The 2021 Juno Awards celebrate the 30th anniversary of the creation of the rap music category
When the 50th Annual Juno Awards celebrate its half-century milestone on Sunday, the spotlight will also shine on another anniversary-since the 30th anniversary of its rap category.
When Junos released the Rap Record of the Year in 1991, the statue became a hit single Let your backbone slide Via Maestro Fresh-Wes.
“I mean, I’m glad I won. I’m glad I was nominated. I’m also very happy about black music, you know, it’s like a catalyst for us as artists to take it to the next level,” he told CBC News.
“I said that my speech was a bit nervous because I knew it was bigger than me. It’s not just about me. It’s about my brothers and sisters coming with me.”
On Friday, on the opening night of the 2021 Juno Awards, the Rap Record of the Year Award was awarded to Toronto rapper TOBi’s album Element volume. 1.
Bumps along the way
In the past three years, this genre has continued to develop on Canadian soil, but it has not been without obstacles in the process.
In 1998, Vancouver hip-hop group Rascalz refused to accept the Rap Award, accusing Junos of racial discrimination.
“Urban music, reggae, R&B and rap: it’s all black music, and Junos is not represented,” the manager Sol Guy said when reading a statement on behalf of the organization that year. “We decided that until then, we will take a stand,”
The following year, the band returned to the Junos stage to perform its hit songs. North touch, Live broadcast on TV and won the annual Rap Record Award, which changed Canada’s perception of and consumption of rap music.
Over the past ten years, heavyweight Canadian hip-hop artists like Drake and R&B artists like The Weeknd have been dominating the rankings, which makes entering the hip-hop space a reasonable goal for new talents.
For example, Haviah Mighty, a hip-hop artist from Brampton, Ontario.
“I think seeing someone from the same place as me do what I’m developing…it really gave me some inspiration and let me know that there is a way to do it,” she said.
Canadian hip-hop has always been a “constant”
Del Cowie, a music and pop culture journalist based in Toronto, said the Canadian hip-hop music scene has always existed. Cowie said that the new thing is that the industry has now been generating new talent for generations.
Not just rappers-Canadian hip hop producers are everywhere, he said, noting that Canadians are working on rapper J. Cole’s latest album Off-season.
Cowie said: “If you look at the production credit on the record, you will find that at least five Canadians have contributed to the record.”
Canada has a “complex” music industry
Although hip-hop dominates today’s rankings, Cowie said that 30 years ago—or even recently—artists had to seek support outside of Canada.
Artists such as Maestro, Michie Mee, and hip-hop duo Dream Warriors were the first stars to appear and did not sign a domestic recording agreement.
Cowie said that in addition to the transaction, it also needs support from domestic broadcasting and other infrastructure. Until recently, hip-hop artists like today have not streamed media.
James Rathbone, DJ and host of weekly music and cultural podcasts Keep up It is said that this country has grown into a hip-hop market and has experienced prosperity in the past 10 years.
“Right now, we are still in that place,” Rathbone said. “Great works are being produced all over the country.”
He added that the Canadian music industry is a “complex” industry.
Rathbone said that the United States is the largest producer and exporter of hip-hop music. “In a sense, it is sometimes difficult to find a balance between what is supported and created locally and… what is almost confirmed by its success in the United States.”
But he believes that due to the “technical disruption”, the traditional symbols of the industry’s success have become less important.
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Musicians such as bbno$ (pronounced “baby no money”-real name Alex Gumuchian) from Vancouver and Toronto underground artists have also achieved success through TikTok and other social media platforms.
For new artists like Mighty, they have created spaces in genres that deal with topics such as politics, this is to meet those who appeared before her and continue to do this work.
“There is still a lot to do,” she said. “I must be in the middle and very busy.”
The 50th Annual Juno Awards is scheduled to be held on Sunday, June 6th at 8pm Eastern Time / 5pm Pacific Time.They will be broadcast on CBC TV, CBC Gem, CBC Radio One, CBC Music and worldwide CBCMusic.ca/junos.
For more stories about the experience of black Canadians—from anti-black racism to success stories in the black community—check out Black Canadians, a CBC project that Canadian blacks can be proud of. You can read more stories here.