Mark Campbell gets critical with his gateway to Canadian hip-hop playlist

Founder of Northside Hip-Hop Archive, Mark Campbell, gives listeners a playlist of early influential Canadian hip-hop tracks.
Mark Campbell is an adjunct professor at Toronto's Ryerson University, as well as the founder of Northside Hip Hop Archive. (Shelley Mohamed)

Originally published March 30, 2017

Many have wondered over the years: where does Canada fit into hip-hop history?

Ryerson adjunct professor and founder of Northside Hip-Hop Archive, Mark Campbell, started asking himself this question eight years ago while doing research for a book. While he tried to dig up answers, he realized there was not a lot written on this. 

Of course, this doesn't mean that Canada doesn't have its own long, rich hip-hop history. You might be familiar with Drake and Maestro Fresh-Wes and Michie Mee but there are a lot of unsung trailblazing acts out there. Campbell wants to make sure you know their names. 

Below, he has curated a special gateway playlist for us, an introductory guide to Canadian hip-hop artists that we may have never heard of. 

For the month of March, Campbell has put together events across Canada called I Was There!, talking to pioneers of hip-hop. The final event, featuring DJ Ron Nelson, will take place March 31 at Ryerson University. For more information, head over to the event page on Facebook.

Tara Chase, The North Side

"Chase is really talking about all of her experiences, both in the culture and in the industry, and trying to get us to think larger than just our block, or just our city." 

The Rascalz, Dreaded Fist

"Up until then, in Toronto, we hadn't heard of many acts from Vancouver. The Rascalz meant that we were growing as an industry and growing as a culture and our provincial boundaries didn't matter." 

Black-I, Where I'm From

"He was really talking about and representing different underrepresented communities in Toronto. Black Eye passed away peacefully in his sleep so we are left with this gem but we're also at a loss because there was greater music that I anticipated coming from him." 

Black Union, Africville

"On the East Coast, it was a way in which our imaginations were brought back to this absolutely destroyed black community called Africville. In the middle of the night, the city bulldozed and leveled all of the homes that were there and displaced all the residents of Africville."

— Produced by Ty Callender