Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hip-Hop & the ECMAs - Part 4 of 5

Hip-Hop & the ECMAs

Why was Hip-Hop side-stepped in Corner Brook

Part 4 of 5

By Brockway Biggs

Hip-Hop is a hard sell in Corner Brook. A quick sweep of the city and surrounding areas uncovered no rap emcees within a three hour radius. DJ Slue's hometown of Gander is 3.5 hours away. Slue, of, attempted to organize a hip-hop event at the ECMAs, but had no luck booking a venue in the small town of Corner Brook.

Atlantic Canada is characterized by its traditional and Celtic music, and progressively more so for its rock. These styles of music provide a more long standing fan base and revenue stream, as outlined in publications such as 'Long Tail.' Hip-hop, on the other hand, has been documented to peak early and is subject to the stereotype of being all about image, big cars, and money.

These genre stereotypes might still be providing some of the road blocks. Fortunately artists like Classified continue to prosper and are now achieving "long tail" success. Industry heads in Atlantic Canada have started to turn, as they realize such pigeonholing has been over generalized.

But hip-hop isn't the only genre struggling to grab its share of the musical focus. Celtic music has also been feeling the backseat effect in recent years. The MacGillivrays (Troy, Kendra and Sabra) are known as one of the most talented families of Celtic performers in Atlantic Canada. Sabra MacGillivray, who was the featured Celtic dancer at the end of the 2009 gala show, has been noticing a change.

"Over the past few years, we've seen the musical focus of the ECMA gala show shift slightly away from Celtic, to progressively put more emphasis on rock. This year we were the only Celtic act on the show. We're flattered and thankful, but it's becoming more difficult for traditional music to get the exposure it once did."

Hip-Hop Approach of other Music Award Festivals

On the other side of our country, the Western Canadian Music Awards (WCMA) celebrate music from Manitoba to British Columbia. The event manager of WCMAs, Robyn Stewart, attended this year's ECMA festival in Corner Brook. The two events share many similarities, but also several differences.

"We recognize the power that hip-hop has with the youth of today and that the number of great Western Canadian hip-hop artists far exceeds that which we engage and celebrate. So, we've been working with people like Will Strickland from the Urban Music Association of Canada (UMAC)."

"In Edmonton and Moose Jaw, Will worked hard to get people out of their basements and involved. Consequently, hip-hop at the WCMA has been gaining momentum including the addition of a Rap/Hip-Hop award category, separate from the traditional Urban Recording award and the inclusion of urban specific industry professionals as conference speakers."

Part 5 - Cape Breton in 2010 - Hip-Hop Suggestions

Part 1 - An Introduction - Hip-Hop Side-Stepped in Corner Brook
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


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