So I went to the 2nd edition of the Montreal Hip Hop Awards last night and found myself feeling pretty confused about the Montreal Hip Hop scene. It seems we all have our own definition of what Hip Hop is, which is to be expected but an award show in my mind should aim to showcase the broad range of the culture it represents. Now, this isn’t a hate letter to the organizers because in all honesty I respect their initiation and hard work, and truth be told, I don’t think the problem stems from their hands. As I was biking home that night, I realized the problem probably stems from the scene itself. Have we been creating bridges between our subcultures? Are we segregating ourselves based on language and content? Are we actually investing in creating a solid support system in Montreal? And most importantly (at least in my mind) are we teaching our up and comers about the path that was paved before them so they can learn and aspire even further? With all those questions in mind I needed to take walk down memory lane and remember why I care so deep for this culture and of course the walk brought me right back to Shades of Culture.
Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with these Pioneers, Shades of Culture was a hip hop trio from our wonderful realcity that was in full effect from 1991-2003. DJ Storm, Revolution and D-Shade dropped their debut album ‘Mindstate’ in May of 1998 (dang that’s 14 years ago son!) and I swear its relevance is crazy transcendent. The beats were so mad hype that they still feel innovative and their flow is that sick storytelling spitting that got me hooked on Hip Hop in the first place. I need to give Revolution a big big Shout Out for hooking up Concordia’s entire Hip Hop class with a physical copy of this epic album. Having the physical in my hands brought my MTL pride to a new level, the album art and photos are crazy beautiful, repping real hard with a dope map of NDG on the cd back.
What gets me the most about this album and trio is that after all these years, they are all still living and breathing Hip Hop. You can catch Revolution on the airs of Off The Hook every Wednesday night, DJ Storm is working on an album that should hit our shelves sometime this year and D-Shade dropped one of the hottest albums of 2011 “The Water Principle” (that really should have been nominated at the MHHA).
It’s mad important for us to acknowledge our past so we can move forward as a culture and with the strong foundation that Shades of Culture and other great artists laid down for us in Montreal its befuddling that we’re not further in our development. In honor of our pioneers I suggest we step our game up, whether you be an artist, fan, or member of the support crew.
Funny tidbits: 1- The kid at the start of the video is none other than Montreal’s own A-TRAK (!!) 2- The producer behind this pretty timeless beat is Dave One (of Chromeo) who is A-Trak’s older brother…