The Godfather of Canadian hip hop: Maestro Fresh Wes is a pioneering hip-hop recording artist. His debut album, Symphony in Effect, was the first album by a Black Canadian artist to be certified platinum. “Let Your Backbone Slide” is still one of the most successful and influential Canadian songs of all time.
If you grew up in the 1980s and listened to rap music from that time (or any top 40 radio station in North America – if not the world) then you probably heard artists such as Grandmaster Flash, Public Enemy, Run DMC, LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys. As the 1980s started to close out one Canadian rapper from Toronto hit the charts with a bang: Maestro Fresh Wes with his chart-topping single, Let Your Backbone Slide.
Since then, Wes has been known as the Godfather of Canadian Rap. He’s continued to release amazing music and now also spends his time mentoring kids around the country.
I recently ran into Wes in the city. We had a great 15-20 minute conversation. Just me and him. He actually motioned for me to come over when we passed. He was very generous with his time and was very polite and engaging.
When it was time for us to separate, he obliged me by taking a selfie. (Please don’t ask what I’m wearing…)
Check out his new single, I Can’t Breathe:
On Tuesday night I had the opportunity to visit the Toronto Reference Library and listen to Randy Bachman tell stories like no one else can. But that is for another blog post. Today’s post – and photos – is from an amazing collection of photos, videos and posters which exhibit Toronto’s diverse and eclectic music scene from the 1960’s until today.
This jam is amplified. So just glide and let your backbone slide. Remember Maestro Fresh Wes from Scarborough? Now my favourite Canadian rap artist stars on Mr. D on CBC. Soon, he’ll be a guest on Toronto Mike’d with Mike Boon.
Toronto’s Broken Social Scene is perhaps the most influential musical collective and is headed up by Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. The group has helped with the musical maturity of acts such as Metric, Leslie Feist, and The Stars. You can actually see the latest incarnation of Broken Social Scene this summer at the Field Trip outdoor concert festival.
Classic posters and hand bills in the gallery.
Yorkville was once home to future musical greats such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.
Coffee, Beer and Mosh Pits runs in the TD Gallery of the Toronto Reference Library until the end of this month. Visit the website for more information