Our Favourite Stories of 2016
CANADA – Originally published Dec. 28, 2016 – We wanted our list to be 16 items long (it’s the trendy thing to do with Top 10 lists this year) but that wasn’t going to happen. Lots of outlets are doing that and we might have too had it not been for the daunting task of narrowing that list down. Much easier said than done. So our list of ‘Our Favourite Stories From 2016‘ – based on selections from our contributors and editorial team – is 25 strong and presented to you in order of original appearance. Enjoy! And a big shout out and thank you to our incredibly hard working and dedicated team, located across Canada!
By: DJ IV | Published: Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016
Corey Writes was a kid on the come up when Halifax’s scene was going through a passing of the baton stage. The city was welcoming a younger breed of MC’s who were steadily showing and proving their worth to be heard. But right when that happened, he ended up getting locked up. Almost a decade inside, he’s had a lot of personal time to reflect and put into words his feelings and what he’s gone through. He portrays those real personal thoughts and expressions on his new mixtape, Appreciate The Wait.
“A year ago I was locked up and didn’t know when I was coming home. Now I got a single coming out February 10 on iTunes.”
– Corey Writes
By: Lil Thrilla | Published: Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016
Montreal’s Bless of Platinumberg, was in Ottawa for a performance at Ritual Nightclub as part of Obie Trice’s The Hangover Tour. HipHopCanada’s Ottawa rep Lil Thrilla sat down with the Gang Starr affiliate to discuss his new album, Spoils of War, his distribution deal with URBNET, touring with Obie Trice, his relationships with Guru and coming up under his tutelage.
“I felt like the timing was right and that people wanted to hear some very East-Coast, boom-bap type Hip-Hop. That’s the Hip-Hop I grew up loving, that’s the Hip-Hop that made me want to get in the game.” – Bless
By: DJ IV | Published: Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016
Phakt is a legend in Atlantic Canada. Residing in Saint John, New Brunswick, Mike Washington came to Halifax and ran through every MC in the 2003 DJ Olympics MC Battle. It earned him the title of DJ Olympics MC Battle Champ which he held for the 3 years before retiring a champion due to competition rules. During those 3 years he built his name in the East and was part of the record label CTG Records.
“Y’all favorite artists might have them ‘bars’… but I got them SONGS. Learn to write.” – Phakt
By: Lil Thrilla | Published: Friday, Jan. 29, 2016
On Jan. 15, Night Lovell took his hometown by storm with a stellar performance inside Ritual Nightclub in front of a sold out all ages crowd. Just prior to the show, HipHopCanada Ottawa rep (and CapCityHipHop founder) Lil Thrilla sat down with Night to discuss various things including surpassing a million views on YouTube, the lyrics for “Fraud,” Young Thug’s appearance, Jazz Cartier’s music and more.
“IF U DONT TAKE CHANCES U ARE A HUGE LOSER.” – Night Lovell
By: Jesse Plunkett | Published: Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016
Listening to Episode 14 of OVO Sound Radio earlier tonight, it’s clear that the next few months are shaping up to be quite eventful. It’s a nice change of pace from an otherwise uneventful start to the year. If Drake’s 40 and Boi-1da-produced “Summer Sixteen” is even just a taste of what to expect from the rest of Views From The 6, we could be looking at onslaught of ego-checking and ego-saving attempts to dethrone Drake from the position he’s claiming so strongly. You see, “Summer Sixteen” is not just the next step towards the highly anticipated release of the Views album, but also Drake officially making a claim for his spot as the top dog in the hip-hop chain of command. The song references the top players that would otherwise be considered for the title, directly or by way of reference.
“It’s something that I’ve been working really hard on, myself and 40… Trying to craft a lifestyle track, a sound for our city. Views From The 6 won’t be a short ting. There’s a lot of music on there. You’ll have your full share of Drake music for the summer and for the year. Forever.” – Drake
By: Lil Thrilla | Published: Monday, Feb. 29, 2016
HipHopCanada’s Ottawa rep (and CapCityHipHop founder) Lil Thrilla recently caught up with producer AraabMuzik after his performance inside Ottawa’s Ritual Nightclub. The self-proclaimed MVP of the MPC speaks on working with Illmind, producing records for Lloyd Banks, his thoughts on Drake and more.
