Dutchy’s Picks: Top 10 Canadian Rap Videos of 2014 [Article]
Ottawa, ON – A little late to the party. This should be the last of our “Best Of” content, though. We had originally asked some of our team members to come up with their Top 5 videos of the year. There’s no wrong answer as it’s opinion based, but after such a strong year of Canadian hip-hop releases, how do you narrow it down to just 5? Took me days.
So Sarah Jay
demanded asked that we bump it up to 10, and I’m glad we did.
I had to provide an order for the Top 10 but to be honest, even my honorable mentions could have made it in my list if I had had more room to work with. And I could have added a ton of honourable mentions too but I limited it to just 5 (also incredibly difficult and I ended up with 6). You may disagree with me, or feel as if I overlooked something, but I based my selections on which videos/songs I found myself appreciating the most and not necessarily on production value alone.
This is a big year for HipHopCanada as we’re officially celebrating being around for 15 years (that’s a lifetime on the web!) and excited for the year ahead! We have several plans coming together including a total relaunch of our sites and brand new services, so stay tuned! We appreciate your continuous support and look forward to working with you this year, if we don’t already do.
For now, check out some top notch videos – my favourites from 2014 – after the jump!
Milli Millz, P. Reign, Raz Fresco
Dutchy’s Top 10 Picks
Dir. Tyler Ross | Dartmouth, NS
“One of Canada’s most prolific battle MCs drops off the visuals for his latest recording, the Solid Mas-produced ‘Helping Each Other Die.’ Directed by Tyler Ross, the dark and eye opening video tackles the struggles of addiction as Hollohan rhymes about his own trials and tribulations.”
In my opinion, this is easily one of the most introspective and touching singles coming out of the East Coast this year… maybe even Canada. Hollohan has never been too shy to tell you about himself and exactly what’s going on in his head, especially when battling. And with this video he takes it a step further, and deeper, to examine the strength of addiction and the effects it has on relationships. Backed by a catchy Solid Mas-produced, Angus and Julia Stone-sampled beat, I’ve found myself watching this video almost daily since it’s release. It gave me a new appreciation for Hollohan and shows there’s much more to this talented MC than his storied battle career.
On that note, you can catch Hollohan battling either Feb. 7 or 8 at OVO KOTD’s Blackout 5 in Toronto.
“From New York to Auckland, Black Moon’s Buckshot and New Zealand’s most renowned producer/DJ, P-Money, are making waves with their new BackPack Travels album. The duo released the collaborative full-length project late June through Dawn Raid, Dirty Records and Duck Down Music.”
Earlier this year, NYC vet Buckshot and Kiwi producer P-Money called on rising Toronto star Raz Fresco to contribute to their BackPack Travels album, out on Dawn Raid, Dirty Records and Duck Down Music. If anything, the single shows that P-Money is a natural when it comes to crafting classic hip-hop bangers, and Raz Freso is ready for the big leagues as he’s the clear standout on this record. Buckshot did his thing as usual but bar for bar the BKR$CLB kid took the cake. Raz dropped The Screwface Tape back in August and anticipation is now building more than ever for the album, Pablo Frescobar. I’m assuming we’ll be seeing that sometime this year. Stay tuned.
Dir. Shut Up & Colour Productions | Halifax, NS
I was about 5 minutes into this exercise when I decided I needed Quake on the list. The trouble would be picking one of the several dope videos he dropped this year. There was the Laura Roy-assisted “Red Wine” that came out back in Spring, the 2oolman-produced “Mellow Triangles,” which was directed by BADFUNmedia, the Mat Barkley-directed “Summertime Win” (featuring Dylan Guthro), “Last Supper,” directed and produced by ClipKeatingMedia, in association with WordOfMouthMedia, and, what I decided was my favourite, “Angel.” What I don’t get is how these gems don’t have more traffic. They definitely deserve it.
But with “Angel,” Quake reflects on hardships with a declaration that he’s isn’t giving up any time soon. The MuchFACT-funded release is supported by Neon Dreams, a 4-piece electro-pop group from Quake’s hometown of Halifax featuring Corey LeRue (DJ/Producer), Frank Kadillac (vocalist), Matthew Sampson (guitarist) and Adrian Morris (drums/live samples).
