As Canadian hip hop entered the new millennium, the veterans were seeing a resurgence as a new generation popped up on the scene.
After 1992, Michie Mee was the only Canadian rapper to make an appearance on the national pop charts until 1998, but she ranked with a collaboration with alternative rock band Raggedeth in 1995 with “One Life.”
With the success of “Northern Touch” becoming a Top 41 song in 1998 and Maestro finding his groove back with “Stick To Your Vision” hitting the Top 40 chart, it appeared the struggle for exposure in the mainstream since the falloff the early 90s was over. The country also attained its first urban music station called Flow 93.5.
OL’ TIME KILLIN
Although Bakardi Slang would be the lead single off his Quest for Fire: Firestarter, Vol. 1 album, it appears Kardinal Offishall was keeping it old school Toronto by incorporating his Jamaican background with sampling from “The MC” by KRS-One, “Murderer” by Barrington Levy, and “Murder She Wrote” by Chaka Demus & Pliers. The song that featured Jully Black, Allistair, IRS, and is the single that gets replay til this day.
The single seems to be Kardinal paying homage to Michie Mee’s “Jamaican Funk” classic a few years prior. Kardinal would become the third Toronto rapper to hit the charts with Bakardi Slang. The single was released in Canada in 2000, before being re-released in the U.S. the following year. It became his first single to appear on a Billboard chart, as well as his first Top 40 hit as a solo artist in Canada.
STILL TOO MUCH
In 1996 the original Ghetto Concept released the single “Much Luv”, which featured past member Infinite. The duo released their self-titled debut album Ghetto Concept in 1998 with singles such as “Krazy World” and “Precious Metals” that had a remix with Onyx’s Sticky Fingaz. In 1999, they received gold certification for their single “Too Much.”
The group ended up with one of the biggest collaborations in Canadian hip hop history. The remix for “Still Too Much” had Maestro, Kardinal, Red 1 of The Rascalz, Ironside, and Snow. The music video got heavy rotation on Canada’s television music station, MuchMusic, as the Canadian hip hop scene started of the new millennium.
As his group was gaining mainstream success, Infinite was also was attaining solo success. Infinite’s last appearance with the group was on the single “Much Luv” in 1996, but he dropped singles “Gotta Get Mine” that earned him a second Juno Award nomination for Best Rap Recording.
The next year, he released his second single “Take a Look”; the music video won two MuchMusic Video Awards for Best Rap Video and Best Independent Video. However, the 360 Degrees single that was the EP’s title contained one of the best story telling hip hop songs in Canadian rap history. The single with the Jully Black singing the hook is what takes it over the top.
As mentioned in the 1994-1998 era of Canadian hip hop, The Smugglaz were in the early stages of forming their street style of rap. By the beginning of the millennium, The Smugglaz would breakthrough on the mainstream with their single “Street Rappers” and were contrast to their Jane-Finch predecessors The Dream Warriors of the 1989-1993 era style of boombastic rap.
While, The Dream Warriors were applauded for their artistic twist to hip hop, the Canadian mainstream had issues with the street content of The Smugglaz. CBC presented the first ever prime time special about hip hop in Canada in 2001 when their award winning broadcast “The National.”
Today BFR’s Bundog and Pressa have taken the Jane and Finch hip hop to an international audience, but their predecessors caused ruckus in the streets and Canadian media outlet such as NOW Magazine in an article entitled “CBC Race Ruckus” in the August 30-September 6, 2001 | VOL 20 NO 52 edition. The documentary also included the story of two different regions in conflict with Jane-Finch and Rexdale as Infinite appeared in the controversial program as well.
VOTE FOR THE SONG ABOVE YOU PICK AS GREATEST OF 1999-2003
OTHER SONGS THAT MADE NOISE IN THE ERA
A group of four Toronto DJs called Baby Blue Soundcrew helped to take iconic dancehall artist Sean Paul to the next level in 2000 with Toronto’s Kardinal Offishall.
It was an amazing collaboration and Kid Kut of Baby Blue Sound Crew told Fader that, “Kardinal Offishall, Jully Black, a lot of other artists, and I — we all came out of a [government funded] community program called Fresh Arts. I hit Kardi up, like, ‘Baby Blue got this record deal. I’d love to have you on the album, do you have anything?’ And he was cooking on some things and played me “Money Jane,” which was pretty much finished. Our DJ at the time, KLC, suggested it might sound dope with a collab and a bit of reggae. I flew out to Jamaica and met up with Sean Paul’s manager, Jeremy Harding. We already knew who Sean was, but he didn’t have anything bussin internationally at the time — just Jamaica. He was, in our eyes, someone who could be easily accepted in the Canadian market because of his appearance, and his lyrics and delivery were melodic and easy to digest.
Above Kardinal’s breakthrough single “Bakardi Slang” was mentioned. The visuals for the single that hit BET was the country of Canada breaking new ground across the border. In the video below is the rare BET appearance of Kardinal Offishall.