“I’m always blowing the speakers out in studios, like, there’s smoke coming out of them. I found out that I’m not built for studio monitors. I record and mix down everything in the headphones and then I bring it to the speakers.” – AraabMuzik
By: Kassandra Guagliardi | Published: Tuesday, Apr. 19, 2016
Since the release of his impressively rotated BREVNER EP in late February, Matt Brevner has seen a whole new level of attention in his direction. He’s been on the mouths, speakers and screens of many for the past few months, proving that he has the weight to make a name for himself outside of engaging in Canadian rap beef antics. We let the album sit for over a month to take it in and for those who still haven’t jumped on board, we got a breakdown prepared of all 8-tracks that make up the BREVNER EP. Riding on the same vibes as the Vancouver-based artist – who frequently shows love to his Vancity scene – we took to some of the cities premium industry heads to grab quotes on their thoughts of the EP alongside our own own opinions.
“What I can tell you about the hiphop scene in the V is that it’s extremely eclectic. We’re coming to take what’s ours, and we’re not expecting any handouts.” – Brevner
By: Sarah Jay | Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Nearly four years ago, Royce da 5’9″ got sober. The Detroit MC has been in the rap game for a very long time now and is kudized for his many collaborations within the rap game; he’s a longtime affiliate of Eminem and one half of their Bad Meets Evil duo, he’s one half of the PRhyme duo with DJ Premier, he’s one quarter of the Slaughterhouse rap crew. He’s a rapper’s-favourite-rapper kind of artist. And now that he’s sober, his whole outlook on life and artistry has changed.
“I’m proud of my addictive personality now because I’m not using it for evil no more. – Royce da 5’9″
By: Sarah Jay | Published: Wednesday, May 25, 2016
On May 20, k-os released his second ever mixtape titled Views From The Stix. The project is 15 tracks long, and consists of freestyle verses that k-os recorded over demos he made at his family home north of Whitby, Ontario. It’s arguably k-os’ most experimental body of work to date. The Stix introduces us to the newly formed KEVIN duo of k-os and Kaytranada (aka: Kevin Brereton and Louis Kevin Celestin), along with a list of production and features exclusively provided by Canadian artists (Boi-1da, Saukrates, Kardinall Offishall, Choclair, King Reign and Shad).
“I became an artist so I could ‘do me’ regardless of the circumstances. Not follow others and wait for the new slang word. You can create your own culture if you really believe in yourself and your art.“
By: Kira Hunston, Jamie Sands | Published: Wednesday, July 6, 2016
For a festival that’s only passed it’s 2nd year in full completion, FVDED In The Park set anticipations high for this year’s event by reeling in a high profile line-up featuring some of the most-influential and current names in rap and electronic music. Blueprint Events, the founder and mastermind behind the festival, have established themselves as one of the most forward thinking live entertainment organizers on the West Coast by consistently bringing artists who are boundary pushing and innovative. The interesting thing about this particular festival is the collaborative recruitment of artists who are literally on the verge of breaking through to internationally recognized grounds, while still curating a two-day experience that is both accessible and of the highest quality.
“Ideally, this is what most festivals should aim to achieve – a musical experience that is equally as inspired as the artists they are featuring.” – Kira Hunston
By: Rosa Jason | Published: Monday, July 11, 2016
Taking a break from social media over this past weekend was the best thing I could have done for myself. It gave me time to reflect on last week’s tragic events. It made me think of my love/hate relationship with Facebook and the realization that only a small percentage of like-minded allies are on my “friends list” (694 and deleting). It gave time to re-evaluate who I need to surround myself with moving forward. Much needed change is about to come. There’s a global obsession with hip-hop and black culture. Our music, our dancing, the way we dress, our slang, our hair etc. Yet it’s “interesting” how quickly that obsession disappears when WE need you the most. When we need you to stand up, your backs are against the wall.
“2016 saw some of the most brutal acts of violence towards unarmed black men. This was piece was written during the height protests for Alton Sterling & Philando Castlie. Much gratitude to the HHC fam for supporting my use of this platform. Love ya, fam.”
