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The ‘I Was There!’ project celebrates Canadian hip hop this month

March 06, 2017

Canadian hip hop has a long and storied history, and one that never seems to get enough attention. There’s Vancouver’s Swollen Members, who exploded in the early ‘00s, and whose founding member Madchild still battle raps. There’s Regina’s Queen City Stoop Kids, whose left-field, eclectic sound is making Saskatchewan sound more exciting than ever. There’s Manitoba’s ‘90s-invoking Mcenroe and Birdapres and The Lytics, as well as the explosive sounds of Young Kidd and Winnipeg’s Most. Classified reps Nova Scotia harder than anyone. Of course, there’s Drake, who made The 6 famous. And that’s even without dropping big name legends like Choclair, Kardinal Offishal, and of course Drake, who made The 6 famous. A lot of quality hip hop comes from here up North.

North Side Hip Hop (NSHH) is planning to celebrate that legacy this month, as well as the current players making Canadian hip hop a force to be reckoned with. Their ‘I Was There!’ project will travel through Hamilton, Toronto, Montreal, and Saskatoon, working with Archive Fellows in each city, to “excavate and promote the achievements of local hip hop architects across Canada.” Their plan is to, “digitize archival materials and develop curriculum innovation projects that allow educators to access and utilize the site’s archival materials in meaningful ways.”

The events will kick off in Montreal on March 9, with musical tributes from Nomadic Massive, the Narcicyst, and Strange Foots to DJ Butcher T. Saskatoon (March 11) will focus on Aboriginal women in hip hop and feature a panel discussion led by Eekwol, and performances from T-Rhyme and mRae Grooves. Hamilton’s event (March 24) will honour Leon “Eklipz” Robinson, who founded the city’s Concrete Canvas festival, showcase his visual art, and provide a screening of his documentary I Was There! Steelcity Hip Hop Respective. And finally, the March 31 event in Toronto will focus on DJ Ron Nelson, who helped promote and develop artists like Maestro Fresh Wes and Michie Mee.


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Festival Lineups: Toronto’s CBC Music Festival, Montreal’s Osheaga, Victoria Ska & Reggae Festival, Surrey’s FVDED In The Park

About the Author

Matt Williams

Matt Williams is a writer and photographer. Born and raised on the Prairies in Winnipeg, he’s slowly made his way farther and farther east, spending a few years covering music in Toronto before running clear out of country and ending up on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. In between, he’s made numerous detours, interviewing and photographing countless artists across North America and beyond. He heads up Amplify’s Instrumental series, where he talks with musicians about the relationships they’ve formed with their most important tools.

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