Toronto Hip Hop vs. The Toronto Media – 2011: The Year Things Must Change Around Here
To NOW Magazine,
It’s time to go Tim Perlich on your music department. The incomprehensible void that represents your hip hop coverage needs to be addressed immediately. On the cover of your otherwise respectable and insightful publication, it says “Everything Toronto”. I emphatically challenge this claim on the grounds that, for months upon months, NOW Magazine’s support of the industry-standard-setting, world-class hip hop community has gone criminally unrecognized and disrespectfully ignored. There is no justification for not giving a drop of ink to virtually ANY of the rap artists or events in Toronto. On every level, you are failing local and international hip hop, week after week. You’ve had almost no hip hop event reviews, when Royce the 5’9″, Rah Digga, Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey (J. Dilla’s mother!), Black Sheep, Buckshot, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Canibus, Jeru the Damaja, Ernie Paniccioli, Joe Budden and many more have all been here in the past two months. You’ve had almost no local album reviews, when D-Sisive, Rich Kidd, Empire, Cadence Weapon and other Canadian acts have released so much great music lately (at least you didn’t miss Buck 65). And you haven’t done an interview on a local hip hop artist/event in who knows how long. When the KOTD Rap Battle League has been featured on MTV, spans 5 cities across Canada, has millions of YouTube views, and has featured MCs from New York, California, Miami, and the UK, why have you never once featured KOTD in NOW? The same questions linger for ‘The Ultimate MC’ Freestyle contest on AUXTV, hosted by Bishop Brigante, now underway in 4 different Canadian cities. Your lack of support for our city’s hip hop scene is completely unacceptable, and on behalf of the community, I request you immediately improve your coverage. If you can critically assess society on every level, you must allow yourself to be critically assessed.
The most egregious example of your music department’s glaring flaws is found in this week’s CMW wrap-up. You review only the Jay Electronica concert, when CMW 2011 featured a few other hip hop acts (R.A. the Rugged Man, Angerville, Unknown Mizery, Mayhem Morearty, Made Wade, Magnum K.I., etc.). Yet your most blatant omission came when you failed to even do a concert review of your coveted cover story from last week, Janelle Monae. How she can headline a show with new school Canadian rap legend Shad K at the Royal York Hotel and you not have a writer there (to try and describe her phenomenal, sold-out concert’s Cirque du Soleil-like surreality) is beyond journalistic failure. And finally, Drake is the host of the upcoming Juno Awards here in Toronto at the Air Canada Center, and it would be a perfect opportunity to finally interview to him… if your music editor thought it was a story worth writing about. I would have been honored to do a “Mindbender Interviews Drake” article for you, and I think it would have been excellently received, like my RZA or Nas interviews were, or my 5-page “Representing the T-Dot” piece was. But my repeated offers to forget the unjust dismissal I received from the music editor a few years ago and continue to write for the magazine have been met with further rejection. I am STILL open to look past the problems and be part of the solution. I know what needs to be done, and I keep trying do my part to help around here… but there are people with power in entrenched positions in this city who don’t care to evolve the state of business and industry in our stifled city, and that’s why we are perpetually stuck in the same place, if not moving backwards, in our attempts to become the globally-respected musical mecca Toronto has had the potential to be for so very, very long.
Straight up and down: Toronto is arguably the best hip hop city in the world in 2011… but you wouldn’t know it by reading NOW. Don’t worry though, you are certainly not the only media outlet not supporting Canadian hip hop. But you used to be the best, so you must be held accountable first. I hope this laissez-faire attitude towards a huge segment of Toronto culture changes immediately, because you are missing out on nothing less than music world history unfolding by sleeping on Toronto hip hop in 2011.
If you need help from the hip hop community, we would be happy to provide it to you. All you need to do is accept it.
in love and honesty:
sincerely yours truly,
Addi “Mindbender” Stewart