CDN Hip-Hop State of the Union Address Pt. 2: Thank Me Later, Respect Me Now [Article]
Toronto, ON – Thank you to everyone who read, shared, spread and responded to Part One. I appreciate you reading it (in a world where video clips reigns supreme over nearly everyone) and I appreciate you talking to each other about how much you agree or disagree with it.
Not everyone will share my perspective, but that’s not the point. A State of the Union Address is supposed to be a “check yourself” moment for a nation, where we look at where we’ve come from, where we actually are at (instead of where we imagine we are at), and where we are supposed to be going. Yes, Canadian hip-hop is BETTER THAN EVER in 2014. Finally, there is more money, power and respect given to Canadian hip-hop than ever before, and it’s so beautiful I could almost cry! I certainly can say we are collectively bearing witness to this long-awaited truth finally, firmly building a fresh foundation and manifesting a different sonic destiny across the world. But I’m a visionary, and I see A LOT more places where Canada, and Toronto specifically, can vastly improve its community connection standards, arts investment practices, social behaviours and business choices. In the words of Lil Wayne: “I’M GOIN’ IN!”
“Where did the Part One of The State of the Union Address come from”, you ask? Why is Mindbender expressing such great and fuuuurious anger?
Because: long story short (ha ha): I SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO GET INTO THE WU-TANG CLAN CONCERT AND REVIEW IT, LIKE ANY OTHER NORMAL MEDIA PERSONALITY THAT’S SUPPOSED TO BE ON THE GUEST LIST.
“I may be a delusional optimist, but I know positivity has limits in reality. So, when I’m not expressing LOVE, I’m expressing TRUTH.” – Addi Stewart
But, because of all of the politics, bullshit and fuckory in Toronto’s hip-hop scene, I did NOT get to see the Wu-Tang Clan concert on November 28 at the Kool Haus the way that it was supposed happen, AT ALL.
(And injustice never addressed will defer the dream of peace forever. Anyone ignorantly saying “why’s he bringing that up now?” is probably the same kind of person that doesn’t give a fuck about finding justice for Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur’s STILL unsolved murders. Well, Voletta Wallace, Afeni Shakur and Adhimu Stewart STILL give a fuck about that kinda shit. But, I digress.)
I’ll describe why it was so fucked up that I didn’t get ANY respect, equality or basic human decency from ANYONE working at the media/VIP ticket side-door of the venue on the night that (two-thirds of) Wu-Tang Clan came to Toronto, after I remind some of you who might not know why I deserved to be treated a BIT better than a nameless piece of shit. Really, this one excruciatingly offensive incident was ostensibly the straw that broke the Mindbender camel’s back, but trust me: ALL of this needs to be said to Toronto, because certain things need to be done differently if we ever plan to progress as a people and a collective, cohesive Canadian music industry and manifest our insanely-profound potential into its long-awaited chapter in global music history.
Meet Toronto’s most passionate hip-hop music historian, the visionary Canadian cultural content creator, Mindbender Supreme: Everywhere like Citytv!
Now, for those who don’t know who is writing this revolutionary “rant” (like disrespectful critics would call Kanye West’s passionate stream-of-consciousness confessions), allow me to re-introduce myself:
Hi. My name is Adhimu “Addi” Stewart, aka Mindbender Supreme.
And honestly, my music career/life story is too enormous for one article. So, forget how much entire hip-hop history I’ve been a part of: I’ve been supporting and covering Wu-Tang Clan specifically since seeing “Ooh, We Love You Rakeem” on MuchMusic’s RapCity and having “Words From The Genius” on vinyl in 1991. I was at Raekwon, Ghostface and Cappadonna’s very first ‘Cuban Linx solo album’ concert at The Docks in 1995 (The Docks is now known as The Sound Academy). Raekwon was wearing the golden tarantula necklace. What you know about them cuban linx?
Pardon moi. I digress, yet again.
Fact: I have been pulled on stage by Killah Priest to perform “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” by Old Dirty Bastard. MORE THAN ONCE. I have a relationship of respect with Killah Priest and a few other Wu-Tang affiliates, apart from the original eight.
Fact: I have interviewed Raekwon for Kevin Nottingham. Ghostface for Pound. Method Man for Swagg Magazine. RZA for Now Magazine.
Fact: I’ve performed on stage with Raekwon and Ghostface in front of 10,000 people at Dundas Square.
Fact: I’ve written for Canadian hip-hop for well over a decade now, and have been constantly contributing to Canadian hip-hop since 1996.
SO WHY THE FUCK DO I GET TREATED LIKE A NEW JACK NOBODY WHO HAS DONE NOTHING FOR ANYONE WHEN I SHOW UP EARLY TO SEE WU-TANG CLAN AT KOOL HAUS, EVEN THOUGH MY NAME WAS ALREADY SUPPOSED TO BE ON THE FUCKING GUEST LIST?
As fucking ALWAYS when I attend a hip-hop event, I promise you all this: I was professional. I was punctual. I was polite. I was calm. I was rational. I was respectful. I did not present a problem. I discovered one: their lack of organized guest list media accreditation. A problem THEY were responsible to solve, but chose NOT to. Fuck that wack shit for making ME seem like the one who was causing chaos.
After getting repeatedly disrespected, denied, and shutdown by the main guest-list holder and multiple bouncers who chose to instantly agree with her instead of fact-check with me, I showed her that I had a digital copy of the email that confirmed my media accreditation for the Wu-Tang show, AND proper I.D. to prove who I was… yet I was STILL not given a moment’s chance to try and help solve the problem THEY caused.
