Maestro Fresh Wes classic “Let Your Backbone Slide” inducted into Canadian Songwriters’ Hall of Fame
On Thursday, Nov. 21, Maestro Fresh Wes made Canadian music history as his groundbreaking single “Let Your Backbone Slide” became the first rap song to be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.
The song was Maestro’s official debut single and was featured on his album debut, Symphony in Effect, which was released in 1989 on Attic/LMR Records. It was the first Canadian rap song to be considered a hit, cracking Billboard’s Hot Rap Singles chart and selling over 50,000 copies in Canada. It was the first Certified Gold Canadian rap song.
This past March, celebrating 30 years since the release of Symphony in Effect, Maestro released his latest full-length album, Champagne Campaign. We connected with him at the time to discuss the classic album—as well as the new one—and the successful career he’s enjoyed since. The story remains one of our most viewed articles to date.
Canadian mainstream media has been giving Wes a ton of coverage for this massive accomplishment, and, in true Maestro form, he’s shown his humility by focusing on what the achievement means for Canadian hip-hop as a whole.
“It’s good for me, but it’s great for the genre of music. It’s great for hip-hop,” Maestro explained to Gregg Hobbs of The National. “We started from the bottom, but now we’re here doing international things. I’m just honoured to be a part of that.”
As CBC’s coverage illustrates, Maestro—often referred to as the Godfather of Canadian hip-hop—penned the JUNO Award-winning single while woking the graveyard shift as a security guard at the Parkway Mall in Scarborough in the late 80s.
Despite the recent surge of Canadian hip-hop on the international scene, “Let Your Backbone Slide” is still one of the most recognizable Canadian rap singles ever released.
For the sample junkies—as per a Wikipedia entry dedicated to the single—”Let Your Backbone Slide” contains samples of “The Champ” by The Mohawks, “Funky Drummer” by James Brown, “Set It Off” by Strafe, “La Di Da Di” by Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick, “One, Two, Three” by The B-Boys and “Rebel Without a Pause” by Public Enemy.
The Canadian Songwriters’ Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place at The Phoenix in Toronto. Other songs inducted this year included “Rise Up” (Parachute Club), “(Make Me Do) Anything You Want” (A Foot in Coldwater), “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” (Klaatu), “Opportunity” (Mandala), and “I Would Be the One” (Kensington Market).
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