is about my brothers and sisters coming with me.”

On Friday, through the 2021 Juno Awards’ opening night time, the award for Rap Recording of the 12 months went to Toronto rapper TOBi for his album Components Vol. 1. 

Hurdles alongside the way in which

The style has developed over the past three a long time on Canadian soil, however not with out hurdles alongside the way in which.

From its introduction of the rap award in 1991, a hip hop efficiency wasn’t included within the televised present till 1999 —a yr after Vancouver hip hop group Rascalz refused to simply accept the rap award, accusing the Junos of racism.

“City music, reggae, R&B and rap: that is all Black music and it is not represented on the Junos,” supervisor Sol Man mentioned that yr, studying an announcement on behalf of the group. “We determined that till it’s, we’re going to take a stance,”  

Members of Rascalz showcase their Juno award for Finest Rap Recording on the Juno Awards in Hamilton, Ont. in 1999. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

The following yr, the group returned to the Junos’ stage to carry out their hit, Northern Contact, and accepted an award for Rap Recording of the 12 months, altering how the nation seen and consumed rap music. 

Within the final decade, heavyweight Canadian hip hop artists like Drake and R&B artists like The Weeknd have dominated the charts, making a go within the hip hop house a believable purpose for brand new expertise. 

Like Haviah Mighty for instance, a hip hop artist from Brampton, Ont.

“I feel seeing that there have been folks from the identical place that I used to be from, doing one thing that I used to be growing … did give me some inspiration that there’s a path for this,” she mentioned.

Hip hop in Canada has at all times been a ‘fixed’

Juno Award winners of Rap Recording of the 12 months from 1991 to present-day embrace hip hop artists from Maestro Contemporary-Wes to Choclair to Shad to Tory Lanez. This yr marks 30 years for the reason that class honouring rap music in Canada first got here to be. (CBC Information)

Del Cowie, a music and popular culture journalist based mostly in Toronto, says the Canadian hip hop scene has at all times existed. What’s new, Cowie mentioned, is that the trade is now a number of generations deep in creating new expertise.

“There’s at all times been this degree of hip hop [in Canada] that may compete with any hip hop popping out anyplace,” Cowie mentioned.

And it is not simply rappers — Canada’s hip hop producers are in every single place, he mentioned, pointed to the Canadians engaged on rapper J. Cole’s newest album The Off Season.

“In case you take a look at the manufacturing credit on that document, you may see a minimum of 5 Canadians have contributed to that document,” Cowie mentioned.

Canada has a ‘sophisticated’ music trade

Whereas hip hop dominates charts right now, Cowie mentioned 30 years in the past — and arguably much more lately — artists must look outdoors Canada for assist.

Artists like Maestro, Michie Mee, and hip hop duo Dream Warriors who have been the earliest stars on the scene, did not signal home document offers. 

Past offers, the assist additionally wanted to return from home radio and different infrastructures, Cowie mentioned. Till lately, streaming did not exist for hip hop artists prefer it does right now.

James Rathbone, a DJ and host of the weekly music and tradition podcast Catch Up says the nation has grown right into a hip hop market and within the final 10 years, it has seen a increase.

“Proper now, we’re nonetheless very a lot in that place,” Rathbone mentioned. “There’s nice work being produced throughout the nation.”

He added the Canadian music trade is a “sophisticated” trade. 

Rathbone mentioned the U.S. is the most important producer and exporter of hip hop music. “In some sense, it is laborious to typically discover a stability between what’s domestically, you realize, supported and created and what’s … virtually validated by its success in America.”

However he argued the normal markers of success within the trade have gotten much less related because of the “disruption of expertise.”

WATCH | Saint John welcomes rapper, actor, writer Maestro as its latest resident:

The ‘Godfather of Canadian hip hop’ Wes Williams talks about his musical legacy, present initiatives and why he is calling the Maritimes dwelling. 10:00

Musicians like bbno$ (pronounced “child no cash” — actual identify Alex Gumuchian) from Vancouver and underground Toronto artists are additionally seeing success by means of means like TikTok and different social media platforms. 

And for the brand new artists like Mighty, who’ve created house within the style tackling matters like politics, it is about recognizing those that got here earlier than her and persevering with to do the work.

“There’s a lot extra to do,” she mentioned. “I am positively within the midst and thick of it.”

The fiftieth annual Juno Awards are scheduled to happen on Sunday, June 6 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. They are going to be broadcast on CBC TV, CBC Gem, CBC Radio One, CBC Music and globally on CBCMusic.ca/junos.


For extra tales concerning the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success tales throughout the Black group — take a look at Being Black in Canada, a CBC challenge Black Canadians may be pleased with. You may learn extra tales right here.


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