Then, I wasn’t even given the fucking respect of ‘receiving direct eye contact’ when I returned with the proper digital documentation to try and fix HER mistake and allow me to enter Kool Haus, so I could write a review of the concert FOR THE PROMOTER, 9-0 Nickel Entertainment, and Peter Jackson himself, who was on stage performing the whole time I was being rejected outside by this woman’s ignorant work ethics. I’m a man of peace, but I’ve never wanted to bring the motherfuckin’ ruckus to someone more than in this moment of corrupted justice.
BUT HOW DID I EVENTUALLY GET INTO THE CONCERT?
Before I explain that mad part of the story, let me tell you something else vital to remember: in America, this kinda shit would NOT happen. Not this fucking obnoxiously. Overall, Americans respect their veterans, historians and their artistic and business icons a million times more graciously, openly and honourably than Canadians ever fucking have. And unless we get our shit together, our multi-genre world-class creative greatness will maximize to manifest only a fraction of the impact made by America, France, the UK, Germany, Australia, Japan or any other country and music market that invests energy and focus into the functional economic evolution and logical developmental progress of its own homegrown artistic community. The Canadian inferiority complex, the Canadian conservative fear-mongering mindstate, and the Canadian passive-aggressive power abuse fuckory HAS to be violently confronted. If there is one cultural cancer that afflicts this relatively great country, it is these insidious, subtle behaviors and poisonous personality patterns that permeate this fucking place so silently and savagely. It’s often said that many people here are emotionally cold. And I want to add: SELFISH.
Welcome to the land of misanthropic multi-culturalism.
To illustrate my point about how embarrassingly evolved America is compared to Canada in terms of respecting their educational cultural architects: this is an article about a man in New Jersey, who was dedicated to reporting the same team for decades. Look at how much acknowledgment and appreciation his hometown people gave to the man in their community that showed the most dedicated to their local scene for the whole life of his career, up until his retirement:
7 Lessons From A Guy Who Spent His Entire Working Life At The Same Job
This story honestly makes me fucking shed a tear every time I read about how much respect he got from his community for his dedication to what he loved: the local culture for the people.
Now, back to me.
Hi, my name is Adhimu Stewart, also known to SOME people as Mindbender.
Over my 36 years of life, and more than 20 years of contribution to hip-hop around the world, I have been christened with a variety of humbling titles by the good people of my city of birth, Toronto.
I have been repeatedly referred to as:
“The Ambassador of Toronto hip-hop;”
“The Unofficial Mayor of Toronto hip-hop;”
“Toronto’s biggest fan;”
“The most avid hip-hop head I have ever known in my life.”
…amongst many other kind words we don’t have space or need to write here.
I don’t even remember a lot of the accomplishments I’ve done over the years for hip-hop and Toronto in general… since I’m too fucking busy doing MORE things for the people to stop and notice I probably didn’t receive credit or thanks… or, more problematically now: probably didn’t fucking receive any payment for it.
Well, like Late Great Movies on Citytv: we won’t be seeing none of that shit anymore.
CANADA VS. USA: NORTHERN TOUCH VS. SOUTHERN STRANGLE
Today, I fucking demand your god damn attention. Everyone who says they give a fuck about hip-hop, Toronto, Canada or just life in general, for heaven’s sake.
Now, I do not go around proclaiming “I am the Mayor of Toronto hip-hop!” because I try to be humble. And truly, I would be one person in a circle of “Toronto hip-hop mayors.”
But, there comes a painful point of acute realization in life, where healthy humility in the face of blatant injustice simply loses its integrity and actually evolves into internalized, irresponsible ignorance of self. I CANNOT pretend I am NOT someone important around here anymore, and neither should you.
I show respect to EVERYONE in hip-hop, no matter who you are. I’m not perfect, and I can be complimented and criticized just like anyone else I mentioned in Part One, but I am consistently genuine about my efforts to support the expansion of Toronto hip-hop and hip-hop culture worldwide.
Now, in the immortal words of King Korry Deez on “Ol’ Time Killin’”: “DON’T MAKE ME ASK YOU TO RESPECT ME, PLEASE!”
So, let’s get REALER: not enough people seek the whole truth, or know how to learn how to recognize the whole truth when it’s actually, humbly speaking to them in their bloodclot face. FACT: Many people in the Toronto scene do not recognize and respect their Canadian music history, much less RESPECT THEIR BLACK CANADIAN MUSIC HISTORY. I say that simply because it’s the ugly truth I see day after day, concert after concert, season after season here in Toronto, and virtually nobody says shit about its obnoxious reality.
Well, I said it. And if anyone of you doubts my words, come talk to me and teach me better.
Canada’s exclusion-reinforcing racism towards the industrial institutionalization of Canadian hip-hop culture and towards the economic empowerment of people of colour is the secret crime committed daily in this country. The grant system, the television and print media landscape, the major label system, the nightclub circuit… if you want to locate some Euro-centric domination in Canada, look no further. Canadian indie rock musicians have, for decades, enjoyed a plethora of business privileges that I highly doubt will be enjoyed as extensively by the likes of Rich Kidd, JellyTooFly, Jully Black, Tasha the Amazon or Matthew Progress.
But, apparently, we STILL haven’t completely fucking learned: Canadian artists STILL have to get the fuck out of Toronto to “make it.” You should be ashamed of yourself if you still perpetuate this practice upon your fellow Canadians, but, whatever. One year, we’ll get this self-respect thing right.
