CDN Hip-Hop “State of the Union Address” Pt. 1: F*ck Toronto Hip-Hop [Article]
Toronto, ON – Originally published Jan. 6, 2014 – This is the realest shit I ever wrote in an article. it is inspired by the passion of Tupac Shakur and Russell Jones, two men who would not stay silent when injustice happened to them.
Mindbender Loves You, Toronto.
But, trust me when I scream this next statement into your collective soul right here and now: MINDBENDER DOES NOT LOVE TORONTO’S SELFISH AND DISRESPECTFUL BEHAVIOR, TORONTO’S CORRUPTED SOCIAL VALUES, OR TORONTO’S SELF-DESTRUCTIVE COWARDICE IN ITS POWERFUL MOMENTS OF TRUTH.
This is the eternal truth of all art and business: EVERYONE can be complimented, and EVERYONE can be criticized. From Flow 93.5, to MuchMusic, to HipHopCanada, to 1LoveTO, to ManifesTO, to VideoFACT, NXNE, CMW, LiveNation, the major record labels in Canada, the NDP, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, the Catholic Church and the Vatican, Barack Obama’s Democratic U.S. Government, the Russian legal system, Sharia Law, the conflict in Syria, the recent anti-gay legislations in India, Pride Magazine, 98.7 FM, our wonderful brother Dwight Drummond, CTV, CBC, Olivia Chow, Adam Vaughan, Exclaim!, Aux.tv, The Grid… absolutely anybody doing anything in this world. ALL people, places and things can be criticized AND complimented, no matter how “good” or “evil” they are perceived to be.
And anyone whose daily operation and work purpose primarily functions from their ego, public image and precious reputation, yet knows only a few moments of community connection created by service from their actual heart, soul, or conscience, will not be able to face the revelation of any empirical fact or observable truth, or accept the constructive criticism that their service to the world and/or their creations inspire. But: I can.
So, let me take the lead in saying what the fuck needs to be said about Toronto and the entire Canadian music industry, so that maybe in 2014, we won’t be dealing with some of the same stupid bullshit we all were struggling to solve in 1994. Besides everyone getting an internet and smartphone addiction, plus the disappearance of physical media like CDs and cassettes and magazines, not much progress has occurred in the Toronto music “industry” in the past 20 years. And unless you have the perfect dream job and/or the perfect dream life right now, then more work must be done and more things have to change.
It’s time somebody declared we escape this overwhelming oppressive ignorance ruining so much of our reality here. We must break the vicious cycles of power-abusing, selfish separation that keeps the world class potential of Toronto in a state of perpetual arrested development in regards to growing our arts industry into becoming the next big thing in big business across the world. That $45 million dollar investment into the world-class Toronto music scene from the Ontario Government should not fucking go to waste!
Some of us dun know: Toronto’s been saying “we got next!” since Choclair put out Ice Cold in 1998, and Kardinal Offishall’s “Bakardi Slang” got on BET’s RapCity. But Toronto hip-hop simply hasn’t evolved enough to support the careers of the hip-hop artists in the city. WHY?
BECAUSE TOO MANY PEOPLE IN TORONTO DO NOT CARE TO DO THE RIGHT THING. Period.
That means you. Yeah, I’m criticizing YOU, the person reading this.
Can your ego take a little criticism? Or will you stop reading the truth if it hurts too much to learn? If you give up that easily, how fast will you give up on contributing to the improvement of this chaotic music community?
Now, don’t take it personal. It’s honestly just a suggestion. Maybe you couldn’t possibly contribute more time, money and energy to Canadian hip-hop or to supporting Canadian artistry. But alternately: MAYBE YOU COULD DO MORE. But, if you want to ignore and hate on a suggestion to try to improve the lives of your creative sistren and bredren… then I think the criticism is valid.
Now, if you have ever met me, Addi “Mindbender” Stewart, then you have ~probably~ already received some form of positive energy and kindness from me, because that’s what I do with my life: I encourage love to grow and truth to spread. But now is the perfect time for some explosively constructive criticism to be said to the city of Toronto.
I don’t give a fuck what you do, within Canadian hip-hop or outside of it.
You need to do more. WE ALL DO.
I’m Mindbender Supreme, and I completely confess that I NEED TO DO MORE to help save Toronto hip-hop from Toronto hip-hop. I put those words in print, and I know that I’m already possibly one the best fucking living, breathing examples of Toronto hip-hop culture alive today. Yet I still know that I obviously am doing something wrong if I’m such an unknown superstar. Or, I’m doing everything right… but just not doing enough.
So, I’m starting with writing this Canadian Hip-Hop State of the Union Address. Yes, I know that’s a reference to the American President, but as much (constructive) criticism as the Barack Obama Administration deserves to receive, does Stephen Harper EVER speak to the Canadian people with a message of either optimistic hope or critical analytical truth? No, he doesn’t, not that I can remember. And neither does Rob Ford, contrary to populist opinion. To our unspeakable detriment, Canada has very little respectable or inspirational political or social leadership at the moment, and it’s far past the time we all have to wake up.
This is me, standing the fuck up for what I live and breathe and believe in with all my heart and soul, no matter who walks with me or against me.
I am Toronto, I am hip-hop, I am truth, and I am love.
And I am telling you all: everything needs to be different until nothing was the same ever again, word to our brother Aubrey motherfuckin’ Graham.
We can’t continue stumbling forward down this pathetic path of ignorant underachievement and expect Toronto to become the next New York or Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles or even London, England or Berlin, Germany, my people. Bad habits need to be broken. “Rules” need to be changed. New ideas need to be implemented. Additional infrastructure measures have to be envisioned, executed and applied to our current conditions, when the key elements are in place, so higher intentions can be made concrete.
And ALL the subtle corruption killing Canada’s creative spirits from finding a solid social and financial foundation needs to be called all the way the fuck out. If it isn’t, then, just like so many other aspects of Canadian life: things will stay the exact same, as people suffer and complain… and then don’t do SHIT about it. And then, suffer more and complain again, with increasing cynicism and decreasing hope the next time it happens… but not actually contribute any energy to any possible solution.
So, I will give some solutions for Toronto to practice in the immediate future, to solve some of the problems it’s been strangled with since the late 90′s. But AFTER diagnosing the problem. A doctor can’t properly treat cancer until they know how far it has spread through the body.
But, where did all this venom come from, you ask?
Why is Mindbender writing all this?
I’ll tell you why I had to do this, in Part 2 of this Canadian Hip-Hop State of the Union Address, from one of the Mayors of Toronto hip-hop, Mindbender Supreme.
Written by Addi “Mindbender” Stewart
Photography by Javin Lau
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the author and are not necessarily those of HipHopCanada or its affiliates.