Posts Tagged ‘canadian hip-hop’

DJ Filthy Rich “Northern Touch Vol. 1”

Monday, September 27th, 2010
Our homie DJ Filthy Rich from T.R.O.Y. forum has made this dope mix and shared it with philaflava forum community. We decided to spread the word further.
DJ Filthy Rich presents Northern Touch Vol. 1 (90’s Canadian Hip Hop Classics)

01. Rascalz, Choclair, Thrust, Kardinal – Northern Touch (Filthy Rich Cross-border ReFix)
02. Infinite – 360
03. Choclair – What It Takes RMX
04. Elemental – Living Underwater
05. Choclair – Jus A Second (Filthy Rich Cross-border ReFix)
06. Infinite ft Jay-Z – Can’t Knock The Hustle Cuz I Gotta Get Mine (Filthy Rich Cross-border RMX)
07. Saukrates – Hate Runs Deep
08. Elemental – Drama
09. Maestro Fresh Wes ft Showbiz – Fine Tune Da Mic
10. Ghetto Concept – EZ On The Motion
11. Madlocks – Gusto
12. Citizen Kane – Black Rain
13. Wio-K – Sunlight
14. Nas-T Howie – Attic
15. Down To Erf – Learn To Earn
16. K-OS – Rise Like The Sun (Filthy Rich ReFix)
17. Citizen Kane – Structure, Foundation
18. Sic Sense ft Buckshot – Positional Bypass (Filthy Rich Cross-border ReFix)
19. Concrete Mob ft Mobb Deep – Boiling Point (Filthy Rich Cross-border ReFix)
20. Saukrates – Father Time (Filthy Rich Cross-border ReFix)
21. Rascalz – Really Livin
22. Ghetto Concept – Krazy World
23. Kardinal Offishall – Husslin’
24. Rascalz – Dreaded Fist (Filthy Rich Cross-border ReFix)
25. Kardinal Offishall – Naughty Dread Pt2
26. Redlife – Who’s Talkin’ Weight (original version)
27. Dan E O – Dear Hip Hop
28. Mathematik – Formation
29. K-OS – Musical Essence
30. Clarence Gruff – Mystery Unsolved

Up North Tip: Isosceles – Face the Music (1998)

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Isosceles is a rap trio hailing from–as I’m sure everyone knows–the hip-hop hotbed of Saskatchewan, Canada. Now, here’s an interesting anecdote about the group’s name. Two of the members, emcee Shrimp a.k.a. Agape and disc-jockey Scratchafras are twin brothers. The second emcee, Boya D., is unrelated. Thus an isosceles triangle is formed, as they are two of the same and one different. Clever, right?

After two EPs, the group released their debut album in 1998, titled Face the Music. The music has a fairly unique sound, which I’m sure is exactly what they were going for. I have not listened to this record enough times to write a completely comprehensive review, but from what I’ve heard so far I kind of dig it. Not to focus too much on their ethnicity but the rappers are clearly white by their sound, and for a record like this that’s not a bad thing at all–rather, it adds a kind of credibility to their songs. They are who they are; these aren’t posers. The lyrics are intelligent, often poetic and well thought-out. But make sure you listen to their flows with an open-mind. It’s nothing otherworldly different but it might take some getting used to.

For me, one of the best parts of the album has to be the production. From the opening instrumental track “I Once Knew You,” to “Clean Slate,” “Livin’ In Rekord” and “Bio Organic Youth (feat. Ancient),” the production contains an array of ambient and contemplative jazz samples, soulful drums, and additional layers of esoteric vocal samples that add color to each song. The scratching on this album is also very nice to listen to.

Sample Tracks:

So, again I will be posting samples via Youtube links (aside from one song) because DivShare is being a major pain in the ass right now. I have yet to renew my premium account so I suppose it’s insinuating I should do so. By freezing Mozilla whenever I try to upload a song… Cot dayum.