Toronto keeps trying to be the new New York, but keeps forgetting that one CRUCIAL detail that virtually ALL New Yorkers possess in overwhelming abundance: pride in their local neighbourhood, and love for the people who represent their borough. Canadian humility has overstayed its welcome. Lick a shot for the fact that the two biggest music stars in the world of 2014 are both born and raised in Southern Ontario!
When Ahmad Rashad arrives at the Staples Center, I hope it’s safe to assume that after all the work he has put into the NBA, he doesn’t get turned away at the door and denied basic respect and dignity. When Jon Caramanica arrives at Madison Square Garden to write about a Jay Z concert, you can be sure the ushers guarantee he gets a good spot, so he can see the show, and then write about it for the New York Times. When Peter Rosenberg reaches a venue to DJ, you expect the people in the know to actually care about him, and offer him the courtesy of replying to his questions like a normal human being, if he is trying to get work done. America may be as violent as HELL ON EARTH, but at least they know how to show the appropriate respect to many of their living legends! Canada? Not so fucking much.
Now, when Elliott Wilson came to Toronto last summer to see the OVO Fest, an educated guess would estimate it went down like so: he walked up to the will call/guest list line, and simply said “Hello. I should be on the list under ‘Elliott Wilson from RapRadar’.” And, if venue was organized and professional, like we pray they actually would be, they would simply say, “Thank you for covering our event for your publication, Mr. Wilson. You are free to enter. Enjoy the concert,” give him his VIP wristband, and automatically let him in… because ANYONE who knows ANYTHING about the music industry they are working in should know that RapRadar is an important hip-hop website worth respecting.
Well, I also know Elliott Wilson. He used to be Editor-In-Chief at XXL, one of the biggest hip-hop magazines on the planet. And in case you didn’t know: I have also written for XXL (Trina/DJ Khaled/Flo-Rida/Rick Ross cover, May 2008). Furthermore, I have written for Pound Magazine, one of Canada’s all-time biggest hip-hop magazines, for many, many years. I was the head hip-hop writer at Now Magazine for years. I wrote for Dose Magazine when it was still part of the National Post. I’ve written for Swagg Magazine. M.O.B. Magazine. WORD Magazine. Kevin Nottingham. Philaflava. How many Canadian magazines, websites and blogs have written for? ManifesTO. CityOnMyBack. TOFlo. ConnectDaDot. Earwaks. URBNET. In Search of Divine Styler… I still write for Toronto is Awesome. And I STILL write for HipHopCanada. My review of the OVO Concert that Drake did in August of 2013 is STILL getting retweeted and shared, to this day.
I can’t even remember how many places and times I have contributed, written, donated, sacrificed and given myself to this city. And I did everything I thought was professionally necessary to witness and document this very special Wu-Tang Clan concert.
But ONE unprofessional and disrespectful woman with an ego the size of the Skydome fucks up shit for me, and some other very important people there, as well, just because she feels like it.
THIS MUST NEVER. FUCKING. HAPPEN. AGAIN.
Why? Because the people making the decisions regarding who gets in and who doesn’t was SO horribly disorganized, not only was I kept out of the Wu-Tang concert, but even ODB’s SON and his mother and sister couldn’t get their guest list entrances approved when they got to the front! ODB’s son couldn’t even get in the Wu-Tang Clan show! SHAME ON A NUH!
I saw them, stranded in the cold, as they were inexplicably forced to wait outside as well, and since I am close friends with ODB’s son and mother, they showed me love the moment we saw each other. While both realizing we were in the same situation, being disrespected and rejected from entering the venue (which allegedly oversold around 400 tickets), we realized we had to sneak in the back of the venue and get let in through a back door, after getting in touch with one of the FEW people at the Kool Haus who seemed to be willing to do the right thing for the right people.
Thank the hip-hop Gods from Shaolin that I got in. I couldn’t fucking believe it almost didn’t even happen. I even saw Peter Jackson backstage, and was so angry about the whole fiasco that I decided not to tell him to his face why I wasn’t inside in time to get a review of his set. If I did, I would have explained how infuriating, uncompromising and foul the guest list girl was behaving, which only made him and his company lose out. Pure insanity.
While I was in GZA’s change-room, I saw George Stroumboulopoulos backstage, before the main event of the night, and we shared a nice little conversation. Yeah, I know the homie George a bit, too. When RZA did an interview for the George Strombolopoulous Show at CBC a few years ago, I was backstage there, too. I’ve known Strombo since he co-signed and submitted my 200-signature petition to make me a host on TV, as well as submitting on-camera interviews with Eternia and Double Soul for my application to be a VJ/producer at MuchMusic, back in the good, no GREAT ol’ days of MuchMusic, when they were still connected to the Toronto music community, and when George himself was still working there. But, I fucking digress, again.