Quake’s Rap Music project is dropping January 30, 2015. As far as I know, most of those singles, if not all, will appear on the release.
Dir. Zac Facts | Toronto, ON
“Director Zac Facts offers some incredible visual work for this Pro Logic-produced single which brings us from St. Mary, Jamaica’s Albion Mountain back to Lean’s community in Toronto, Parma Court.”
I first started checking for Parma’s Big Lean about 5 years ago on the strength of a collaboration he had with his mentor Hush (aka Young Tony) and some slick Boi-1da production. Since then, Lean has continued to grow, re-branded his movement from Tax Free Entertainment (which Drake shouts out on Take Care’s “Over My Dead Body”) to Da Degrees and has become of one of my favourite artists out of the GTA.
The past few years have been big for Lean fans when it comes to releases, and 2014 was no different. It started with the R.O.Z.-assisted, DZL-produced “Condo” (directed by DNA Cinema) and wrapped up just a couple of weeks back with the release of the Pro Logic-produced “All Times,” featuring Chicago’s King Louie. But in between all that, he teamed up with Zac Facts for “Everything’s Alright” – another key Pro Logic-produced banger from his forthcoming project, Enough is Enough. You’ll want to keep an eye on Big Lean in 2015.
Dir. Michael Jacobs | Montreal, QC
“I still count paper, arthritis all in my thumbs / All righteous all-nighters, bring the money-counters / Funny how the money-counters count the money, never let the money count us / Did I lose you, penny for your thoughts / Now watch the hundreds count up / Penny for your thoughts, penny for your thoughts? / Well if it’s penny for your thoughts, don’t give no penny to a THOT.”
Bars for days… This one dropped right at the start of 2014 and found it’s way into my playlist for the entire year… and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Milli Millz and his OTB Music Group linked up with director Michael Jacobs to visualize his “Suicide” freestyle and set the anticipation even higher for his Highway To Millz project.
It was originally slated for a 2014 release but it appears to have been pushed back to 2015. Either way, if you’re familiar with Milli’s sharp wordplay and seasoned delivery, you’ll know Highway To Millz is going to be top notch and worth the wait.
“Classified just teamed up with B.o.B to drop this dope new jam on us entitled “Higher.” The track samples Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher.” And it’s one of the catchiest upbeat tunes we’ve heard lately. This will be all over the radio airwaves ASAP. Trust.”
If this one didn’t get you excited for a new Classified album, you’ve probably never been a big fan of the producer/MC to begin with. Class and B.o.B. wasn’t a collaboration I had ever expected, but their single had me stoked for what Class’ new project might look like. After taking the scene by storm with his 2013 award-winning self-titled album, both anticipation and expectation for what Class is doing next has never been “Higher.” Not too many details have been released and it’s actually not even confirmed that “Higher” will be featured on the project. But I’d be incredibly surprised if this year came and went without another addition to his already massive catalogue. Since 1995, Class has released 14 studio albums, 1 compilation and 1 official mixtape. His longest hiatus from dropping a studio project was between 2007 and 2009, when he transitioned from fully independent to working with Sony Records.
P. Reign’s Dear America EP has been getting a ton of play from me but the real stand-out for me is the Boi-1a and The Maven Boys-produced “Realest In The City,” featuring PartyNextDoor and MMG’s Meek Mill. But that tune hasn’t received any video support (as of yet) and in terms of dopeness, “Dnf” featuring Drake, is a close second and incredibly tough to watch when you’re surrounded by snow.
The video starts with the Reps Up/OVO rapper and Drake on “pause mode,” lounging on a beach in St. Maarten and then shifts to a poolside party featuring some ladies Drizzy scooped up along the way. It’s a fun record that makes you want to let loose and get in on the party, and provides a good preview of what Dear America has to offer. The aforementioned “Realest In The City” even reached #1 on Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart, which charts the most shared songs from up-and-coming artists on Twitter over a 24-hour period. Most recently, Reign jumped on OB O’Brien’s newest single, “Schemin’ Up,” which also features Drake.
