As we continue to respect the artitects, Northsidehiphop.ca sits down with Mindbender Supreme to reflect on hip hop culture in Ottawa during the early 1990s.
Big Shouts to the Smugglaz check out their youtube page, they diggin in the crates helping to promote Toronto hip hop history.
By: True Daley for Northsidehiphop.ca
In our first segment of an ongoing series celebrating the achievements of Canadian rappers, we talk to emcee turned R&B artist, Jordan Croucher of Halifax (Square Town), Nova Scotia.
While North Americans know of its pivotal role in history as part of the underground railroad, here are some quick facts to put it all in perspective for the online community.
In the 1600’s, translator Mathieu De Costa, became the country’s first recorded black person to arrive in Canada, when he accompanied Samuel Champlain to Nova Scotia. Halifax is where Jamaican Maroons deterred an attack by Napoleon, and where a
self-sufficient black settlement called Africville was formed following the War of 1812, before it was bulldozed in favour of urban expansion in 1964.
In the 19th & 20th century, the province boasted the largest indigenous black population in the country. Nicknamed the ‘New Orleans’ of the East – Halifax is known for a population plagued by racism, yet revered as the birthplace of Canada’s greatest civil rights leaders.
In regards to hip hop history, national audiences first took notice of Nova Scotia’s when MC J & Kool G arrived on the scene in the 80’s. Currently, many hip-hop fans recognize Juno & MMVA award-winning Classified, as ‘the voice of the East’.
Croucher credits his musical partnership with rapper and producer Classified, as pushing him to the forefront of the the music scene, and also explains why he considers himself an R&B singer with a Hip-Hop soul.
Album: No Dress Code – 1997
Singles: Feelin’ Fine feat. Classified, Jay Bizzy
Please Don’t Cry (Ghetto Child feat. Jordan Croucher)
It’s Rainin’ (J Bru feat. Jordan Croucher)
Won’t Let Go
You Can Have It All
Michie, Lady P, True Daley and Motion chop it up at the 2010 T-Dot Pioneers Exhibition in Toronto, Michie reflects back on the role CBC Radio played in her career
interviewed by Scott C
Ricardo Daley, aka Rickey D, aka the Mayor of Burgundy, has been a fixture in Montreal’s club and party promotion scene since the early ’80s, making sure Montreal had hip hop and R&B shows to go to for years. Although most of his attention these days goes into catering to Montreal’s “mature clientele”, this family man is every bit the hustler that he’s always been. Rickey D was responsible for booking many of Montreal’s first hip hop shows along with Gary T, and changed the game promoting parties and concerts in Montreal. Here are some of his reflections on days gone by.
Where it all started….
“I was 12 in 1979, and I was in love with hip hop and what we called soul music back then, and lot of my friends parents used to do parties at dancehalls in places like the NDG Black Community Center, Lasalle Black Community Center, and the NCC or Negro Community Center. They were basically bringing in New York style parties to Montreal. This was my earliest introduction to this kind of thing in Montreal, and its because of those community based events, and guys like DJ Dr. Jamm and Fabian ‘Kickin’ Ash that it was able to grow like it did. These guys lived in the same city housing block that I did, and as we enjoyed the first wave of breakdancing, pop-locking and rapping in Montreal, I was trying to figure out how I fit into all of it. I couldn’t figure out DJing, and I couldn’t dance that well or do any those phenomenal moves, but I knew I loved music and knew that I wanted to be involved in the scene in some capacity. Promotion took a lot more work in the early days because you had to introduce yourself to people, they had to like your character, they had to believe in what you were doing, and you had to like what you were doing and want to support it. This is where I felt most comfortable. I started off promoting parties for Fitz and Fabian in the early 80’s, and they were the first ones to bring hip hop, soul and reggae into the downtown core of Montreal, parties that until that time had been confined to a dancehall or house-party kind of thing. Downtown clubs in early 80’s Montreal played zero hip hop, but we realized that if we booked parties on long weekends, we had something going. The clubs loved it because back then people never did anything on long weekends, and they saw the place packed with people they had never seen before. Places like Salsa Plus and Club Business were seeing a lot of business from us, and we weren’t even bringing in guests DJs. We didn’t have that direct relationship with New York yet, although a lot of Montreal’s early promoters and DJs caught the vibe from there and brought it back to MTL. That wouldn’t develop until the late 80’s, and while DJing was still in its infancy, we were able to carve out a place for ourselves. We used to listen to Club 980 on CKGM with Michael Williams (formerly of Muchmusic), where Butcher T and a few other local DJs played, and that was the one of the first radio stations in Canada to play hip hop and r n’ b. We were getting our information from there, and a lot of new music was coming out of that show.”
