Toronto history of hip hop explored in weekend conference

The history of Toronto hip hop has often been overshadowed by the scene in the United States. This Saturday, however, the richness and diversity of the genre in this city will be explored at a conference showcasing the scholarship of budding Canadian hip-hop academics alongside oral histories of Toronto’s pioneering hip-hop practitioners.

The Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples, in partnership with York University’s Department of HipHopPosterHistory and the City Institute at York, will present the Performing Diaspora 2013: The History of Urban Music in Toronto on June 1, from 10am to 6pm, at 109 Accolade West Building, Keele campus.

“The history of Toronto hip hop is incredibly unique, rich and multifaceted, and yet the stories of our practitioners and the ways in which the culture has developed since the 1980s in the Canadian context has largely been overshadowed by the dominant narrative of American hip hop,” says Performing Diaspora Curator Francesca D’Amico.

“This conference event intends to bring greater exposure to the fullness of Toronto’s hip-hop history, while exploring how the Canadian music market and media has envisioned, and at times problematically failed to imagine and incorporate, hip hop as part of its broader popular culture.”

This full-day conference will include the work of academics and journalists, who will discuss how the culture and genre of rap music has developed since the late 1980s. Given that Performing Diaspora is dedicated to celebrating and showcasing African Diaspora expressive culture, the event will most prominently feature the contributions of African Canadians in two round-table discussions that will include prominent rappers, DJs, producers, artistic managers, journalists and radio and television personalities.

Panellists will include: Maestro, Michie Mee, Master T, Dane-o, Motion, DJ Mel Boogie, DJ X, Dalton Higgins, Chris Jackson and Mindbender. In addition to the contributions of African Canadians, the conference will also explore the contributions of other Canadian hip-hop forms that include, but are not limited to, queer hip hop, First Nations hip hop and Sikh Canadian hip hop.

The conference will importantly promote research and share knowledge about the diversity and complexity of hip hop in Toronto, the challenges posed by the Canadian music industry and the black Canadian experience more specifically.

To register for the event, visit the Performing Diaspora website. A $10 registration fee will be charged. For a full conference agenda, click here. For biographies of participants, click here.