Dir. LK Visuals | Edmonton, AB
“What we’ve grown to know and love about the Evrlove camp is that they’ve made themselves a staple when it comes to bangers. Evrlove Blake proved this to be true once again when he dropped the visuals for ‘Bout It’ last week.”
Before Sarah Jay’s 10 at 10 Spotlight on Evrlove Music back in June, I admit I hadn’t even heard of the group. Fast forward a few months and the Edmonton-based collective has become one of the acts I’m checking for the most. I consider Evrlove Blake’s Triangles, Circles & Squares one of the top Canadian projects to drop this year, and supported perfectly by the LK Visuals-directed “Bout It,” which features the crew on their home turf.
Dir. Stuey Kubrick, | Vancouver, BC
“It’s been a long time coming for Snak The Ripper and he’s finally gaining the attention he deserves from the rap world. Make no mistake though, the man is and has been on his grind.”
“Eight Hours A Day” is my favourite track off the new Snak The Ripper album and possibly my favourite track of all time by the Vancouver MC. Straight up, if you’re waking up at the crack of dawn to put in another shift, this is likely going to speak volumes. The video depicts Snak getting up to get ready for construction work and the type of life that comes with it. The song, and Stuey Kubrick-directed video, is just one of several reasons why I consider Just Giver one of the top albums of 2014. And in case you want to see more videos from the album, make sure you check out “Alive” featuring Jaclyn Gee, or “What I Do?” He also made a dope appearance on Evil Ebenezer’s “Be Somebody” and Caspian’s “Built Like This.”
Dir. Derek Wise | Toronto, ON
“Be Derek Wise on the road to stardom… hold on tight! The young MC has had an eventful summer that included making waves with his Get Home Safe crew at OVO Fest, a feature on MTV and making a cameo appearance in the The Weeknd’s latest video, ‘King of the Fall.’”
Between the A$AP Mob, GS9, TDE’s Black Hippy and countless more, it seems that getting on with a group in tow is as popular as ever. Canada was no exception and new groups and collectives started to make their mark in cities across the country… like the Evrlove Music boys I mentioned above.
Over in Toronto, 2014 was the year for Get Home Safe (GHS) to really make their presence felt on the scene and group members Derek Wise, Jazz Cartier and Drew Howard all made significant contributions to the momentum. While I didn’t want to feature both videos on the list, I knew my Top 3 would feature either Cartier’s Aaron A.-directed-“Set Fire” banger, or Derek Wise’s dark and sinister ode to the area of Toronto that GHS calls home, Kensington Market or “Kenzo.” Both got a significant amount of attention from me. Since KassKills picked “Set Fire” for her list, I decided to go with the latter. I had originally took notice of Wise from his cameo in The Weeknd’s “King of the Fall” video. The appearance had people talking but I was just getting familiar with GHS and their XO affiliations. “Kenzo,” self-directed and edited by Zac Facts, is the second release off Wise’s forthcoming full-length project, Mom’s Basement LP (the first release being “Awkward“).
But while things were looking up most of the year for Wise and his GHS cohorts, it took a sour turn when the rapper, real name Derek Bissue, was arrested on 15 charges connected to a human trafficking investigation including: trafficking in persons, uttering threats of death and bodily harm, two counts of overcoming resistance by choking, robbery, weapons charges, and three counts of theft under $5,000. We don’t have any more information about the case, nor have we heard any updates on how it will change, if any, Wise’s game plan. The Geoff Wood, Michael Lantz and ChristoMeth-produced “Lake” was the last song released before the arrest was made.
Overall, I couldn’t find a video that captured the vibe of its tune as nicely as this one. The video is a perfect fit for the song and ultimately that sealed the decision to make “Kenzo” my number 1 choice. Bonus points for directing it himself.