Keep on movin’ don’t stop….
“I was bringing in literally thousands of people to events doing party promoting for quite a while, and it was Gary T who realized that it was me behind the promotion success. I was the first promoter to hand out flyers for parties and shows at the movie theatre, and it sounds silly, but nobody had done that before. Nobody had gone into the CEGEPs and passed flyers to people before either. Promotion was very primitive back then, and even going to hand out flyers in front of another club that wasn’t housing your event was something that wasn’t done. The first show I did with Gary T was Public Enemy at James Lyng High School in 1988. It was a beautiful thing because everybody came out for that show. White kids and black kids and anybody that was into hip hop in Montreal was there that night. We also did Chubb Rock and Big Daddy Kane at James Lyng. James Lyng High School was one of those places where they really let us do our thing. We also used to do parties at Marymount Academy. You had to go to the place where hip hop was back then, because it wasn’t really on the radio or TV, or in mainstream clubs. The general public didn’t understand us. They didn’t understand the appeal or the popularity of hip hop and there was a lot of resistance, but we kept going.
Drawn by DJ Speed. (D Scratch’s cousin from Chicago)
Words by: DJ Lil’ Jaz
I had been watching D Scratch (my older cousin) showcase, battle and DJ parties. To me, he was already a leader in the DJ game before I ever mixed two records together. It was from locally infamous Toronto battles like CHRY’s Metro Mixoff and Ron Nelson’s Monster Jam that began to define the real players in Turntablism (let alone B Boys, MC’s, and even Producers) in Toronto’s Hip Hop scene. From watching my cousin battle, I learned of deftly skilled DJ Grouch and DJ Apollo. It was around this time where my brothers started showing me how to mix and scratch as well. We had our soundcrew called G-Force Soundcrew. So I began practicing scratching and mixing. I would listen to DJ Scratch’s scratches for EPMD, DJ premier’s scratches for Gangstarr and DJ Jazzy Jeff’s transforming on Live in Union Square as well as D, Grouch, and Apollo do the same thing right here in Toronto. I began working on getting a basic “flutter” scratch (aka. scribble) and a decent transformer scratch. My brothers saw me progress quite quickly and began to push me to think about battling. However, there was no way my 14/15 year old mind could conceive the possibility of even being on the same stages as the already top of the game DJ’s this city was producing. So my brothers called D and told him he had to listen to me scratch. I believe D was surprised to even hear those scratches coming from me as he probably had no idea I was even DJing. From there, he took me under his wing and began showing me advanced techniques in scratching and beatjuggling. I believe he got a kick at throwing concepts at me to see how hard I would go at it and produce some interesting results. He also started showing me video’s of DJ’s in the USA killing the battle scene in DMC and Music Conference battles. Mind blowing material. It was in these tapes that I saw Q Bert, Mixmastermike, and DJ Apollo rock a team routine under the name, Rocksteady Dj’s, later to be renamed Invisibl Skratch Piklz. Over the course of his early mentorship to me, I expressed my interest in joining the ’93 CHRY Metro Mixoff. But deep down, I didn’t really want to face my cousin/mentor at ANY point in the battle. Nor do I feel he wanted to deal with turning into the “cut throat” battle version of D, where us being cousins and friends had no relevance. So he suggested we enter as a team. The Rocksteady DJ’s were doing it, so would we. His cousin from Chicago DJ Speed would join us in being the first ever team, to my knowledge, to compete in a Canadian DJ Battle. So we worked all summer long, practicing together, hanging out together, playing Virtua Racing on Sega Genesis and crafting a routine for the 93 CHRY Metro Mixoff. After it was all said and done, I entered my first battle ever, paid some dues, and collected my first win with D Scratch and DJ Speed as Straight Sound Crew. A true confirmation to myself and to my mentor D, that I had what it took to compete. DJ Speed drew the graphic on the slip mat at the conclusion of the battle to commemorate our win as well as our time together in D’s basement. Not only would I adopt the name Lil’ Jaz during this time, but this was the early beginnings of 2/3 of Turnstylez. This slipmat symbolizes all of this as well as the first stripe earned as a battle DJ.
