Hip-Hop Olympics Bracket Week 3: Views From The 6ix

Aron A.
May 17, 2018 13:03

Is Toronto the strongest region in hip-hop history? Draft your own team in our new Bracket Competition!

The following is the second installment of a new series, The Hip-Hop Olympics Bracket. Throughout the next several weeks, we will be examining several of hip-hop’s most prominent locales. Historical context, musical aesthetic, key players, and prominent themes will be analyzed. Once the series is complete, there will be a vote to decide which region reigns supreme.

We need your involvement for this one. In order to find a winner, we invite our readers weigh in with their ideal roster for each region: six players, two producers, and two coaches.  The comments will be tallied, and once the final vote comes to pass, fan-voted teams will be pitted against one another in order to crown a single champion. We've already covered California and New York

For this week’s installment, we shall be examining Toronto.


6 Players

2 Producers

2 Coaches

Players: Your rappers. The ones you know will murder a track. Maybe it's flow, maybe it's lyrics, maybe it's straight up charisma.

Coaches: Now that you've picked your rappers, you need somebody to keep them in line. To oversee the whole thing. You gotta make sure you've got some OGs holding it down.

Producers: You've got your lineup, but who is going to bless them with the beat?


Week Three: Toronto

Toronto and Canada as a whole has always been overlooked when it comes to hip hop. The 6ix has come from a place without a regional direction to ultimately shifting the landscape of music today. The dry, cold sounds that emerged with the release of Drake’s So Far Gone and Thank Me Later put a spotlight on Boi 1da, one of the most sought out producers in the game. Alongside 40, the pair arguably helped craft the sound that would not only launch Drake’s career but build a template for the new wave of hip hop and R&B. As Drake blurred the lines between R&B and hip hop throughout his career, it ultimately brought his influence to another height. The sound may have been popularized within the past few years but it’s had a notable impact on hip hop.

As the shift in Toronto’s sound came about in the late 00’s to early 10’s, The Weeknd would ultimately help bring the sound and feeling to another level. However, before these two could find their place in the scape of an American music industry, several others had to pave the way for Toronto to be regarded as a city with an immense amount of talented rappers and singers.

In the late 80’s, Maestro Fresh Wes broke down the doors for artists that followed him with the single, “Let Your Backbone Slide.” The song became the first Canadian hip hop song to enter the national Top 40 as well as the U.S. Billboard charts. He, alongside several other notable emcee’s from the region, helped put a spotlight on Canada’s hip hop scene. Michie Mee became the first rapper out of Canada to pen a record deal with an American label in 1988. One of the most notable but often overlooked aspects of Toronto’s hip hop history is that it was Toronto/New York based crew, The Main Source, that gave Nas his first look on “Live At The Barbeque” off of Breaking Atoms.

These stepping stones ultimately helped shaped the way Toronto’s hip hop would spread throughout the globe. As Toronto’s often regarded as one of the most multicultural cities in the world, with a huge Caribbean population, that’s also something that impacted the regional sound. Michie Mee major label debut, Jamaican Funk -- Canadian Style, had an evident reggae influence to it. The same cultural impact can also be seen in much of the music that’s coming out today.

Despite the success of Maestro Fresh Wes and Michie Mee, Canadian rappers struggled to break into an American market. Kardinal Offishall was the first Toronto rapper to make a massive impact on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2008. “Dangerous” featuring Akon climbed up to #5 which ultimately became the first Canadian rap single to become a massive single on the U.S. charts.

As Kardinal reached commercial success in America, King Of The Dot rap battle league was founded in the same year. It began as a small battle league that would be hosted in alley ways near Toronto’s Dundas Square but it grew into one of the most notable battle rap leagues across the globe. KOD received co-signs from Drake (who apparently ditched the video shoot for Future’s “Tony Montana” to co-host the title match in 2012), Method Man, Raekwon and more.

In 2009, Drake emerged as the young Degrassi actor who stood alongside Lil Wayne. As Canadians were stereotyped as being “too nice,” Drake lived up to that stereotype and used it to his advantage. Gangsta rap’s prominence in the hip hop’s scope had already begun to phase out. Drake’s vulnerability and emotional approach to music was a clear page out of Kanye West’s 808’s And Heartbreaks but as ‘Ye himself put it, “too much emphasis is put on originality. Feel free to take ideas and update them at your will all great artist take and update.”

As Drake holds the place as “The 6ix God” and The Weeknd holds the throne as one of the biggest artists in the world, they’ve helped a whole new generation of artists come into the game. Both XO Records and OVO Sounds’ rosters are almost entirely made up of the most elite artists in Toronto.

The talents in the city aren’t solely coming from those two camps. Tory Lanez is one of the one of the most diverse songwriters and artists out right now. Jazz Cartier has been making waves for a few years. Killy’s one of the brightest young stars with a lot of potential to do big things in the next few years. Pressa can’t even book a show in his own city yet he’s already opened for the Toronto’s biggest export in the U.K.

It’s hard to deny that Toronto is a hub for talent right now. The producers in the city like WondaGurl, Frank Dukes, Eestbound, Arthur McArthur and more have been sought after by some of the biggest talent. Toronto’s success in the world only started to pick up over the past few years but as more talent emerges from the city, Toronto continues to carve its way into hip hop history.


Once again, don't forget to vote for your roster.

6 Players
2 Producers
2 Coaches

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MUSIC Hip-Hop Olympics Bracket Week 3: Views From The 6ix