Hip-Hop in the Underground City

Posted 2014/04/16 by the.past.is.unwritten
Categories: Edmonton Music Scene

Tags: , ,

The music you are introduced to growing up can have a big influence on your life.

What music your parents or older siblings play for you in your impressionable years can set your musical path. If they make you listen to, say, John Denver, it might inspire you to become a country boy. Or,  it might inspire you to only listen to speed metal and NEVER visit the countryside. You never know, it can probably go either way.

One person who wasn’t influenced much by John Denver (so far anyways) is Jason Tait. As he relates, he was “introduced to Tupac and Biggie by family members” and “started rapping at 12 years old.” It was fun at first, but through writing gangsta stuff, his involvement with music was “disconnected from life trying to live up to the gangsta rap image.”

By the time he was 16, he was seriously involved in hip-hop – meeting other rappers and writing music with them. Despite the gangsta image, participation still offered community. Around that age, Tait met a friend in Winnipeg who was in a program concentrated on rapping – shooting videos and performing live. Finding an official group that was focused on hip-hop motivated Tait to do it as well. The friend became Tait’s mentor, and taught him “how to write bars and how to count – all the ins and outs of hip-hop.” Before this, he says, his rapping was “out of touch with real life. My friend asked me, ‘why are you rapping about stuff that isn’t relevant?’”

This changed Tait’s direction. Inspired by his talented mentor, Tait was encouraged to push his limits and reach his potential. Tait’s friend helped him recognize his abilities and focus on subject matter that was really important. Through this mentorship, Tait was introduced to inner-city and youth hip-hop orientated programs. Overall, conscious hip-hop offered him a more positive community than the image of gangsta rap ever could.

Moving on his own to Edmonton, Tait found iHuman and started doing shows for them – he participated in the inner-city hip-hop scene, and represented it in the wider community, performing all over Edmonton.

Last winter Tait was back in Winnipeg, and was told about an employment program focused on various elements of hip-hop – graffiti and b-boying, for instance, but no rapping. Tait decided to fill this gap, and proposed to the program that he become a mentor. So, for several months, Tait worked as a hip-hop facilitator. He organized writing workshops. Freestyle workshops. Open mics. As he says, “it was pretty awesome. It was fun.”

Now back in Edmonton, Tait is still heavily involved in the local scene. He has performed with Collective Conscious, Kriyple, One Deep, Brandy J., and lots of other local acts, as well as solo as Metatait. He is focused on conscious hip-hop – “what’s relevant about today.” This includes personal stuff, and allows him a positive outlet to express himself. “Writing a song or verse,” he says, “is a therapeutic way of dealing with challenges.” It also includes issues he sees around Edmonton. “Poverty. Drug use. Oppression. Marginalization by mainstream society.”

At the recent Truth and Reconciliation National Event in March, Tait performed at the TRC Talent Showcase. This was important because he used his generation’s music to express how he feels about residential schools to an inter-generational audience.

It helped him take what he has learned, and bring the issues to light in his music.

Tait also sees the impact he has as a mentor in the inner-city community. As a hip-hop youth worker at Boyle Street Community Services, Tait has seen firsthand what hip-hop can do:

More confidence in youth. Stuff that’s relevant. How they’re growing and changing.  When they rap about what’s going on – they don’t want to talk in an uncomfortable situation with a therapist they don’t know. They’re getting what’s inside them out – personal expression is therapeutic – subconsciously. Counseling in a way. Participating in a music community they care about matters to them and inspires them to deal with challenges and keep going.


Check out Metatait’s music here: https://soundcloud.com/meta-tait

CJSR Playlist 5

Posted 2014/04/14 by the.past.is.unwritten
Categories: Playlists

Tags: , ,

Here’s my fifth playlist on CJSR, from Monday 14 April!

1. Hooded Fang (Toronto) – “Bye Bye Land”
2. The Frolics (Edmonton) – “Wish U Dead”
3. Wool on Wolves (Edmonton) – “Broken Pictures”
4. Choir and Marching Band (Edmonton) – “Real Life”
5. Bombproof the Horses (Edmonton) – “Springtime in my Hometown”
6. Tyler Butler (Edmonton) – “Ben”
7. DOA (Vancouver) – “General Strike” (live)
8. Death (Detroit) – “North Street”
9. Bend Sinister (Kelowna) – “Fancy Pants”
10. Hanson Brothers (Victoria) – “My Game”
11. Boxer Rebellion (London) – “Caught by the Light”
12. Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit (London) – “The Prizefighter and the Heiress”
13. Reverend Horton Heat (Dallas) – “Victory Lap”
14. The Cramps (New York City) – “Like a Bad Girl Should”