Straight up: I’m taking a guess that the big homie Strombo had little problem getting backstage at the Wu-Tang concert. But I did. Now, I know I’m not on CNN or HNIC or nothing, but I have paid all of my motherfucking dues in full, plus added enough blood, sweat and tears to manifest an unprecedented sacrifice to the Megacity of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Adhimu “Mindbender Supreme” Stewart has contributed enough unconditional love to hip-hop culture to deserve this entire country’s utmost respect, and my big brother Wesley “Maestro” Williams knows that’s the timeless truth. My big sister, the Queen of Canadian hip-hop, Michie Mee, knows. Nardwuar knows. Sol Guy knows. Jesse Plunkett and Maurice Laurin from HipHopCanada know. Rose and Nik of LAL knows. Junia-T and Crooklin know. The Freedom Writers know. David “Click” Cox knows. Ryan Hanes knows. Cadence Weapon knows. Bishop Brigante knows. Whitey Don knows. Goldspade from Citizen Kane knows. MarveL knows. Saukrates knows. Kardinal Offishall knows. Eugene Tam of Play De Record knows. Knamelis knows. Organik from King of the Dot knows. Avi, PVP and Reverence know. Errol Nazareth knows. Craig “Big C” Mannix knows. Thrust knows. Spin ElPoeta knows. Swollen Members know. Buck 65 knows. Classified knows. Ivan Evidente knows. Jody Laraya knows. Frank and Dank know. Jonathan Ramos knows. Ian Andre Espinet knows. Che Kothari knows. Big Norm knows. Mikey “Piecez” Prosserman knows. EGR knows. Elicser knows. Dalton Higgins knows. Conspiracy knows. Scandalis knows. Adam Bomb knows. Tek-Man knows. T.R.A. knows. T-RexXx knows. Dave Guenette knows. Gavin Sheppard knows. Theo3 knows. D-Sisive knows. Unknown Mizery knows. Stolen from Africa knows. Logikal Ethix knows. Riksha knows. DJ Serious knows. Ron Nelson knows. DJ X knows. Ron Allen knows. Double Soul knows. DJ K-Kut knows. DJ Law knows. DJ Nana knows. DJ Son of S.O.U.L. knows. DJ L’Oquenz knows. DJ Chocolate knows. DJ Fase knows. DJ Starting From Scratch knows. DJ Fathom knows. Dwayne Morgan knows. Black Lotus Hajile knows. Jesse Ohtake knows. My sisters for life, such as the goddess d’bi young, Eternia, Kalmplex, Tara Chase, Ivana Santilli, Namugenyi Kiwanuka, Ngozi Paul, Amanda Parris, Natasha Daniel, Ebonnie Rowe, Masia One, Sunny D, DJ Dalia, MernaKilledAyah, Tika Simone, Tara Muldoon, Trish, afrakaren, tuku and Tanika Charles knows. Shad knows. Ian Kamau knows. K’naan knows. I could go on… but, I really shouldn’t have to.
Differently, still: why don’t the people who work in Canadian hip-hop industry know who put in work in Canadian hip-hop history? Is it because we didn’t educate the next generation of promoters properly? Is it because you just don’t give a fuck? Is it because too many people want to exploit and take from the music scene instead of contribute and build it with reasonably priced concerts keeping their word’s integrity accurate to the entertainment advertised? Is it because there is no management leadership choosing to take steps to solve the epidemic problem of disorganized rap concerts not running on time? Is it because some people just don’t know how to prioritize the unspoken responsibilities of their arts industry job, and should have been transferred, re-trained, or fired a long time ago? Is it because Canada displays little love for its own unorthodox hip-hop history and legacy and we don’t value Canadiana enough to have taught the current generation of youth the names of the awesome dancers in the classic rap video with the ‘Dope State’ jacket?
Or is it all of the above, plus the fact I’m far too nice, while others people are far too selfish in Toronto? Ha. That’s definitely the answer, LOL! Maybe its also because we have too many entrenched corrupt manipulators of power and privilege, and our community doesn’t have any democratically-manageable mechanisms to openly address or co-operatively change creative careers around here. Hell, we can’t even keep a fucking Black person employed and visible on screen nationally as a entertainment-TV host on one show for more than 3 seasons anymore! Master T was a major pioneer… AND AN ANOMALY!
In my 20-plus-years of contributing to Canadian hip-hop, I have done my very best to NOT been the egotistical guy causing a scene and creating a problem. I don’t start fights. I don’t get “white girl wasted.” I don’t even like missing the opening acts at a concert. I’ve BEEN the humble Canadian from time, G. I’ve been denied my rightful place and my well-earned benefits a lot more times than I’ve EVER told you all.
BUT NOT ANYMORE.
MAINSTREAM CANADA’S IGNORANCE OF ITS HIP-HOP ROOTS & CULTURE: EPIDEMIC PROPORTIONS STILL, GUY
Toronto: this is your rude awakening, and bloody long overdue wake-up call.
For the first time ever in my entire hip-hop-blessed beats, rhymes and b-boy life, I wanted to shout in the face of that girl with the guest list: “Do you know who the fuck I am?!” Which, I instantly confess and understand, is a confrontational demonstration of pure ego, with NO LOVE or progressive solution-making ideals to be found. And I’m the guy who sprays “Mindbender Loves You” all over the city. But: NOT ALL OF TORONTO LOVES MINDBENDER. And this is one of countless atrocious examples of why and how much
Toronto also does not respect, care, or show appreciation to Addi “Mindbender” Stewart.
And you WILL learn to respect me fully, people. You don’t gotta like me, but you better fucking RESPECT me. Because I don’t like a lot of the things people do in their music… but I ALWAYS respect EVERYONE’S right to make music, and I’ve NEVER told a single MC to stop making music, even if I didn’t like their music at all. I encourage everyone to make their artistic dreams come true, ever since the days of In Divine Style, where myself and a few other great friends in Toronto gave a stage and a mic to over 600 MCs from across North America, virtually every week for five years straight, at Gypsy Co-Op on Queen St. West (now the Dog’s Bollocks). I always do my best to show love… even when NONE is shown to me.