– Rosa Jason
By: Jesse Plunkett | Published: Sunday, July 17, 2016
As the internet weighed in on Drake’s diss to Joe Budden, by way of his verse on French Montana’s new single, “No Shopping,” Mouse (Budden) was uploading the response he had prepared weeks in advance: “Afraid.” Having the advantage of a “No Shopping” snippet making the rounds on social media, it was clear that Drake’s “Pump, Pump it up” lyrics were directed at him. When taken in context of recent events involving Drake and Budden, it’s hard not to think he was the target. If you’re just finding out now about this Drake vs. Joe Budden drama, we’ve prepared a brief summary that should get you caught up to yesterday’s events. Here’s Budden’s latest tune, “Afraid,” and keep reading for a history of the beef.
“All you self promoters are janky. We established like the Yankees. This whole fucking game thank us. We movin’ militant but somehow you the one tankin’. No limit to where I can take it.” – Drake
By: Kira Hunston, Jamie Sands | Published: Wednesday, July 20, 2016
The winter season gives us the chance to experience a few of the most promising international artists, but nothing compared to the numbers of highly successful acts that Pemberton Music consistently brings each year. It’s like Christmas for media because we get to critique an array of the best there is.
Drawing over 115,000 people to the 2015 festival, and over 120 performances, it’s easy to conclude that this is the biggest event on the West-Coast, with the most musical versatility that could be offered. Maybe you were at last year’s weekend, and had the chance to catch Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole, Missy Elliott, or Kid Cudi. Chances are you found something that inspired you enough to check out this year’s roster which boasted an equally as sonically satisfying experience. We’re out at Pemberton this weekend to offer you live coverage of the 2016 event, and with Day 1 under our belt we can assure you that there is a lot of notable content coming your way. Day 1 was nothing short of impactful, and featured Pell, Snoop Dogg, Cypress Hill, and Rae Sremmurd who individually set the bar high for the rest of the weekend. Unsurprisingly, Snoop stole the show and was a highlight of the weekend.
“I coulda been anywhere but I chose to be in Pemberton, BC tonight. It’s ’cause I love Canada, and Canada loves Snoop Dogg.” – Snoop Dogg
By: Lil Thrilla, Jesse Plunkett, Vanessa Rivera | Published: Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Fans surrounded Bluesfest’s City Stage in droves on Sunday to watch Ottawa’s most successful MC to date do his thing; his first homecoming in years. The Grammy Award-winning Ahmed Balshe, better known to fans as Belly, hit the stage while the crowd chanted his name and bubbled with anticipation. Decked out in a white satin robe emblazoned with late great box Muhammad Ali’s name, a slick Cuban gold chain and a grey pair of Yeezy’s, Bellyboi jumped into a verse from his The Weeknd-assisted “Might Not” before switching into the 2015-Up for Days single, “No Option.”
“I live in that studio. I make music when they party. I make music when they go on romantic trips and on vacations. I’m working. That’s what I do. This really has all my attention all the time. I think because of that, I’ve been able to just stack up. I have an artillery. I have 2017 already figured out so 2018? We’ll start figuring that out soon.” – Belly
By: Ajani Charles | Published: Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016
On Sunday, Aug. 1, I attended Drake and Future’s Summer Sixteen concert in Toronto, as part of Drizzy’s OVO Fest. The concert took place at the Air Canada Centre for the first time since the inception of OVO Fest, and I found the ambiance to be one of excitement, but far removed from the louder, open air, festival vibes of the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre. My theory is that the dark ambiance of the ACC, the incredibly structured seating, the lack of sunlight, the lack of vitamin D, and the lack of an open-air atmosphere caused the Summer Sixteen crowd to be more docile in comparison to previous OVO Fest crowds.