Isosceles – “I Once Knew You”

Isosceles – “Living On Rekord”

Isosceles – “The Voice in My Silence (’97 Dusty as Antique Mix)

Isosceles – “Finder’s Keep (feat. Intellect)”

Isosceles – “All I Got”

Track list:

01 I Once Knew You 4:27

02 Clean Slate ‘98 5:48

03 All I Got (feat. Moka Only) 3:49

04 Hate To See You Go 4:46

05 The Goalend Rules 3:54

06 Open Wounds 3:25

07 Boremeta the Felt 2:30

08 Jail Break (Growing Pains of Freedom) 5:21

09 $pare Change 3:48

10 Bio. Organic. Youth. Ancient. 2:05

11 The Telepathic Triplet 4:10

12 Living on Rekord 3:44

13 Dream Big 3:13

14 The Free Trunk 2:16

15 On A Whim…. 1:26

16 Finder’s Keep – Thinking Fast 6:08

17 The Voice in My Silence (’97 Dusty As Antique Mix) 3:36

18 You Once Knew Me 3:25

I used to live in Saskatoon for four years as a kid, the same city Isosceles is from, and I can safely say that for anyone to spend the majority of their life in that city and still drop an album this good is something that deserves recognition. The land is completely flat. The city is built on Western Canadian prairie that, once frozen or blanketed in snow, never melts until spring–sludge-filled spring at that. The winters often dip well into the minus-30s and 40s (degrees Celsius). Black people are scarce–hell, there isn’t even a formal Chinatown. My grade seven teacher spent his summers and winter holidays tending his family farm (on the outskirts of town) for eighteen hours a day, reading novels on his tractor as he drove through acres upon acres of vast and desolate agricultural land. But believe it or not, there is civilization and modern housing built on these prairies, and a city does in fact exist. I know, right?

I’m exaggerating of course. I make it sound like No Man’s Land, but Saskatoon is actually quite nice. Not a bad place by any means–I definitely enjoyed my stay and it marked an important turning point for my family–but finding local hip-hop gems in the post-2000 world of synths on steroids is like looking for a needle in a hay stack. Thank God for the Internet. And yes, some of my old friends are Rihanna fans.

All in all, Isosceles’ Face the Music is a good debut and definitely worth a listen. Not everyone’s cup of tea I’m sure, but if you give it a chance you might find yourself pleasantly surprised, and rewarded. I don’t think the artists would want it any other way.

Note: Props to dalek at the Official Canadian Hip-Hop Thread on Philaflava for bringing this album and group to my attention, as well as the Beatbox Radio Show blog for the original rip. Enjoy, and let me know what you guys think.


— Teddy C.D.

Up North Tip: Cold Front Record Release Party (1991), CKLN 88.1 FM Radio Rarities

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

A while back I wrote the first entry in my Canadian hip-hop series, which focused primarily on the Cold Front Rap Compilation of ’91. This is a little late, but to accompany that piece on one of the finest compilations ever crafted, here are two videos from the record release party. Courtesy of our homie Andyman187:

As detailed by Andyman, in his original blog entry:

This is something special for my Toronto headz! Here we have the Cold Front Record Release Party at Live At The BBQ featuring interviews with Executive Producer John Bronski and various groups involved in the project. You also get an ill freestyle cypha with DJ X on the wheels dropping beats for Toronto's finest out in the parking lot of Much Music. Featured Emcee's include Base Poet, Thrust & 10-Kay repping KGB, Sonya Live, Maestro Fresh Wes, T Soul, Kish, Motion, as well as former Maestro Manger and Canadian Idol judge Farley Flex stepping out and kicking some lyrics which had the crowd going crazy!

Note: The first video has the interviews and some performances, the second has the freestyles. Please, do yourself a favo(u)r and peep these treats. The freestyles capture the essence of what rap performances are all about, and possess the socially interactive and congregational aspect of hip-hop that is often absent and sorely missed on wax. When have you last seen an artist kick a funky fresh freestyle to commemorate the release of his or her record?