Daaamn, homie. You don’t know how bad I wanted to scream the history of the truth in her face, as I stood outside in the cold, waiting for a “oops-I-forgot-to-put-your-name-on-the-list-but-yes-I-know-I-did-say-I-would” text from Peter Jackson (that never came)… as I watched the guest list girl let in at least fifteen other friends and random folks… many of which definitely did not look like journalists, promoters or people working in the Canadian music industry in general. All the while, I was stuck outside, catching frostbite, beside the homie Amol Gupta of Standout Entertainment, someone who I’ve worked alongside for over a decade. He also couldn’t get any respect from anyone at the door, and Amol has done events with countless artists in hip-hop. I also saw Blake Carrington, doing some freelance reporting for 2DopeBoyz, trying to get blog content of Wu-Tang. No respect for him either. But some other hella random people could just walk up to that girl and to the bouncers, say three words, and then stroll right on into the overpacked venue without having to stop for one second. What part of the fucking game is that?
THIS is one of many reasons why Toronto is still so fucking stagnant and full of frustration and chaos and bitterness and painful joy and failed dreams and unmanifested plans for progress in hip-hop history. Every single person in this city and country that cares more about themselves than they care about hip-hop as a whole: YOU ARE THE ONES HOLDING US BACK AND FUCKING SHIT UP AROUND HERE!
THAT is the problem. The psychotic, self-aggrandizing egotistical selfishness of too many Torontonians who are working in the entertainment industry for ALL the wrong reasons. And I want everyone to observe who, what, and where the problems exist. Because in 2014, it’s time we purge this fucking place of all the poisons that oppress our potential, and finish making hip-hop’s fourth “coast” as powerful and amazing as the first three.
I really need to make this clear: whoever that girl was who controlled the guest list at the Wu-Tang Concert, you fucked up horribly. I do not know your name, but I am calling you out directly, publicly, and honestly, for letting your ego supersede your responsibilities to your job, as you are a singular example of a widespread crisis of good conscience in our city. You did not do what you were hired to do properly. You showed no acknowledgement for professional protocol or even practicing basic manners in various moments of confusion and chaos, and you truly should never conduct yourself in such a manner ever again if you intend on attempting a serious career in event management. For real: I pray I get to see you again one day. I’m sure we’ll have a good laugh about it all… once we’re done dealing with the fuckory. Because you really have to realize: I was not some 17-year-old weed dealer trying to just sneak in backstage to smoke weed with Method Man and get an autograph. I am a Canadian icon, a professional writer for HipHopCanada, a well-known artist in circles you apparently and obviously do not travel in, and lastly: I am a basic human being worth at least the bare minimum of dignity, whose name was actually supposed to be on the guest list you were holding, but you didn’t bother to give enough of a fuck to even attempt to even listen to me when I tried to help solve the problem we were suffering with. Therefore, I could not do the job I was assigned to do.
And THAT is what is wrong with Toronto hip-hop: people not doing their job. Some people are doing their job so poorly that it causes other people to not be able to do their job! And if people keep doing the same ol’ bullshit they have always done to each other, then we will have abandoned careers full the same ol’ bullshit hip-hop mediocrity, chaos and underachieving evolution Toronto has always been foolishly oppressed with, and we will completely fumble this precious opportunity to take the lead in 2014 as one of the leading innovative creative cities in the world. We’ll be complaining about the same stupid regressive and unprofitable bullshit we were oppressing ourselves with in 1994!
People: I’ve been witnessing the Toronto music scene for over two decades, and I can tell you this much: too many folks in this city are involved in hip-hop ONLY TO EMPOWER THEIR EGO and MAINTAIN SOME POPULAR FAME AND SOCIAL STATUS . Not nearly enough people in this city are involved in hip-hop TO EMPOWER EACH OTHER’S ARTISTRY AND EACH OTHER’S HEARTS (as well as pockets). And if that doesn’t change in your life, then you are almost at the end of your potential already, and it’s all downhill from where you stand. Unless you want to keep caring about Toronto and Canadian hip-hop.
I care about this hip-hop shit more than a million words can capture. And I wanted to collect the magic in the air that night, and document a rare moment in hip-hop history (Wu-Tang Clan does not perform together often, even if it was only 6 of the 9 billed to appear).
This is what I could NOT do, and this is the concert I did NOT see:
WU-TANG CLAN CONCERT REVIEWS
XXL Magazine – Note that XXL said Masta Killa was there. Except: he was not. This is why Toronto journalists are valuable.
…and there is no HipHopCanada review. But it woulda been amazing, trust me.
At the end of the day, Peter Jackson is just one of the many, many victims of this fantastic travesty. I could not write a review for Peter, or for Wu-Tang Clan. Even though I was backstage the whole time after I actually got inside, I kept getting brutally disrespected by some overzealous security guards, and wasn’t even allowed to stand at a location where I could see anyone from Wu-Tang’s face during the main event. But at least a dozen other people were let on stage to dance and smoke weed.
Absolute bloodclot fuckory, I tell you.
WHY CANADIAN RACISM IS ACTUALLY WORSE THAN AMERICAN RACISM: BECAUSE IT’S INVISIBLE
I wonder if that girl with the guestlist saw that episode of MTV News where they covered a King of the Dot event at the Guvernment, Blackout 3, hosted by Drake and Maestro… featuring me. Mindbender and Drake, Canadian superstars: TOGETHER AT LAST! Ha!
Speaking of King Of The Dot, I thought I’d bring up how fucking bad the injustice is in Canada by using their shining example of how unaware and ignorant the Canadian mainstream media is about documenting, supporting and reporting of Canadian hip-hop in general. The Toronto mainstream media is not just being racist and prejudiced against Black Canadian hip-hop artists, they ignore some of the white ones, too!
