When’s the last time you’ve really thought about Canada? Great country, eh? From maple syrup to hockey and poutine to Kids in the Hall, our neighbors to the North have produced quite a stellar amount of quality cultural exports. Not to mention how lit the Toronto nightlife is, or how spellbinding the arts of Montreal can enrapture the soul. Even the Yukon Territory seems like a great place to hole-up and escape the entirety of the world around us for, say, four years for whatever reason one may have to do such a thing. Also great about Canada is how stellar their hip-hop scenes have actually been for sometime. While Drake is probably the most famous worldwide, there’s actually been quite a number of stellar Canadian hip-hop artists. Here’s a few of our favorites you might what to get to know in the event you, I don’t know, may be interested in pursuing some particular cultural immersion for a period of time in the immediate future.
Shad – “Rose Garden” 2010
This is Shad, he actually once beat Drake for a Juno (a Canadian Grammy) for Best Rap Album a few years back. Got your attention? A fantastic writer with an arsenal of flows who knows how to perfectly marry catchy melodies with deceptively complex rhyme schemes, Shad’s music is largely everything hip-hop can and should be.
Kardinal Offishall – “BaKardi Slang” 2001
If you were a longtime viewer of BET Un:Cut, chances are you may have seen Kardinal Offishall’s “BaKardi Slang,” which is essentially a Canadian version of Big L’s “Ebonics.” A touchstone of Canadian hip-hop for many outside of the country, Offishall’s been one of the country’s most consistent for close to two decades now, and Drake even gave him a shout-out in a Black Jeopardy sketch the last time he hosted Saturday Night Live.
Michie Mee – “On Da Mic” 1988
One of the earliest Canadian rap artists to hit national acclaim and a groundbreaking pioneer amongst MCs who are women, Michie Mee’s flow and charisma was years ahead of her time. A true rapper’s rapper, outside of Canada she’s always been one of those MCs who those in-the-know “know.” With a track like “On Da Mic,” it’s easy to hear why she’s so respected and referenced. Even if you look at last year’s VH1 Hip-Hop Honors, her image appears a midst the genre’s greats.
k-os – “I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman” 2009
One of the Canadian MCs who’ve successfully held a strong position in American college radio, k-os is one of those artists who, once you’re a fan, you’re a fan for life. With a versatile voice and emotive wordplay, to listen to one of his albums is to submerge into a cascade of emotions. k-os knows how to bring it all out of you.
Baba Brinkman – “Rap guide to Evolution” 2010
A shining example of Canadian creativity, Baba Brinkman’s turned his sharp rhymes into a series of full-length stage shows that have even had off-broadway runs and toured internationally. With peer-reviewed rhymes, his productions such as The Rap Guide to Evolution and The Rap Guide to Climate Change are not just informative, but innovative and genuinely dope to listen to, whether in a theater or at a club or in your earbuds.