London

Researcher focuses on London's historic hip hop scene in cross-country project

Alex Kuchma, a self-declared hip hop head, is working on a research-based book about the history of Canadian hip hop, and London, Ont., is getting its own dedicated chapter.

The Ontario man hopes to have his work published by 2023

Kuchma had always been immersed in hip hop culture but it wasn't until his research project that he delved into Canadian history. (Submitted by Alex Kuchma)

Alex Kuchma, a self-declared hip hop head, is working on a research-based book about the history of Canadian hip hop, and London, Ont., is getting its own dedicated chapter.

The 25-year-old, a third year student at Cape Breton University, is interviewing hundreds of artists about what the music scene was like between the 1980's up to the mid 2000's.

Kuchma, who's originally from the Barrie area, has already spoken with up to 60 artists either from or connected to London including Timbuktu, Thesis Sahib and DJ Starchild.

"The history that's actually in London is something to admire," said Kuchma. "There is a scene here worth exploring and not only that but it's a connected scene."

Kuchma said he plans to include chapters about Halifax, Toronto, Saskatoon, Vancouver, Victoria, Brandon and Winnipeg.

London's unique sound

Kuchma said he's discovered that London artists were much more experimental with sound than bigger cities like Toronto that were more heavily influenced by U.S. hip hop.

"So, if you're looking at Toronto or New York specifically, you're looking at that harder, street, rougher … style hip hop," said Kuchma.

Whereas in London, the scene was off-kilter and knowledge-based, and "the rhymes would be more intricate … they were well read artists," he said.

Not only that but the community that formed early on remained tight-knit and consistent throughout the years, said Kuchma.

"There was a real active community that was going on in London during that period of time, moreso than in other places in the country," he said.

Kuchma singled out the erstwhile Dr. Disc London hip hop record store and CHRW's Thunderstorm, a hip hop radio programming show that aired throughout the 80's. He said it was "very rare to see" shows or stores solely dedicated to hip hop during that era.

"There were unique properties to London that don't exist in other places," he said.

Research needed in Canada

Kuchma said he's always been "addicted" to digging deeper into the lyrics.

"I love the music and I love to learn more. I think the knowledge really enhances the art," he said. "As soon as you start diving into the lyrics or doing secondary research that may make the lyrics make more sense, you start to enjoy that music more."

Kuchma had always been immersed in hip hop culture but it wasn't until his research project that he delved into Canadian history.

"It was an area that I was interested in and it was an area that needed coverage," he said.

He hopes to have his findings published in a book by 2023.