Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services and the Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism, paid tribute in the Ontario Legislature on Tuesday to “early urban music/hip-hop pioneers” in the province.
Coteau who described himself as a “life-long hip-hop fan,” said the rap industry pioneers of the ’80s like Ron Nelson, Master T, Ivan Berry and a host of others who never received the respect they deserved for their talent from outside their peer groups, should be celebrated for their contributions.”
He also mentioned Boogie Down Productions, NWA and Public Enemy who” made me feel like I was part of a movement that advocated for justice, self-awareness, resiliency and survival. ”
In his statement before hosting a reception to recognize Black History Month and celebrate the contributions of Black Canadians, Coteau recalled that he was in London, England when the Dream Warriors, a Toronto hip-hop band from Jane and Finch and Willowdale, hit the Top 20.
“In fact, their first two singles sold close to one million records worldwide.
“I can remember how proud I was to know they were representing my town, my province, and my country.
“I can remember how it made me feel to listen to Canadian hip-hop and urban music pioneers like Maestro Fresh-Wes, Main Source, Michie Mee and so many others.
“Mr. Speaker, Canadian hip-hop culture kept moving forward, evolving, and many stepped up to carry the banner. ”
Coteau mentioned that artistes such as Kardinal Offishall – who was the first Canadian rapper in history to top the Billboard Hot 100 in America – K-OS, K’Naan, and the Rascalz represented the next generation of performers “who naturally earned respect here at home and around the world.
He noted that earlier this year, Nielsen Music reported that, for the first time in U.S. history, hip hop is the most commercially dominant genre in the music industry.”
“Not bad for a sound that was developed by a bunch of inner-city, mostly poor Black kids, equipped only with their parents’ old records, turntables and microphones,” he said.
“As we celebrate our latest cultural success through artists like The Weeknd, Drake, Jazz Cartier, Jessie Reyez and Daniel Caesar, respect is due for those who laid the foundation and broke new ground for Toronto, an international city that is nowhere near its peak, ” Coteau added.