FLASHBACK: Interview with DJ Mastermind
interviewed by Mark V. Campbell
DJ Mastermind is now a host on 93.5 the Move (in Toronto) and formerly the Music Director at Vibe 98.5 in Calgary, Alberta. Mastermind started his career as a DJ in Toronto back in the late 1980s. Northsidehiphop.ca caught up with DJ Mastermind to talk about some of his best memories and reflect on Mastermind’s hugely successful DJ career.
What was your very first experience with Toronto hip hop and what element did you encounter and what was your reaction or your thoughts?
I was 11 or 12 years old and saw some kids breakdancing outside Eaton Centre and was hooked…Went back to my neighbourhood and tried to find anyone who breakdanced and asked them what music they were listening to…somehow I was told about Saturdays on CKLN…that same Saturday I was on my backyard deck (in the snow) with my shitty-ass radio with coat hangers for antennas trying to listen to and record the “Fantastic Voyage” radio show hosted by RON NELSON…It was magical…I remember hearing La Di Da Di in between the static…and from that moment on it was nothing but Rap/Hip-Hop for me. I lived it, studied it, learned it…I also somehow found out about Carnival Records & Starsound Records on Yonge Street and when ever I had $10.00 I would head down and buy ONE record…because I could only afford ONE it would take me hours to decide…I would go back and forth from store to store until I could decide which one it would be (too funny)…As for the “Fantastic Voyage”, I listened religiously EVERY Saturday…One day I called in to play a contest and wound up winning tickets to see LL COOL J live at Concert Hall…I think I may have been 12 or 13…When I went down to Ryerson to pick up the tickets I was so nervous…Ron was a hero to me…I got his autograph and everything. I went to the concert with my older sister and loved every minute of it…I must have looked like such a punk with all the older people there LOL. As time went on I somehow became one of Ron’s street team members and would help him put posters up during the night around the city for his concerts & parties…Somehow that parlayed into calling into his show one Saturday to answer some trivia questions…Ron put me on live and we played “Name That Tune”, I got every question correct and on the air he says “Damn, you’re like a Mastermind” (the funny part is Ron used the name “Mastermind” as his alter-ego when he would play house/dance parties so he called me “Mastermind II” but after I got my own radio show he graciously gave up the name and let me have it and from there it stuck.
How did your first radio show in 1987 at CHRY come to be?
There was an older guy on my street (Steve Perry) who was going to York University, he had a ska/reggae show at CHRY (the new campus radio station that just started at York University) he said the Program Director (who was really into Hip-Hop) was in search of someone to host a Hip-Hop show, he knew I was really into hip-hop and suggested I go down and try to get a show. I was only 15 years old and thought he was nuts but he was persistent and eventually took me to the station. I met with Kaan Yigit (the program Director) and introduced myself and explained how I would love to do a hip-hop show, not a few minutes into our chat he stops me and says and I quote, ” ok, ok, cool but do you know that “Mastermind” kid that I heard a week or two ago on Ron Nelson’s show?”…Stunned, I said “That was me!”, he says “We’ve been looking for you to host this show!” It was some sort of “stars aligning” moment…we started talking about Hip-Hop and how we both love it and he eventually gave me a show that day.
How did you learn to dj and who were your role models?
When I got my show I couldn’t DJ (not in the sense of 2 turntables) I had a crappy 1 piece type record player at home that I learned to scratch with using the volume control but I still couldn’t mix on 1200’s…my first DJ on my show was “Howie D”, he was there for a few months and we had a falling out and then Al Capone came on board (it was Al that showed me the basics of spinning/mixing on 1200’s) after me & Al had a falling out, my PD said “No more DJ’s, you have to do it” so I jumped in head first and did the whole “Sink or swim” thing…Luckily for I could “swim” and fairly well too 🙂
As for “Role Models”, Ron Nelson for sure, without him, you wouldn’t have had me. Before I knew Ron, I would go to his parties and sit at the front of the stage and just watch him spin. (I was a very shy/awkward kid so I would dance but I loved watching the DJ). NYC legend Mr.Magic (who I was lucky enough to meet) was an idol, as was DJ Red Alert (who I eventually became friends with). I’ve had so many people small and big shape and influence me that there are too many to mention.