One of the best projects coming out of Toronto in 2014 was by supergroup Naturally Born Strangers, featuring Adam Bomb, Tona and Rich Kidd. My favourite video was the Rich Kidd-produced “No One Knows My Struggle” which was directed by James McGurk and Che Kothari. The video was shot in Nine Mile, Jamaica, a few miles south of Brown’s Town and the birthplace of Bob Marley. Members of the Nine Mile community also took part in the video. Click here to download the Naturally Born Strangers album.
“After a brief hiatus, reBELLYus returns with a new campaign fueled by the slogan ‘Belly Is Dead.’ But there’s no cause for concern as the new “Dab Life” single shows, Belly is alive and well and presumably loving where he’s at in life.”
If you’re unfamiliar with dabbing, do your brain and lungs a favour by not looking into it any further. In all seriousness though, dabbing should be limited to just seasoned smokers. I know you remember the clip of Kurupt’s brother Roscoe on YouTube hitting a dab as part of a bet to win a pound of weed. After the dab, Roscoe, the quintessential Dogg Pound weed-head, was out cold!
But I love the video because Belly really brings you into that world and gives you a taste of what it’s all about. And with that chain around his neck, and The Weeknd making a cameo, the speculation surrounding his XO affiliation could finally be put to rest.
I can always count on a Syph record to have a catchy hook and well-thought out, skillful verses. The Nu Money Gang artist is preparing for the release of his Rookie of the Year project. With “Winning,” Syph travelled to Norwood, Jamaica and enlisted the services of local dancehall artist, Ryme Minista. The video was shot and edited by Zac Facts for Independent Muscle.
Between being an artist and a producer, 2014 was quite the year for Junia-T. The rising star dropped several dope remixes as one of half Chef’s Plate (shout-out LordQuest) and dropped his long awaited full-length debut, Eye See You. My favourite single off the release was the KEMI (formerly Kemikal)-assisted “Sky Is Falling” which was supported by an incredibly dope video directed by Renegade Films. Click here to check out Eye See You or here for Junia’s remix work with LordQuest.
Another dope anthem for the weed heads. With “Throwin Smoke,” Sese enlists his UTVMG crew for a cypher backed by sick Jazzfeezy and Scena production. The video was directed by DJ Finn TV and Ty Black of Toronto. You can find the track on the third installment of Sese’s highly popular YFRWN (or Your Favourite Rapper’s Worst Nightmare) series. Click here to cop it on iTunes. On top of everything else, “Throwin Smoke” premiered exclusively on HipHopCanada so it maintains a special place in our hearts.
A list from me wouldn’t be complete without an entry from Mr. Gangis Khan, aka Camoflauge, one of my all-time favourite Canadian artists. With “Slum Cake,” Camo brings us to his home country of India to the JB Nagar neighbourhood of Andheri in Mumbai. You can find the song on his Slum Music mixtape, available on GangisKhan.com.
Twitter: @DutchUnkle | @HipHopCanada
Tags: Adam Bomb, B.o.B., Belly, Big Lean, Black Moon, Buckshot, Camoflauge, Che Kothari, ChristoMeth, Classified, Corey LeRue, Da Degrees, Derek Wise, Drake, Drew Howard, Dylan Guthro, Evrlove Blake, Evrlove Music Group, Freebandz, Freedom Writers, Future, Gangis Khan, Geoff Wood, Get Home Safe, GHS, Halflife Records, Hollohan, Hush, Independent Muscle, James McGurk, Jazz Cartier, Kemi, Kemikal, King Of The Dot, KOTD, Lantz, LK Visuals, Meek Mill, Michael Jacobs, Milli Millz, Naturally Born Strangers, Neon Dreams, Nu Money Gang, OB O'Brien, October's Very Own, Outside The Box, OVO, OVO KOTD, OVO Sound, P-Money, P. Reign, PartyNextDoor, Pro Logic, Quake Matthews, R.O.Z., Raz Fresco, Reps Up, Rich Kidd, Ridgeway, Shut Up & Colour Productions, Snak The Ripper, Stealth Bomb Records, Stuey Kubrick, Syph, The Bakers Club, The Maven Boys, The Weeknd, Tona, XO, Young Tony, Zac Facts