Blackout 4 just happened at the Opera House in January, a industry-standard-setting two-day battle rap extravaganza, featuring over two dozen performers battling, that arrived on flights from 7 different countries around the world. It was a show with multiple sizeable sponsors while collecting non-perishable food items for charity, broadcasted worldwide on pay-per-view, in which the headline event took place in a thousand-plus capacity venue that was sold-out for two days in a row… while simultaneously producing their own full-colour glossy promotional magazine, as well as manufacturing their own fucking clothing line, including t-shirts, hoodies, personalized iPhone cases, and even KOTD neckties!
You take all those same event statistics and extensive details, and apply them to any independent Canadian rock, heavy metal or punk group. Do you think the mainstream media would ignore the exact same massive event if it featured musicians with guitars and amps instead of turntables and mics? THERE IS NO WAY IN THE UNIVERSE WOULD THEY NOT COVER THAT SHOW! With pre-promotional and post-promotional reckless abandon, we would hear about everything involved in that extravaganza. God bless the success and style of Broken Social Scene, but Toronto hip-hop has an equally intriguing broken social scene that is being completely fucking ignored by our media’s racist ignorance, and it’s so pervasive, it ignores enormous accomplishments by iconic, hard-working, legendary white hip-hop heads like Travis “Organik” Fleetwood’s world-class King Of The Dot empire, as well as countless Black, Asian, Latino, and Aboriginal artists. I’m not going to sugarcoat their bullshit at all. What the fuck are they gonna do: ban Mindbender from the media? I AM a member of the media! And if they ignore what I write about Canadian media racism and disrespectful against white and Black people in hip-hop, IT ONLY SERVES TO PERFECTLY REINFORCE THE TRUTH OF WHAT I JUST FUCKING WROTE ABOUT THEM AND THEIR RACIST, SEXIST, CLASSIST & IGNORANT DECISIONS.
The fact that they only care about us when it benefits them shows exactly what kind of exploitive agenda the media often operates under, and their near-perfect record of NOT reviewing major hip-hop events, NOT consistently employing hip-hop writers, and NOT supporting, analyzing or investing in the local hip-hop community says far more about their disrespectful exploitation of hip-hop and Black Canadian culture than they could ever pretend was their philosophy in print. Their lack of direct, genuine and committed action speaks louder than any occasional words of encouragement or token gestures of energetic investment. Ironically, not much has changed since I wrote the “Toronto Hip-Hop’s Bad Rap” article for Now Magazine in 2008.
I feel I should practice what I preach, so please observe me criticize and compliment two vital media outlets in Toronto to illuminate my point about how things are relatively good here, but: all intelligent, creative, liberated minds know that things truly could, and should, be much better. I would love Now Magazine or The Grid to give a fuck about Black Canadian people and Black Canadian art and Black Canadian culture (besides in February for ‘Black History Month,’ and in July for Caribana.) But I don’t really expect them to change, because they don’t receive a lot of pressure from pissed off Black Canadians to permanently diversify their content, due to Canadian conservative complacency. American Black folks don’t just acquiesce their oppressors. Since the days of civil rights marches, they would notoriously fuck shit up until the powers that (used to) be stopped perpetuating psychological white supremacy, and started sharing the money, power and resources we all are supposed to equally benefit from. As far as I remember, the BEST example of the hip-hop community standing up to the politics, bullshit and fuckory of Canadian music industry ignorance, was when the Rascalz refused their JUNO Award for not broadcasting the rap awards segment of the award ceremony in 1998, and the JUNO committee logically righted their wrong, and fixed their foolish mistake the next year. If we don’t speak up, these fucking oppressors will continue to heartlessly take our rights away from us in their insane attempts to control everything. Stand up for your rights like Robert Nesta!
Now, who remembers how SILENT the Grid was when they infuriated the Black community by printing that so-called story on “the History of MuchMusic” that erased the presence of virtually ALL the Black Canadians that worked at Much? I do. The Grid is aesthetically amazing and editorially insightful, word to Edward Keenan, Denise Benson (a Toronto icon), and Kate Carraway (love her!). But how many Black writers, editors, executives and/or owners does The Grid have? I’m curious. Because The Grid RARELY ever has Black cover stories, or even Black people in many of their public polls and questionnaires. It would be nice to see some more color in there, considering the unavoidable diversity of Toronto’s ethnic tapestry. Furthermore, how many Black writers, editors, executives and/or owners does Now Magazine have? I’m also curious about that. Because they SAY “Everything Toronto.” on the cover… but it often seems like “Everything… in White, middle-to-upper-class Toronto (with the requisite quota of indie-culture exposes, alternative lifestyle articles and occasional excursions into local ethnic existences during opportune moments for multicultural exploitation, to maintain essential left-wing political credibility)”. For King of the Dot’s sake, do they miss covering a LOT of great shit, considering how many subcultures, festivals, innovative gatherings, conferences, events and outlandish one-off ideas constantly happen in this city! But I grab both of those publications every week, read the articles that intrigue me, and appreciate that they exist.
Could they cover Canadian hip-hop better in 2014? FUCK YES, a million times over. Will they? We shall see.
Oh yeah… word to Ice Cube: “It ain’t over, motherfuckers.”
Remember when I wrote that letter to Now Magazine about the ‘convenient concern’ they showed with Boi-1da’s cover story, when the JUNO Awards utterly disrespected our big brother Aubrey Graham the year he hosted it? How many Black people (or non-European-descended people) have been cover stories since? Less than 15, and that’s a generous estimate. I get it every week, even though I haven’t worked there in years. I have no hard feelings past the truth I see. It was a RARE occasion to have DeMar DeRozen on the cover the week after they FINALLY recognized Trixx’s comedy greatness enough to award him a cover story, even though Trixx has been doing his thing from Toronto to Los Angeles and beyond for many, many years now. (But only in Black History Month will there be two back-to-back Black covers of Now. Any more is simply unthinkable! They claim to cover “Everything Toronto”, but they don’t cover “Everyone Toronto.”)