While everyone rips the mic on their turn, I’d also like to say that I’m a sucker for talented female emcees, and damn, these Canadian sisters are doing their thing here. Imagine, women being respected for their artistry by fans and executives–males and females alike–without having to succumb to bullshit pressures about their appearances and exploiting their bodies. If you don’t love that, you don’t love hip-hop.

While watching the second video, and parts of the first, I realized an element that has deteriorated in hip-hop: the live performance. I’m not exactly sure what it is–maybe it’s the better technology and equipment of today, maybe its the lack of sampled beats with producers opting more for synthesizer-driven grooves–but the instrumentals are almost too overwhelming on stage, especially the bass (gone are the days of smooth and melodic basslines, with the ushering in of those new buzzing electronic basses… Don’t get me started on dubstep) and the artist has to shout his or her lyrics instead of articulating properly. This especially hinders the experience when watching recorded versions of live performances, which should in itself be rewarding as well. Of course, this is not always true, and as ThomasV has shown us with many of his posts, artists can still pull off great live performances.

Also, while you’re here, we have another selection of goodies for your collections. Hip-hop junkies, especially those interested in Canadian hip-hop, will appreciate these gems. Also from Andyman’s blog:

I’ve also included some rarities ripped from CKLN 88.1 Fm (a Canadian college radio station) courtesy of my man Neogeo!

CKLN 88.1 FM – Radio Rarities

1. Crime Master Divine – Open Duck Season
2. K-Force – Freestyle
3. KGB – Ready To Attack (Demo)

4. KGB – Street Legal (Demo)

5. Motion, Thrust & Michie Mee – Black On Black

6. Rumble & Strong – Crazy Jam

7. Sweet Ebony – Different Touch

8. Sweet Ebony & Groovey D – ?

Again, props to Andyman187 for the videos and rarities/demos. He has a lot of other great stuff on his blog, Rekordz On Wheelz, so be sure to check out his site and show him some love and support. Enjoy!

— Teddy C.D.

Up North Tip: Canadian Hip-Hop Series

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

There’s no need to skirt the subject: I Am Canadian. Chinese-Canadian, as a matter of fact. And I’m proud of it. My family hailing originally from China, I was born in Toronto, Ontario, the economic and cultural capital of Canada. At around the age of four I moved with my family to New York City (peace to the Upper West Side!), and that is where my brother first introduced me to rap; I bought my first rap album, saw my first rap music video, and basically fell in love with the music. Eventually we moved back to Canada (Western, now) where I currently live. And every day since we left Manhattan, I have cringed at the idea of Canadian hip-hop. Like most American hip-hop fans, I’ve been spoiled with release after dope ass release of 90’s East Coast classics—to the point where I would have ignored everything else a few years ago.

Let me be first to admit that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

What I failed to realize was that, for over two decades, artists from my own country were putting in major work on the hip-hop circuit. Right under my damn nose, cats like Maestro Fresh Wes, Michie Mee, and DJ Ron Nelson were establishing hip-hop as a legitimate genre in Canadian music. You want me to be corny and say it’s taught me a lesson?—well, it’s taught me a lesson. This is my chance to do the right thing like Spike Lee.

So yes, I am doing this as much for myself as I am for the loyal readers at TROY. It’s a chance for me to explore the talent of my own country while bringing you fresh records for your own collections. There are so many great Canadian hip-hop acts that deserve shine, I can only hope to do this series justice. Every now and then I will post an album or two from a different Canadian artist, either from my own collection or from our always-reliable contributors at Philaflava. Where the hell would we be without you guys?

I’ve started this series to shed light on a hip-hop scene that’s been overlooked by both mainstream and underground circuits since day one, and it’s been a long time coming for Canadian rappers, old and new. In the mid-eighties Canadian record companies were still reluctant to sign and promote black music, and artists were forced to form independent labels with poor marketing and what started out as an inadequate fan base. There were no Rick Rubins or Russell Simmons’ to jump start the popularity of hip-hop in Canada, and as a result, this has led to widespread ignorance of Canadian talent. And despite KRS-One shouting out “Ron Nelson and the Toronto posse” in the liner notes of Criminal Minded, most fans in the United States still refuse to take Canadian hip-hop seriously.

