Attention class. Things are about to get RAW! Open your ears and your mind. If you are old enough (which isn’t that old) to remember the first time you heard the opening beats of Maestro Fres Wes’s debut single “Let Your Back Bone Slide,” you might get an A in this course. If you are a bit younger, you can still get that grade, in fact, you can move to the front of the classroom. You’re gonna love this. Imagine hip hop in Canada before Drake? Can you even? OMG.
…Everything Remains Raw: Photographing Toronto’s Hip Hop Culture from Analogue to Digital by Mark Campbell is an in-depth look at Toronto’s burgeoning hip-hop scene from the 1980s until the present. The book also chronicles how hip-hop culture became a fixture in the GTA. Drawing from zines, interviews, photos, and art during hip hop’s embryonic beginnings, the book aims to remind readers of how prevalent hip hop has become and to document its ubiquitous rise in the city. What follows is an interview with author Mark Campbell about his upcoming projects, the Grammy Awards, the state of hip hop and more.
What is your take on Drake cleaning up at the Grammy nominations this year?
It’s great our southern neighbours recognize his global success; they recognize they need to remain relevant. Something the Junos have yet to learn.
Do you think Canada has more international caché for our artists than here at home? Or is it a mix?
International audiences appreciate the music that comes out of Canada. These audiences don’t suffer from the lack of self-esteem Canadians always demonstrate toward their artists.
You are continually reflecting the culture of hip hop around you in Toronto. How have you seen media’s acceptance of the whole concept of hip hop change over the last few years?
What has changed is that journalists take their lead from trending items. Hip hop still gets characterized in a negative light, similar to news coverage in the ’80s.
Tell us about your upcoming art show/exhibit on the 15th? How did this project come together?
The For the Record: An Idea of the North team came together from my history as a DJ thinking about all of the vinyl recordings and all of the work DJs’ sound systems and radio shows put into creating the ecosystem that makes Toronto hip hop and pop music relevant. So this show unearths many of the forgotten DJs’ sound systems, radio shows, and musical experiences that were formative in developing Toronto’s hip-hop scene.
And there is a book to go along with the exhibit. Is that correct?
The new book, For the Record: An Idea of the North, which will be released in conjunction with the exhibition, is a sonic adventure about the making of Toronto hip hop and Canadian identity.
The book will feature an array of well-known hip-hop journalists, interviews with legendary sound crews from Toronto, and of course, installation shots from the exhibition and images of rare vinyl from the Northside hip-hop archive. I will write the feature essay focused on linking the development of Toronto’s hip-hop community through the sonic, in contrast to the visual depictions of Canadian wilderness that formed the canonical renditions of Canadianness with the Group of Seven. To be released at the end of April, the book will catalogue all of the items that you will see in the new show. It will also feature original interviews and never-before-seen content that documents Toronto’s hip-hop legacy.
Listen to Mark Campbell on CBC’s Q
Read a review of Everything from This Magazine
Watch Drake's 'I'm Upset' (Degrassi cameos!)
Craig Boyko (born 1979)
TheONE Drizzy Drake (detail), 2007
24 x 30 inches
Digital RAW file
Digital chromogenic print
Courtesy of the artist
. . . Everything Remains Raw: Photographing Toronto Hip-Hop Culture from Analogue to Digital copyright © 2018 by Goose Lane Editions and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
Exhibition currently on view at the Art Gallery of Sudbury, closing February 17th, 2019.
Check in later this month for more #101 classes, and don’t forget to check out the great selection of course material at our online store.