“The pyrotechnics, high volume of bright lights, elaborate lighting, and incredibly high stage were a testament to how far Drake has come since making a cameo appearance at Lil Wayne’s concert at the same venue in 2009.” – Ajani Charles
By: Sarah Jay | Published: Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016
Aug. 19 marked a major milestone for 2016 Canadian rap because Tory Lanez officially released his album debut, I Told You (available now via iTunes and other outlets). This album comes to us after Tory (finally) inked a deal with a major label and signed to Interscope back in 2015. It’s the debut album we’ve been waiting on from young Fargo for years. It’s the backstory behind everything that’s led Tory to where he is now.
“Was I Told You better than Views? Definitely. Was I Told You the album Tory could have made? Definitely not.” – Sarah Jay
By: Rosa Jason | Published: Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016
May 14, 2015. On a balmy spring evening, K-Riz posts himself contently inside Up In Arms Studio, the safe haven where he’ll hibernate for the next year as he creates his passion project, Fresh Air. He’s perched on a leather chair, deep in thought, nodding his head and humming to a track being played back to him. This recording session was one of several I was invited to sit-in and I must say that it was a pleasure to watch his vision come to life. K-Riz literally put everything on the line for this body of work, quitting his full-time job to focus solely on his music.
“My friend Jerome aka ‘K-Riz’ recently released his LP Fresh Air this summer. I had the pleasure of following the process of his hard work over the last year, attending recording sessions and rehearsals. It was such special moment to see and hear the final result.” – Rosa Jason
By: Kassandra Guagliardi | Published: Monday, Sept. 5, 2016
If you’re reading this without previous knowledge of California soul-child Anderson .Paak, school yourself with a copy of his 2016 release Malibu and prepare to never let it go. Arguably one of this year’s best albums, .Paak & The Free Nationals broke hard into the mainstream early this year with the critically acclaimed album and since have been spreading the vibe throughout sold-out shows and festivals across North America. The movement they continue to face from .Paak’s reinvention of R&B / soul is impressive but also glaringly deserved.
“The city was blessed with the rare chance to catch the future legend in a smaller capacity venue. The impact Anderson .Paak left on those in attendance will have them coming back for more although next time he hosts a show prepare for it to be of larger, stadium size proportions.” – Kassandra Guagliardi
By: Kira Hunston, Philip Mace | Published: Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016
This fall we’ve been lucky enough to witness an ample number of rising Canadian talents make the trek to the West Coast to hit our stages. While Toronto generally receives it’s notoriety for the over-heading success from artists like Drake and Tory Lanez, many show-goers, and music fans alike, are aware of the current uprising of redefining artistry coming out of central Canada. If you look just past the peripheral of mainstream artists, you may have discovered Toronto singer/songwriter, Daniel Caesar who has been credited with leading a period of revival and invigoration for the music community, especially in Toronto.
“Not only was the evening filled with great music, but it also showed the everlasting value of true artistry regardless of whatever trends are currently dominating music culture.” – Kira Hunston
By: HipHopCanada | Published: Friday, Oct. 7, 2016
We’re very excited to announce that HipHopCanada has (finally) joined Spotify and we’re launching with the first installation of our weekly playlist series. Every week we’ll hit you with a Canadian urban music playlist curated by our Associate Editor In Chief, Sarah Jay. Every week, Sarah will be putting together a weekly selection of new releases, classic favourites, throwbacks, and songs she’s playing heavy on rotation.
Sarah Jay kicks things off with a 38-track playlist covering artists all the way from the Canadian East Coast to the Canadian West Coast. There’s the obligatory Tory Lanez, Jazz Cartier, PARTYNEXTDOOR, and Roy Woods tracks, as well as records from the likes of Kaytranada, Tona, Sean Leon, VNCHY, Jimmy Prime, Wasiu, Derek Wise, Immerze, K-Riz, Brevner, and more.
By: Rosa Jason | Published: Monday, Oct. 17, 2016
October 15 marked Kanye West‘s return to Edmonton for the Saint Pablo Tour. It’s been a long minute since his first appearance (at Rexall Place) for 2008’s Glow in the Dark Tour. Hip-hop fans were shocked when Yeezy announced his Edmonton stop this spring, but with Rogers Place finally up and running for business, we’re finally getting the look we deserve.
With no opening acts needed, Kanye breathed infinite life into the 16,000 plus crowd for the next two hours on a floating stage. Yes, a floating stage. For the entire show.
