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CDN Hip-Hop “State of the Union Address” Pt. 1: F*ck Toronto Hip-Hop [Article]

Toronto, ONOriginally 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.


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!,, 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.

CDN Hip-Hop State of the Union Address Pt. 1: Fuck Toronto Hip-Hop [Article] -

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?


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 for HipHopCanada
Photography by Javin Lau

Notice: The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the author and are not necessarily those of HipHopCanada or its affiliates.

CDN Hip-Hop State of the Union Address Pt. 1: Fuck Toronto Hip-Hop [Article] -

Twitter: @MindbenderMind

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  1. Hashtag This

    cats consider themselves artists by quoting and hastaging themselves on social media these days…..saying they got a movement going……shit is pathetic man

  2. Shabazz Allah

    talkin loud, sayin nothing

  3. Masia One

    Put in work locally with a global mindset. I’ll let you know when I’m ready to book Toronto artists here in SE Asia. Working on this foundation. Sending Love from Singapore.

  4. Chevy

    @Shabazz: This man speaks the truth… he’s said plenty about what types of positive change is needed. Personally I can’t wait for part 2.

  5. Mandy Mayhem

    You can’t complain you are not supported if you do not support. period. mindbender is everyone’s cheerleader, and when the cheerleaders start to get bitter – you know there is a problem.

    The lack of support for Canadians from Canadians is not an isolated incident – hip hop is not the only victim of this circumstance, but we can be the leaders in this situation. OPEN DOORS FOR EACH OTHER. OPEN DOORS FOR EACH OTHER. OPEN DOORS FOR EACH OTHER.

    There is more than enough to go around.

  6. The Ultron Don

    i completely agree that all of us are in the wrong in this matter, no doubt

    However, this discussion has been a constant for years. no matter how many times i’ve heard it in seminars, radio shows, blogs, you name it…there is no real solution to this, and maybe there shouldn’t be one on top of that. I mean truth and reality is that Toronto is only so small, and we tend to forget the whole of Canada to top if off.

    Hip hop is the only form of music where the artist geographic location matters, and it’s such a huge disadvantage. I never hear it with canadian based rock artists, jazz artists, etc. only because they understand that the music counts more than where they’re at. I seriously do not get the need for it. I personally think at the end of the day…our local artists do need a global mindset (as Masia mentioned)..there’s much more to it than Canada, and it’s the only way for an artist in general to survive.

    I’ve been a part of several jury panels for grants, and the commonality i find is that the music is great..but the plans are not there. How can we thrive and build, when we’re not properly planning and nurturing artists careers in the first place?

    I think the bigger debate should be, how Canadian artists can make a career touring in Canada. I mean all other countries (America, South America, Europe, name it) somehow have the ability of building their artists to the point where they don’t have to go outside of their own country to build their career. We are certainly not the biggest country, but we’re certainly not the smallest country either…this could be attained!

    but it all goes back to Addi saying that too many people don’t care to do the right thing. not enough folks to show the ropes, and not enough folks who take that advice and actually make something of it.

    not enough folks to tell canadian hip hop artists (in particular) that maybe their plans aren’t exactly concrete, not enough folks to tell a that they have to understand how effective promotions work thoroughly, how to set standards for themselves, how long it really does take before they see any form of return on investment and how to properly invest in their artistic career early on (e.g. grants, registering for SOCAN, sending the ‘right’ music to the ‘right’ radio program).

    i’m not pointing fingers here. throughout what i just said..i do believe that all of this is very easily attainable.

  7. The Ultron Don

    1 – i do feel a lot of ppl have dropped the ball in maintaining the growth of whatever urban industry we have left.

    2 – a common problem i have always seen is that this whole entire scene is too clique’ish for its own good.

  8. Spinister

    It’s sad when MindBender has to complain. This article is overdue….about 10-15 years ago.

    The article is written from the after-math of Toronto Hip Hop politics within artists. Artists that blocked other artists from shining. Funding allocated to the wrong people or incorrect resources. An overall plan of failure…and that’s where it has lead. An extremely talented artist pool reduce to nothing.

    I could go on…

  9. Spinister

    @Ultron Don,

    When it comes to touring…you would be surprised the amount of artists that would find reasons or excuses of why they can’t tour. With combined efforts, anything is possible.

    Call venues…talk to local artists and promoters in that city…rent a van….tour!!! I know it’s not exactly that easy, but with the right focus, it can be done…and eve n easier now than a few years ago since everyone is online. All I can say….driving from Toronto to Vancouver and doing shows along the way….there’s a lot more to life than T Dot. Doing International shows….words can’t describe. Think global….support local.

  10. CDN Hip-Hop State of the Union Address Pt. 2: Thank Me Later, Respect Me Now [Article] | SFA MEDIA

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