The History of Punk, Class #23

Posted 2014/04/07 by the.past.is.unwritten
Categories: Edmonton Free School

Tags: , ,

The History of Punk
Monday 7 April 7:00PM
Location: Humanities Centre 1-14, The University of Alberta
All-Ages & All-Welcome



One day in the summer of 1983, a band called The Melvins  put on an impromptu event called The Them Festival in Montesano, Washington. This was near a place called Aberdeen, a town of 17,000 people 108 miles from Seattle. The ‘festival’ consisted of a free performance in the parking lot of a Thriftway supermarket. A teenager from Aberdeen was in the audience, and later wrote in his journal that “the stoners were bored and kept shouting, ‘Play some Def Leppard,’” but this was “what [he had] been looking for.”

In this class, we’ll take a look at the legacy of this teenager, Kurt Cobain, who felt isolated in his hometown – from mainstream society, other youth, and his family. We will trace his participation throughout the underground music community in Washington, from Aberdeen to Olympia to Seattle, while examining his influences and values.

Finally, we will discuss Cobain’s lasting impact 20 years after his death, and why he still resonates with a generation that found what it had been looking for, in Nirvana.

“Nirvana Photographer Charles Peterson Reflects On Kurt Cobain’s Life & Legacy”
“Notes from Seattle: 20 years later, what is Kurt Cobain’s legacy?”
“Kurt Cobain’s overlooked legacy: Guitar teacher for a generation”
“Kurt Cobain’s hometown no ‘nirvana’ 20 years after death”
“Here We Are Now”
“Kurt Cobain, Seattle 1993 Complete Interview”
“Kurt Cobain’s Interrogation of Hegemonic Masculinity”

The Melvins - “live-in-the-studio, circa 1984
Beat Happening - “Our Secret”
The Go Team- “Scratch It Out”
The Go Team – “Bikini Twilight”
Nirvana – “Smells like Teen Spirit” (first time live)
Nirvana – “Live at Reading, 1992″ (full concert)

upside down

The History of Punk, Class #22

Posted 2014/03/23 by the.past.is.unwritten
Categories: Edmonton Free School

Tags: , ,

The History of Punk
Monday 24 March 7:30PM
Location: Humanities Centre 1-14, The University of Alberta
All-Ages & All-Welcome


Idle No More

It’s generally agreed that punk started in reaction to mainstream music and politics. Looking back on early rock ‘n’ roll with nostalgia, participants in the punk community set out to create their own cultural forms instead of consuming what was put in front of them. Disregarding what they were supposed to like put punks at odds with cultural, economic, and political institutions.

Of course, punks weren’t the first (or last) to do this. Understanding the tenets of punk, however is useful because it opens up a new way of learning, and examining a range of issues, movements, and cultures.

In this class, we will be taking a punk pedagogical approach to studying Canada’s treatment of indigenous people during and after the country’s Indian Residential School System was in operation for 116 years (1880-1996). Following Prime Minister Harper’s apology for Residential Schools in 2008,  the inter-generational impact of the residential school system was brought into the public consciousness. With the onset of the Idle No More movement, the anger at the residential school system moved to resistance – and to a resurgence of aboriginal culture.

This class is timely, because it is happening on the eve of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) Alberta National Event in Edmonton. Running from March 27th to the 30th, it is the seventh and final national event.

“Duncan Campbell Scott: The Poet Who Oversaw Residential Schools”
“Hungry aboriginal people used in bureaucrats’ experiments”
“White Skin Didn’t Save Loretta Saunders From Colonial Violence”
“Fire Safety is Out of Bounds in First Nations”
“Idle No More protesters block QEII Highway”
“Historic Apology for Aborigines”
“John Howard restates opposition to indigenous apology”
“Ottawa forced to turn over reports of electric chair use at residential school “

Midnight Oil – “Beds are Burning”
Midnight Oil – “Blue Sky Mine” 
Alexisonfire – “Dead Heart”
Neil Young – “Pocahontas” (live 2014)
Rellik – “Idle No More (feat. Nathan Cunningham)”
Blackfire – “Downfall” 
Blackfire – “Is this Justice”
Propagandi  - ”Oka Everywhere”


The Benefits of Music

Posted 2014/03/22 by the.past.is.unwritten
Categories: Edmonton Music Scene

Tags: , ,

Are you one of those people? You know, the type who used to go to a lot of local shows, but now there are kids to raise, house upgrades to worry about, and, most importantly, a new series of Cosmos on television?

