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Home » Lyricist Lounge

Blue-collar rap

Submitted by on January 23, 2010 – 11:31 amNo Comment

Music-Hip-Hop-R&B-7For the most part, hood to Hollywood stories are lost on Canadian rappers. Hip-hop artists grinding north of the 49th don’t usually spit about popping bottles and driving Bentleys, tattoos and war wounds or pushing rocks on city street corners. Canadian hip hop stars seem to eschew escapist raps laced with blow and bloodshed.

Fact is, many of the country’s most respected hip hop artists are independent cats from quiet towns and calm cities. Goons and gangs, drugs and guns, and pimps and hoes are far from reality for guys like Classified, DL Incognito, Grand Analog and Sweatshop Union.

“The fact that there are middle class, suburbanite guys in Canadian hip-hop that are celebrated,” says Sweatshop’s Kyprios, “is not because they’re, middle class suburbanite guys. It’s because they’re not trying to be somebody they’re not.”

As one of the founders of the seven-member B.C.-based collective, Kyprios believes properly representing hip-hop means studying the art form, applying your findings and speaking the truth, regardless if the rhymes are about crips in Compton or cowboys in Calgary.

He says having the courage and conviction to make music that coincides with the lifestyle an artist actually lives is the best way to build trust with listeners, and garner respect from street soldiers and soul survivors alike. The lifestyle led by most pseudo rap stars in Canada, Kyprios confesses, is one in which modesty and honesty are valued virtues.

“Hip hop isn’t regional, it comes from within,” he says. “It comes down to being able to talk about whatever, and talk about yourself, honestly, artistically, creatively. In any artistic category, you get that shit right and you’re gonna find an audience.”

Remi L. Roy

 Also appeared in XPress-04/23/09

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