See, as much as we claim to be open-minded and keen on peeping different styles from different regions, we all know this isn’t always true; shit, search a “Fuck Compton” video from 1991 on Youtube and you still have idiots arguing over which coast is better. The point is, regional biases always exist, and stereotypes are hard to displace.

Well, at TROY we’re here to break your damn biases and your regional preferences. Or at the very least, get you to open up your minds.

Before I delve into specific artists and crews of different eras, our first joint is going to be the quintessential compilation of Canadian hip-hop, a perfect introduction: The Cold Front Rap Compilation. In 1991 various hip-hop acts from Toronto banded together to display the diverse and largely unknown talent of the Far North. On this comp you will find some of the nicest acts of the 80’s and 90’s, and not just in Canada: Maestro Fresh Wes, Main Source, Dream Warriors and KGB, among others.

Major props to Who_Produced_It at Philaflava for ripping this album from his own collection and sharing it with us. This is much appreciated. Also props to kotep and the rest of the contributors at The Canadian Hip-Hop Thread on Philaflava for inspiring this series. For additional information, check out the fantastic Canadian hip-hop blog: Living Underwater.

Cold Front Rap Compilation (1991):

1. CIUT 89.5 – Master Plan Show Spot (0:16)

2. Maestro Fresh Wes – Black Tie Affair (4:24)

3. Base Poet – When I Went To Buy Milk (4:30)

4. Sweet Ebony – With This (5:09)

5. Dream Warriors – 12 Sided Dice (4:24)

6. Large Professor – CKLN 88.1 Power Move Show Spot (0:32)

7. Main Source – Atom (2:56)

8. Sonyalive – I’m Coming Into Consciousness (3:35)

9. CIUT 89.5 – Master Plan Show Spot (0:11)

10. Kish – Jim Class (4:43)

11. R & R – Having A Good Day (4:42)

12. Nu Black Nation – Soul Vibration (5:21)

13. CHRY 105.5 – Jam Factor Spot (0:14)

14. KGB – Letters Of Three (4:12)

15. Top Secret – Stupid (4:15)

16. Fresh B – This Is For The Record (4:56)

17. CKLN 88.1 – Oblivion Express Spot (0:19)



Maestro Fresh Wes- “Black Tie Affair”

Main Source- “Atom”

Sonyalive- “I’m Coming into Consciousness”

Please, do yourself a favor and tune into these cuts—you will not regret it. I know many of the die-hard heads here already have an extensive knowledge on a lot of these artists, but hopefully you will find something new, or just have a good time revisiting some of this nostalgia. Without any reservation, I can say that this is one of the greatest compilations in the history of hip-hop. No other collection of songs represents an entire region of hip-hop like the Cold Front Rap Compilation.

My favorite tracks on this collection have to be Maestro Fresh Wes’ “Black Tie Affair” and Main Source’s “Atom” (also a bonus on the re-issue of Breaking Atoms). Another favorite of mine came as a pleasant surprise: Sonyalive’s “I’m Coming into Consciousness.” She has one of the most relaxing flows and thoughtful lyrics out of her peers. I have, however, had a difficult time finding any online information about Sonyalive—her name even comes up blank on Discogs. If any of you have information or additional music from her, please let me know.

As hip-hop heads we should be trying to limit our regional biases. We’re always trying to find the freshest sound regardless of where it comes from. See, it might not always seem like it, but hip-hop is an art form that truly transcends race, ethnicity, gender, and, especially pertinent here, borders.

Now, I still have a long way to go in exploring all the realms of Canadian hip-hop, but there will be a lot of opportunities to learn here.

Canadian rappers have been some of the best kept secret, despite what the spoiled New Yorker in me initially thought.

I’m sure this series is going to be a long and satisfying ride.

Enjoy, and stay tuned for more! If you have any suggestions don’t hesitate to hit me up in the comments or at the Philaflava forums.


— Teddy C.D.