So nowadays, maybe you’re one of those people who needs a really good reason to get out of the house and go to a show. You want to enjoy music like always, but also gain the sense of accomplishment you feel when you get the kids to bed on time, fix that leaky socket, and watch Carl Sagan’s protégé Neil deGrasse Tyson stick it to the creationists.

Luckily, a concert that will do EVEN MORE than that is happening in Edmonton on April 5th. Five amazing acts, F&M, The Gibson Block, Two Bears North, Jesse Northey, and Bombproof the Horses are ALL performing at the wonderful Avenue Theatre. Normally, that should be enough to get the biggest couch potato bolting to the gig, but wait: there’s still that really good reason to tell you about!!!!

All of these bands are getting together to raise money and awareness in support of the fight against Friedreich’s ataxia (FA).

Joel Kleine, from Bombproof the Horses, has been living with Fredreich’s ataxia for seven years. Although it has taken away his ability to walk and restricted his balance and coordination, it hasn’t stopped him from performing music. Nor has it prevented him and his wife Amanda from raising nearly $30,000 for the Friedreich’s ataxia Research Alliance (FARA).

“When something like this is so rare, and has such a strange name, it’s difficult to get momentum outside of your own community circles.” says Kleine.

That momentum, however, is vital to helping folks with FA.  

This event on April 5 will help support grow. It is bringing together bands across genres from folk to pop to rock, in one of Edmonton’s nicest venues. It’s not just connecting great music to the wider community, but also to a disease everyone should be helping to cure. Especially when helping can be so fun!     

All ticket proceeds from the concert will go to FARA. You can also find out more, and donate at the FARA website: www.curefa.org.

And join the Facebook event and spread the word about the show!

Cure Concert

CJSR Playlist 4

Posted 2014/03/08 by the.past.is.unwritten
Categories: Playlists

Tags: , ,

Here’s my fourth playlist on CJSR, from Friday 7 March!

1. Hooded Fang (Toronto)- “Clap”
2. The Suppliers (Calgary)- “Simple Man”
3. The Frolics (Edmonton)- “Ripe”
4. Wool on Wolves (Edmonton)- “Unsuspecting Ways”
5. Scenic Route to Alaska (Edmonton)- “Mountains”
6. Tyler Butler (Edmonton)- “Morana”
7. F&M (Edmonton)- “This Winter Revisited”
8. The Provincial Archive (Edmonton)- “Common Cards”
9. The Skips (Edmonton)- “Tightrope Walker
10. Dana Wylie (Edmonton)- “Tiny White Girl Blues”
11. Billie Zizi & Cam Neufeld (Edmonton)- “Cold Like That”
12. Colleen Brown (Edmonton)- “The Great Divide”
13. Tinariwen (Mali)- “Tinadrit in Sahara”
14. Vance Joy (Melbourne)-  “Riptide”
15. The Replacements (Minneapolis)- “I Hate Music”
16. Husker Dü (Minneapolis)- “Eight Miles High”
17. Prince (Minneapolis)- “When Doves Cry”
18. Choke  (Edmonton)- “Momentary Relapse”
19. The Smalls (Edmonton)- “Pity the Man with the Fast Right Hand”
20. Brothers Grimm (Edmonton)- “Hey Jude”
21. Public Enemy (Long Island)- “Most of my Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamps”
22. KRS One (South Bronx)- “Sound of Da Police”
23. Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel (South Bronx) – “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)”
24. Antony and the Johnsons (New York City)- “Shake that Devil”
25. The Frank (Red Deer)- “Slick Your Hair Back”
26. Shout Out Out Out Out (Edmonton)- “Never the Same Way Twice”


The History of Punk, Class #21

Posted 2014/03/07 by the.past.is.unwritten
Categories: Edmonton Free School

Tags: , , ,

The History of Punk
Monday 10 March 7:00PM
Location: Humanities Centre 1-14, The University of Alberta
All-Ages & All-Welcome


In this class, we will be looking at the characteristics of punk communities. This includes the elements that shape scenes, such as geographical location,  to the local institutions that exist, such as venues. We will also examine the factors involved in  a community’s development, such as marketability and innovation.

From New York City, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Prague, Vancouver, to Edmonton, we will discuss the ebb and flow involved in a scene’s existence, and why communities eventually hit a crescendo.



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