What has been your most memorable Toronto hip hop moment as a fan (not as a DJ)?
So many….one that stands out was going to the legendary “NYC Invades T.O. battle Part 2″ in 1987…Cash Money & Marvelous VS (I forget the DJ) but the rapper was MC Melody (who later became Maestro Fresh-Wes) and Wes killed Marvelous…that was nuts…Biz Markie was there to battle T.O. beatboxers Mighty Mouth Rock and Kid Icy Beats (but instead he went on and did a full on show and performed “Nobody Beats The Biz” for the first time anywhere…the song wasn’t even out yet and it tore the place down…Man there are so many…In ’88, Ice-T came to town for press and he picked my show to do an interview, I remember he rolled up to the small CHRY parking area in a limo, came up to the small humble studio and we recorded an interview in the back cuz it was on a Monday or something and my show was on Wednesday’s…this is when “Power” came out. The Jungle Brothers came to town in ’88 or ’89 and Chris Lighty was their road manager at the time. They came by my show to do an interview and later that night they call me cuz the promoter stiffed them, no hotel, no money, etc…I get a car together and we all squeeze into it, 4 of them me & Al and we take care of them…Later that year, we go to NYC and thru some Def Jam connects I had got invited to a concert/party on a boat in the harbour…Well, it just so happens the JB’s are to perform on the boat, we bump into Chris at the dock, he remembers the hospitality we showed him when they were in T.O. and takes us on board as guests…Big Daddy Kane is the headliner, we’re chillin in the VIP where I meet a still un-released Queen Latifah, A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul. No one knew who they were yet…pretty cool. I also remember hanging out with KRS-One & Scot La Rock in front of Eaton Centre after we hung out at CKLN with Ron. This was just after “Criminal Minded” came out and some random girl came up to Kris and was like “Reggae is hotness or the future” or something like that and Kris says “No, Hip-Hop is” and kept it moving…There was this bravado about him that oozed “Hip-Hop”.
The mixtapes! They were legendary and still talked about today, still bumpin volume 49. If there was one facet of your game (others being radio show and concerts) what would say made you most proud what would it be and why?
I prided myself (and in some cases tortured myself) to make sure I had the newest music. Period! If it wasn’t out I had to have it – by any means necessary. There was a DJ out of London Tim Westwood…For some reason, he would get music BEFORE anyone else…it was crazy. I thought it was BS when I would see his charts and see songs that no one else had…I said I want that to be me…So I made it a point of developing my contacts and ensuring that my show was so hot, important and not to be missed that it turned into a thing that if it was being sent to Canada it had to come thru me & my show…I remember doing the “Powemove Show” with DJ X, one Saturday, my boy from “Wild Pitch” came to town to see a girl he met at Caribana and made a point of coming thru to give me 2 white labels of this new unheard MC named “O.C.” we played “Times Up” like 4 times that day! Another time, I was spinning a whole bunch of new music and some unknown DJ made his way to the station to find out who I was and what I was playing and how I got my hands on these tracks. That DJ ended up being “Green Lantern” BEFORE he got big, when he was still in Rochester or Syracuse…So for me it has always been about the “new” music. Being able to “hear” or “pick” what WILL be hot and play it for my audience.
The title of the exhibition Tdot Pioneers is taken from a Kneedeep record from the 1990s. Here is the logo I just stumbled upon this one day and I was wondering what do you think constitutes a T-Dot Pioneer and why should the next generation bother with event asking these questions?
A “T-Dot Pioneer” is someone who in some way big or small made a contribution to help shape the current atmosphere of Hip-Hop culture in Toronto (and Canada on a whole). It could be a breaker or dancer, a DJ, an MC, radio host, a manager, etc. If they influenced ONE person then they contributed…The fact that Kardinal and now Drake has taken over the world is a testament to our “breeding ground”…I would love to hear Drake talk about his early days and who he listened to or whose parties he wouldn’t miss, etc. That is where you’ll find out some history…Because he has gotten so big, his story would be interesting to know…And hopefully he is currently influencing the NEXT young talent that will come from T.O. because they’re seeing him do it and they feel they can do it too!
Jonathan Ramos of REMG talks about his first experiences as a promoter in Toronto and his connection to Hip-Hop pioneer Ron Nelson.