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The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.
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Gil Scott-Heron - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

He has been called the godfather of rap, but Gil Scott-Heron steadfastly refuses to bask in any hip-hop glory. It isn’t that the writer of such classics as “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” doesn’t see any relationship between his jazz-poetry and today’s rap music. Nor is it that the 44-year-old artist isn’t flattered by all the attention from the hip-hop generation. It’s just that Scott-Heron—who performs at the Phoenix Concert Theatre with local rappers Nu Black Nation opening—wants people to make other connections. With his music, for one thing. “I was a pianist before I was a poet,” says Scott-Heron, “and music is as much a part of what I do as poetry. “Rappers seem to be more rhyth...
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k-os and the changing sound of hip-hop

Pigeonholing is an act of laziness, while stereotyping stems from ignorance and prejudice. Either way, for those targeted, it’s a cultural straitjacket—something that Kevin Brereton knows all too well. Growing up black in middle-class Whitby, Ontario, Brereton discovered that corner-store owners only suspected him of shoplifting, never his white friends. As k-os, Brereton learned that narrow musical definitions would restrict him from singing as well as rapping, and from adding acoustic guitar and piano to hip-hop’s usual soundscape. But he did it anyway. “It’s just how I express myself,” says Brereton modestly. “It doesn’t make me a revolutionary.” Modesty aside, k-os is in the vanguard of ...
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Maestro leads the big rap attack

It begins with one of the most recognizable riffs in Canadian music: a simple piano intro that goes “dum, da-da-dadum, da-dum, da-da-da-dum.” Written by CanRock legends Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings, it’s the introduction to “These Eyes,” the Guess Who’s massive international hit of 1969. But then a sliding guitar cuts in, followed by some thumping bass and drums. By the time a voice starts rapping about being “in this game a long, long time,” the song has been transformed into something entirely different. “It’s Stick to Your Vision,” the new hit by Maestro, the Canadian artist formerly known as Maestro Fresh Wes. “I’ve seen a lot of valleys, I’ve seen a lot of peaks,” he reminisces in ...
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Dream Warriors - A fresh spin on rap

The setting was a public-housing unit in the Toronto suburb of Willowdale. But the two young men were basking in an unmistakably Caribbean atmosphere. The townhouse was filled with the pungent smell of a West Indian fish fry, and a video of a Jamaican reggae dance was playing on the TV. It seemed an unlikely base for two of the fastest-rising stars in rap music, a musical style more associated with U.S. ghettos than Canadian suburbs. But Caribbean-born King Lou (Louis Robinson) and Capital Q (Frank Allert) have made a name for themselves, as the Dream Warriors, by revolutionizing rap music. Said Q: “Everyone’s accustomed to rap with guys swearing and bragging about themselves and violence. W...
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