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The Birth of Canadian Hip Hop

Hip hop has been a cultural force since its inception in the Bronx in the late 1970s. The genre has spread all over the world, including Canada, where it has had a significant impact on the country's music and cultural landscape. In this article, we will explore the emergence of hip hop in Canada and its evolution over the years.

Early Years: The Birth of Canadian Hip Hop

The roots of Canadian hip hop can be traced back to the early 1980s, when the genre was still in its infancy. While hip hop was already gaining popularity in the United States, it was still relatively unknown in Canada. The first Canadian rap records were released in 1982, including "Rappin' Duke" by the Toronto-based group Dynamic Three, which was a cover of the hit song "Rappin' Duke" by Shawn Brown.

However, it wasn't until the mid-1980s that Canadian hip hop began to gain traction. One of the earliest and most influential Canadian rap groups was Maestro Fresh-Wes, who released his debut album "Symphony in Effect" in 1989. The album was a commercial success and featured the hit single "Let Your Backbone Slide," which became the first Canadian rap song to reach the top 40 on the Canadian charts.

Emerging Scene: The 1990s and 2000s

In the 1990s, Canadian hip hop continued to grow and evolve. The genre began to attract more attention from major labels, and artists like Kardinal Offishall, Choclair, and Saukrates emerged as some of the country's most promising hip hop talents. These artists helped to establish a distinct Canadian hip hop sound, which was characterized by its use of jazz and funk samples, as well as its socially conscious lyrics.

The early 2000s saw the emergence of a new generation of Canadian hip hop artists, including Drake, who is now one of the biggest stars in the music industry. Drake began his career in the mid-2000s, releasing a series of mixtapes that helped to establish his reputation as one of the most promising young artists in the genre. His debut album, "Thank Me Later," was released in 2010 and debuted at number one on the Canadian charts.

Other notable Canadian hip hop artists from the 2000s include K'naan, who gained international recognition for his song "Wavin' Flag," which was chosen as the official song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Classified, a rapper from Nova Scotia, also had a successful career in the 2000s, releasing several albums and winning multiple Juno Awards.

Current State of Canadian Hip Hop

Today, Canadian hip hop is thriving. The genre has become more diverse and inclusive, with artists from all over the country and from different backgrounds contributing to its evolution. Some of the most popular Canadian hip hop artists of the moment include Tory Lanez, NAV, and Jessie Reyez, all of whom have achieved success both in Canada and internationally.

One of the most exciting developments in Canadian hip hop in recent years has been the emergence of Indigenous hip hop. Indigenous hip hop artists like Snotty Nose Rez Kids, DJ Kookum, and A Tribe Called Red are using the genre to explore issues of colonialism, identity, and Indigenous rights. Their music is helping to shed light on the experiences of Indigenous peoples in Canada and bringing new voices and perspectives to the hip hop scene.


The emergence of hip hop in Canada is a testament to the genre's global appeal and its ability to adapt and evolve over time. From its early days in the 1980s to its current state, Canadian hip hop has grown and evolved, producing some of the most exciting and innovative artists


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