“Despite Kanye’s actions as of late, I’ll always stand behind his genius. Saint Pablo was easily one of the best tours of 2016.” – Rosa Jason
By: Jesse Plunkett | Published: Oct. 26, 2016
From aggressive battle records, songs paying homage to his Kurdish heritage, or music serving as self-help guides to healing and understanding the mind, Ottawa-based artist Dillin Hoox has proven to be a complex soul that is as versatile as he is talented.
The Kurdish-Canadian rapper has been making music for over 15 years but only just recently released his studio album debut, Life As I Know It. Hoox has been featured on HipHopCanada a few times over the years – including an interview or two about his new releases – but this is the first time we’ve really been able to open up about subjects he has otherwise been a bit quiet on in the past.
“And changing my conditioning has been the hardest but most rewarding work I’ve done on myself. It was a conscious decision. And I want to help people discover this freedom.”
– Dillin Hoox
By: Mario Flores, Jamie Sands | Published: Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016
It was a rainy Sunday night, but that didn’t stop fans from waiting for Post Malone‘s Hollywood Dreams Tour stop in Vancouver with Jazz Cartier and Larry June in a lineup that never seemed to end. The bass from the DJ set was vibrating outside The Vogue Theatre, and everyone was eager to get inside. After passing through the doors the energy was electric.
“I knew his set was coming to an end when “Dead or Alive” played. By this point I was in awe that he’d been standing on the crowd for the last 3 tracks, and was still managing to hit his bars and keep his show as live as it was.” – Mario Flores
By: Kassandra Guagliardi | Published: Monday, Nov. 14, 2016
He’s been on a tight tour schedule for the better part of the last year but A$AP Ferg shows no signs of slowing down. He’s just come off a heavy show roster that had him hitting Australia, New Zealand, Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo in a matter of months, finally bringing his Turnt And Burnt Tour to one of his most beloved cities in Canada. In the dressing room of Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre before his all-ages show, he’s cozied up on the couch in sweats and slides getting ready for his sold-out performances later that evening.
“Artists with the big stupid chains…it just kinda looked like we didn’t know anything past what was in front of us. That’s what I thought was kind corny. But we did it a different way though. Kanye did it a different way, Pharrell did it in a different way. So we took our own route….on how we were gonna market ourselves, brand ourselves.” – A$AP Ferg
By: Jamie Sands, Tijana Jakupovic | Published: Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016
Riding the hype from his latest release I Told You, Tory Lanez returned to his loyal fans in Vancouver for back-to-back shows last week at the Vogue Theatre and the Commodore Ballroom presented by Timbre Concerts. Facing almost four-times as many ticket holders as his previous shows in Vancouver, both shows were met with the same energy and charisma we’re used to, but with a few more heavy bangers under his belt and a lot more chains around his neck. Lanez played the Alexander Gastown in late 2015 and almost exactly a year later is where he hosted his after-party following his two sold-out shows. A huge testament to how far the New Toronto singer has come.
“That’s the thing about my music. Because you were a part of my life, you can’t be skipped. I have to talk about it, you know what I mean? You were there. Whether you want me to talk about it or not, you were a part of my life.” – Tory Lanez
— HipHopCanada (@HipHopCanada) December 28, 2016
Tags: A$AP Ferg, Anderson .Paak, Araabmuzik, Belly, BlackLivesMatter, Bless, Boi-1da, Brevner, Bryson Tiller, Corey Writes, Cypress Hill, Daniel Caesar, Derek Wise, Dillin Hoox, Drake, Drake vs. Meek, FVDED in the park, Jazz Cartier, Jimmy Prime, Joe Budden, k-os, K-Riz, Kanye West, Kaytranada, Matt Brevner, Meek Mill, Night Lovell, OVO, OVO Sound, OVO Sound Radio, PartyNextDoor, Pell, Pemberton Music Festival, Phakt, Post Malone, Prhyme, Rae Sremmurd, Roc Nation, Royce da 5'9", Sean Leon, Snoop Dogg, The Free Nationals, Tona, Tory Lanez, Trapsoul, VNCHY, Wasiu, XO