Monday, March 16, 2009

Hip-Hop & the ECMAs - Part 1 of 5

Hip-Hop & the ECMAs

An Introduction - Hip-Hop Side-Stepped in Corner Brook

Part 1 of 5

By Brockway Biggs

Every February, Atlantic Canadians come together to celebrate their musical past, present and future at the East Coast Music Association (ECMA) festival. This year's host city was Corner Brook, Newfoundland who provided a party nearly without parallel.

So where does hip-hop fit into an Atlantic Canadian music festival in a Newfoundland town of 20,000, where Rogers doesn't even provide cell phone service? The answer: It doesn't. The handful of hip-hop artists who made the trek struggled to find a place and break down barriers, much like the first settlers of this area.

Not so long ago, in 2005, the call went out for the creation of a Rap/Hip-Hop ECMA award category. Artists like fiddler Ashley MacIsaac, R&B singer Dutch Robinson and jazz artist Harvey Miller had been dominating the generic "Urban" category. That year, CBC provided regional coverage, which captured the doubts of ECMA executive director Steve Horne.

Fortunately, the board listened to the Atlantic Canadian hip-hop collective and the "Rap/Hip-Hop Single Recording of the Year" category debuted in 2006. The response was overwhelming and squashed the doubts of the ECMA board. After being overlooked for years, Enfield, NS rapper Classified finally garnered his deserved shine, winning the award in its first three years.

In 2009, Moncton/St. John's beat maker Hotbox won the Rap/Hip-Hop ECMA award for "The Main Event" featuring emcee Spesh K & DJ Y-Rush. Unfortunately none of them were able to make the trip to accept the award. Hotbox was busy with his full time teaching job in Moncton, Spesh K found himself in Toronto and Y-Rush had a DJ'ing gig in Halifax. It's a telling sign that the winds of change soon need to take shape.

Part 2 - Popularity of Hip-Hop in Atlantic Canada & Showcases for Hip-Hop artists at the 2009 ECMAs
Part 3 - The Corner Brook Hip-Hop Struggle
Part 4 - Why was Hip-Hop side-stepped in Corner Brook & Hip-Hop Approach of other Music Award Festivals
Part 5 - Cape Breton in 2010 - Hip-Hop Suggestions


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