CBC puts its Northern Touch to Work with Rap Show
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CBC puts its Northern Touch to Work with Rap Show

Performers at the CBC’s Hip Hop Summit concert gather for a group shot after the on-stage love-in on Tuesday. Photo by Alexis Finch/CBC.

One might expect a CBC-run hip-hop show at the Glenn Gould Studio to be the fun-times equivalent of a sit-down rave. The Mothership’s announcement it would host the Canadian rap concert to end all rap concerts was definitely met with skepticism in some sectors, probably by those who pictured Shelagh Rogers introducing “Let Your Backbone Slide” while Stuart McLean told humourous stories about K’naan’s youthful antics.
Well, doubters, they pulled it off. With wild style.

Kardinal Offishall arrives at Glenn Gould Studio. Photo by Alex Urosevic/CBC.

Thanks to a team led by hip-hop author Dalton Higgins, the Ceeb cast off its cloak of fuddy-duddyness for a full night and produced what most agree was an amazing, inspiring, and cool event.
The three hundred people lucky enough to be in attendance at Tuesday’s Hip Hop Summit concert were treated to a party that was anything but sedate.
The two-hour show, broadcast live on CBC Radio 3, felt like a family reunion gone wild, packed with a who’s who of T-dot’s hip-hop community. Performers included Maestro, Saukrates, Kardinal Offishall, Michie Mee, Choclair, k-os, K’naan, Dream Warriors, Shad (Canada’s newest hip-hop Juno award winner), Cadence Weapon, Skratch Bastid, and the list goes on.
Meanwhile, musicians like Saidah Baba Talibah, Mindbender, and Grand Analog’s Odario Williams worked a crowd sprinkled with white-haired CBC execs, overworked PR staffers, and of course, on-air personalities like Garvia Bailey, Dwight Drummond, and the omni-present Jian Ghomeshi.
It was the opposite of the reserved, seated affair one might expect at the Glenn Gould, more traditionally used for talk show tapings, town hall meetings, and concerts of a more high-brow nature. By the time Classified’s opener—the aptly-chosen “Oh… Canada”—was over, a small crowd was already out of their seats and surrounding the stage. This progressed into a full-on rager in no time, despite the venue’s lack of alcohol service. (Drinks had, however, been served in the lobby before the show.)
The evening served as both a walk down memory lane (think an almost-full cadre for “Northern Touch” and Maestro in his Symphony in Effect tux for “Let Your Backbone Slide”) and a showcase of what the scene has to offer today—with the notable exception of hometown-boy-makes-good Drake. Not that he was particularly missed in this lineup which produced hit after hit (and a few notable misses).

  • Michie Mee’s over-the top enthusiasm. Clad in an orange-and-blue Adidas track suit, bright blue eyeshadow, and pig tails, Canada’s first hip-hop artist to be signed to an American label bounced, swayed, and generally exuded joy and positivity every second she was on stage.
  • Kardi performing “The Anthem” from the crowd. After disappearing and re-emerging in a TFC jersey, he jumped off the stage to rock his Toronto-repping recent single.
  • Shad, Cadence Weapon, and Skratch Bastid’s collaboration. All three of these guys are solid performers in their own right, and together, they seemed to show up many of the old hands.
  • Impromptu breakdancing. During one of the Bastid’s always-engaging turns behind the decks, a group of madly-skilled b-boys broke out some sweet moves.
  • Thrust’s “Blue Steel” face. If you’ve seen Zoolander, you know what we mean.
  • Capital Q’s appearance. Despite having recent surgery and walking with a cane, this half of the Dream Warriors still made it on stage.
  • Freestyle cipher. At the end of the show, the performers took turns throwing down some freestyle rhymes. Standouts included Kardi, Choclair, and Shad, but even those with less on-the-spot wizardry were good sports and took their turns.
  • The performance of “Northern Touch.” If there is one single that unites Canadian hip-hop fans, this is the one. While not all of its original MCs were there, many were, and the crowd went wild.


  • Ghetto Concept’s backing track. These 1995 and 1996 Juno winners sounded like they were yelling over an album recording.
  • Buck 65’s album-cover routine. Between every performance, host Buck 65 would appear on stage and display some classic album covers from his collection. Interesting idea, but most people in the audience were too far away to actually see the artwork, and radio listeners definitely were.
  • Reema Major’s sexiness. This sounds like it should be a plus, but the girl is fifteen. An astute friend of ours pointed out that seeing someone that age so dolled-up felt a bit… “pageanty.” She looked (and sounded) smoking hot, but it felt wrong to think so.

To check out the CBC Hip Hop Summit concert, listen to a broadcast on CBC Radio 2 or visit the CBC atrium to see a screening of the event, both on Friday at 6 p.m. A podcast of the show will also be available on Friday.

CORRECTION: March 31, 2010, 4:10 PM This post originally listed the dates/times of the CBC Radio 2 broadcast and the CBC atrium screening incorrectly; in fact, they are both taking place on Friday, April 1, at 6 p.m. We regret the error.