Yo, I’ma share this personal little story for the first time ever, just to show and prove an example of someone expressing hip-hop love over ego, doing the right thing over doing something selfish, and sharing power instead of abusing it: Thanks to Matt Almeida & the Rockpile, I was the host of the Camp Lo/Pete Rock and CL Smooth show at the Phoenix in October 2013. It was a wonderful show. But, before the headliners came out, Trixx came into the spot. The vibe was so hype and pure during the event, he was inspired to join Mindbender on stage, unannounced, and co-host the event with me. And I did so, without hesitation or selfish ego tripping. I didn’t try to outshine Trixx, and he didn’t try to outshine me. We both shared the stage, hyping up the crowd for Camp Lo and Pete Rock and CL to be greeted by their Toronto audience at its best. Trixx and Mindbender humbly did a professional job of hosting together that night, and everything improved because of it. I shoulda returned the favor and ran up on stage to co-host that fucking Wu-Tang Clan show with Trixx!
Bottom line: it’s far past the time Toronto and Canada needs to start respect Addi “Mindbender” Stewart like the living, breathing, rhyming, writing and hip-hop loving legend that I am and always have been for everyone who cares. If this is not the truth, then please correct me more accurately. Because it’s far past the time Toronto and Canada needs to start respecting all the other creative kings and queens it ignores and renders invisible with the discriminatory ignorance it lynches countless artist’s musical futures with. I’m not the only one… but I’m DEFINITELY one of them. And I won’t take this shit anymore.
Because I NEVER want to write something this fucking vicious about politics and bullshit in Toronto and Canada’s hip-hop community ever again… but it HAD to be done. Who else has done anything like this? Sheeeeit. I just want to quietly and respectfully write concert reviews when I’m supposed to be writing concert reviews, because THAT is one of my passions, just like the guy in New Jersey’s passion is to cover New Jerz baseball games. But I’m also passionate about justice like GZA. And justice was NOWHERE to be found at that Wu-Tang concert (for HUNDREDS of us, not just Mindbender. I am aware of much of the insanity.). So, here it is. I hope some minds have been adjusted.
Ahhhhhh… damn it feels good to finally get all that off my chest! I feel ten pounds lighter and damn near post-orgasmic, Ha! Just kidding. I didn’t want to hate-fuck Toronto, but I had to. Because I love h.e.r. so much.
So, now are you ready to think about what some of the solutions are?
Show love. Show support. Show consideration. Show patience. Show respect. Show appreciation. Show dedication. Show commitment. Show desire. Show humility. Show UP. And not just to the out-of-town rap artists that repeatedly return to milk Toronto of its world-class experience, beautiful women, liberal weed laws, exceptional concert venues and intelligent audiences. Show love, support and appreciation to the local MCs and singers and creative minds that beautify your world in so many enormous little ways. Show how much you care AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Every day you can. Every weekend you can. Every month. Every season. Whether it’s Comeback Season, or Saukrates Season, but definitely in those times. And especially in Rich Kidd Season! That one’s gonna be hot as hell in a minute!
Also, YOU HAVE TO support some hip-hop musicians OUTSIDE of your clique, crew or social circle’s comfort zone, Toronto. Too many people only go to rap events thrown by their friends or their friend’s friends, and refuse to venture into places or see people who are not “the next hot thing in the new hot spot,” as dictated from whatever pseudo-important blog or popular talking head is shepherding the flock. If there’s ONE thing Torontonians need to do in 2014, is take a risk and invest their energy and money into things they never knew were sitting right here in their back yard, just quietly being amazing like it’s no big deal. Because, trust me: it’s time to quote the immortal words of Kardinal Offishall: “You think you heard the hot shit? You haven’t heard nothing yet!”
SOLUTIONS IN THOUGHT
- LESS EGO, MORE HEART. Yeah, I’m talking to YOU, Screwfacer!
- Go to live rap shows. Don’t just read the online reviews, the Twitter comments and watch YouTube clips of the concert. GO there, and experience it for real!
- Really: get off the internet and connect to some real people in your community. I’ve read that at one point, Toronto was the ‘Facebook Usage Capital of the world.’ We are so technologically wired yet emotionally isolated, on a whole. Occasional celebrations occur, but there could always be more. How do we invest some of that $45 million dollars for Ontario’s and Canada’s entertainment industry into the still-undeveloped performing circuit of hip-hop? Can we create an Toronto-based hip-hop organization that works with the pre-existing performance networks to nurture the next generation of Canadian greatness? Who else is willing to contribute to raising the underground infrastructure higher than ever? Persistence overcomes resistance, and there’s nothing more powerful in the universe than an idea whose time has come.
- Go to Play de Record or Kops or Rotate This or Pandemonium or off any website/blog that sells Toronto hip-hop music. Spend some money on something local, once in a while! Then download everything else you want to steal.
- Choose an artist to REALLY invest your faith in, and keep the belief alive. I personally go to every single Tanika Charles and Saidah Baba Talibah show I possibly can go to, so when they are world-wide superstars, I can say “I was there when there were only 50 people in the crowd. I’m glad there’s 50,000 now!” Invest time, money, words of support, circulate show info to non-fans, share songs with new listeners… anything you feel would expose and uplift a local artist you believe should be an international sensation.
- (add your own!)
SOLUTIONS IN ACTION
- #TheBigTicket monthly hip-hop showcase sponsored by HipHopCanada. In every way possible, Chris Jackson and all the wonderful contributors to this community-sustaining event, are part of the solution-makers in Canadian hip-hop. Everything can be criticized and/or complimented, but there is barely anything to criticize about #TheBigTicket, as it is a public platform of support for independent and established artists alike, and does its best to keep Toronto & Canadian hip-hop alive! Peace to Chris Jackson for starting a second DJ night at the Crawford. That’s what you call dedication!
- Natural Born Strangers headlining and selling out the Mod Club without any American musical support – this may have been the first time in Canadian music history an independent Canadian hip-hop group has sold out the Mod Club. Let’s make it happen a hundred more times in 2014!
- Toronto winning the first T.O.xTexas beat battle at SXSW! Big up to Team Canada, and Coach Boi-1da, plus the superstar starting line-up of Rich Kidd, Wondagurl, Chef Byer, Nick Nikon, Superville, 2oolman, DLZ and C-Sharp. Big up!
- The Iron Mic music fest, Western Canada’s biggest indoor hip-hop music festival, featuring Machine Gun Kelly coming up next month. It’s good to dream big, reach for the stars, do things that are unprecedented in your city.
- Fred E Fame and Pink Kiss starting Freestyle Fridays (plus other performance showcases), offering a stage and a mic to up and coming artists, as well as offering other independent business options to help artists (the Legends of the Fame trading cards are a great idea, and they support everyone in Canadian hip-hop, as all really good creative investments should!)
- Chris Dart writing an article for CBC, putting Canadian hip-hop blogs (HipHopCanada and The Come Up Show) in the middle of a list on a website for an institution that usually ignores local hip-hop culture, unless it is seeking some kind of momentary media attention:
Canadian Music Blogs You Need To Be Reading
(Because mainstream media outlets often fail to put Canadian hip-hop outlets on the same level of importance as outlets of other Canadian genres of music.)
- Montreal’s A-Trak signing Cam’ron to Fool’s Gold for a collaboration album (Americans recognize legendary Canadians more than many Canadians recognize their own Canadian legends still. It disgusts me how much the majority of people here don’t take extreme pride in the immense wealth of innovative, unique talent that exists here and across our country. But MAYBE by the end of 2014, we will feel more pride than shame regarding our hometown artists.
- There are a few other brave and dedicated souls in the community, from Toronto to Hamilton to Ottawa to Montreal to London to Kitchener/Waterloo to Niagara Falls and connected, all across the country, doing their best to keep this culture alive. But the show must go on! Peace to classic legendary traditions like Honey Jam, The Known Unknown, 106 & York, The KOTD Champions Tour, BlackLotusMedia’s Open Mic, the explosively amazing and inspirational R.I.S.E Poetry Movement to Ice H20 Canada (big up to Raekwon for believing in Toronto enough to move here and build a Wu-Tang Killa Bee colony, investing in JD Era and our hip-hop economy. Some people still move to New York to “make it”, when Toronto is finally making world history like never before!) To everyone investing time, money, energy, blood, sweat and tears into the growth of the local hip-hop industry: in the words of the great Ernie Pannicioli: THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. ETERNALLY: THANK YOU.
- Drake’s 2014 OVO Fest featuring OutKast: Though there are aspects that can also be complimented and criticized to this festival, it’s a blessing, a miracle and an overwhelming honor to see the annual OVO Fest grow into what it has become today. It’s a solution to the small dream/inferiority complex problems poisoning nuff Canadian hip-hop, if there ever was one!
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
In 2014, more so than any year before it: I’m taking my rightful leadership role around here, I’m not asking for it. Anyone got a problem with truth and love? Good. That’s what I thought.
Because I’ve given far more than enough to this city. It’s time for me to take all that I deserve and desire now, like fuck whatever lingering Screwface Capitalism greed, ignorance and selfishness exists that might be trying to limit and control my individual success and our collective success. I want to benefit from, and expand upon, how many of our people economically and spiritually profit from the new generation fame and fortune and glory that has finally come Toronto’s way. So, thank you for helping to make me the superstar I am, Toronto. Now, I’m going to show and tell your truth to the world.
I’m simply suggesting we all work harder to be a part of the inspiring solutions for Toronto hip-hop, not a part of the many problems stagnating this town. Anyone hating on that, then you do something better than this State of the Union Address! One Love to everyone who ever believed, encouraged or invested in Mindbender.
Peace to everyone in Canadian hip-hop whether you are dedicated, committed and devoted to the culture, or just a vulture pimp exploitation spectator. It takes all kinds to build a community, so thank you for your presence, in any way. I appreciate everyone who read everything I wrote in Part One and Two. It came from a place of Truth and Love, word to Tupac Shakur and Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
And you know what? Next time Wu-Tang Clan comes to town, everyone fucking knows it will be fucked up if Mindbender isn’t SOMEHOW connected to the event, whether as an opening act, a host, a co-host, or journalist interviewing to promote the show… straight the fuck up. I’m from the O.G. Wu-Tang generation, yo. Never forgot the fact that Mindbender ain’t nuttin’ ta fuck with! BONG BONG! Word is bond, God.
See you at the next classic rap concert, my wonderful Toronto hip-hop family.
And I hope my respect and love is all good on the guest list when I get there.
Powerful Energy Activates Constant Elevation,
Sincerely yours truly,
P.S. Mindbender Loves You! But this hip-hop shit is crazy as fuck, and Mindbender may not love your music, behaviour, choices or values. Still, please never forget: Mindbender Loves You All.
TAKE CARE AND GIVE LOVE.
Written by Addi “Mindbender” Stewart for HipHopCanada
Press 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.
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